Like every other aspect of travel, the recreational vehicle
rental sector has been crushed by cancellations and a near halt in new bookings
due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a normal year in the United States, the Recreational
Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) estimates the industry creates $50
billion in economic impact annually.
And in recent years, some of that has come through peer-to-peer
marketplaces such as Outdoorsy, which has more than 40,000 RVs available to rent
in nearly 5,000 cities across the U.S.
During a live, online discussion hosted by Outdoorsy on the impact
of COVID-19 and how its owners can prepare for the future, panelists expressed
optimism that the RV industry will show an uptick in activity before
“The RV experience itself becomes
the vacation - that’s the positive,” says Karen Redfern, vice president of
brand marketing and communications for RVIA.
“When you open the door from your hotel
room you see the hotel hallway. But when you open the door from an RV – what’s
in front of you? You get to pick.”
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One of the most common post-COVID predictions
has been that domestic road trips may be the first type of travel to rebound, and
Joel Holland, founder and CEO of Harvest Hosts, sees that as another positive
sign for RV travel.
“There’s something interesting in
every single state. There’s something interesting within every 100-mile radius,”
“We are excited to get back on the
road, and it doesn’t mean we have to do a cross country trip. We’re just going to be excited to get out of
To generate new excitement about vacationing
close to home, GoCamp founder and CEO Deborah Kane says she is talking to
experience providers to create packages that combine a van rental with a unique
“With so many small business struggling
now, all of us are struggling, are there ways we can partner with some of the small
businesses in some of the communities where our guests are most likely to go to
create a way for the trip to feel different, for it to feel special, for people
to start seeing home differently,” she says.
And on Wednesday Kane launched “Road
Trips for the Rock Stars,” in partnership with Outdoorsy and nearly a dozen
other partners. The program gives a 20% discount to anyone making a deposit for
a future trip – without the need to specify dates – and also gives that person
the opportunity to nominate a first responder to win a free RV rental.
“In addition to generating
bookings I also wanted to figure out how we can do something to help,” Kane
“The response has been
overwhelming. Bookings are coming in, and I get to read all these fantastic
stories about first responders.”
Holland says while he has “stepped
back” from advertising and posting on social media since he does not want to
encourage unnecessary travel, he is using content marketing to inspire future
“We’ve been encouraging people to
spend the time planning trips, route planning. That’s something we’re doing on
the content side creating local itineraries – really cool places so once that
green flag drops... you know where you’re going to go,” he says.
Panelists also encouraged
owners to produce videos that can provide vehicle orientation without the need
for in-person contact and to solidify their vehicle disinfection procedures and
communicate their policies in their marketing communications.