Warren AvisI am sad to announce that Warren Avis, the founder of Avis Rent A Car, has passed away aged 92.

One of the reasons why I love working for Avis is its interesting history, a history that is coloured by bold, pioneering individuals whose legacy has shaped the Avis of today. Warren Avis was undoubtedly one of those individuals.

He was a decorated pilot, serving in World War II with the US Army Air Corps. Legend has it that he was inspired to start up a car rental business during this service when he could not find transportation on arrival at the airports he would fly into. Popular belief at the time was that this idea would not work, that travellers would not want to drive a private car in an alien city. But with an investment of $85,000, Avis pioneered the world’s first airport car rental business with the opening of his first location at Willow Run Airport, Detroit in 1946. Under his leadership, rapid growth ensued and in 1954 Avis sold his interest in the business for $8 million.

I read that Warren Avis was been dubbed everything from an “impatient millionaire” to an “entrepreneurial legend”. He is undoubtedly a man whose vision helped shaped the industry we know today. 

 The blog team and all at Avis UK would like to express our condolences to the Avis family.

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Thorpe ParkHow do you keep your children entertained over the bank holiday – seaside, adventure park, museum? With the weather forecast looking good, we know many of you will be jumping in your car or hiring one for the May Day break. So if you’re looking for inspiration on where to go for a family day out, here are some suggestions put together with help from my colleagues in the Avis office.

I’d recommend www.whattodowiththekids.co.uk or www.daysout.co.uk as a good source of ideas. They have loads of information about theme parks and museums and also some great discount vouchers. The information covers the whole country so you should be able to find something, wherever you live. The AA also has a great search facility that allows you to look up local events in your area.

If your children are a little older and you’d like something a bit more adventurous, you could always try Go Ape! (as long as you’ve got a head for heights!) or Go Ballistic if paintball sounds like your thing. Personally, I’m more of a theme park person and one of my favourites has always been Thorpe Park. However, someone in the office suggested Cadbury World, which sounds like a winner to me – a place that’s purely about chocolate. Surely something that would appeal to every child.

If you are renting a car with Avis, please don’t forget to book early. Much like Easter, bank holidays are busy periods and we’ve got some great deals available to help you get out and about. For information on traffic conditions, check out the Highways Agency website.

So where are you going this bank holiday? Your ideas could be an inspiration for others and help save some family arguments!

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At Avis we have strict service standards and processes in place. In my team, Customer Support, our objective is to respond to every single query that we receive and we aim to resolve the majority of customer queries within five working days. (Some issues will take longer, for instance if we have to investigate something with Avis in another country.) So I was disappointed to read a couple of comments on the blog where customers said they hadn’t received a response to a query they’d sent us, and were understandably dissatisfied with this.

When you email us, you should receive an ‘automatic response’ explaining the time frames in which you can expect a full reply. So if you don’t receive this it’s likely that your email hasn’t reached us for some reason. If you have not had any response within five working days, then we need to know about that.

If you have an outstanding query and have either had no reply at all, or just the automatic response, then I would urge you to contact us at this special email address: comments@avis.co.uk. It will also allow us to start a dialogue with you so we can understand the root cause of the issue – and, of course, prioritise your query so that we can resolve it as quickly as possible. You have my promise that it will receive my full focus.

Please only use this address if you’ve already submitted a query. Under normal circumstances, if you have a question for us then the best place to go is the Help and Contact Us section of our website. You may find the answer to your question in our FAQ section, known on the website as Ask Avis, or you can contact us directly by phone or email.

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Jaguar XKRob and I have been debating which of Avis’s Prestige cars we’d most like to ‘borrow’ (with a few suggestions from other people in the office too!). He’s gone for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. My personal favourite is the Jaguar XK Cabriolet.

With cars like the Audi TT Coupe, Range Rover Sport and Mercedes SLK 200, the Prestige range is designed for those special occasions, important business engagements, or if you just want a little luxury! A full list of the models available is on the Avis Prestige website.

Although our cars are based at Manchester, central London and London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, there’s a delivery and collection service to pretty much anywhere in Great Britain. A question was recently posted about whether Prestige cars are available across Europe and I am pleased to say that in some countries they are (although they may be called something different).

If you are interested in renting a Prestige car in Europe then you might like to know that Avis France is currently offering a 10% discount on the Mercedes SLK. In Germany, Avis recently launched its Prestige service with several hundred ‘fun cars’, including the new Porsche Cayman and Mini Cooper Cabriolet. I’ve heard on the grapevine that there was a waiting list to rent the new Porsche 911.

We’re aware that this information is not yet available on our website and I would suggest you contact our call centre on 0844 581 0147 to find out more.

Going back to our initial debate, are you on side with myself or Rob, or is there another car you would like to ‘borrow’ – even if it isn’t part of Prestige? (And I’m not trying to influence you with a picture of the XK at the top of the post, honest!).

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M6 motorwayI learnt my lesson about not wasting fuel many years ago. I was driving through Yosemite National Park in California and had my air-conditioning turned right up. I didn’t realise it made the car use more fuel, and nearly ran out of petrol. I almost ended up stranded at the top of a mountain in a thunderstorm!

Lights, windscreen wipers, audio systems, air-conditioning and heating all increase your fuel consumption – and CO2 emissions. Most are essential in certain conditions, but there are other things you can do to make your driving more economical. The Unipart website has some great advice for economical driving. Here’s a selection of top tips based on their findings:

1. Accelerate slowly
It’s more economical to increase speed gradually, even though it takes longer to reach the speed you want.

2. Keep your speed down
For the average car, fuel consumption is twice as heavy at a steady 70mph than at 30mph. The best economic performance is usually around 40-60mph and 2,000 to 3,000rpm on your rev counter.

3. Learn to time your gear changes
The right moment to change up a gear is when the speed you’ve reached can be maintained in the next gear without pressing down on the accelerator. The best time to change down is when you can do so without causing a noisy, racing surge in the engine speed. (Automatics can be nearly as economical as manual cars, as long as you avoid using the ‘kick down’ too much.)

4. Anticipate when you’ll need to slow down
Gradual braking and minimum use of gears saves fuel. So look ahead to see when you’ll need to corner or come to a stop. Aim to be able to simply take your foot off the accelerator, rather than have to jam it on the brakes.

5. Choose a more economical time and route
Stop-start rush-hour driving is twice as expensive as main roads with free-flowing traffic, while high-speed motorway driving can increase costs by more than a third. Plan your route carefully and avoid congested times if possible – it’ll save you stress as well as petrol!

The North Lanarkshire Council website also provides a useful list to help you reduce the impact of your driving on the environment, and your wallet. If you have any tips of your own please post them in a comment here.

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Car driving through hillsOne thing I can’t stand is being stranded because my car has broken down. Time is precious and I don’t want to be wasting it sitting on the roadside. It’s especially difficult if you’re miles from anywhere. Of course Avis does take precautions to ensure that the chances of anything going wrong are kept to a minimum. Most of our cars are less than seven months old and all undergo a rigorous check before they go out for hire. Still, it’s inevitable that some cars are going to break down.

For peace of mind Avis routinely provides free 24-hour roadside assistance. If you do need help in the UK a freephone number (0800 200 888) is displayed on the tax disc of your Avis car. It’s the same number you should phone in the event of an accident and goes straight through to the Avis Assist team. When you call, the relevant breakdown organisation is notified and directed to you immediately, and our Avis Assist team will always ensure that you’re safe and well after the event.

I have experienced this first hand – hopefully it won’t happen to you, but it’s good to know that if there is a problem, Avis Assist is on standby.

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Avis UK Fleet GuideYou probably know that when you book a car with any car hire company you generally don’t book a specific model. You book a car category based on the type of car you want. All this means is that rather than guaranteeing, say, a Renault Clio you might get a Clio or another similar car such as a Ford Fiesta or a Fiat Punto. That’s because the rental company’s priority will always be with ensuring that the customer who booked an estate gets an estate, not a Fiesta. My first car was a Fiesta so I can confidently say that you would not be getting the boot space you were hoping for!

However, you may have found it a bit of a challenge to work out which car category you actually need to book. It’s unfortunate that the entire car hire industry has been guilty of using confusing naming conventions for car categories – A, B, C etc. As a customer you have to check which category the type of car you want is in.

At Avis, our car categories are now broken down differently, as part of our initiative to drive out jargon that I mentioned in one of my first posts. We offer cars by size (small, medium, large), type (eg economy, estates and people carriers) and whether you want to drive a manual or automatic. That way it’s much simpler to ensure you book the right car for your rental needs. A guide to our car categories is available from our website. I hope you’ll find it useful.

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Avis at Gatwick AirportWe’re trying to build up an information bank for you about our most popular locations. Gatwick is one of the UK’s busiest airports and many of you will be hiring cars there from us, especially over Easter. It’s ideal for visiting London, Brighton and the south coast.

We have two offices at Gatwick Airport. The main Avis is right outside the South Terminal and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our North Terminal office has just reopened (after refurbishment). Its hours are 6am to 10pm, but if you’re arriving on a flight really early or late you can catch the monorail to the South Terminal to pick up your car. Remember to always put your flight number in your booking so we know what time and which terminal you’re arriving at.

Vehicles can be returned to either office 24 hours a day; just follow the signs for car rental return, or look at our map and directions.

If you’re returning to the North Terminal after 10pm or before 6am you can leave your key in the drop box just outside the office. We’ll close your rental and send your bill to you with your final charges. If you’re returning to the South Terminal our Rapid Return agents check over the car and give you a receipt, after which we guarantee there’ll be no further charges.

In the first post of this series we gave you information about Heathrow. Please let us know any other locations you’d like us to cover.

On another subject, for those of you who read my post on car hire vs train, I have to mention Doncaster Rovers’ victory in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final on Sunday. They won 3-2 after extra time against Bristol Rovers in a great game!

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Hot cross bunsHopping for an egg-tastic Easter? Sorry about that. My team has been throwing around cheesy Easter puns all week and I couldn’t resist! Easter is a particularly busy time for us so I thought it worthwhile to give you some useful information on how Easter affects our business and how you might want to plan for this…

1. We expect to sell out over Easter, so if you have not yet made a reservation then please book quickly. The best way to guarantee getting the type of car you want at the best price is to book in advance.

2. At many locations we will be very busy. Please allow extra time when picking up the car you have booked, although of course we will do our best to keep any additional time to a minimum. Read our tips on what to bring to make your car pick-up as easy as possible.

3. Many of our major airport locations are open 24 hours a day and will be staying open 24/7 over Easter. However, the hours of some of our smaller offices will change for this period. If you are unsure, you can check the opening times of all our UK locations on our website. When you make an advance booking our systems will prevent it being placed for a time when the office you have chosen is not open.

4. Finally, for ideas on things to do from Good Friday to Easter Monday, then Times Online has an article with some great places to go with the kids, and some family-free options too.

Happy Easter everyone and have a great holiday!

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

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