Like vacation rentals, interest in RV lodging has skyrocketed amid the pandemic as travelers seek safe modes of travel.
Investor attention has followed, with a number of RV rental platforms and peer-to-peer marketplaces attracting funding and striving to professionalize their services to meet changing consumer expectations.
Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, RV travel shows little indication of a slowdown: RV rental market Outsidefor example, just hit the milestone of $2 billion in total transactions after a record year in 2021.
Other platforms are also experiencing sustained growth: VR Membership Platform Harvest Hosts indicates that membership sign-ups and interest in VR remain at all-time highs, while the peer-to-peer market RVshare says bookings are exponentially higher than pre-pandemic levels.
As Jeff Cavins, co-founder and CEO of Outdoorsy, says, “Once the consumer knows they can have more, there’s no going back.”
Renting an RV has come a long way since the days of illegal Craigslist listings, Cavins says, when there were no precautions like driver’s record checks or insurance coverage. “The trip has been reckless on both sides of the table,” he says. “We saw this as a ‘bleeding neck’ problem that desperately needed a solution.”
Founded in 2014, Austin, Texas-based Outdoorsy “has added a level of trust, security and professionalism to RV rental experiences so customers can fully enjoy their vacations,” says Cavins.
Since then, Outdoorsy’s partnership with its hosts has booked more than five million travel days through RV rentals available in 4,800 cities across the United States and Canada.
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In June 2021, it raised $120 million, bringing total rental market funding to $227 million. And despite a year of inflation and rising fuel prices, Outdoorsy’s momentum remained strong.
“The pandemic has heightened traveler awareness of RV rentals as a lodging option,” says Cavins, “and we will see further gains from this new awareness for years to come.”
Cavins continues that Outdoorsy’s repeat booking rate is at an all-time high for 2022 – up 26% year-over-year and up 231% from 2019.
He says travelers continue to turn to RV travel because it’s affordable — the average cost of an Outdoorsy RV trip is $299 per night, up just $5 from the year latest – and gives customers an extra layer of control and access. With an RV, travelers can determine where they are going and can even have a vehicle delivered to their campsite, eliminating the need to drive it.
Outdoorsy’s insurtech unit, Roamly, has also contributed to the company’s growth. In March of this year, Roamly, which Outdoorsy says is the only digital insurance platform designed specifically for RVs, reached $40 million in premiums reserved, which Cavins expects to double by March. 2023.
“Roamly currently represents about 10% of Outdoorsy’s revenue mix, but in four to five years, I expect Roamly and Outdoorsy to become evenly matched,” he says.
“Not only is Roamly the only insurtech with a policy that allows you to legally earn money renting your RV, but we will also reward policyholders with tiered discounts on their policy the longer they rent their RV.”
As Outdoorsy looks ahead to the next 12 months, “consistency will be key,” Cavins continues. “Our long-term strategy has been and remains to build a complete outdoor travel ecosystem, not just a rental business. An ecosystem is everything from access to vehicles to insurance to built-in trust and security, to establishing and refining the means to achieve the customer journey.
“With brand and category awareness more established, people will start to expect consistency and convenience in the rental experience as motorhome rentals are now on the same stage – and competing for the same customers – as cruises, hotels and air travel.”
For the Harvest Hosts RV membership program, which has seen significant growth within months of the pandemic, CEO Joel Holland says registrations and interest in RVs remain at record highs.
Based in Vail, Colorado, Harvest Hosts, which raised $37 million in March 2021, connects its members to a network of attractions, such as wineries, breweries, farms, golf courses and museums.
From 2020 to 2021, Harvest Hosts’ membership base grew by 57% and now has 240,000 paying members, up from 6,000 who were part of the platform when it was purchased in May 2018 from the original founders.
New host signups have also skyrocketed amid the pandemic as small businesses look for new ways to attract visitors to their properties and increase revenue.
Harvest Hosts currently has more than 4,400 hosts on its platform, up from about 1,000 at the start of the pandemic, and Holland says he expects members to spend more than $40 million with hosts that they visit in 2022.
Holland says that as gasoline prices spiked this summer, Harvest Hosts saw a change in the way people traveled — a change he expects to continue.
“There was still a general desire to travel, but rather than traveling long distances, travelers opted for shorter jaunts closer to home. The ‘quasi-cations’ trend has come amid a chaotic summer travel season, with rising flight and hotel costs disrupting big ‘revenge travel’ plans,” Holland says.
“Many Americans discovered hidden gems in their own backyards when traditional travel was limited,” he continues. “Now, as many cost-conscious travelers weigh the impact of inflation, we expect the ‘quasi-cation’ trend is here to stay for now with travelers looking to make the most of of their free time without breaking the bank.”
Holland adds that for travelers with families or pets, RV travel is an attractive option because it offers flexibility and provides an alternative to airlines with restrictions on furry friends. Plus, it can save travelers money: According to an RVIA study, the cost of traveling with a family of four in an RV can be 50% less than an equivalent trip that requires planes and hotels.
Over the past year, Holland says Harvest Hosts has become the largest provider of private RV camping options in the world, with 7,000 locations, surpassing the number of federal and state public RV campgrounds. Over the next 12 months, the goal is to add an additional 2,000 hosts to its network.
Path to professionalization
Jon Gray, CEO of peer-to-peer marketplace RVshare, says RV rental has come a long way on the road to professionalization, but there are still clear opportunities to be realized.
The Ohio-based platform, which raised $100 million in October 2020, offers more than 100,000 motorhomes that can be reserved online in thousands of destinations across the United States, and its reservations come with 24/7 customer support, 24/7 customer support and protection. some products.
RV rentals are now on the same stage – and competing for the same customers – as cruises, hotels and air travel.
Jeff Cavins – Outdoors
“Going forward, we hope to continue to be a driving force in the professionalism of the RV rental industry and to empower it as a mainstream travel category,” said Gray.
“We want to make booking a motorhome online as easy as booking a hotel, with a huge selection of high quality motorhomes, all the information you need to choose the perfect motorhome for your group/family and a simple booking process.”
Gray says RVshare continues to see high interest and demand since the start of the pandemic, with bookings exponentially higher than pre-pandemic levels and up nearly 40% in 2022.
Shoulder season bookings are growing faster than peak season bookings, Gray continues. According to information from RVshare, shoulder season growth has exceeded peak season growth by 35% since the start of the pandemic.
“There are more RV owners in the world today than ever before, and with growing levels of interest coupled with the continued trend of outdoor travel, we are confident that demand will only increase, making from RVshare a wonderful platform for owners and renters to both connect and benefit,” he says.
As he envisions continued expansion, Gray says RVshare is focused on making RVing accessible to anyone who wants to take an RV trip.
“The first part of this strategy is to facilitate the rental of an RV. We will achieve this by improving the information available online to help renters find the perfect motorhome and by simplifying the booking process,” he says.
“As a second element, we will also continue to open the market to people who want to take an RV trip, but not drive an RV. We do this by delivering motorhomes directly to campsites. With a motorhome delivered , your vacation begins the second you arrive at the campsite.
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