Zipsters on a Party Bus

Zipsters meeting up in a party bus?  Say what?  What a a novel idea, actually.  As long as I don't have to make a reservation or worry about bringing it back with more than a quarter tank of gas.
Trusty's DC: courtesy of brightyoungthings.com
Actually, Zipcar DC' loves us Zipsters so much, that they hosted a member's only party for us in cozy and eclectic Trusty's.   It would be a prime opportunity to thank the Zip staff personally and to shake hands with fellow zipsters, you know the frugal types who love sharing and boasting about their critical world in saving the world.

I happen to be one of the few but growing community of Zipsters who own a car, but like to zip around on the weekends running errands in something speedier.  Hey, it's more fun driving a newer, sporty car, the price of gas has skyrocketed to the point of break-even and other drivers on the road give you a wide berth when they see the infamous speedy logo on the side of the car -- they know that time is crucial, and I have to gun it or else Zipcar will charge me a hefty penalty, even if I'm running a minute over.

Zipcar's ingenous business model rests on the fact that there is no opportunity loss.  Airlines, hotels, even rental cars require customers to make reservations and can expect a certain percentage of  people to not show -- hey, that's the fact of life.  Normally on an average flight of 150 passengers, the airlines can expect up two people not to show.  The companies account for this and try to maximize profit by overbooking.  If they try to be be more risky and project three or more no shows, the losses would be greater if they are wrong.  The downside of overbooking is what if they were wrong -- they end up losing money and customer's trust.

Overbooking is not an issue for Zipcar. If a customer doesn't show, Zipcar will charge them. And if the Zipster gets caught in traffic and is even a minute late, the penalty is a whopping $50 -- Ouch!  I hope I never run into any police escorts or even worse, Charlie Sheen running late for an engagement.  So Zipcar has a zippy business model -- they operate with no opportunity losses and capitalize on the mistakes of their customers.

You see on an average week, loads of customers inevitably are late -- that's just the fact of life, even more so in traffic-congested, seat of the nation's government, DC.  

Examples of customer inefficiency are: Being late to pick up the car,  Being late returning,  Underestimating the time required to run errands, not leaving the car with enough gas -- all of these facets results in penalties and charges.

To be honest, I am guilty of just about everyone of these.  I can barely get to school on time -- why do you think I can return my Zipcar on time, as I zoom down 295 at 70 miles an hour hoping my Toyota Prius gets parked in her own tidy spot with enough gas for the next guy.

Frankly, Zipcar has got it down to a science -- they are so efficient that they try to maximize service capacity by booking customers back-to-back so that the Prius can be gone from her spot throughout much of the day.

But still, despite the great demand and burgeoning popularity, Zipcar is not yet profitable -- so what is the fix -- go public of course.

So as I sat on the roof patio enjoying my John Daley, sipping from my mason jar, I was taken back by the cozy, vintage decor.  What a great spot to just chill, enjoy a warm sandwich and meet fellow Zipsters.

I even got lucky -- made some new friends, won a pair of tickets to Sunday's Sweetlife Festival at the Merriweather  Post Pavilion and made it home with a souvenir Ball Mason Jar, now sitting proudly on my my mantle.


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