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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » June 30, 2011
Destination Warsaw
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Rent a Lifestyle
June 30, 2011   
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Paweł Reczyński, president of Sixt Polska car rental company, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

Who hires cars in Poland and Warsaw and for how long?
We are a German chain rental company operating around the world and so we operate a system of reservations. In the main, foreigners coming to Warsaw rent our cars. Seventy percent of them are business people and 30 percent tourists and coincidental travelers. The average business hire is for three days, while tourist hire is for about four to five days.

Which car models are most popular?
We have more than 1,000 vehicles in Poland. Over many years this has been evolving. Initially, the economy segment with the smallest and cheapest cars was in the lead. Today the preference is for compact cars, such as the VW Golf, and bigger cars. Also we are among a small number of rental companies that hire luxury cars, such as the Mercedes Benz E and S class, the BMW 7, as well as sports cars. And that area is growing strongly. Perhaps those foreigners coming to Poland are wealthier or it is a fashion trend, or both. We also have a limousine service, so we are able to cater to the biggest events or celebrations. There is a big demand for this service.

Can Polish people afford to hire cars?
I think that Poles in Warsaw on average earnings can afford to use car hire services. In fact, we have started to promote our business not merely as car hire, but a lifestyle fashion. In Warsaw the costs of maintaining a car are very high. We are encouraging people to use cars more effectively, to choose the type of car required for the moment, and not to keep it when it’s not required. Sheer economics shows that it’s cheaper to rent a vehicle. Many people work in the city center and they don’t use a car as it is hard to find parking and travel to work takes significantly longer than on public transport.

We deliver the vehicle at the desired hour to the desired address. It is definitely a more convenient form of exploiting a vehicle. The flexibility of rental is greater because one can choose what size of car to use for a given purpose: a small car for running around town, and perhaps a larger one to go on a trip with the family.

How much does it cost to hire a car?
There are various rates depending on the type of car and day of the week. The cheapest rates are on the weekend, when the rates are really low. We have various promotions throughout the year.

What percentage of the market does Sixt have in Poland and how does its service compare with local hire companies?
Our share is about 16-17 percent of the chain hire companies and we are in leading position. We are growing at about 30 percent year on year.

Very many local hire firms started up in recent times. But because we are an established international company, people know what they can expect from us, the type of cars and service that they can have confidence in. For example, our oldest car is 12 months old. Some shoddy local firms often spoil the market and the reputation of hire companies. But that is changing, as it is harder to find a customer that will take a car from a firm that has a dubious reputation.

How has the financial crisis in Europe affected the car rental business?
In Europe the crisis was definitely felt in our industry. There were significant drops in business, although Sixt came out of it better than others—we had a positive result. While in Poland I did not register any drop in business, except for the volcanic eruption in Iceland last year.

I would say that we had a greater problem with banks, as we finance the purchase of our fleet from outside financial sources. At the time banks became much less flexible. And that was our real challenge, and not the crisis itself.

Why did Sixt join the WDA?
We have been WDA members for many years. The WDA is trying to make Warsaw fashionable, and to make it a real European capital. Many things still need to be done here, as a rental company we feel that. For example there is more leisure tourism to Cracow than to Warsaw. Warsaw is exclusively business oriented, but even here we don’t have enough large conference and exhibition centers that could draw people from the around the world.

We are proud to be able to contribute and to actively take part in promoting Warsaw, enlivening the business and cultural life of the city.
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