Toyota PriusFor those of you who are interested in driving a hybrid, I am delighted to announce that we now have the Toyota Prius available at selected London locations in the UK. The Prius, which works on a mixture of petrol engine and electric motor, is available to book at www.avisprestige.com and has the added advantage of being exempt from the congestion charge!

If you would like to know more about some of the new greener cars we have available across Europe then you might be interested to read Rob’s post in March called “Green cars across Europe”.

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Please always remember to bring BOTH parts of your driver’s licence if you have a new style picture one. It’s essential that we check both parts for identification and driving endorsements. Sometimes our Avis Preferred members forget as they understandably assume that they don’t need ANY paperwork, but we do need to be able to check a valid driving licence at each rental, so please bring it along.

If you forget, we can call the DVLA in your presence (during their opening hours) to perform a check for us, but they charge a premium rate :(( , so this will cost you extra.

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NiceNice in the South of France is rapidly becoming one of the most popular destinations in France for English tourists and it’s a great base for exploring the French Riviera, Monaco and Provence.  I travelled there a couple of years ago for my friend’s wedding and next month, I’ll be there to celebrate the christening of his daughter.  

I’ve been speaking to an Avis colleague in France, Sophie Grimoin who gave me some great recommendations if you’re visiting.  She suggests taking a walk in the old town and seeing Saint-François-de-Paule, Place Saleya, Place Rossetti, cathedral Saint-Réparate and the chapelle de la Miséricorde, as well as taking a stroll along the seafront on the Promenade des Anglais 

If you wanted to explore a bit further, she also recommended Carabacel for architecture fans.  Personally, I would advise you take a drive up the Route Napoleon to Entrevaux. It has beautiful scenery and the walk to the top of the hill may be steep but the views from the citadel are spectacular!!   

There are three Avis locations in Nice, one at the railway station, one at Place Massena but the most popular one by far is the one at Nice Cote d’Azur airport that is open from 6am to midnight, every day.  If you’re a member of Avis Preferred, the staff have a promise that they will serve you within three minutes; they’ll even give you a stopwatch.  If they are unable to fulfill that promise, they will give you some vouchers for money off your next Avis car hire!! 

Once your paperwork is complete, the car park is a short bus ride from the terminal and your car will be waiting for you when you get there.  When you return your car, there’s a petrol station just before the car hire area so remember to refuel to avoid a refuelling charge.  Alternatively, opt to take Fuel Up Front when you collect your car and you won’t have to worry about re-fuelling at all! 

I’ll also be using the Avis office at Marseille Provence airport when I’m in France, so keep an eye out for a blog post on that location when I return. Remember, let us know if you want information about Avis offices you may be using in the future.

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Part 2 of my holiday tips follows.. but first of all a special reminder about how important it is to decide in advance what size of car you’ll need. I’m going to Jersey on holiday next week, and have booked an MX5 to whizz around in – My husband pointed out that the several large suitcases I’m stacking up, wouldn’t fit into the car, and suggested I take less luggage :((( I had a better idea and booked a taxi to take us from the airport to the hotel and back, and arranged to collect the car later :))) But it’s lucky we thought about it in advance, otherwise we’d have had a domestic incident at Jersey Airport !

This happens to customers all the time, they might book what they drive at home , or what’s cheapest, without thinking through the implications, and then have a woeful start to the holiday when they get off a long haul flight and realise kids and luggage can’t be fitted into the car. And usually at this stage the luggage is the quieter of the two options:) So think about passenger capacity and luggage capacity, our website has handy little pictures showing how many people and cases the model will carry. On to Tips for Renting a Car on Holiday Part 2…

1. Most of our major locations will have English speaking staff on duty, but please be patient and remember you are in another country, it’s not reasonable to expect everyone you come across to speak English as if it were their native language. And remember some cultures are different to ours, a shrug of the shoulders in France doesn’t have the same connotations that it does in the UK, so keep an open mind:) Our rental agreements are available in English at all major locations in Europe and terms and conditions of rental should be available in English at all locations worldwide.
2. Cars will usually be provided with a full tank of fuel and you’ll normally be asked to return it full or be offered the option of paying for a tank at the beginning of your rental. There are some exceptions, notably in Malta and Cyprus. Local agreements apply where all car rental companies make a mandatory charge for the fuel in advance.
3. Take a few minutes whilst you’re loading the car, to check that it looks ok, and that if there any scratches on the bodywork, they’re recorded on the paperwork you’ve been given. If they’re not, tell someone before you leave the rental location or as soon as possible afterwards.
4. Take care when driving, and while you should be mindful of local driving customs .. don’t panic!
5. When you return your car, ask the rental staff to check the car over when you’re there and to confirm what the cost of your rental is. The price displayed on the receipt supplied by our Rapid Return staff is the final price you will have to pay and that is our guarantee. That way there’ll be no nasty surprises afterwards.
6. Finally, in the unlikely event that you follow our advice and encounter a problem that can’t be solved by the Avis staff on location, we’re always here to help when you get home.

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I am always fielding questions from people from around the organisation: “Why are we not doing this”, “When are we doing this”, “I don’t think we’re doing that fast enough”. They give me a hard time because they care and because they have passion, in abundance.

I believe that one of Avis’ biggest strengths is our people and it is incredible how much of themselves they invest into this organisation. It is their passion that drives them. They are passionate about our brand, they are passionate about our company and they are passionate about our customers. And ultimately, it is their passion that drives We Try Harder.

However, finding people like this is a challenge but a challenge that we must face if we are going to sustain our commitment to We Try Harder. At the risk of making the blog sound like an advertorial, it is important to utilise every opportunity we can to find good people. So, today I shamelessly plug our www.aviscareers.co.uk website. If you know someone who works with passion, as well as courage, modesty and loyalty, please refer them to this website. We just might have a job for them.

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I read an article yesterday in the travel industry magazine Travolution that reported on how a number of hotels are planning legal action against Tripadvisor. The reason? Because they have allowed negative reviews about said hotels to be posted on their website. What the heck happened to freedom of speech?!

I think Tripadvisor and other similar review sites do a great job and I personally use Tripadvisor all the time. When you are spending your hard-earned money on a holiday, flight, hotel room or even on car hire it’s reassuring to know that the company you use is reliable and trustworthy. If you don’t have your own experiences to draw upon then it is great to be able to draw upon the experiences of others. In a previous world you had to rely on your friends or family for this. But now with the Internet you can seek this information from anyone in the world. OK so some times you will get the over-zealous disgruntled customer who will provide an exaggerated account of her/his experience. But I believe customers are savvy enough not to base their decisions on one comment alone and will research a number of reviews to help make a balanced and informed decision. If a company is delivering a good service then this should work in their favour. Anyway, if companies are given the right to start censoring some comments then where is the line drawn?

We spend a lot of time monitoring what is said about us on review sites and forums, including Tripadvisor. We’ll hold our hands up and admit that it is not always positive because, like everyone else, we don’t get it right every time. But when we read a negative review or comment we don’t try to hide from it or try to defend it. Instead, we will contact that customer and try to resolve any issue they may have. Then we will see what we can learn from this so we can try our darn hardest to make sure that this type of comment is never written about us again. Our approach to long-term growth is simple: we provide a great service so that not only will you come back to us again but you’ll recommend us to your friends. Websites like Tripadvisor keep us on our toes, they make sure that we stay true to this vision and they make sure that we continue to strive for excellence.

So my tip for any company who has received a bad review on the Internet is don’t bother with the expensive legal fees and don’t dwell on it. Take it on the chin, digest the feedback and look at how you can learn from it. That way the next time a customer posts a comment or review about you it may be a good one.

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I talk to people all the time who’ve rented cars abroad in the past and have found it to be quite a traumatic experience. The first thing I always suggest? Make sure you rent with a reputable company! Preferably Avis of course. :o) If you deal with a company that has a global presence then you’ve got someone to turn to in your home country if something goes wrong. At Avis you can always deal with someone in the HQ of the country you live in and you don’t have to worry about language barriers and time differences if there’s something you want to talk about after the event.

But it’s peace of mind in advance that most people want and the most common issue that people raise after the event are “extra charges”, something that car rental has a bit of a reputation for. :o( Also, people want to be on their way as quickly as possible when they finally reach their holiday destination , and don’t like hanging around waiting in queues or trying to make decisions about “extras” when they’re there.

I’ve put together some top tips for having a hassle free holiday rental. Now I have a few so I’ve decided to write this in two parts. Come back next week to check out Part 2!…
1. Book with a reputable company, preferably Avis :o)
2. Read my tips to Return your car with less stress
3. Always make sure that you know what is included in the rate that you’ve booked. For example, most rates will include mandatory charges and cover for 3rd party damage and damage to or theft of the Avis car. But there is usually an excess, so check this before you travel, and find out how much you would have to pay to reduce your excess liability. You can then decide whether you want to take the chance and travel with an excess risk, or pay a little more to reduce it.
4. Remember to allow for any additional costs for any extras you may need that cannot be booked in advance e.g. satellite navigation, additional driver, etc. (we are working on the advance booking bit)
5. Have all your documents ready in advance, your drivers licence, credit card etc, that will speed up the process for you. Even better, join our Avis Preferred membership, so you can just show your licence collect your keys and go at most locations.
6. Decide in advance if you want to pay in sterling or local currency. You’ll automatically be billed in sterling if you’re a UK resident unless you specify otherwise. That has the advantage of your knowing exactly what will appear on your credit card statement afterwards, but you might sometimes get a more advantageous rate from your credit card company so it’s worth thinking about that in advance.

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Avis UK HQ Team. Front row (l-r): Guy Bailey, Pritesh Patel, myself. Back row (l-r): Carl John, Simon Wickson, Paul NealeTo add to Scotland’s excellent efforts at the Falkirk Wheel I am delighted to announce that we raised approximately £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support courtesy of the Avis Charity Day held in Birmingham on Saturday.

The day ‘kicked off’ with 11 teams representing head office, our rental locations, partners and suppliers who were all competing for the much-coveted We Try Harder Cup. The forecast was not looking favourable but the weather turned out to be fantastic. And despite all the pre-match talk from the Manchester Regional team they could not avenge last year’s final defeat, falling short at the semis. Instead it was left for the UK Head Office team to defend their trophy against the London Regional team in the final. It was a close encounter but the Head Office team (pictured left) edged it courtesy of a sublime Simon Wickson goal. The trophy was ours again!

The festivities then moved on to the evening Charity Gala. Held at the Jury’s Inn in Broad Street, Birmingham we ate, drank, spent our hard earned cash on the charity auction and were entertained by the comical BJ Cunningham who captivated us with tales of how he took on the tobacco industry with his DEATH “the honest smoke” cigarette brand and exploited legal loopholes that brought him before the European Court of Justice on more than one occasion. If you ever get the chance to see him speak then you’ll see that he is a real character! We finished the night dancing (and I use the word loosely) the night away and going to bed very late (tut, tut).

Before I finish, a special mention must go to Guy Bailey, Al Thoma, Simon Wickson, John Shute, Pritesh Patel and Steven Foster who put so much of their time into making this fantastic event happen. I would also like to thank everyone who donated so generously and of course to Avis who put up the money to make the event happen in the first place!

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Staff from Avis In ScotlandIt is really great to see so many people at Avis get involved in local community projects and charity fundraising around the country. Our nominated charity is MacMillan Cancer Support and they give invaluable support for people living with cancer by providing information, self-help groups, carer support and financial assistance. Over the year we run a number of events to raise as much as we can to support them.

Last weekend 30 members of our team in Scotland braved the elements as they walked and cycled the canal banks on their journey to the Falkirk Wheel, raising in excess of £2,000 for MacMillan in the process. You can see the proud travellers enjoying a BBQ at their destination in the picture above. News of Alan Park’s (the man in charge of this area) recovery are positive and he is expected to be released from the Stirling Royal Infirmary sometime soon!

Tomorrow is the Avis Charity Day where staff from all over the country will take part in a football tournament and an evening charity gala. Check back next week when Rob will tell you what happened.

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Canal in VeniceMost people associate Venice with canals and gondolas but did you know that it is one of Avis’ busiest locations in Europe? The question that springs to mind is why do you need a car when there aren’t any roads? Well, Venice Marco Polo airport is a great base for exploring the north of Italy, including the regions of Veneto and Lombardy and cities such as Bologna, Padua and Milan, as well as Venice itself.  

Marco Polo airport has one terminal and the Avis desk is conveniently located in the arrivals hall.  It’s open from 8am to midnight and once you’ve completed your paperwork, it’s only a short walk to the car park to pick up your vehicle. Like most of our airports, we also have a dedicated Avis Preferred line at the desk, for those of you in a hurry! 

One of the best sites I’ve found for information about Venice itself is Time Out.  It gives you loads of information about eating, drinking, sightseeing and shopping so you can plan your trip. I have also got a personal recommendation from one of my colleagues who has just returned from Venice. For great food and wine he recommended the Trattoria Dall’Amelia (Via Miranese 113).

If you are visiting the city, please remember to park at the car park outside of town! It’s much nicer to travel around the city in a gondola and we don’t want to have to tow our cars from the canals.

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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.

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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.

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