RV owners see opportunities in post-Covid travel industry

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RV owners see opportunities in post-Covid travel industry

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 traditional resorts.

"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."

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," he says.

"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 the house."

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 activity. 

"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 says.

"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 trips.

"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.

Source: PhocusWire

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