I’ve just read that Willie Walsh, CEO at British Airways, is due to announce a pledge by airlines, airports and airplane manufacturers to cut carbon emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050. I know that BA hasn’t had the best press over the past couple of years but I’ve been really impressed by Willie Walsh’s efforts to lobby for proactive measures to tackle climate change in the airline industry.

In anticipation of the announcement Willie Walsh declared: “International aviation emissions were not included in the Kyoto protocol 12 years ago. Now we have a chance to rectify that omission, and we must seize it”. Walsh will be joined by senior executives from Qatar Airways, SAS and IATA to unveil the plans at the UN climate summit in New York today.

Also included in these plans are proposals to make all industry growth carbon-neutral by 2020, to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5% each year over the next decade and to submit plans for joining a global carbon trading scheme to the UN by November 2010.

The plans are welcome news with analysts predicting that global aviation emissions could account for 15-20 percent of all CO2 produced in 2050, if left unchecked.

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You may have read recently in a number of newspaper and internet articles about an increase in the cost of renting a car over the summer period, so I thought I would take this chance to explain some of the reasons behind this and provide some tips to find the best rate in the future.

Many of you will have read about why the price of car rental has increased over summer – the recession, lack of finance to buy new fleet, unexpected demand meant a reduction in fleet sizes.

A change in the UK weather and a reduction in prices for overseas holidays added to a surge in last minute bookings in some popular destinations, largely Spain, that had not been forecast by a number of business. This resulted in excess demand and disappointment for a number of customers who had waited till they arrive at there destination to hire a car.

Even though the summer peak period may be over, we will still have a number of peak periods coming up till the end of the year including October half term for schools and the Christmas season. So how can you avoid disappointment in over paying or not being able to find a car? I have listed below my three tips that I hope will help you get the best value car rental:

1) Reserve the car in advance. Cars generally go up in price the closer to the date of pickup so you may find yourself paying a higher price or, worst still, unable to book a car at all.
2) Take advantage of special offers and promotions. We often have a number of promotions available where you could save money. For example we are currently offering 15% off rentals in Ireland, car hire in Spain from £22 per day and UK weekend rates from £14 per day based on a 3 day rental. You can sign up to the Avis newsletter to receive updates on offers to your inbox.
3) When booking your car at Avis.co.uk or by our call centre, choose the Pay Now option for the best price. Pre Pay rentals receive a discount versus Pay later ones. Some times they are as high as 50% on certain locations depending on when you are picking up the car.

I hope you found this post interesting and helpful.

Darren

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Unfortunately I never get to go to the Frankfurt motor show but it is great to be reading all the buzz around some of the electric and hybrid cars on show. Peugeot, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Ford and Renault were all there to showcase electric-powered concepts while Tesla showed off a Brabus tuned-up Roadster and their upcoming Model S.

There were plenty of hybrid and plug-in hybrids on display also. Toyota look to be expanding their hybrid range to the Auris and GM’s hybrid plug-in, the Ampera, is particularly exciting and is expected to go on sale in the UK in 2012. But the hybrid that has really got me drooling is BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamic concept. BMW claim that the diesel hybrid will hit 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds while running at 75.1 mpg. Check out this video that I found on Youtube and I think you’ll see what I mean! And let us know if you have any thoughts on the motor show or if you were even lucky enough to go!

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Back in March Rob posted his blog post “What are the United Kingdom’s seven natural wonders?”. While it highlights just how beautiful the British landscape is, I think there are plenty of architectural marvels on our doorsteps also. So today I launch our poll to find out what you think are the UK’s seven man-made wonders. And if your favourites aren’t on the list let us know by posting a comment and we will add them.

PS – we’re going to publish the results of the natural wonders next week so this your last chance to get your vote in for this one as well.

PPS – if you’re interested in visiting any of these places and need a car to get you there then we do currently have an offer on weekend car hire. There is more info on our website: www.avis.co.uk/weekend_inspiration

[poll=16]

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Hi, my name is Dan and I am the station leader of Exeter Airport.

Following Darren’s blog post last week, I thought I would write a something to tell you about a new travel option for those visiting the South West by train. We have just opened a new service from Exeter St Davids train station that is really easy and simple to use. For those arriving on the train, we are providing a complimentary taxi transfer from the train station to our rental office where the Exeter team will be able to get you on your way with no fuss. Simply show your taxi receipt to our rental agent and they will take the cost of the taxi off the bill. There is a regular train service from London Paddington to Exeter and it usually takes 2.5 hours. To book just go to avis.co.uk and select Exeter St Davids as the rental branch you would like to rent from.

For those of you who have not come to Exeter before let me tell you a little bit about my home city. Exeter is a vibrant university city with loads to do for all tastes. We have an excellent range of shops, all the big high street names as well as many independents. The new Princesshay shopping centre contains over 50 shops and has won prizes for its innovative design. It also contains restaurants and bars for when you need a break!

When you are shopped out there are plenty of things to see. You can walk along the roman wall which dates back to 180 -200AD or take a trip through the underground passages which are medieval aquaducts built in the 12th century. Exeter cathedral is also well worth a visit. Free redcoat tours are available and meet on cathedral green daily.

My personal favorite place is down on the quay which grew around the canal in the late middle ages. It is a great place to sit and watch the world go by or grab a drink and dustbin lid pizza at The Waterfront. After all that pizza you can walk or cycle along the canal all the way to the coast- a really nice way to spend an afternoon.

Hope to see some of you soon.

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So after just finishing the Autumn Bank Holiday, I thought I would share with you my long weekend trip to part of the West Country. My friends and I decided to make the most of our last long weekend this year and escape London. We chose to go to Exeter, none of us had been before and the main reason to go was that a friend was moving there in three weeks to study a Masters degree and crazily had not visited the town.

We packed up my Peugeot 308 with four guys, luggage and a Frisbee (we were hopeful of some sun!), the drive from North London to Exeter was three and a half hours, the journey was comfortable for four grown men, so I can recommend the 308 for this trip. The drive to Exeter was largely motor ways, the M25 and M4 and surprisingly for a bank holiday the traffic was not too bad, just slowed slightly as we got closer to Somerset.

Once we arrived, we went straight to the Hotel to dump our bags and explore the city centre. I found Exeter to be a small town easy to walk around; it had plenty of the high street shops to bag a bargain, but no real boutique stores to explore. We found a nice little café on Cathedral Square for lunch with views of Exeter Cathedral dating back to 1114. Afterwards we headed down to the Quay to rent a canoe to explore the River Ex. I would definitely recommend that you book these in advance as they had a three day advance booking period, probably because it was a bank holiday weekend. We stayed around the Quays for dinner and ate at ‘On the Waterfront’ restaurant a Pizzeria. As a self proclaimed Pizza expert I would recommend visiting the restaurant, good pizza and good value. Staying in the area we headed to the local pub ‘The Prospect Inn’ which had a live band on in a large Marquee by the river.

The following day we decided to jump in the car and explore around the River Ex, we headed down to Exmouth, unfortunately the weather was overcast, so we did not spend long as the tide was in and with no sun the options were limited. So we decided to drive round to the other side of the river to Torquay. Torquay being a larger town had more to offer for an overcast day. We headed to the Barceló Imperial hotel and took the coastal walk, taking us above the English Riviera, even though it was cloudy the views were nice and it was peaceful away from the fruit machines and Ice cream shops.

Back in Exeter for the evening we ate at Michael Caines, a local restaurant also located on Cathedral Square and run by a local Michelin star chef, the meal was good, fresh local food and great value as they had a special promotion running. With no real plans we wandered around Exeter trying out the local pubs till we found one we liked. The ‘Old Fire House’ a pub that served local brewed ale, it had a nice chilled atmosphere, mainly lit with candles and seemed to be a very friendly crowd.

Last day of the long weekend and we hit the road early so we could stop of on the way back for lunch, we had the choice between Bristol and Bath, opting for Bath. Fortunately the journey was easy with barely any traffic till we hit Bath city centre. We managed to get parked although I can imagine if we had arrived much later than 2:30pm we would have struggled. After lunch we went to explore the city, unfortunately we did not have a great deal of time, but Bath is definitely on my list for a future visit and even with a brief experience I would recommend this for a weekend break, with great architecture, good pubs and restaurants and some nice looking shops and galleries.

So in three days we managed to discover a small fraction of the West Country and I know it has a lot more to offer, so would be interested in any tips for my next trip.

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You may have seen me post a few comments on here so I thought I’d take 5 minutes to properly introduce myself and perhaps show you a little insight into life here at the Barcelona call centre. My name is Chris Cox and I am the Trainer for the UK and Dutch markets. But first, to explain my job properly, a little background of the call centre is required.

Here in the call centre (based in the World Trade Centre just overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Sea!), we receive calls from all across Europe. These calls are from customers wishing to get a quote, book or ask questions about booking car hire with Avis. We have teams that represent 12 European markets and we offer native speakers in the following 8 languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Dutch & Czechoslovakian. There are 5 Trainers, such as myself, and we each look after 2–3 markets depending upon the languages spoken there (although I do admit, however, that I only know about 5 words in Dutch!).

“Induction groups” for new starters are the main bulk of our jobs. In the centre we all communicate in either Spanish or English but most induction groups are done in the agent’s native language. These inductions involve a 2-week training course that aims to give new starters the tools to successfully handle customer calls. Not only do they learn the computer booking system that lets them create the reservations but also the terms and conditions of rentals, the huge and varied fleet, the various markets (a rental in Dehli or Peking is quite different than in Manchester!) and also the basic soft skills (e.g. active listening, identifying the customer’s needs, explaining the often complicated jargon of car rental in simplistic terms, the type of language to use, how to handle angry or upset customers etc) that will aid them whilst on the phone.

This isn’t always the typical day for us trainers however. Depending upon the time of year we might be busy recruiting for the peak season. Or we could be training existing agents to take “overflow” calls (e.g. we train multi-lingual agents about products in other markets so that they are able to take calls for that country when it has a high call volume). We’ve also just introduced a new reservation system which has meant months of testing and a huge amount of work for an awful lot of people (us included!) but the benefits now seem to be coming to fruition.

But sometimes we need to “muck in” ourselves. When it’s really busy we might be up on the 5th floor with all the agents trying to help with any problems, taking calls ourselves or assisting the Team Leaders who never seem to have enough hours in the day either! Avis is also very committed to personal development and another part of our responsibility is delivering the sessions for our internal program of personal development called ARTE. Successful candidates attend workshops on topics like: Time Management, Coaching Skills, Leadership, Change Management, Empowerment, Presentation Skills etc. This generates a “pool” of expert agents who are always first in line when we have internal vacancies. Or we might simply be sat at our desks answering emails (or Blog questions!) working as the main point of contact for our countries, updating internal “help” material with any changes to our products or with new promotions that are launched and generally trying to keep on top of everything.

I hope this helps give you some insight into life in the call centre. And please let me know if you have any feedback about your experience on the phones with one of our agents. We’re absolutely committed to providing the best service we can so any feedback you provide to help us do better is always welcome!

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BMW 3 SeriesYou may have picked this news up from some of the recent commentary anyway, but I just thought I’d write a quick post to tell everyone that we now have the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series back on the Avis Select Series. The BMWs were immensely popular when we first introduced them so we’re delighted to have them back.

The 3 Series are a mix of 318d and 320d. They are also a mix of SEs and M Sports, although there are more M Sports than SEs. The 5 Series are all 520d SEs.

If you rent one of our BMWs and fancy writing a review (and, ideally, take a few photos) then please send it in to comments@avis.co.uk. If we publish it, we will sort you out with a free 3-day weekend rental in one of our 3 Series as a way of saying thanks (there are some terms and condition so email me if you are interested and I’ll send these over).

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I haven’t had a chance to blog about it until now but a few weeks back I drove up to the Peak District for the weekend. The Peak District had never really appealed to me but a few recent trips around the UK had opened my eyes to how beautiful our country can be and, as it is very accessible from the south, I thought I’d make the drive up. Armed with my “Walk Britain: Great Views” book, I set my sights on hiking The Roaches and Mam Tor. Here is my account of my two hikes:

The Roaches
As you drive through Upper Hulme and approach the gritstone cliffs and clustered rock formations of the Roaches, you can’t help but get a little excited. While I’ve seen plenty of beautiful sights on the British landscape, I’ve never seen anything so quite unusual. When you approach the gritstone rocks themselves you will wonder what natural events could possibly have led them to take on such mangled and twisted shapes. But there is plenty more going on. On the larger cliff faces you’ll find rock climbers taking on the challenge of scaling them. Surrounding the rocks are clusters of woodlands, pasturelands and moorlands that add plenty of colour and texture to the scene. The problem is that if you focus too much on the details in front of you, you may miss the stunning panoramic views of the hilly Peak District countyside beyond. The views are visible from all the way along the ridge and stretch for miles.

Starting at the road alongside the Roaches, you can start your hike at Hen Cloud, the first of four distinct summits. Make your way along the The Roaches until you come to Roach End. Many people turn back here but I’d recommend carrying on through on the “Concession Path to Danebridge”. Then, at the intersection, if you turn right, heading in the direction of Gradbach, you’ll come to Lud’s Church. Which, incidentally, is not actually a church but a green, mossy chasm that seemingly appears out of the middle of nowhere. It is the stuff of fairytales. From here, make your way back along the ridge towards Hen Cloud. All in all, the hike is about 8.5 miles.

Mam Tor
My second hike was Mam Tor, or the “Shivering Mountain” as it also known. The hike centres around the Great Ridge, where you hike up to the top of Lose Hill and make your way along up to Mam Tor. The views are amazing, particularly over Hope Valley where you can see cliffs, moorland and the dramatic gorges – most notably Winnat’s Pass which is believed to have once been an undersea ravine. Meanwhile, the cliff-face of Mam Tor reveals it’s layers of shale and grit, an awesome addition to the view.

From Mam Tor you can either head back down to town via Winnat’s Pass or through Cave Dale. The latter option provides this hike’s fairytale addition: Peveril Castle, which sits nestled along the edge of the cavern. The town you are heading into (which is also where you’ll start) is Castleton is blessed with an abundance of great pubs that you can visit for a well earned post-hike drink. Castleton also has a number of other great local attractions most notably Peak Cavern.

Despite my preconceptions, these hikes opened my eyes to what a stunning addition the Peak District National Park is to the British landscape. The Roaches is now one of my favourite UK hikes. And the best thing is that it’s central position makes it a highly accessible park to visit from many parts of the country!

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When you think of festivals at the moment you’re mind is probably going to turn to the upcoming music heavyweights such as Reading/Leeds and V. But my colleague Vicky has tried to think outside the box and, in doing so, has put together this great guide to some weird and wonderful festivals that you might not know about. Some of them look brilliant. The 80′s Rewind festival in Henley is not too far from me… although I’m not so sure about brushing off the spandex…

The Out Of The Ordinary Festival 2009
A three day eco-friendly family festival from the 18th – 20th September, set in the lovely Sussex countryside. A chance to experience the Equinox Sunrise and really get back to nature, with solar-powered music stages, a green market and a zero waste policy. Tickets available via the site from just £57 for three days.

Festibelly 2009
A one day festival on the 29th August, this is an intimate event with only 1000 tickets on sale. Set in gorgeous countryside in Hampshire, it features up-and-coming new musical talent and street-art battles. At just £25 per ticket you’ll be able to watch some fantastic bands, eat some scrumptious food, and enjoy what’s set to be one big party. Oh and they’re throwing in camping for free!

Solfest 2009
Held on the August bank holiday weekend (28th- 30th August) at Tarnside Farm in West Cumbria, Solfest aims to create a great atmosphere through its sense of community. Welcoming everyone from all walks of life to four music stages, workshops and classes from Yoga to Burlesque; drumming to Sing-A-Long-A-Soundwave! Tickets are £85 for the weekend, and for some added luxury, why not rent a yurt or a squirt for the weekend?

One Love Reggae Festival
Head down to Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent from 21st-23rd August for three days of live reggae music. Not only will you be spoilt for choice with five stages playing everything from roots to ragga, but you’ll also have unlimited access to the wildlife park for just £5 extra! Where else in the UK can you chill out to drum beats in the company of rhinos, tigers and elephants? Weekend tickets are £70.

Wizard Festival
Is taking place from the 28th- 29th of August in Aberdeenshire. A Scottish festival for families and festival-goers alike in its third year, featuring fabulous bands and family entertainment. A ticket for the entire weekend only costs £70 – including camping!

80’s Rewind Festival
On the 21st – 23rd of August in Temple Island Meadows, Henley on Thames. If you’ve got love for the 80’s then this is the festival for you! All the original acts of the era will be dusting off their spandex and busting the moves on stage once more. You can visit the fun fair, comedy tent and eat all the posh nosh you like at this festival and you can even moor your boat for the weekend if you please! Tickets £90 including camping.

Newquay Fish Festival
Being held from the 18th-20th of September, this festival is not just for fans of the fruits of the sea, but those looking for a fun day out too. There will be live bands and entertainers, dolphin and shark-spotting trips, a fresh fish BBQ, beer tent and a sandcastle competition, just to mention a few of the activities lined up.

PS – please let us know if you have any alternative festivals of your own!

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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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But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.