Barely half a year into a multi-year partnership with NASCAR, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. is already seeing return on investment.

In the months since Enterprise became the sanctioning body’s official rental car company and aligned with NASCAR’s RacePoints loyalty program, members of that program are responsible for growth in multi-day car rentals between 130 and 150 percent compared to the months prior to the deal being signed.

“We can directly attribute a specific increase in business to the program because everything is trackable,” said Barry Dvoracek, Enterprise’s director of marketing communications.

RacePoints members earn points from the program’s corporate partners each time they make a purchase or take a related action. Points are redeemable for NASCAR merchandise and exclusive experiences.

Enterprise offers one point for every dollar spent on a rental; to qualify, consumers rent through Enterprise’s Web site and provide their RacePoints ID.

The growth in multi-day rentals is important because such business generates larger fees from vehicle insurance purchases and other incidentals, Dvoracek noted.

Having thus far promoted the tie-in only online and through p-o-p materials at rental locations, Enterprise hopes to generate even larger increases following its debut of RacePoints-themed TV ads around this weekend’s Daytona 500, Dvoracek said.

Enterprise uses NASCAR to reach both leisure and business travelers. According to the organization’s research, NASCAR fans are more likely than non-fans to rent cars and significantly more likely–33 percent–to rent vehicles for business purposes.

Leveraging And Tracking Through The Internet
“The Internet has become critical to our marketing strategy,” Dvoracek said. “It is very important for us to have an online component in any sponsorship because tying our promotions to the Internet gives us a tangible way to drive and track new business.”

Better-than-expected results from an online sweepstakes around Enterprise’s sponsorship of the Professional Bull Riders led the company to explore a similar tie to reach auto racing fans, he said.

The PBR promotion generated “tens of thousands” of respondents who opted in to receive rental car information and subsequently purchased a “significant number” of multi-day rentals, Dvoracek noted.

The company has expanded its PBR partnership for the ’05-’06 season with title to the 53-stop Enterprise Tour junior riding circuit. The company leverages the relationship by offering discounts to members of the Team PBR fan club, as well as periodically offering discount promos through PBR’s Web site and distributing coupons at events.

Dvoracek reviews and signs off on national ties after gaining input from Dave Baird, sports marketing manager. Other national deals include the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and USA Roller Sports.

Local and regional deals are screened and funded out of 60 marketing group offices. “They may ask us to help evaluate, negotiate or activate a program, but they are the ones that approve it,” said Dvoracek.

Local deals typically revolve around on-site signage, coupon distribution and media exposure. For example, Enterprise leverages its tie to the WNBA Charlotte Sting by providing vehicles for team players and touting the affiliation through local media.

Other local ties include AIDS Walk San Francisco, Virginia Beach, Va.’s Oceana Air Show and the NFL St. Louis Rams.

Sponsorship Activity By Other Car Rental Companies

Advantage Rent-A-Car
Southwest-Tex Leasing Co.
Traci Esch, director of marketing operations

Air Force Academy athletics; BorderFest presented by Kraft Foods, Hidalgo, Texas; Special Olympics Texas; University of Texas athletics; U.S. Army All-American Bowl, San Antonio; USA Luge.

Avis Rent A Car System, Inc.
Budget Rent A Car System, Inc.
Cendant Corp.
Scott Deaver, executive vice president, marketing

Avis: Presenting: ING New York City Marathon wheelchair division. Cosponsor: Coca-Cola Zero Rock N’ Roll Marathon, San Diego; Country Music Marathon & 1?2 Marathon, Nashville, Tenn.; ING Miami Marathon; Make-A-Wish Foundation; P.F. Chang’s Rock N’ Roll Arizona Marathon & 1?2 Marathon, Phoenix; USA Badminton. Budget: Eastern College Athletic Conference; WorldFest-Houston Independent Film Festival.

Dollar Rent A Car Systems
Thrifty Car Rental
Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc.
Brian Carpenter, vice president of sales, marketing and advertising

Dollar: Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corp.; McDonald’s Air & Sea Show, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Thrifty: AAA Columbus Clippers; AFL Columbus Destroyers; Kentucky Derby Festival; LPGA Wendy’s Championship for Children, Dublin, Ohio; Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; MLS Columbus Crew; NBA Seattle Supersonics; NHL Columbus Blue Jackets; Ohio Golf Assn.

The Hertz Corp.
Lisa Diliberto, senior director, marketing communications

Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard, Orlando PGA Tour stop; Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corp; Vail Resorts, Colo.

National Car Rental
Vanguard Car Rental, Inc.
John MacDonald, vice president of marketing

PGA Tour (includes Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour)