Hertz Connects With Hackers For Business Model Disruption and Passenger Improvements

Skift Take

We’re not sure if these apps are something Hertz couldn’t — or wouldn’t have — cooked up on its own, but we like the idea of the whole thing.

— Dennis Schaal

How can large companies innovate? Just tap the wisdom of the crowds … of developers.

With that goal in mind, Hertz conducted a Connected Vehicle Hackathon in Redwood City,  California, April 4-5 with a video link to Ann Arbor, Michigan, connecting developers who built apps geared to improve the passenger experience.

The developers competed along three tracks, including integrating a Mojio OBD device with the Hertz customer experience, a business/leisure travel app, and business model challenge.

A ride-sharing app, Hertz Rides, took top honors in the business model challenge.

“Hertz Rides was about integrating ride-sharing capabilities right into the Hertz mobile app so that let’s say, at an event like SXSW where flights, hotel rooms, and cars are likely in short supply but most people are going to the same area, airport to downtown Austin, a renter could offer a ride to a ride to another traveler,” says Michael McDowell, innovation architect for Hertz. “So basically in the app, they had Hertz Rentals and Hertz Rides.”

Hertz has its own car-sharing service, Hertz 24/7, which enables customers to rent by the hour or day in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Other winning apps were Hertz Alerts, which used iBeacon technology to give renters information about shuttle arrival times when they are waiting to get picked up, and Hertz Real-Time Journey Planner, which integrated Mojio and TripIt services to show customers coffee shops along the route and refueling options before closing out their rentals.

The hackathon was Hertz’s second Connected Vehicle hackathon based in Silicon Valley in the last year. Hertz handed out $5,000 in prizes, including gaming consoles, smart watches, tablets and other gadgetry, to the winners.

Here’s some more information about what the Real-Time Journey Planner group was trying to accomplish.

And, here’s Hertz’s take on the event:

The Connected Vehicle Hackathon from NestGSV on Vimeo.

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