The Future of Airport Consolidated Car Rental Facilities

01.01.01

With the recent spike in demand for rental cars, meeting the needs of air travelers once they've landed is quickly becoming a top priority of airports. To meet these demands, airports are moving toward a new model designed to make car rental easier, more efficient and more sustainable by consolidating car rental facilities into one centralized space. 

Consolidated car rental facilities (CONRACs) combine rental car operations into single-site operations where multiple businesses and tenants can serve airport travelers in one convenient location. CONRACs are quickly becoming the standard for airports everywhere as they offer ways to more efficiently serve travelers and reduce congestion.       

What Is a Consolidated Car Rental Facility? 

Consolidated car rental facilities combine rental car agencies into single-site, large-scale operations designed to efficiently serve travelers while reducing costs, improving customer experience, alleviating traffic congestion and creating more opportunities for expansion. CONRACs offer a range of benefits to travelers, rental car agencies and airports as a solution to the problems created by the increasing demand for rental cars. 

Instead of having rental car agencies spread out randomly across an airport's facilities, CONRACs are one-stop locations where travelers can easily shop and compare rental car rates. In the past 15 years, CONRACs have become more and more prevalent in airport design and planning. Common features of a consolidated car rental facility include: 

  • Single site locations that house multiple rental car companies sharing one space. 
  • Dedicated parking lots or decks with options for alternative fuel vehicles. 
  • One shared shuttle service for rental car company customers. 
  • Large-scale quick turnaround areas (QTAs) for servicing and maintaining rental fleets.

CONRACs are a relatively new airport design concept created out of the demand for travelers to have easy access to rental car agencies coupled with more efficient airport operations. Multiple rental car agencies occupying one joint location also call for consolidated shuttle service as opposed to multiple shuttles for multiple locations spread across the airport. Rental car agencies benefit by sharing the costs of providing shuttle service.  

When airports combine car rental agencies into one location, travelers can easily shop and compare rental car rates without having to locate and search for services spread out across an entire complex. Airports benefit by maximizing their profits from commercial spaces while simultaneously creating a more efficient airport experience. In the transportation industry, greater efficiency equals greater profits. 

The Future of Airport Car Rental Facilities

Car rental facilities are seeing an increase in demand for their services as the number of airport travelers with a need for quality rental transportation rises. 

As airports attempt to create a more environmentally friendly business model, reduce ongoing costs and lower the amount of time it takes customers and travelers to board buses or other mass public transportation, they are moving toward consolidating car rental facilities into single-site locations. Car rental agencies are competitive with one another, so convincing them that combining services is a benefit to them is certainly a top challenge for airports.

Car rental agencies definitely stand to benefit from consolidating, though. Matching airport customers with services such as rental cars is a top priority for airports across the country. Consolidating these services into one centralized location allows customers and travelers to easily discover and access them. Consolidated rental car facilities are a logical solution and mutually beneficial way for airports and rental car companies to provide services. 

How CONRACs Are Already Helping

Many airports, including LAX and Chicago O'Hare, have chosen to expand the spaces occupied by rental car agencies to accommodate the demand of travelers and create efficient airport operations, such as reducing congestion for patrons in pick-up and drop-off zones. 

What Are the Advantages of Switching to Consolidated Car Rental Facilities for Airports?

Many airports around the country have realized the benefits of consolidated car rental facilities and begun to make the switch. Airports such as Los Angeles International (LAX), Chicago O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) have all embraced consolidated car rental facilities as a way to improve their customer experience and decrease congestion. 

Building CONRACs will benefit airports, car rental facilities and travelers in several ways:

  • Improved parking: With a consolidated rental car facility, airports can maximize parking space by reducing rental car traffic from the airport roadways and redirecting it to a centralized location. The rental car companies are typically consolidated into designated parking lots or decks. Airports might integrate rental car parking with public parking or keep them in separate areas depending on the layout of the property.
  • Faster wait times: When customers and travelers do not have to wait long times for services such as renting a car, the customer experience improves. CONRACs allow airports to lessen the time customers spend searching for and comparing different rental car company rates and vehicle availability. This approach ensures travelers' needs are being met in an efficient and effective manner.   
  • Decreased pedestrian congestion: Airports are decreasing pedestrian foot traffic and congestion by creating CONRACs in close proximity to terminals. This layout eliminates the congestion created by rental car customers spread throughout the airport's facilities. With a consolidated rental car facility also comes a central shuttle pick-up and drop-off location that reduces the amount of pedestrian traffic coming from multiple locations.   
  • Better environmental sustainability: A reduced number of shuttles to transport customers to and from rental car parking lots and terminals means a more environmentally sustainable operation for airports. Both Chicago O'Hare and Midway International airports designed and built new CONRAC additions complete with sustainable features, such as low-flow fixtures to reduce potable water consumption, LED lighting and solar panels.
  • More available commercial and retail space: Moving all car rental facilities into one joint-use location frees up valuable retail space for other businesses to provide expanded services and products for travelers. If airports can offer retail space to more businesses, they can increase their revenue. Offering more food and retail options can also improve the traveler experience.   

What Costs Come With CONRACs?

When designed properly, CONRACs create a sustainable operation that reduces traffic and congestion in and around airports. That said, making the switch to CONRACs involves a significant investment.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is investing an estimated $500 million in its new consolidated car rental facility. RDU's new CONRAC and Ground Transportation Center is specifically designed to create a smoother, more convenient airport experience. The new facility at RDU also requires a reconfiguration of John Brantley Boulevard to create room for the new facility while providing easier access to it via an underground tunnel and elevated walkway. This is just one example of the modifications airports are embracing to help accommodate consolidated rental car facilities.  

Some airports, like San Antonio, are even building brand new CONRAC facilities to house these large-scale rental car operations. San Antonio's $178 million consolidated rental car facility is a massive complex that houses 14 different companies, 2,600 parking spaces and is accessible from the airport via an enclosed sky bridge.   

New state-of-the-art facilities such as San Antonio's are an incredibly attractive reason for rental car companies to embrace their consolidation with competing agencies into one location. As airports continue to pay closer attention to the rental car industry while embracing the demand travelers have for their rental products and services, CONRACs seem to be their preferred solution. The largest, busiest airports in the country have all committed to consolidated rental car facilities — including Los Angeles International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and both Chicago O'Hare and Midway International. 

With the construction of consolidated car rental facilities, airports are also solving the problems that stem from overcrowded parking lots. Consolidated facilities mean more efficient parking and reduced traffic in highly congested airport lots. Airports can foster a better overall experience by providing a convenient parking lot with easy access to rental facilities. Rental car companies are benefiting from this approach as well by sharing the cost associated with turnarounds.  

Airport Modifications for Consolidated Rental Car Facilities and Features

Airports around the country are modifying their facilities to accommodate consolidated rental car facilities. Some common modifications include:

  • Quick turnaround areas (QTAs).
  • Parking lots, spaces and decks.
  • Brand-new CONRAC spaces.

Quick Turnaround Areas

Many airports are investing in large-scale QTAs shared by various rental car companies where they can clean, maintain and service their vehicles to get them ready to be rented again. This approach reduces the cost associated with inefficient turnaround operations scattered about different areas across airport facilities. By creating a centralized QTA shared by the various rental car companies, airports are enhancing their services while maximizing their outdoor spaces. 

QTAs also benefit rental car companies by eliminating the need for off-site turnaround operations. Off-site operations result in longer wait times and more congestion in airport parking lots. QTAs designed specifically for rental car companies help solve congestion problems while enhancing customer service.

Parking Lots, Spaces and Decks 

To accommodate consolidated rental car facilities, airports are also investing in additional parking lots, spaces and decks. San Antonio's new CONRAC incorporated the construction of a 2,600-space parking deck to house the parked rental cars and keep them separate from public airport parking spaces.

Other airports are integrating rental car parking with public parking. Parking decks designed with alternative fuel vehicles in mind are serving dual purposes by offering rental car parking on some levels with public parking on others. This setup provides a more efficient parking experience for rental car customers and other travelers by incorporating aspects of commercial parking with public parking, such as security and lighting. 

Brand-New CONRAC Spaces

Many airports are building new CONRAC spaces closer to terminal areas to efficiently accommodate customers and travelers looking for rental car services. Chicago Midway International Airport constructed an 853,200-square-foot consolidated car rental facility complete with a customer service center, five-level parking garage and quick turnaround area. The brand-new CONRAC at Midway serves customers and travelers flying into and out of Chicago. 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has also expanded its consolidated car rental facility by building a brand-new space to house car rental companies. Its new CONRAC features two four-level garages, a four-level customer service terminal and seven QTAs that house 12 rental car companies.

VPS Can Help Protect Your Rental Car Facility Assets

Consolidated rental car facilities need to protect their assets, and that's where VPS comes in. Protect your valuable rental car assets from hail, heat and UV damage with a little help from the pros at VPS. Our vehicle protection structures are designed to protect large fleets of vehicles from natural threats. 

For more than 30 years, VPS has proudly served commercial clients as an industry leader in airport parking protection structures. Our state-of-the-art construction coupled with our dedicated team of design professionals delivers innovative asset protection.

Ready to learn more about parking protection structures from VPS? We have the capacity, knowledge and industry experience to serve consolidated car rental facilities of all sizes in all types of markets. Explore our shade structures for car rental facilities and contact us today to get started utilizing our innovative design and turnkey shade solutions.