Car Rental Website Development Tips: All You Need to Know
Have you ever found yourself trying to get a car over the phone with all lines busy, or maybe in a noisy place, where it’s difficult to speak, or vice versa, somewhere you have to be quiet. A tricky task at times, do you agree?
Modern life is busy and dynamic. No wonder people lay their hands on anything that can make things quicker and easier. Car rental software development significantly simplifies the entire process of booking a car. It also allows car rental companies to become more competitive.
Sixt in Germany or Hertz in the USA, for instance, have been around for over 100 years offering cars in rental centers. They later proceeded to taking bookings by phone. After their customers received the opportunity to book cars online, the websites of these companies became the major source for finding info on vehicle availability and rental price.
However, having a site is halfway. Car booking system development is what really in demand today. Why do we state this? Let’s see in more detail.
What Problems Car Booking Software Can Solve?
Car rental reservation software development is in demand among the startups and existing transport companies, which offer autos for rent and deal with multiple orders.
On the one hand, car rent is a comfortable option for those, who
- Want a certain level of а mobility and comfort while traveling,
- Wish to try a particular vehicle before purchase,
- Needs a car for a certain period, but does not have the desire or opportunity to buy it.
On the other hand, if you work with people, you know how changeable their plans may be.
So to manage all the reservations, effectively deal with booking alterations, cancelations, especially if they are done last minute, possible staff shuffling and car availability, consider creating an online booking system for car rentals. Tailor it appropriate and effective for your business niche.
The advantages of an online booking system bears for car renting businesses may be the following:
- Customers’ self-service,
- Immediate updates of the fleet availability,
- Avoiding risks of overbooking and the factor of human error,
- Automatic resource management,
- Fast business insights and overview,
- Cash flow management,
- Receiving multifaceted up-to-date reports,
- Reduced costs.
Developing an online car rental reservation system is a complex task, and the first step is developing an online platform with a proper backend. Let’s dive in.
How to Build a Car Reservation System?
When interface users come to the website to rent a car, they only see the tip of the iceberg. Company employees also have access to the order management system, pricing, planning, booking stats, and reporting tools. Below you can see an example of how complex it can get. This image demonstrates the service structure Staflcon created for MeinFernbus:
Stages of Development
The car rental system design is a multistage process that includes analysis, design, front- and back-end development, as well as maintenance and support if the client needs it.
To design a car rental system of superior quality that is smooth and effective for all the users you need lots of planning. The first step is car rental website development, planning database, and service structure as well as putting together user scenarios that describe how the system could be used. The features of a car rental system are decided upon to ensure the due product functionality.
We often recommend starting from MVP creation. A Minimum Viable Product allows launching a product with minimal features to test the product and the market. Later on, the product can be improved and optimized in its later iterations. Prioritizing the MVP features takes place at this stage as well.
We try to understand the target users and the business aims our client pursues.
At this stage, the core functionality is defined and the features that will make your app unique are considered, the estimation of the overall scope of work, based on the client’s requirements, takes place. We can also offer our project management service and a CTO to define the scope of work.
After completing the initial stage of the research and planning step, you can proceed to design. As for car rental website design, it should stay neat with the primary focus being on UI simplicity and effective usage of corporate identity. The same works for the mobile app design you develop, since developing an online car rental reservation system does not mean crafting an online platform only. Nowadays you cannot create an effective and convenient service system in any sphere without supplementing it with mobile apps.
It’s important to consider various user categories of your system and applications in particular and possibly offer different UIs for each user category forecasting certain User Experience. At this stage, we often deal with the issues of the app usability, color scheme, intuitive tapping, static and animated presentations, and alike aspects.
Having decided on the design and overall functionality, you can move further on to development, which should be divided into iterations. At this stage, the front- and backend development and all the integrations necessary are agreed.
At this stage, you should consider API. Why do you need API? Without API scaling and mobile apps, development for various platforms would become time-consuming and pricey.
If to talk about technologies used in car rental web development, we would recommend you to choose MySQL or MongoDB databases and Symfony PHP framework for back-end development. The latter is used by MeinFernbus, BlaBlaCar, GoGoBus, as well as other large websites.
Car rental websites need to be ready for high-load periods, such as holiday and vacation seasons or big public events, when the number of people who need to rent a car drastically increases. It is important to choose a hosting provider ready for this kind of traffic growth.
QA and Testing
As soon as development is finished, whether it’s an MVP, which we often advise our clients to start with, or a full-featured version, the stage of testing follows. We check the developed products with the help of automated systems, manually or both, depending on the project requirements and contract.
If there is a mobile app, we help submit it to the Google Play and App Store, since we know all the nuances as to how to do it right. We are always ready to share our experience and to speed up the time to the market for the products we craft.
In the prevalent number of projects, Stfalcon provides post support of the solution developed and launched and continues to work on its improvement and optimization. Each customer decides on the necessity of this stage, though we advise to sign post-support for every product since it presupposes further development, maintenance, and also bugs fixing, stability checking, infrastructure testing, monitoring, and updates.
In case the client wants to develop the next iteration of the created solution, the cycle starts all the way round.
Car Rental System: What Is Inside?
Website structure is developed according the service specialization. First, a list of the necessary sections with all the features is put together. For visualizing it you can use various mind-mapping tools. If to compare Hertz, Sixt and Avis car booking websites, they all contain sections with the following information:
- Terms of services.
- Loyalty program and discount conditions.
- Info on cars and maintenance centers.
- Company info and mission.
- Contact information for getting in touch with their support team.
- Member area with order details available after registration.
Car rental web developers put the most important element — car availability and booking form — on the main page of the website.
To receive data on car availability users don’t even need to fill in lengthy registration forms or log in. This information is available even to unregistered users who specified date and location for car-pick-up and return:
Usually a step-by-step car booking form is used. It has several fields and blocks available on each step:
If to put all the info above on a single page it would be very difficult for a user to digest it. That’s why car rental web developers divide it into 3-4 separate pages.
Necessary Features for Car Reservation System
When you create a car reservation system, it should be as simple and laconic as it only possible, as all modern services.
The users should not face any difficulties or inconveniences while using your software solution. At the same time, the product has to be functional and informative enough to meet the users’ needs, operate smoothly, provide all the necessary information quickly, and help clients solve their problem without effort in the shortest possible time.
Do you remember?—Life is dynamic!
Developing mobile apps for your car reservation system take care to make the key elements simple and intuitive. The user should be able to check car availability and fill the booking form right away.
It’s essential to notify your clients about special offers and loyalty program options on the first screen already so that the customer gets engaged from the first minutes.
Make checkout simple and comfortable and offer your users as many payment options as you can integrate.
Ensure your contact details and support chat are easy-to-find and deal with.
Keeping all the above-mentioned features in balance will make booking software for car rental business an effective instrument that will turn your potential leads into new clients with great ROI.
To be more precise, let’s look at the specific features, which will help your system perform the general tasks.
1. Proper booking engine
A reservation made by a user is in fact a chain of automated actions invisible to the client. The common links of this chain are — scheduling, transactions, confirmation, and notifications. All the details entered are sent to the back-end where admins view and manage all reservations.
2. Status of availability
It’s necessary to always stay up-to-date about the status of every auto in your garage, that’s why availability status should be implemented to allow seeing the overall picture of the fleet. It will definitely ease up its management.
3. Fleet management
This feature is inevitable to keep track of the fleet: the number of vehicles, their models, autos’ details, inspection, maintenance status and nuances, expenses, insurance expiration dates, damages on a car, and much more.
4. Content management system
CMS is an essential constituent of your car rental system features, standing behind your site. CMS allows to easily add or edit website content concerning vehicles, available services, locations, and actual discounts.
5. CRM system
The key function of any CRM is keeping the customer information in order and managing interaction with existing and potential clients. As soon as a user registers in your system via your website, the information entered is saved in a database and showed in a CRM, it allows your managers contact the renters, create a consumer profile, detect the return customers, offer them rewards and special offers, as well as block the frauds.
6. Orders management
This feature provides managers with the opportunity to view and edit the bookings that come through the site, over the phone or from the front desk. Operators can then add such reservations manually in the order section.
7. Financial management
As an owner or a manager, you need a comprehensive picture of all the transactions, payments, taxes, refunds, fees, and other accounting details in one place. You can either choose a peer-to-peer model of partnership or sign contracts with other businesses to manage these relationships alongside the other categories of financial management in your system. Automatic e-billing can also be implemented here to keep everything ordered.
Implementation of the system of reports can not only improve management but also greatly facilitate your marketing. Monitoring a number of factors and indicators, you can spot what bleeds you dry and what brings you the highest profit. This real-time analytic helps you make informed business decisions for better revenue.
To get a competitive edge, you can also consider unique services and features to implement.
Inspection checklist and visual damage recording system.
For better awareness and fleet management, it’s reasonable to make regular inspections of the vehicles and sync the results automatically with the general fleet management system.
To be aware of each car location up to the moment, it’s rational to integrate
GPS sensors and tracking into your system. In such a way you’ll be able to see the actual data about your autos coordinates not to overlap bookings and easily coordinate drop-offs in various locations.
Electronic identity verification
A good idea is to supplement your system with a software solution that will help you verify the documents and cards of the drivers to avoid fraud and the usage of counterfeit documents. There are plenty of such services to choose from and some of them are with open API.
The modern world is highly competitive and no surprise car rental services owners use variable encouragements to attract more clients. When you offer promos, special offers, sales, miles, discounts, or membership right in the app, you can then easily analyze the results and make personalized offers based on the results, using previous user experience, location, etc.
This can be mixed with a loyalty program for better customer attraction. You entertain your customers, reward them for achievements, and exchange rewards for special offers or prizes.
To reflect the precise features of the mobile apps, being a constituent part of your car rental system, let’s divide them according to the user groups.
The passenger app should contain the following features:
- Authorization (It’s better to make it two-factor).
- Language Settings.
- Chatting and calling option in-app.
- Ride options customization.
- A prompt trip matching algorithm.
- Live vehicle status monitoring.
- Payment option integration.
- Booking history with preferences.
- Rating and review section.
- Notification system.
- Referral program.
The driver app should contain the following basic features:
- (Two-factor) authorization.
- Language settings .
- Driver accreditation.
- Chatting and/or calling function.
- Ride -management feature.
- Orders’ history.
- Advanced route optimization.
Admin panel that allows controlling of the entire workflow should inevitably contain:
- Content management system.
- Interactive dashboard.
- Driver verification functionality.
- Geo-location boundary settings.
- Passenger and driver management options.
- System of notifications.
- Revenue and financial management feature.
- Bonus payment system.
Examples of the Online Booking System for Car Rentals
The modern market of online booking systems for car rentals is rather active and highly competitive.
To name just a few, we’ll mention HQ Rental Software, RentSyst, and Easy Rent Pro. These 3 solutions top the market in 2020.
HQ Rental Software
HQ is a system, which offers you a web-based user-friendly reservation plugin, to install on your site and automate the car rental process, applications for iOS and Android for your clients, and a portal for third-party sales agents. The system allows managing fleet, rates, maintenance, and add-ons.
This consumer service tool provides real-time vehicle availability and allows payments and reservations online. The product not only has an easy-to-use management configuration but allows integrations with over 25 third party services. All these features combined allow car rental businesses to enhance their efficiency and step up to the next level.
Developing an online car rental reservation system, this company managed to combine a state-of-art cloud CRM, VOS online tracking system for vehicles, and built-in task manager. This software solution is quick to configure and integrate with multiple third-party services, accounting, financial, e-mail, etc. The tool allows full fleet control, proper planning, and timely business management. The service is rich in functionality and makes different processes automation quick and easy.
The system is beneficial to modern entrepreneurs, who want to have their business in a smartphone. Detailed reports, analytics, statistics, electronic documentation can be accessed from a smartphone thanks to RentSyst.
This system with advanced features was initially created for medium and small car rentals to simplify the process of booking and fleet management. So the solution is quite affordable. Now it operates well to extensive multilocation business because it’s multilingual and supports unlimited locations and vehicles. Integrated with QuickBooks, it allows smooth rate and fine management along with usual billing and invoicing functions. EasyRentPro provides businesses with the opportunity to increase their profitability quickly and at a reasonable cost.
Custom Car Rental Software Development
The out-of-the-box solutions may be as good as gold, but they offer their clients all the same functionality. Such software products can be configured, however, you cannot change them or add something new. At times, you even have to pay for the unnecessary features never used in your business.
We realize that business differentiation is vital nowadays. Every company has its peculiarities and tricks to engage clients. You can offer your customers a novel revolutionary way to solve their problem, additional features set, or unique loyalty program, whatever. To implement all these, create a car reservation system customized specifically to your business model.
It will allow you to tailor an exclusive software solution, which can be later optimized, scaled, or modified according to the growth and development of your business.
For over a decade, Stfalcon has been developing custom software solutions for its clients. We designed a complex system of ticket selling and passenger transportation management for Meinfernbus.de in cooperation with their development team. The company later merged with Flixbus, which is now Europe's largest long-distance bus network.
The project of this car booking system development included a web project creation and mobile applications design. The overall system comprises 3 fundamental components: the sales site (front-end), company management system (back-end), and API. Portal of agencies and partners is set in separate services.
Besides, the Stfalcon team has designed and created the front-end of the renovated user personal account for Nova Poshta, one of the biggest European transportation companies.
Cost of Car Rental Reservation Software Development
Earlier, we shared info on how much it would cost to develop an app like Uber and today we’d like to share approximate costs of the website development for car hire:
The MVP of a car booking system development starts from $80000.
If you are interested in more details, we should mention that the general project scheme includes 2 weeks of the discovery phase, 4 months of the backend, and 4 months of the frontend development, we have described each stage a bit above.
The development team membership varies depending on the stage and complexity of the project, ranging from 5 to 10 and more people at different stages. The team may include designers, developers in different spheres (frontend, backend, Android, iOS, etc), tech specialists, and DevOps. What is more, we always involve a project manager and a QA specialist. They work all the project long and provide the superior quality of our products.
Naturally, these are approximate numbers and the total price for a final project will vary depending on your needs and preferences.
Now as you know the main peculiarities, structure, and features of the auto reservation software solutions, you can start creating an online booking system for car rentals to match your specific business needs.
Stfalcon.com has experience in developing solutions for transportation companies and we’d love to work on a project for your startup or established business. Tell us more about what you need and let’s create something amazing together!