I received this recent missive from the fine folks at National, and let me tell you, it’s a masterclass in corporate hoopla.
Dear Adam,Email from National Emerald Club
We’d like to thank you for your loyalty as a valued Emerald Club® member – and we’d also like to share with you an exciting announcement regarding our business.
National Car Rental® not only helps you Go Like A Pro®: It’s also part of a global portfolio of mobility solutions. Now, as we look to help shape the future of mobility, we are connecting our full portfolio under a new corporate brand — Enterprise Mobility™.
This portfolio includes car rental, fleet management, flexible vehicle hire, carsharing, vanpooling, car sales, truck rental, vehicle subscriptions, luxury rentals, technology solutions and more.
While we are introducing a new corporate brand, the Enterprise Mobility portfolio of brands, including National Car Rental and the Emerald Club program, will remain unchanged.
There are no changes for you and no actions you need to take.
Although the corporate brand is changing, who we are is not.
We will continue to deliver you exceptional service, innovate with intention to help meet your mobility needs, and invest in and reward our loyal members like you.
Thank you for helping us shape the future of mobility.
They want to let us know that they’re part of this grand Enterprise Mobility™ rebrand. According to the email, nothing changes for us—no actions required, no adjustments, just the same ol’ same ol’.
In the press release, the Enterprise bigwigs are making a big deal about “ushering in a new era” and “moving mobility forward.” They’re throwing around phrases like “purpose-led” and “people first.” But essentially, it seems like a renaming party for a bunch of services they already had.
Chrissy Taylor, President & CEO of Enterprise Mobility, waxes poetic about the company’s evolution. She’s mentioning a new visual identity, a refreshed corporate purpose, and a lot of sentimental musing about their history, which is all nice and dandy. But let’s face it, it’s a rebranding exercise – a facelift for a business that’s been around the block for a while. You can read the full press release here if you choose – but be warned, it’s a lot of fluff and not much substance.
What’s my take on all this hullabaloo? Well, it seems like Enterprise might be trying to dip their toes into other mobility markets beyond just car rental. Maybe they’re eyeing a slice of the rideshare pie dominated by Uber and Lyft? Time will tell if this move will amount to anything significant. Consider that Marriott and, more recently, Hyatt have both dipped their toes into the short-term vacation rental space, going head-to-head with Airbnb and VRBO, perhaps in a move to lure in Millenial and Gen Z travelers who tend to eschew traditional hotels in favor of non-traditional alternatives. Could Enterprise be trying to do the same with Uber and Lyft? I’m not sure it’d be smart, but it would sound good in a boardroom – seriously, the blueprint for every college Entrepreneurship class project (and most actual tech startups for that matter) seems to boil down to “it’s like Uber, but for _________.”
But my concern is whether this will impact the trusty old National brand and the Emerald Club program over the long-term. The email and press release don’t give many concrete answers about much of anything. While National is arguably still the best car rental loyalty program out there, it’s slowly declined over the years both in selection of cars and customer service quality. Hopefully Enterprise doesn’t use this little reorg as a means by which to infuse even more Enterprise culture into National, or bring the Emerald Club any closer to its sister program, Enterprise Plus (which only offers its top-tier Platinum members a whopping four upgrades per year… meanwhile I can probably count on one hand the number of times National didn’t upgrade me).
Also, let’s just take a moment to consider just how bad this new name is. If I had no prior knowledge of Enterprise, I’d have to ask myself: “what does this company actually do?” They say they’re in the business of mobility. Does that mean they manufacture wheelchairs and crutches? Have they pivoted to selling mobile phone plans? Can an international traveler visit the Enterprise Mobility booth at O’Hare and buy a local SIM card before leaving the airport? The name just doesn’t tell me a lot. If virtually everyone didn’t already recognize the Enterprise name and logo, this would be terrible marketing.
For now, this rebranding doesn’t seem to be more than a corporate shuffling of the deck. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to any drastic changes that would ruffle the feathers of frequent travelers down the road.