The device, called Nick on the Go, will be available in 21 markets throughout the U.S. in time for the holiday season, according to the company. The unit uses touch-screen technology and is loaded with 40 hours of programming from the Viacom-owned network, including "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Blue's Clues."
"Hertz was looking for another product to cater to the leisure market, and we hit upon the idea of trying to alleviate the need to bring DVDs on vacation," Hertz representative Paula Rivera tells Marketing Daily. "We chose Nickelodeon [as a partner] because the system is designed for backseat use, and the kids who need to be entertained tend to be younger."
The system--available for $16.95 a day or $84.75 a week--is a first for the travel industry, says Hertz. Although the units are primarily designed for in-car use, they can be removed for viewing anywhere. The player has a long-life battery that can be reached via a provided AC cord or through a car's lighter. "We thought, 'Why limit ourselves to the car?'" Rivera says.
Nick on the Go will be available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle by Dec. 15. The company plans to roll the product out to 25 additional markets during the first quarter of 2008. Future plans include a range of Nickelodeon video games and Internet access to Nickelodeon Web sides.
The company is promoting Nick on the Go through banner ads on Hertz.com, in-store collateral and via recordings on the company's reservation line. "As we move forward with the system, we may expand our marketing for the product," Rivera says.
About half of Hertz's customers are leisure travelers, according to Sumit Desai, an equity analyst with Morningstar. The company, which for a long time had courted business travelers, has more recently looked to appeal to the leisure market with the addition of several ancillary products such as satellite radio, a GPS navigator and ski racks on cars, he says. "Over the past couple of years, they've added these ancillary services," Desai says. "It's a source of incremental revenue for them."