There are over 400 independent RV rental companies operating in North America according to Woodall’s. Last summer I visited almost 50 of them and spoke to their owner/operators prior to launching RVPlusYou. One of the most revealing facts that I learned was the astonishing rate of growth in demand for RV Rentals delivered to the campsite. What?!!! No driving?!
A common misconception is that an “RV rental” equates to an open road vacation where families endure thousands of miles of trekking across great expanses of wilderness packing it all in over their two week vacation. It turns out that this is a false assumption, and there is a huge market for RV rentals delivered to the campsite.
According to the independent RV rental companies that I met with in Sept/Oct of 2014 while doing research for our start up, one big bright spot in the RV rental industry is ‘Delivered RV Rentals’, set up and ready for check in. “People love it,” says General Manager Angela Dudziak of Neff Brothers RV. “Their favorite destination is Lighthouse Point RV Campground at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH; where the family can ride roller coasters all day, then come back for hot dogs and burgers on the grill under a starry sky overlooking the beautiful shores of Lake Erie.”
Who’s renting these RV’s? Well, everyone. It’s hard to pick one major source of market demand but Ryan Dore, owner of Adventure in Camping says they come from all over, “So. Cal., Bay area, We have families fly in from all over the US to Mammoth and enjoy the ease of our camping experience. We even get some Europeans on their month long tours of the USA who love taking one week out of their vacation to camp in the Mammoth Lakes wilderness area. Our guests roll up in their compact rental cars right to the campsite”. says Dore. “We have it all set up and waiting for them upon arrival.”
From the Pacific Northwest, where I met Ted Swyers of RV-Northwest, all the way to Cherry Hill RV Resort just outside of Washington DC, most owners agree that delivery is growing. The GM at Cherry Hill, one of the most popular and convenient RV Parks in the DC area, told me they have several RV rental companies that deliver to their park. People are reserving locations and having the RV delivered. They arrive in a small rental car, see the DC sites and then move on to the next stop, mixing up their lodging options along the way. The ease and convenience along with the potential savings is hard to argue with.
Driving or towing a big rig does seem to be a major factor too. There are many people who don’t want to or simply can’t drive a big box down the highway. Some site fuel expense, or the inconvenience (impossible in some cases) of parking in cities. They, like many, are opting to keep the flexibility and fuel efficiency of their smaller car.
Demand for delivery is growing, and for good reason, which is why every RV rental company in North America, and indeed the world should consider the benefits of offering to deliver and set up their inventory. What are the most compelling reasons?
The top three:
- Less damage – Novice RV drivers have more accidents. This is fact, and the more time your inventory spends in the shop, that’s fewer days being rented.
- Convenience – By renting to those select locations in your geographic market, you can control inventory and better serve customers.
- Higher average rental rates – By adding on delivery/set up fees, RV rental companies can effectively increase their ave rental rates per unit. Special events and tailgating are proof of higher rates for deliveries. If you currently provide delivered event rentals, you know exactly what I’m referring to.
So, if I’m right and there is an even larger market for RV rentals to be had, then its time to take notice. Is there a larger market to be tapped?
The RV Rental industry is tiny compared to the overall vacation travel and lodging market, approximately $350 million according to the RVIA. Compare that to the overall travel lodging market of $457 billion! How many have never been camping?
Roll all of this fun info around in your head and then combine it with the fact that over 50% of travel is now booked online! This figure is astonishing and one that the RV rental industry better take note of.
A tidal wave of opportunity is ready to be caught and ridden, especially for those already offering deliveries in their area, however in order to ride this wave you must be prepared to do offer three things: 1) offer delivery, 2) offer amazing hotel style service and amenities up the wazoo, and 3) offer your inventory, availability, and bookings online.
If your website is static and nothing more than a glorified brochure, start investigating options. Travelers expect information at their fingertips (yes, lots of pictures). They also want the convenience of booking on-line 24/7 with customer service waiting at 3 am.
If you like to travel, I urge you to consider a delivered RV rental; set up in advance at your location of choice and ready for your arrival. If you own an RV rental company, I urge you to investigate and do some homework on this largely untapped market. Growth opportunities abound!