A car rental executive's status in the travel industry is a bit like a utility player in baseball – someone who is revered and valued for his ability to do all things well and be there at a moment’s notice.
That’s Greg Stubblefield, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Enterprise Holdings, who is the recipient of the 2015 Travvy Award as the Most Innovative Car Rental Executive.
Stubblefield began his career at Enterprise as a management trainee – he knows the company from bottom to top and, having had hands-on experience in the field, he knows the value of customer satisfaction.
“When we listen to our customers,” he told TravelPulse.com, “they lead us to opportunities.”
Stubblefield and Enterprise listened.
Case in point – Enterprise’s expansion into foreign markets in the last four years has been accelerated. The St. Louis-based company has ramped up its partnership agreements with smaller, but local, car rental companies in Europe and Asia, particularly in China, where Enterprise made its first foray in 2012. A month after cutting the deal to partner with eHi rental services in China, Enterprise made a similar agreement with unidas in Brazil.
Thirty days, and two of the biggest markets in the world locked up.
Of course, much of that was made possible by Enterprise Holdings’ purchase of two other major car rental companies and the expansion of the company that came as a result.
Stubblefield, who has been with the company since 1982, oversaw the acquisition of the Alamo and National Car Rental brands in 2007, still the largest acquisition/merger move in the industry. He said that avoiding the culture clash that beset such mergers as Sprint-Nextel or the technical problems that came with United-Continental were key to the success of folding both Alamo and National under one banner.
Stubblefield told a University of Missouri symposium on mergers and acquisitions that he traveled the country meeting with stakeholders and employees at the two brands to bring them on board with Enterprise’s customer satisfaction mantra. Enterprise has consistently been first or second atop the J.D. Power and Associations Rental Car Satisfaction Survey for the better part of the last dozen years.
Stubblefield’s innovativeness has been especially felt in market segmentation with the three brands. Alamo has been dubbed a de facto vacation/leisure rental, for instance; National is for business travel.
“Initially we thought two brands would be easier to manage than three,” he said. “We figured there’s different ‘need-states’ for rental. It could be insurance replacement, dealer replacement, corporate travel, in-bound leisure … People shop and their behaviors differ depending on what their need is. We segmented based on the market and how we want to service it.”
Stubblefield’s fingerprints are everywhere in the industry. He serves on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and co-chairs the Board's Infrastructure subcommittee. As the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce, the Board provides counsel on current tourism industry concerns, emerging issues and government policies – including car rental excise taxes, so he advocates not only for his own company but for his industry.
Stubblefield also serves on the U.S. Travel Association's CEO Roundtable on behalf of the Alamo, Enterprise and National car rental brands, and he represents Enterprise Holdings on the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Last year, Stubblefield he also met with President Obama, senior administration officials and fellow travel industry leaders to support a new White House Memorandum calling for airport-specific plans to maximize tourism's economic impact and to provide a better experience for international travelers entering the United States.
Innovative? More like ahead of his time.