WAILUKU – While Maui continues to see the state’s highest per capita share of visitors to the Americas, residents are banking on Hawaii’s rental car shortage as a way to make money.
San Francisco-based Turo, a carsharing company that covers national and international markets, has been gaining traction in recent months in Maui. While not new, the online and mobile owner-vehicle rental platform is funneling money to residents of Valley Isle, which has suffered some of the worst unemployment rates in the depths of the pandemic.
“It’s a lot of effort and time to do it right, but I think the benefit is that the money from tourists goes directly to residents rather than businesses.” said professional photographer Trish Michael, who recently started renting her car on Turo. “So it’s almost like it helps rebalance things.”
Nicole Nadalin-Vincent, another Maui resident, said she was driving the family “drummer” taking her kids to school among other daily chores to free up their Tacoma and Tesla reservations for Turo.
“We have a truck that we use to transport things to the landfill. It’s an old F-150 chainring. Here I take my children to Montessori. But we earn more money than me at work ”, she said laughing.
Crediting her husband as the mastermind of the money, Nadalin-Vincent said the couple listed their Tacoma after hearing about the high demand for rentals in Hawaii. Within seconds – before they could change the rental price – it was booked.
Nadalin-Vincent said there had been times when she had to run to the gas station to fill the truck, vacuum it up, and then rush to a drop-off point as there were 40 minutes between reservations.
“Since then we’ve added a surfboard, coolers and beach chairs. You can just ‘click, click, click’ and add it to your ticket,” she said. “People are so excited because there is no rental.”
When the two first started listing on Turo months ago, there weren’t a lot of people doing it. Now the platform has more rentals available, she added.
Nadalin-Vincent, stylist and co-owner of Salon 253 in Wailuku, said one of his clients bought a $ 48,000 car just to sign up for Turo. Another customer rented two Jeeps.
The truck rents $ 148 or more per day. The Tesla costs around $ 330 per day. Since their debut, the two have earned around $ 8,000, according to Nadalin-Vincent.
“It’s so awesome,” she said. “It really gives us a little extra income.”
While the business venture has its benefits, Michael said the jury is still out on whether she and her partner will continue to lease their third car through Turo for the long term.
Michael said he bought a low mileage 2018 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 convertible in California and shipped it to Maui a few weeks ago in an effort to list the luxury vehicle on Turo.
“I wanted it – I thought I could get it and someone else pay for it,” she said. “That was the plan.”
When first booking Michael said the renter damaged the rear passenger rim which is difficult to repair.
Owners can collect 100% of the reservation fee or opt for Turo levels of insurance, which are covered by varying percentages of reduced reservations. Michael has his own auto insurance, as well as Turo’s most comprehensive level of auto insurance.
Michael said the Mercedes, listed $ 330 per day, was booked on Thursday and was booked multiple times in June.
“I think the jury’s out,” she said. “We have to go through several things and see if it’s worth it. If there is damage every time, it is too much work.
Any advice Michael would give to other residents who are considering leasing their vehicles?
“Don’t rent your car if you’re in love with your car,” she said. “You have to treat it like a business or else you’re going to be in trouble.”
According to a second quarter forecast from the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization, released about two weeks ago, the supply of rental cars in Hawaii has fallen by nearly 10,000 units, or nearly 10,000 units. a quarter, during fiscal year 2020 which ended in July.
Car rental companies last year laid off workers and sold inventory to cover losses from a pandemic and declining travel. The lack of rental vehicles is one of the many factors that will weigh on Hawaii’s economic recovery, experts said.
Due to the shortage, rental vehicle prices have soared to hundreds of dollars a day in some cases. Research online shows that compact cars can be leased for over $ 100 a day this weekend, and luxury cars start at $ 500.
Meanwhile, the strong visitor market to Maui County in the United States, which is surpassing economists’ expectations due to accumulated savings and pent-up demand, could match record tourism levels of 2019 before the pandemic by now. this summer, said Carl Bonham, executive director of UHERO. Maui News.
For other counties in the state, it will take longer to reach the number of visitors before the pandemic. Oahu and the island of Hawaii rely more on international travel, and Kauai’s strict travel measures, which were relaxed last month, have deterred visitors for some time.
In April, visitors to Maui soared to 178,105 – its highest score since reopening to tourism in October, according to a Hawaii Tourism Authority report released Thursday.
Arrivals fell from 23,103 in October to 63,740 in November and 90,605 in December before dropping to 66,925 in January. The number of 170,750 in March was almost double the total of 92,608 visitors in February, according to data from HTA.
After discouraging travel to Hawaii and enforcing quarantine on arrivals from March 26, 2020, the state relaxed the rules for transpacific travel on October 15 to boost tourism.
However, the end of the pandemic and the subsequent reopening to travelers has exacerbated the already eroded outlook for residents of the tourism industry.
“I’m in the living room all day and I’m so shocked by all these tourists,” Said Nadalin-Vincent. “I see them and at first I’m like, ‘Ah man, here we are.’ But at the end of the day, we all depend on tourists. It is a way to earn money through tourism. “
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be contacted at [email protected]