If you currently own an RV, you may be wondering what to do with your RV while it sits unused. After all, RVs require a substantial initial investment – with lower-end models costing about $35,000, and higher-end models costing about $150,000 – and continued maintenance efforts to keep them in working condition. Unless you are using your RV as a primary residence, it can seem like a purely hedonistic purchase with little-to-no prospect of return.
Fortunately, RVshare has created a new revenue-generating opportunity for owners who are willing to rent out their unused RV – with the possibility of scaling up into a multiple-RV business. It fundamentally changes the RV rental business model. Using RVshare, you can absolutely make money renting your RV.
How does it work?
RVshare is a platform that connects RV owners with prospective renters. Owners can post a listing – free of charge – with all the relevant details for their RV rental (vehicle info, rental rates, discounts, availability, benefits, additional fees, and more), and the listing will be added to the RVshare database. Prospective renters will thereafter be able to find your RV listing on the platform and compare it to others, in accordance with whatever search filters they have applied.
Before RVshare, individual RV owners would have to use classifieds or other local networks in order to rent out their RVs. These listings would only reach a limited audience of local renters, thus missing out on potentially-interested renters living elsewhere but traveling to the region. Further, prospective renters value legitimacy. Old RV classifieds were simply not perceived as a reasonably legitimate alternative to renting from a local dealership. A platform like RVshare provides individual owners with a rental storefront that projects legitimacy and trust.
From an owner’s perspective, RVshare offers a unique opportunity to “get your feet wet” with renting out your RV to a marketplace of prospective renters. With RVshare, you can start small and see if you enjoy the total end-to-end process of renting an RV out. If you are successful, you can look into potentially scaling up your engagement on the platform (i.e., moving from side-income to operating a multiple-RV rental business). Certainly, it’s worth giving renting a shot if you have an unused RV available. RV rentals are good business — owners that consistently rent out their RVs on the RVshare platform often find that they can earn tens of thousands of dollars in booking fees annually.
If you’re just getting started with renting on the RVshare platform, however, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Consider the following tips for helping understand how to start an RV rental business and get it off the ground.
Tips for Competing on the RVshare Marketplace
Provide Special Offers and Discounts
Many prospective renters on the RVshare platform are price conscious, and will therefore respond positively to special offers and discounts. To raise interest in your listing without having to lower your baseline rental rate, try incorporating qualified discounts.
One discount that can be advertised on your listing is a reduced nightly rental rate depending on the length of the rental. You may be able to handle a 10-15% revenue loss on a rental if the prospective renter can guarantee that the rental will be for a longer period of time. Long-term rentals are absolutely worth encouraging if you do not have a high volume of short-term rentals filling up your schedule. Why? Long-term rentals demand less of the owner. You will expend less time and effort (and absorb less risk) in letting one user take the RV for a longer period of time than in attempting to re-rent the RV out to another user.
If you live in an area with popular music festivals or other major seasonal events, consider offering a special event discount for attendee-renters. Your RV is likely to be put through a lot less mechanical strain if the renter is just planning on parking it at a festival, so a special event discount is a reasonable way to drive up interest without hurting your bottom line significantly.
Enhance Perceived Value With Supplementary Benefits
Sometimes, prospective renters are drawn-in by the addition of various supplementary benefits that drive up the perceived overall value of the rental. As a baseline, it’s generally recommended that you provide renters with a starter/convenience kit that includes tools, certain camping equipment, kitchen equipment, first aid supplies, and other necessities. The inclusion of a starter kit has fast become the new “premium” standard, but it is by no means the standard expectation for a rental.
Another benefit worth considering is regional RV delivery (and possibly setup), especially if you’re looking to capture RVing newcomers. For a fee, you can deliver the RV to a particular location (a campground/parking lot/event) and set it up for the renter. This convenience is likely to appeal to those RVers who are overwhelmed by the process and are willing to pay to “skip” the tedium and difficulty.
The RVshare marketplace is constantly changing in response to dynamic consumer demand. As an RV owner, successfully competing on the RVshare marketplace will require that you pay attention to trends and adapt as necessary.
Monitor other listings in your area (i.e., benefits, pricing, etc.). If the listings are popular and see a high volume of renters, then go ahead and modify your rental offering to match the popular listings, or if you’re looking to grow your brand on RVshare, feel free to undercut the competition to draw more traffic to your listing.
It is especially crucial that you keep track of RV model rental trends when growing your RV rental business. RVs are a substantial investment, and you do not want to be saddled with a model for which there is little demand. Before you buy, spend some weeks (or months) monitoring the same or similar RV models on the RVshare platform. If they are being successfully rented out, then you’ll know that demand is sufficient.
Strive to be Customer-Oriented
The most successful RV rental businesses – both on the RVshare platform and elsewhere – are those that provide a customer-focused experience. A positive customer experience means satisfied, repeat customers and great reviews, both of which are critical to the growth of your rental business.
Being customer-focused means more than just providing friendly service. Take the time to do a vehicle orientation for renters (will take between 30-90 minutes in total), and if you have the information on-hand, let the renter know about any relevant state or federal RV laws. In other words, be actively helpful.
Finally, be sure to encourage your renters to leave a review on the RVshare platform. Reviews are free and powerful advertising for your growing business. A detailed, positive review left by a former customer may convince prospective renters to take the plunge.
Managing a Fledgling RV Rental Business
Managing a fledgling rental business is difficult. There are no RV rental business “starter kits” to make things easier. Perhaps the closest thing you can find to a “starter kit” is purchasing an RV rental business that’s up for sale.
Growing an RV rental business is difficult, but satisfying work. As you begin your journey, keep the following considerations in mind.
Purchase Additional Liability Insurance Coverage
If you’re just getting started with your RV rental business, you’re probably worried about potential liabilities — and consequently, thinking about insurance for your RV rental business. Qualified RVs rented through RVshare are covered by a $1M liability insurance policy if you select to purchase the optional insurance when you sign up to the platform. RVshare insurance will cover damage to the RV (and even a total loss due to theft). You may, however, want to consider purchasing more extensive insurance to cover potential personal injury claims (some states make the owner vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver) and other issues that could put a strain on the included $1M coverage.
Inform the Renter on their Rights and Responsibilities
RVshare will provide you with a rental contract, as well as pickup and drop-off checklists. The rental contract informs the renter as to the terms and conditions of their rental, but you should not count on the renter carefully reading and understanding their responsibilities. Make sure to take the time to fully explain the rights and responsibilities that the renter is subject to under the contract.
Avoid Overextending Yourself
Try not to overextend yourself early on in your quest to build an RV rental franchise. If you’ve been successful renting out your first RV (some owners report earning tens of thousands of dollars in booking fees in their first year!), you may be interested in purchasing more RVs and renting those out, too. Adding more vehicles to your RV rental business is a sound decision in the long-term, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the rental business can be seasonally volatile. Avoid expanding too much, too soon – if you encounter an unexpectedly slow rental period, it could really hurt your prospects for long-term success.
Of course, you don’t have to be overly cautious either. It’s perfectly alright to move forward without having drafted a detailed RV rental business plan.
Attend Informational Sessions and Conferences
If this is your first foray into the rental business, it’s worth attending some industry conferences like the MBA Rental School in Las Vegas. These conferences typically feature multi-hour informational sessions where industry experts provide useful advice for getting started and growing your rental business, with specific exercises to help keep attendees engaged.
Growing an RV rental business is easy and low-risk with RVshare. Get started today!