August 28, 2003, 12:00 AM

Car rental sites experience strong July growth, Nielsen/NetRatings reports

Traffic at Thrifty Car Rental, Enterprise, Dollar Rent A Car and Avis was up by double digits over July 2002, reports Neilsen/NetRatings.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Most car rental companies’ web sites racked up impressive gains in online traffic in July, reports Neilsen/NetRatings. Traffic at Thrifty Car Rental, Enterprise, Dollar Rent A Car and Avis was up by double digits over July 2002. Thrifty’s unique audience reached 836,000 in July this year vs. 548,000 in July 2002, up 53%; Enterprise’s unique audience reached 1.25 million from 943,000, up 33% in July vs. a year ago; Dollar’s hit 764,000 from 583,000, up 31%; and Avis’s unique audience grew to 1.48 million in July this year vs. 1.17 million in July 2002, up 26%.

Not all companies participated in the boom, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Hertz’s traffic was up only 2% to 1.75 million from 1.71 million; Budget’s was up 9% to 1.21 million from 1.11 million; National Car Rental’s was down 9% to 708,000 from 782,000; and Alamo’s was down 12% to 809,000 from 917,000.

"The car rental market is an oft-forgotten success story in the online travel industry," said Patrick Thomas, senior Internet analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "The top brands are utilizing the Internet to provide reservation tools as well as offering consumers Internet-only prices, especially for leisure rentals." A total of 4.5 million users accessed car rental web sites in July, Nielsen/NetRatings reports.

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