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Lo-res_184402401-SA modern business traveler arrives at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the busiest in the world, tired and ready to get to her meeting or his hotel for the evening. But getting there requires renting a car, and despite the customer’s long history with and loyal patronage of the rental company, even the best option demands that the weary traveler spend several minutes filling out paperwork before getting on the road. In the modern era of biometrics though, such limits may soon be a thing of the past.

The car rental company Hertz has partnered with a biometrics service provider called Clear to create a function that recognizes loyal customers using facial, iris, or fingerprint scans. With just a quick scan, the customer can grab her or his desired car and be off the rental lot in just about 30 seconds.

Here’s how the process works: Customers must first register with Clear, which costs about $180 per year (plus $50 for additional family members). Once they have an account, they can use it at various sites to speed up their access and ingress into secured areas, such as sports arenas or airport terminals. The account maintains extensive biometric information about them, so any company affiliated with Clear can check whether customers are who they say they are, by scanning their iris or fingerprint.

With Hertz, the service allows members of the loyalty program to arrive at the lot, choose whichever car they want, and then pull up to a kiosk that scans their driver’s license and iris. Having confirmed the match and the customer’s account with the company, it raises the egress gate and sends the traveler off down the road.

As a result, a process that took about 2 minutes under the best conditions can be shortened to about 30 seconds. Such speed is especially beneficial at busy arrival times, such as Monday mornings, when the queues to get out of the rental lot can accumulate quickly. Its success in Atlanta has encouraged Hertz to announce plans to introduce it to other busy hubs, including the Los Angeles and JFK International Airports.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What value does a biometric-based checkout offer for customers?
  2. What other service providers might use biometrics to make access to their offerings easier and more valuable for customers?


Source: Colin Bertram, “Hertz and Clear Promise to Eliminate Car Rental Counter Hell,” Bloomberg, December 11, 2018