Car rental market booming, luxury limo rentals not so much – Industry insiders

The increase in the number of tourist visits to Macau and larger Greater Bay Area integration has led to a rise in the demand for car rentals in the city, however, the luxury car rental service industry has seen better days, industry insiders told MNA.

Several car rental businesses have been seeing their businesses expand since the gaming industry started to develop in the 2000’s, but the expected increase in tourist numbers and movements to come from the Greater Bay Area development plan and the opening of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge to the public last year, had led the sector to become very optimistic of its future prospects.

“Burgeon Rent a Car Limited was founded in 2007 when there was only one rental company. At that time, the gaming industry was emerging and many people rented cars. Our company was created because car rental services were in short supply,” the company’s Administration & Human Resource Manager, Rain Lin, told MNA.

Since the opening of the gambling market in Macau in 2002 and the opening of free individual travel visa in 2003, the number of visitors to Macau has increased steadily year after year.

In 2002 the number of inbound tourists coming to Macau was some 11.53 million, with that number ballooning to 35.8 million in 2018, according to the data released by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC).

DSEC info also shows that for the past 10 years Mainland Chinese tourists have always accounted for more than 50 per cent of visitors to Macau.

According to Ms. Lin most of her company’s clients are Mainland Chinese tourists, but with some clients hailing from Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Multi-Purpose Vehicle van, one of the most common car rental models in the city

Burgeon Rent A Car Limited offers two main rental car models, a Kia Picanto for Macau self-driving, and a Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) provided with a driver, generally rented to integrated resorts or to individual tourists.

“About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from contracts with resorts. The Venetian, Starworld, Sands Macao and so on have cooperated with our company.” Ms. Lin added.

The company now has a total of 40 MPV, all of which are parked in the Ocean Gardens parking area.

“For example, like concerts, conventions, events or VIP guests etc., the resort contacts our company. We then will send a car team with a driver to them,” Ms. Lin said, “the service usually goes to hotels, or to the airport, ferry terminal, convention centres, and so on.”

Individual rental Kia Picanto

There are also a few individual clients’ car rentals, with the rental calculated on a time basis.

“Individuals generally rent self-driving cars such as a Kia, but those clients are the minority. Since the price is reasonable, the people who rent self-drive cars are usually from Hong Kong, Southeast Asians and a small number of locals who take relatives and friends to Macau,” Ms. Lin explained.

According to Ms. Lin, the profit and loss of the company is closely related to Mainland China policies.

After a large scale Chinese government corruption crackdown was launched in 2014 and the decline in Macau gaming revenues that followed, business for car rentals also suffered, she said.

“But our company is optimistic about the prospects for this industry’s development,” Ms. Lin explained, “Because China is developing the Greater Bay Area and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has just opened. We are now running cross-border services and we believe that the car rental service demand for future customers will increase,’ Ms. Lin told MNA.

No space for limos

Ms. Lin also added that in the past, the company used to rent limousines for weddings, but since the demand was low and drivers who know how to drive this type of vehicle are scarce, the company decided to finish this service.

Currently, Macau Car Rental Lynx Limousine Service is the only company in Asia that offers limos for rent, its company Executive Director, Fei Danxia, told MNA.

Macau Car Rental Lynx Limousine Service was founded in 2008 and it currently has three limos available, with a base per hour rental price of MOP1,000 (US$123).

“Lynx Limo provides all transportation needs,” Ms. Fei said, “Mostly people rent it for parties, city tours, and wedding services.”

Foreign tourists – Indians and Koreans – were said to be the company’s main clients, with most people renting a limousine for only one to two hours.

“They usually rent the car to watch the night view of Macau and take pictures […] Western people rent it mainly for partying and drinking champagne because they know how to enjoy life,” Ms. Fei told MNA.

Limo inside area

According to Lynx Limo’s Executive Director, two years ago business was better because the company had cooperation contracts with resorts and bars that allowed its cars to park directly at the hotel entrances.

However, since 2018, these contracts were terminated and the business is not doing so well. There were only three people renting limos in July of this year,” she added

Ms. Fei said that since business prospects are bleak, her boss wanted to give up the company, however, she believes that with Macau supposedly being the Las Vegas of the east, such cars should be part of the local scene.

After all, she still wants to keep the business going by searching for customers via the internet or travel agencies, while re-seeking cooperation with resorts, casinos, and bars to increase revenue.

Lynx Limo’s Executive Director, Fei Danxia

The company is currently looking to cooperate with the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), but with the deal still in the consulting stage.

“If the customer flies to Macau from anywhere, we will offer a Limo pick-up and drop off,” Ms. Fei added.

Macau Limousine Service has started Limo cross-border services for locations in the Greater Bay Area since February of this year.

*Written by Jing Wu, edited by Nelson Moura