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COVID has Dried up Demand for Short Term Rentals

Interview with Sop Tansupasiri
General Manager of Avis Myanmar

Please introduce yourself and Avis to our readers?

My name is Sop Tansupasiri. I am from Myanmar’s neighboring country, Thailand. I have been living in Yangon for the past five years. The whole journey started from my position in the finance department with RMA Group, a diversified group of companies headquartered in Bangkok. Avis Myanmar is operated by AVR Myanmar Limited, a subsidiary of RMA Group. The Group was one of my clients when I was a consultant at EY Thailand. I worked on the Group investment plans in Myanmar before taking a 2-year career break to complete an MBA degree in the States. After MBA, I came back to Yangon to continue what I have started. Avis Myanmar is the latest addition to the RMA Group portfolio.

Avis is known as a world leading car rental company that holds an extensive network of vehicles of more than 350,000 units globally. Avis was founded in Detroit in 1946 and expanded to approximately 180 countries. The company offers various types of vehicles, from economy to bus and luxury, for short and long term rentals. Most of the time, the proportion between short and long term fleet is determined by demand in each city.

How many locations does Avis have worldwide? How do you balance the need to think strategically with the challenges of running such a logistically complex business?

Avis has more than 5,500 locations around the world. Managing a number of stations is driven by the certain level of demand for people’s mobility habits in such areas. Although having a great number of locations could require a lot of effort to manage, it also gives us the flexibility to serve the customers who wanted to travel across cities or, in some cases, countries. In order to manage the complexity, we have a booking system that allows us to have long forward booking transactions for our networks that let us be able to manage our physical fleet locations in advance.

As this sector has a large number of unorganised players, how do you function in such a scenario?

We want to differentiate ourselves by offering the customers with high standard and rental experience that they can trust. While many of the car rental players have similar vehicle models to serve, not to mention aged units, we came to this market with the aim to give a variety and tailored package to the end users. 

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

The pandemic dried up demand of short term rentals because of the travel restrictions to both global and domestic levels. This is what happened globally. What tends to have less impact is the long term leasing that the customers require to use the vehicles for their routine commute.  

Social Media is a trend now. Much of the information that is available to your competitors is also available to your customers. How has that changed the way you operate?

I believe that information availability is important to business input but the key is how well we can utilize and the speed that responds to such information. We use this info to shape our business strategy and also to feed into our daily operations where appropriate. Social media is also a good way to get direct feedback from customers and, with this, it allows us to act fast………