Joanna Ramirez was worried about her trip to Denver in December when she couldn’t find a rental car large enough to fit her family of five and their luggage.
“Since it was over Christmas, none of the … regular standard car rentals had availability for the size that I needed,” she said. “We were getting ready to break up our family … and take two separate Ubers to everything.”
But a Google search introduced Ramirez to another option: car-sharing platform Avail.
Think of it as the Airbnb of cars. Travelers drop off their car with Avail at the airport before they fly out and have the opportunity to make money while they’re gone by sharing it with other travelers.
The company, as well as other peer-to-peer car-sharing platforms like Turo and Getaround, says business has picked up in recent months as American travel resumes and rental car shortages force customers to look for alternative options.
It’s been a hit with some travelers. Ramirez, who has used both Turo and Avail, plans to check out listings on the platforms when planning future trips and persuaded her parents to use Turo on their trip to Hawaii this month.
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How does car sharing work?
Avail, which is owned by insurance company Allstate, launched in 15 U.S. airports so far and focuses on travelers as its main source of hosts and renters.
Once a host registers an account online and drops off their car at an airport parking structure, Avail staff inspect the vehicle, secure the host’s personal belongings and clean and sanitize the vehicle.
Cars rented through Avail must meet certain qualifications, like being no older than a 2011 model with less than 125,000 miles.
If the car is rented out, the vehicle is protected by Allstate insurance, and the owner can typically make $25 to $35 per day. If it sits idle during the host’s trip, they still get free parking and a clean car.
“We make it easy to leave cars,” Avail CEO Mike Osborn said.
Getaround and Turo have a similar business structure but focus on more than just travelers at airports.
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