Pandemic-fatigued Americans planning their post-vaccine trips could encounter rental car shortages if visiting certain summer hotspots, a new analysis found.
Visitors to the hometown of Disney World may run into the biggest problems created by a fractured rental car network that is driving up rental prices — if there’s even inventory to rent, according to insurance provider Allianz Partners USA which analyzed more than 236,000 U.S. rental car reservations made at airports between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Read more: Top 4 travel destinations for summer 2021
After Orlando, Florida, the next hottest rental destinations include, in descending order:
“Increased demand has led to significant price increases for car rentals at popular summer destinations,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications at Allianz Partners USA.
The weakened inventory network is a result of the pandemic as car rental companies sold off their fleets last year to minimize overhead, Jonathan Weinberg, founder and CEO of AutoSlash, previously explained to Yahoo Money. But that has left them flat-footed as demand soared in 2021 when domestic travel restrictions relaxed.
"The rental car companies simply underestimated demand, the amount of people that wanted to get away," Weinberg told Yahoo Finance Live earlier.
As the travel industry quickly rebounds, companies can’t keep pace with customer needs and the supply and demand imbalance is translating into exorbitant daily rental amounts and sell-outs. In certain places like Hawaii, available cars rent for as much as $500 a day, a far cry from the bargain of $5 a day in 2020, Weinberg shared. Across the Sunbelt, prices have also steadily increased since winter.
If rental car availability is weighing on your decision on where to vacation this summer, know there are alternatives to getting wheels outside of the traditional rental car. Where rental car prices have surged, the popularity of peer-to-peer car sharing marketplaces have followed.
Platforms like Getaround and Turo connect car owners with renters and bypass the need for rental car companies reported “heavy demand” as bookings have “more than doubled,” Getaround’s vice president of marketplace and operations, Pat Notti, shared with Yahoo Finance. In Hawaii, some visitors are even turning to moving trucks and cargo vans as alternatives.
“We have seen a considerable uptick in U-Haul rentals from customers who are visiting the islands now,” Kaleo Alau, president of U-Haul Company of Hawaii, previously told Yahoo Money. “We realize this demand is occurring when tourists are unable to secure a rental car, or they learn that our rental fleet options are more affordable.”