How do you put the word "local" in "local car rentals" in Maui, and what does it mean exactly? This seemingly simple question has a surprisingly complicated answer. Read on to find out all about it.
The word "local" carries interesting connotations in what was once a sovereign nation, later conquered and colonized by a foreign power. With a historical influx of immigration both voluntary and coerced, and a mixture in language, attitudes, and traditions, the local culture could be called a melting pot, but as anyone outside of the state board of tourism can tell you it is a melting pot whose elements have not quite coalesced. By the official statistics of the US Census Bureau, the state of Hawaii is the most diverse in the USA. Despite that, or maybe because of that, it turns out that, depending on the context, the word "local" can mean many things to many people, from a term of high praise to a term of extreme condescension. But let's steer clear of this controversial topic, and narrow the focus to local car rentals in Maui.
What makes a local car rental company in Maui? Visitors often say that they prefer to support local businesses over supporting large multi-national corporate entities, and they say that they like to see their car rental money go back into the Maui economy and support local growth, rather than be siphoned off-shore to the accounts of institutional shareholders. Let's unpack this a little bit. Does the ownership of a local Maui car rental company really matter? While the profits (and in some cases, the losses) of a local Maui business with off-island ownership may be headed to distant locations, a car rental business is fundamentally a brick and mortar business that operates with real assets and real people in a real location. No matter who the corporate beneficiaries might be, companies like Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Dollar, SixT, and others are among the largest employers in Maui. They flow huge amounts of real cash into investment for facilities and equipment, and for wages and benefits for employees, most of which goes straight into local bank accounts. So if the goal of going with a local car rental in Maui is to benefit the local economy, that goal can be met equally well either with a national branch/franchise or with a local mom and pop. On top of that, it could be argued that the larger corporate operators have efficiencies of scale and ranges of product and service that offer value and benefits to the customer, that the so-called local car rentals in Maui cannot match. All fine and good. The dirty little secret here is the collection of exploitative and abusive employment and contracting practices that many large corporate entities are known to engage in. We won't go into the full details here. Selecting them as your provider makes you a party to their practices, just like, for example, if you were to buy certain categories of product you would be supporting child labor exploitation. If you are comfortable with that, then there is no issue. The choice is yours.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that the appetite for all things "local" is so strong that you have many off-island corporate entities masquerading their operations as local car rentals in Maui. Without naming any names, it is an open secret that one of the most prominent local car rentals in Maui, that turns up at the very lop of every local car rental search, is an aggregator (for "aggregator" think Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, or Travelocity) but with local camouflage to appear "local." Their listed address is a vacant condemned "local" building scheduled to be torn down for airport runway expansion. Their business model is to make discounted advance purchases of blocks of Maui car rental reservations from the national chains, and resell them for a profit to unwitting customers who may genuinely believe that they are buying local when in fact their hard earned dollar is going straight to a nameless and faceless parasitic virtual entity. Or even more ironically, it could be going to the now-proverbial 400-lb man lying all day in bed and availing himself of free wiki software tools for aggregation and free effective search engine optimization tools to reap outsize profits and laughing about it all the way to the bank - that is, if he were ever to get out of his bed. The dirty little secret here is that if business conditions change or other factors arise, the companies actually providing the service are under no obligation to actually honor the reservations made through the aggregator. Often we receive calls from customers having made such a reservation and who find themselves right off the plane, after an exhausting flight, at the rental car desk in Maui, where their aggregator reservation is being refused. This is when they finally get the smarts to turn to one of the real local car rentals in Maui, not a fake one. But try as we might, we are not always able to help in this situation. Best for anyone is to avoid being caught in it in the first place, by making your reservation with a real local Maui car rental.
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