RealTime IT News

lastminute.com Offers Car Rentals

[London, ENGLAND] A day after ebookers.com moved into financial services, lastminute.com announced Thursday a new car rental service for its users.

Provided for lastminute.com by leisure car rental broker Holiday Autos, the service is now available in the U.K. and will be rolled-out shortly to France, Germany and Sweden.

Although neither lastminute.com nor Holiday Autos has any cars of its own, they will put the user in touch with top rental companies around the world and negotiate what they claim are the best deals.

"Holiday Autos is exceptionally customer-focused and well established in the online travel sector. We are extremely confident that our customers will be delighted with this new service," said lastminute.com's Chief Executive Brent Hoberman.

Clive Jacobs, chairman and chief executive of Holiday Autos, said that his company already had a late deals offering -- and that was one reason why a partnership with Europe's foremost late deals retailer made sense.

"Our aim is to provide a premiere service to customers by finding them the absolute best deal available and our consumer-champion approach was an extremely appealing proposition for lastminute.com," said Jacobs.

Online since January 1999, Holiday Autos can broker car rentals at 4,000 locations worldwide and has access to 0.7 million cars. It offers all-in deals that include insurance without excess and a price match guarantee.

Like most of the big e-commerce sites, lastminute.com continues to add more products and services, not all of them travel-related. In fact, the firm reveals that in the last quarter (to June) 47 percent of the goods it sold were non-travel related.

With sites like Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and ebookers.com branching out in all directions, it is possible that Internet retailing will eventually become dominated by a few online department stores offering everything from travel and luxury goods to mortgages and insurance.

The move by lastminute.com into car rental is one more step in that direction.