Skift Take

Silvercar's new loyalty program is a good incentive for both current and prospective customers to try out the service. It also may be a shot in the arm to a plateauing company.

Silvercar, the premium car rental service that only rents Audis, is formally launching a loyalty program. Until now, the car rental service, founded in 2012 and operated out of around two dozen airports, hasn’t used any sort of loyalty program to retain customers.

Called Premium Rewards, the new loyalty program uses a revenue-based model to simply give passengers one point per dollar spent on the rental of a vehicle (exclusive of fees and taxes). On later bookings, passengers can use those points for either a 50% discount or full credit on a rental. Silvercar doesn’t explicitly state what value of each point is when redeeming rewards, but, according to tests run at The Points Guy, it appears to be assigning a value of around ten cents per point. Put another way, a $200 rental down the road would cost around 2000 points.

While Silvercar’s loyalty program is hardly unique, the car rental company deserves credit for formally investing in customer engagement and the long-term viability of its user base. National, Avis and Hertz, Silvercar’s chief legacy rivals, all have robust loyalty programs which are regularly used to woo travelers and create the perception of value (National’s popular One Two Free promotion, a popular incentive for frequent travelers, just launched last week). To compete with those programs, Silvercar needed at least a basic offering.

As National, Avis, and Hertz continue to dominate the market, it’s also likely that Silvercar now needs to work harder to maintain its user base. After launching in 2012, Silvercar grew rapidly across major U.S. airports in an effort to capture marketshare and reach escape velocity as a consumer band. In 2017 though, Audi, which had invested in previous fundraising rounds, formally scooped up the company (it’s not clear whether the initial investors made a profit on the sale). Since then, Audi has continuously rolled out a fleet of new vehicles to Silvercar, but expansion to new airports has been limited and the escape velocity days seem far behind.

New promotions and user outreach, however, may help kickstart the growth from early days. On August 21st, Silvercar launched a new program to give consumers who buy an Audi vehicle seven free days of rentals with the company. And with a new loyalty program now in play, premium travelers have even more reasons to consider the company.

Grant Martin [gm@skift.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is also a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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Tags: audi, loyalty programs, silvercar

Photo credit: An A4, part of Sivercar's Audi-only fleet. Silvercar

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