The “Sharing Economy” or collaborative consumption can be an entrepreneur’s best friend when it works. What is certain however is that it needs to be in every traveling entrepreneur’s toolkit. I knew about AirBnB, having used it many times when traveling; the more familiar Netflix, Zipcar, Vacation Rental by Owners (VRBO), and Couchsurfing. But I’d never heard of Relay Rides, a peer-to-peer car rental service, that allowed me to rent a 2008 Kia Spectra for a 2 month period with premium insurance for under $1200.
I headed west in early December to escape the east coast winter. In Los Angeles, one needs wheels. So I began searching for cars on Craigslist. I scoured the different car rental agencies and Retailmenot for discount codes in an attempt to match the airport’s lowest price for its standard car rentals. This is what I found it and I want to share this with you.
According to its Website,“Relay Rides has built a vibrant community (since its national launch in March 2012) of tens of thousands of car owners and hundreds of thousands of renters. Owners are able to make hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars a month by simply and safely renting out their cars. …Renters have access to an unparalleled selection of vehicles at prices up to 40% lower than other car rental options, while enjoying the convenience of renting cars where they’re needed: right in their own neighborhood, at the airport, and everywhere in between.”
Now there could be a glitch in your rental since this is a peer to peer network. My first choice of car for which I paid turned out to be owned by a slacker who failed to produce the registration when I went to pick up the car. I thought better of driving his car in spite of his assurance that the Los Angeles Police were cool. A call to Relay Ride’s emergency line helped me identify another renter with whom I was able to negotiate an acceptable price. Unlike Airbnb who does not allow customers to interact with prospects until the deal has been consummated, Relay Ride does allow peer to peer interaction. For arranging this connection, Relay Ride gets 25% of the rental fee plus 10% of the total rental. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t also get a cut of the insurance fee. I share that only as an aside for those interested in their business model.
Think how fortuitous a find this is for entrepreneurs with long-term assignments away from their homes. If what you need is a reliable, affordable, safe set of wheels that simultaneously allows you to keep your dollars in your pocket, this might be the answer.
As for me, I am thrilled with this experience. Relay Ride ate their rental fee and gave me a small credit to address the bad behavior of the original renter who did not represent the company well with either his demeanor or the car he’d posted for rent.
The great thing about renting from Relay Rides is that I was able to search for cars in my neighborhood, at the airport and as their website says, everywhere in between. Relay Rides is located in more than 2100 cities and 300 airports.
Patricia Patton is redefining the way women think about what it means to live a well situated life, particularly among maturing black and African American women. Best known for helping her clients dream themselves awake, Patricia creates strategies to reshape a future expressing ever deeper dimensions of the self. She hosts edu-retreats for older entrepreneurs and can be found at BoomerWizdom, a blog focusing on creating your playbook for What’s Next. Follow her on Twitter @BoomerWiz.