By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends

CAR rental site Vroom Vroom Vroom (VVV) is moving into the fast lane. It’s about to open a US office that will be headed by current Aussie boss Richard Eastes, who declares: “Everything we do is for growth”.

Eastes says the company is already successfully operating a US version of the site but wants a local base to ensure better customer service and closer supplier relations.

He sees opportunities for a true niche car hire player in the US with many of the former incumbents bought by the big name travel portal such as Expedia, Orbitz or Priceline.

A number of customer service staff will be employed and Las Vegas has been chosen at the HQ – not much of a gamble, according to Eastes. “Vegas has cheap state tax, housing is more affordable and it’s a major transport hub.”

While that may seem a big stretch from its Brisbane home base, VVV already has significant international experience with a well-established London office headed by company’s CEO Peter Thornton.

As a result the company, which Eastes and Thornton bought in 2004, has enjoyed the strong growth it so covets with revenue doubling every year since.

Turnover this financial year will be around $40m with income before costs of about $3m.

Its sites receive around 8000 visitors a day with an impressive booking conversion rate of just over 5% (450 bookings every 24 hours).

That’s largely due to an increasing amount of repeat business, while the leisure/corporate breakdown is roughly 75/25.

Eastes has his future riding on the business, which he started in a bedroom at his parent’s house.

“I spent my house savings on the company and haven’t looked back.”

As you would have gathered from the “everything we do is for growth” comment, he and Thornton want to take VVV as far as it can go.

If that means selling to a larger business, so be it. They are certainly open to offers, and have even fielded a couple – one from a notoriously acquisitive travel company that fell well short of the mark.

“They were looking for a bargain and the price just wasn’t right.”

On the other hand, VVV is also willing to buy, and have a made a couple of approaches to online operators that have generated interest but are yet to be consummated.

They might, though. In the meantime, there’s plenty to keep Eastes and his cohorts occupied. February 19, 2008

Share and Enjoy: