Blog: Yesterday's Editor's Weekly Highlights Newsletter (prologue)
Dave Leggett | 26 February 2004
Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the hurly burly of the day-to-day that we miss some of the bigger picture that’s going on around us. That can be costly in all sorts of situations. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who coined the term, ‘penny-wise, pound-foolish’. Getting the big things right – like a growth strategy - is vital for corporate health.
Many of the most successful companies through history are the ones that are agile enough to harness the opportunities presented by contemporaneous economic, social and industrial developments under what may be termed ‘megatrends’ (there are lots of examples: Ford, GM in 1930s America; Boeing in the 1960s; IBM in the 1980s; Microsoft in the 1990s and so on).
Of course there are megatrends to be spotted everywhere, including in the transportation sector (where the auto industry resides). One that I found myself mulling earlier today was low-cost or no-frills air travel – something that has unexpectedly boomed since 9/11. The low-cost airlines offer cut-price fares but in Europe often use less busy airports that offer cheap landing slots. And what do you need to do when you get to your slightly out-of-the-way destination airport in the middle of the Italian countryside? Hire a car of course.
That would suggest a good opportunity for the European daily hire industry exists and if my visit to Ryanair.com the other day is anything to go by, firms like Hertz have grasped that opportunity.
But more than that, maybe there are broader long-term changes to transportation demand in Europe that favour the daily rental sector? Perhaps that traditionally huge body of demand for public transport in Europe is getting smaller as the railways are starved of investment as rising public spending pressures – for things like health and education - accumulate? I thought that was mainly something for the UK, but perhaps there is a broader pan-European megatrend at work.
And as the daily hire companies get more volume, prices fall further and hiring a car for the day maybe becomes more attractive still. And if the choice of car I’m faced with is a bit more interesting, maybe I dispense with traditional car ownership altogether? Food for thought. I’ve long felt that there is an opportunity for what may be termed ‘hourly hire’ for the firm brave enough to grasp it. It would require some serious investment and risk-taking of course. Maybe I’m just overdosing on coffee or guilty of imagining myself in whatever car takes my fancy whenever I want…
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