An interview with Claudio Stromba, managing director of Rent4U, and Angela Paradiso, CEO.
When was the company founded?
Claudio: We have been on the market for many years: our company was founded in 2010 and the first branch office was opened at Fiumicino airport. I personally have been in the car rental business for thirty years.
So you are headquartered in Rome?
Claudio: The headquarters is in Rome, yes. But we have different branches at Fiumicino and Ciampino airports, at Termini station and in Florence.
Are there branches in other Italian cities?
Claudio: We are currently opening sites in Reggio Emilia. Before the pandemic we also had a site in Milan, now we are looking for a new partner to reopen in Milan.
Who are your main customers: families, entrepreneurs, tourists?
Claudio: Our clients are tourists and businessmen, families with children and large companies who come to us quite often. We have a variety of clients and we try to satisfy each one of them.
Angela: It also depends on the season. During the summer, of course, it's tourists and then later on during the year there is the possibility that there are more commercial and private clients. We even have artists and some Hollywood stars among our clients.
What kind of cars do you have in your fleet? Cars for long journeys or maybe luxury cars?
Claudio: Luxury is not our segment, our market is mainly tourism. We have small and large cars, but no luxury cars. That is, we can offer customers a spacious car, such as a Ford Kuga, but not a pompous Jeep Renegade.
And if a big family or tourist group come?
Angela: We have cars for seven and nine people. We have minivans that can accommodate a lot of passengers. We can offer these vehicles with automatic transmission because we have a lot of clients from the United States and Canada that have a preference for automatic transmission. So we have a wide range of cars for different tastes, even convertible cars.
What do you do during the "low" season?
Claudio: We get a lot of rental requests during the high season, which lasts from April to October, but during the low season (November and January to March) there are small difficulties and we solve them by "buyback": i.e. we take machines for 6 months in April and give them back to the dealer in October, so that we always have a new fleet and do not suffer from downtime in the low season. But this is not the case in all cities. For example, in Rome and Florence there is a seasonal difference in demand because they are more tourist centres and in Milan and Reggio Emilia there is no seasonal difference in rental demand because, being more industrial cities, there are many commercial companies there that we work with on a permanent basis. To put it simply, in the northern cities we have a higher rental occupancy rate. That is why we are opening an agency in Reggio Emilia and are trying to reopen one in Milan.
How often do you check the technical condition of the cars?
Claudio: All our vehicles are new and we change them every 18 to 24 months. But we also carry out all necessary repairs in case there are any problems with the car.
What additional services do you offer to your customers?
Claudio: All prices are quoted with basic insurance. There are also various extras that can be offered: second driver, young driver, child seat, winter tyres, sat nav, etc.
Talking about a child seat, if a family with an infant rents a car, is a child seat included in the base price or is it an additional service?
Claudio: Like winter tyres and GPS, a child's seat is part of the extra charge. There is also a charge for double driver, young or old driver and for drop-off in other cities or agencies.
According to the rules of car rental, drivers from 25 years old and up to 74 years old can rent a car at no extra charge. It is a compulsory rule in insurance companies. Because some statistics have shown that there are higher accident rates in these age groups.
What are the average rental figures: number of rental days, mileage?
Claudio: In terms of duration the rental can vary a lot - it can be a day, two days, a week or more. There are companies that even rent a car for four or five months. There are clients who rent for a week because their own car is being repaired. There are tourists who rent for 15 days to go on holiday or just one day to visit some attractions. The data varies from customer to customer.
Angela: Regarding the mileage - you can choose whether the mileage is limited or not. Generally we do the rates without mileage limit with tourists because in the summer people want to travel and therefore prefer a more free, unencumbered rental terms. In the winter, however, when we reduce the base rate a lot, we set the rate with a limited mileage, so it's a maximum of 100-150 kilometres a day.
Our interview has come to an end. Many thanks to Claudio and Angela for answering our questions with enthusiasm. We wish you great success in your endeavours!