RelayRides: Like an Automotive Airbnb
We’re big fans of Zipcar and similar services. They allow people who don’t need a car full time to have on-demand access to cars when they need them, for as much or as little time as necessary.
A site called RelayRides is trying to get in on that action. Rather than dealing with a corporation however, RelayRides allows peer-to-peer car rentals–sorta like an Airbnb for the automotive world. RelayRides takes people’s slumbering cars and puts them to work as well as making some cash for the owners.
Car owners set their cars price and availability and renters book the cars online. Owners review the request before their car is booked. Protection comes in the form a $1M insurance policy for both owners and renters; 24 roadside assistance comes with the package. Riders are screened to make sure Thelma and Louise don’t rent your convertible.
In terms of money, owners get 60% of the reservation fee. Yep, that’s right–40% go to RelayRide (a hot topic on their comment board). Cars seem to rent for around $7-50/hr, with majority for around $15. Renters cover gas charges.
We wish RelayRides the best, but wonder about their value proposition. Their prices are higher than Zipcar whose prices start at $9/hr in NYC (lower in other regions); oh yeah, this includes gas. RelayRides reservations are not instantaneous and in some cases both parties have to arrange a key exchange (“select” cars can be opened with a cellphone). Zipcar members have a card that allows them to open the door for any reserved car. To be fair, there is a yearly registration fee for Zipcar ($60 in NYC).
I am quite familiar with using Zipcar. I’ve used it for several years, and excepting a few late returns and last-minute reservations switches, I’ve been quite happy with the service.
Have you used RelayRides? What was your experience? Would you recommend it? Are there other similar services we should be looking at? Let us know.