FlightCar Targets Business Travelers With New Paid Parking Service

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FlightCar is seeking to boost the number of business travelers who make their cars available through its peer-to-peer rental platform, with a new offering designed to appeal directly to them. While that offering requires that business travelers pay for their parking, they could also make more when their cars are rented.

For those not familiar, FlightCar is sort of like Airbnb for airport car rentals. The company runs a platform that allows travelers leaving town to park their cars in nearby lots and make those vehicles available for rent by people coming into town. Those visiting generally can use the cars for a lower rate than they’d pay at a traditional car rental agency.

Until recently, those who left their vehicles with FlightCar were able to get free parking, and could even get paid if their cars were rented and used. Rates are between $0.05 and $0.20 per mile. Also, there’s the side perk of having their cars washed and vacuumed both before and after someone rents it out.

As part of the new service, FlightCar is asking users — or at least their employers — to pay for their parking, but will offer higher returns for cars that are rented from business travelers. FlightCar provides parking for $15 a day, which is less than most lot owners ask per day. But if the cars are rented out, FlightCar will pay between $0.30 and $0.50 per mile driven, based on the make and model.

CEO and founder Rujul Zaparde says today that about 90 percent of the travelers who leave their cars with FlightCar are leisure travelers. But the company sees a big opportunity in the business traveler segment.

It might seem counter-intuitive for business travelers to pay to have their cars rented out, but most have their parking paid for by their employers anyway. The Business Traveler offering from FlightCar will allow them to expense their parking while still being able to make some extra cash if their cars are rented out.

Launched nearly one year ago, FlightCar now offers its peer-to-peer car rentals at three different airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The company has raised $5.5 million from $6.1 million from investors that include General Catalyst, Softbank Capital, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Posterous founder Garry Tan, Auctomatic founder Harj Taggar, Justin.TV founder Emmett Shear, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, First Round Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz.