Hertz, the world's largest car rental operation, has denied that the launch of its Web site will diminish its commitment to travel agents. The Hertznet site currently offers only information services, but in the first quarter of 1997 it will provide full booking facilities.
High street travel agents are already under threat from the Internet - the travel and hospitality industry is among the three most active sectors in developing the Internet as an alternative business channel. Much of Hertz' success comes from its tie-ups with holiday companies, agents and hotels, and executive vice president Brian Kennedy admitted it was a difficult balance to draw between maintaining these links and satisfying customers who want an online service. "Simply, we have moved on to the Internet because our customers expect to find us there," he commented. "This does not diminish our commitment to travel agents or our recognition of their ongoing vital role but it does acknowledge that the Internet is an important tool for accessing information."
From early next year the site will be interactive, allowing rate quotation, booking, confirmation and cancellation - and a few months later, payment - to be carried out online.
Currently, Hertznet offers information and photographs of the company's fleet of cars and its various programmes and services in north America and Europe. A file folder interface is designed to guide users through the categories of information. There are also listing of partnerships with travel agencies, hotels an airlines and of Hertz' worldwide locations and reservation numbers.
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