By Mike Gast
RV dealer rental fleets won’t be shrinking this year, despite the difficulties in procuring new units from manufacturers, according to a recent survey by the RV Rental Association (RVRA).
The survey, conducted this spring, found more than half of the rental dealers surveyed said they intend to grow their rental fleets in 2021, and another 25% said they will keep their fleet numbers at the same levels as 2020.
Overall, the survey said to expect the U.S. rental fleet to grow by about 2% in numbers this year.
Yet the picture isn’t all rosy for RV renters. Some dealers reported that they are not offering RV rentals this year because they sold last year’s rental fleet and don’t believe replacements will arrive in time to impact the 2021 camping season.
The rental dealers reported that their biggest current challenges were: 1) acquiring rental fleet units from manufacturers, 2) staff training, and 3) rental units breaking down while in use and not having enough technicians to service them.
The past year has been a roller coaster for the RV rental industry. Business plunged in spring 2020 due to COVID-19 shutdowns, then surged in the summer when campgrounds reopened. More than 21% of dealers said their rental revenues were up at least 50% in 2020 over 2019 figures for the same period. The pandemic also triggered longer rental periods, with 42% of rental dealers reporting average contracts of seven or more nights.