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Vehicle Rental Companies Anticipating Summer Business Boom As Coronavirus Restrictions Lift

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As more people look to travel locally once COVID-19 restrictions loosen, vehicle rental companies are anticipating lots of summer business.

Closer trips in isolated suburban getaways is what travel industry experts expect this summer as people plan for holidays like Memorial Day.

"We do anticipate travel to build up. Because of a lot of the uncertainty that's out there, the type of trips that they may have taken to Europe or cruising or things like that may be altered for right now," AAA's Director of Travel Mike Rotondo said.

For the first time in decades, AAA isn't issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast, saying the accuracy of the economic data used to create it has been undermined by COVID-19.


Vehicle rental companies say, however, travel demand is already evident.

"We've actually seen quite a bit of demand out of New York. People wanting to get out, a lot of people don't have cars," said Katie Key, president of Escape Campervans.

At Zipcar, the rental demand increased so much that they launched "Instant Access." People can now book and drive a car within minutes of signing up for the service.

"We switched to products that were of course anti-viral and anti-microbial, and we have a designated team of people in all cities, including New York, that make sure that our vehicles are clean and ready for our members to use," said Justin Holmes, Zipcar's vice president of marketing and public policy.

Escape Campervans is taking similar safety measures.

"Having protocol in place if a customer gets sick or exposed or if an employee does. We're going to be sending out surveys prior to arrival and surveys afterwards. Just kind of doing everything we can to check in," Key told CBS2's Charlie Cooper.

AAA says traditional car rental companies, like their partner Hertz, are anticipating a shift away from airport services, where business may be slow, and into neighborhood locations.

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"They've instructed and trained their staff on how to clean the cars and disinfect all high-touch points. It's a 15-point process that they go through," Rotondo said.

Experts agree the safest way to travel is by private transportation and by visiting wide-open locations that allow for continued social distancing.

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