Jumat, 31 Juli 2009

Confessions of a Car Rental Marketer

I get paid to sell self-drive holidays to Australians, to encourage them to take to the open roads and explore new territory behind the wheel of a rental car. I have a confession to make. I can’t actually drive.

Now I haven’t deliberately kept this from my employer, it wasn’t mentioned in my interview nor was it in my job description alongside having excellent communication skills, the ability to work as part of a team or to meet deadlines in a fast paced working environment. It was neither an essential nor desirable attribute.

I have never lied about it, but I do avoid voluntarily giving out this information about myself. I’m almost 25 for goodness sake! Kids I used to babysit have got in the driver’s seat before me. I guess I just haven’t got around to it in 7 years. I’m used to the convenience of city living and not needing to be able to drive.

So while I am cruising comfortably on my P plates in my car rental marketing career, I have yet to get my Learners licence to drive. The irony of the situation was pointed out to me at a recent industry function when I was talking to a marketing guru from an airline. He asked me what kind of car I drove and I said quietly that, actually, I can’t drive. “What!” he exclaimed “You work for a car rental company and you can’t drive?!” True. But, I said to him, you work for an airline, can you fly a plane?

You see, what I try to market or sell is not driving. We don’t sell the idea of jumping into a rental car, the exhilaration of putting the key in the ignition, turning on the engine and…well, whatever it is that comes next.

No, we try to sell the idea of freedom, the thought of having independence and flexibility on holidays, exploring new places, making memories and having a good time. We try to inspire people to visit places off the beaten track and discover new things.

So does it actually matter that I can’t drive? Do you think dog food marketers have actually tasted what they’re selling? Exactly.

I have travelled around the world and I have been in cars lots of times, often simultaneously, so I know the feeling of having the wind in your hair, good music in your ears and a smile on your face. I know the excitement of visiting new and foreign lands and the joy of travelling around, not being in a cramped Greyhound bus or overcrowded non-air conditioned train.

I have just been in the passenger’s seat, not the driver’s, that’s all.

Having said all that, I know that I need to learn to drive. Will I finally take the plunge and learn? Yes, most definitely, in part to aid my copywriting, to gain independence and well, to see what all the fuss about.

Yes, there’s all that and also that promise that my partner made about getting a shiny new Yaris when I do finally get my license. Now that is an incentive to learn.

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