Thursday, October 6, 2022

MENU

It might be time to consider earning big money by renting out your RV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Saying that the RVing lifestyle has changed a bit in the past few years is like stating the price of fuel has gone up “slightly.” The RVing landscape has shifted significantly in just the past few months. When peer-to-peer RV rental company Outdoorsy came on the scene in 2015, many experienced RVers dismissed the idea of handing the keys to their beloved rolling home to a stranger. But campground crowding, fuel costs and other lifestyle changes have many established RVers thinking about either selling their rigs or parking them for a while.

For those thinking of taking a break from RVing but not yet outright selling their rigs, listing their RV with a peer-to-peer rental company like Outdoorsy is certainly an option. We thought it might be interesting to check in with Outdoorsy’s co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins about why peer-to-peer renting can be a lucrative option for RV owners. We’d like to stress that we aren’t advocating for Outdoorsy’s service, or that of any other service provider. There are plenty to choose from, including RVshare and RVezy, to name a couple. We only strive to provide information for our readers. The ultimate decision is always up to you. As always, RVtravel.com encourages our readers to do their homework before selecting RV-related services.

Following are a few questions RVtravel.com posed to Outdoorsy CEO Jeff Cavins, along with his responses.

RVtravel.com: First, a little history lesson for our readers. When and why did Outdoorsy get created?

Outdoorsy’s Jeff Cavins: In 2015, myself and my co-founder, Jen Young, decided to start our business after finding ourselves yearning for a way to escape the confines of the board rooms we frequented. We turned our sights to what brought us the greatest sense of comfort and peace—the outdoors. With that in mind, we sold all our belongings, put our most prized possessions in storage, bought an Airstream and hit the road. We traveled for eight months all around the western U.S., interviewing more than 1,200 people along the way. Everyone from amateur RVers and avid vanlifers to park rangers and campground caretakers. We wanted to understand all the RV world offered and the pain points that came with it. Through our travels, we saw the mental wellness benefits of spending time outdoors and knew we had to help make the outdoors accessible to all. We wrote more about that journey here.

RVtravel.com: Can you give a brief rundown of how the Outdoorsy system works?

Jeff Cavins: Lots of folks own RVs and lots of folks want to rent RVs. Outdoorsy is how they meet. With over a billion days of available RV inventory, we realized Outdoorsy could help make a difference in making the outdoors accessible for everyone. We don’t own a fleet of identical, anonymous RVs that have seen millions of miles. We’re a peer-to-peer marketplace. We connect RV owners with other outdoor enthusiasts who want the RV experience without the commitment of ownership. We’re the most comprehensive platform for outdoor travelers to rent stylish, awesome RVs. Outdoorsy is safe, easy, fully insured and has a great local selection. We’re free to join and have no membership fees of any kind.

RVtravel.com: Outdoorsy went from being a small startup to the industry leader in a matter of just a few years. What does the company look like today?

Outdoorsy’s Jeff Cavins: In six-plus years we have grown from a lofty whiteboard idea into a global marketplace, and that success has been built on the foundation of listening to our customers and being a problem solver.

We currently have a team of over 300 (including contractors, with 77 of those team members based in Outdoorsy’s HQ of Austin, Texas).

In the six years since Outdoorsy was founded in 2015, 44% of our all-time bookings took place in 2020 alone, with 72% of our all-time bookings taking place in the past two years alone.

We built our insurance technology company, Roamly, after our owners voiced concerns about the unknown that comes with renting out their RV. Commercial RV coverage was a hurdle for many who wanted to list on our platform, as many insurance providers did not provide commercial RV coverage. Roamly was created to provide a solution to this problem—and it is aimed to transform the world of RV insurance by creating policies that eliminate the commercial use exclusion clause and allow RVs to be ‘rent-ready’.

We created a professional fleet management software, Wheelbase, for RV rental companies to be able to easily manage their businesses online.

Our success can also be defined by our flexibility and how we constantly are adapting to the booming and ever-changing travel industry. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we saw 90% of Outdoorsy bookings get canceled, but we were able to quickly rebound due to a number of different factors—including the national recognition RV travel received as a self-contained mode of travel—and we saw 4,500% growth in bookings from our lowest bookings day in April 2020 and July 2020. Ultimately, we saw bookings grow by 145% year-over-year in 2021.

RVtravel.com: Many RVers consider their rig to be their baby and can’t fathom handing it over to strangers. What do you tell folks who have that sort of “separation anxiety”?

Outdoorsy’s Jeff Cavins: On average, RV owners only use their vehicles two weeks out of the year—leaving 341 days of the year open for their RV to either a) sit in storage or b) get a job. RVs are typically the second most expensive purchase a person will make in a lifetime after their home, and Outdoorsy has created a wealth of opportunity for owners of a depreciating asset. We also recently rolled out financing opportunities for RV owners to find better interest rates on loans for their existing or new RVs.

When you find the perfect renter and hand off the keys, sure separation anxiety could set in, but we’ve found that, more often than not, most of our owners want to share the positive experience they’ve had in their RV with others. They want others to be able to create those same memories outdoors with their families and friends.

Consider these benefits when renting your RV:

Life-changing financial freedom

Outdoorsy offers RV owners a seamless, supportive way to start making extra income on an investment that would otherwise sit idle. For some people, that extra income can spell life-changing financial freedom. On average, Outdoorsy owners can make $40,000 a year. One Outdoorsy RV owner uses his earnings to help pay off student loan debt, another to help fund his early retirement, and another to pay off her newborn baby’s medical bills. Whether you own a teardrop trailer or a fleet of Class C’s, you’ll find a helpful and encouraging owner community on Outdoorsy.

You’re in control

You get to set your rates and control your schedule. Only rent your RV when you’re not using it.

Quality renters

In addition to the requirement that all renters must pass an extensive driving history check, Outdoorsy’s platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to keep track of fraud on its platform. Our AI-driven software analyzes factors like shopping behaviors and account creation to isolate fraud.

Insurance

You’re covered with $1 million liability insurance provided by our partners. Outdoorsy’s $1 million liability insurance policy covers your RV or trailer whenever it’s being rented. You’re also covered for theft and damage subject to our policies.

Secure, direct payments

It’s free to list on Outdoorsy and our payment system puts money in your bank account 24 hours after your RV is rented.

24/7 customer support

Our dedicated, on-call customer support team is ready to help owners at every step along the way—from creating their listing to sending their RV off on its first rental.

Free roadside assistance

Owners can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their renters are protected with Outdoorsy’s free, 24/7 comprehensive roadside assistance.

It does not matter whether you’re a lister, someone that owns an RV and wants to monetize it, or you were one of the millions of people who want to rent one for outdoor travel… every customer goes through a 200-point, multi-factor background check. We look at everything, and in the case of the RV owner, the owner must load maintenance records to prove that the vehicle is maintained every 90 days. This includes treadwear, which needs to be 50 percent or better on every vehicle, propane tanks, and brakes are checked within this period. We prefer vehicles that are 1990 or newer and, fortunately for us, there is currently a massive surge in buying new RVs. The typical curve of RV ownership starts off as an impulsive and emotional purchase and usually will then fall into the 97 percent idle status, so renting them out to earn extra income—or just break even on loan payments—makes a lot of sense.

RVtravel.com: Now that the peer-to-peer market has grown substantially in the past few years, what could an RV owner reasonably expect to earn by renting their RV?

Jeff Cavins: Outdoorsy has seen tremendous success stories take place on the platform. On average, Outdoorsy owners can make anywhere from $32,000 to $40,000 a year. Here are some of our top earning RV owner stories:

    • Dallas-based RV owner Jeff Parkerson started out listing one RV for rent on Outdoorsy and has since expanded his fleet to 14 RVs. In two-and-a-half years alone, he’s made more than $300,000 in net profits by renting out his RVs—and now he has his sights set on expansion. “This year, we’re building our own repair shop so that we can have our own techs, accountable to us, plus bring down the costs of repairs. We also recently bought our own power washing system and hired a power washer to keep all of our rigs cleaned and ready,” Parkerson says.
    • Atlanta-area RV owner Jerry Dufour started renting one RV on Outdoorsy in 2018 and has since grown his business, Dufourfun Rentals, to 20 RV rentals, bringing in 480-plus bookings and more than $810,000 in revenue.
    • In the past two years, Phoenix-based Jesse Pacheco has grown his rental business, Arizona Camper Van, from one to five campervans. He’s earned $230,000 in revenue—the majority of that stemming from rentals that took place in 2021.

RVtravel.com: What do you expect will be the impact of rising fuel prices on the peer-to-peer marketplace? Is the customer base so big that it can weather higher prices?

Jeff Cavins: 72 million Americans are planning to take a road trip this year, according to the RV Industry Association, and we are seeing robust booking activity on our platform—more than the previous two years. As the world opens up, this form of travel is more mainstream than ever before. We are predicting growth of about 125 percent over last year in the form of bookings.

Delivery is an option to avoid gas costs altogether and still have a vacation. More than 60 percent of Outdoorsy RV owners, or hosts, offer delivery. Our hosts have not yet raised their delivery rates, but we will be watching this closely. The reality, though, is that a trip on Outdoorsy is still the only all-inclusive vacation you can take with your kids and pets.

In comparison to other modes of family travel, RV vacations represent a cost savings of 21-64 percent for a four-person travel party, according to RVIA. Compare this to traditional vacation hotels, airlines in mass market cities, which requires eating out at restaurants, travel via Uber, LYFT and taxi, etc. This means more travel away from urban centers as costs for urban vacations are skyrocketing. So, the gap is widening as the inflation impact is really affecting urban travel much more than the alternative on Outdoorsy.

An interesting fact about RV vacations: Most people think that RVs are driven a lot. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are driven for three hours on Day One of the vacation and then turned into a hotel room on a lake, or a meadow, or a park, or a beach. They sit there for six days (on average) and on Day Seven, they are driven those three hours back to their owner. At a hotel, you cannot cook your own food. You almost always have to go out to eat. For a family of four and a dog, this can quickly become brutally expensive. An RV allows you to cook your own food, avoiding the inflationary environment of dining out, and it’s an inexpensive, all-inclusive hotel room where you can enjoy your pet, without also footing the bill of boarding costs. It’s clearly the best way to vacation in these inflationary times.

RVtravel.com: RVing has undoubtedly changed a lot in just the last few years with the need for advanced campground reservations, crowded national and state parks and campgrounds, and fuel. There are a lot of reasons that experienced, veteran RVers are deciding to discontinue their RVing lifestyle. Why should they consider hanging onto their rig and putting it in the peer-to-peer marketplace rather than just sell it outright?

Jeff Cavins: It’s free to list your RV on Outdoorsy, so why not try?

Instead of selling your RV outright, renting it out or consigning your RV to another RV owner who wants to expand their fleet opens up the door to earning extra income. Though you might want to get rid of it altogether, if you are renting it more days out of the year than not, you could be creating a wealth opportunity for you and your family, earning more money over time than you would if you sold your RV.

A single campervan or RV sitting in your garage can earn you more income in a single year rented on Outdoorsy than if you owned a Quiznos franchise—and you don’t have to do anything but hand the key to a renter. And no OSHA compliance is required.

Outdoorsy also has a private, RV owner community of 12,400 RV owners and growing—it’s a place for RV pros and newbies alike to share questions, advice, photos of their RV, etc. And we’ve seen incredible friendships made in this group!

In 2021, Outdoorsy launched their Owner Listing Coach program, a free service offered to RV owners who list on our platform. A listing coach is an Outdoorsy specialist who facilitates one-on-one coaching sessions with owners to help guide them through the process of being the best owner they can be. Through a free, one-hour virtual coaching session, Listing Coaches provide owners with special tips and tricks on how to create the most attractive listing, how to use the platform effectively, and maximize the number of bookings they receive each year.

RVtravel.com: A big part of your business plan involved solving the rental insurance issues for RV owners wanting to rent. Does your insurance solution seem to be solving that concern for RV owners?

Jeff Cavins: Roamly is the first embedded insurtech for travel enthusiasts with unique RV insurance offerings.

In January, Roamly announced it had completed an insurance integration with Wheelbase, the RV industry’s most powerful professional software product for fleet operators. In February, the insurtech announced it had booked $40 million in premium in the past year. In March, the insurtech announced the launch of a nationwide pet insurance product for the 78 percent of Americans opting to travel with their pets each year.

With Roamly, you are now blessed to commercialize your RV, allowing owners to build out rental fleets. We have owners who list over 200 RVs, all insured by Roamly, and they are making millions of dollars on Outdoorsy.

RV owners now have peace of mind, can rent with confidence and can focus on their businesses while we handle the rest.

RVtravel.com: What do you see as the usable lifespan of an RV in your program?

Jeff Cavins: The average lifespan of an RV is around 20 years or 200,000 miles. That number can vary depending on the class of your motorhome, how well it’s taken care of, and a few other factors such as:

    • Tire management: Get a pressure reading on each tire every time you drive or tow your RV. Underinflated and overinflated tires are the leading cause of blowouts and tire failure. Also, keep your tires covered—the enemy is the sun. UV rays can wreak havoc on the sidewalls of your RV tires.
    • Check your detectors: Other important life safety items to include in your regular maintenance checklist are your detectors. That means smoke, LP and carbon monoxide. RV detectors also have an expiration date, which should be replaced at the five-to-seven year mark whether they are normally in operating condition or not.
    • Battery maintenance: Keeping your coach battery charged is an important part of its health. This can be accomplished by staying plugged into shore power when possible, as the converter will be charging them during this time. When storing in the off-season, consider keeping the battery on a charger/monitor to maintain its status.
    • Check out some of our additional DIY Maintenance Tips from a Certified RV Inspector here .

RVtravel.com: It seems that there are more and more folks using Outdoorsy as a business platform, purchasing several RVs exclusively for rentals. Is that becoming more prevalent than folks just putting their own rig in the program when they aren’t using it themselves?

Jeff Cavins: Most of our owners didn’t start out as owners but as renters. Some people will start with renting their first RV to dip their toes into the water. After falling in love with the RV lifestyle and easy, affordable access to the outdoors, it starts with the purchase of one RV.

About 91 percent of RV owners listing on Outdoorsy only have 1-2 RVs listed on the platform.

One of our most successful owners, David Womack, started with just one RV in 2013 and now owns an entire fleet of RVs. Within the same month of his first RV purchase, the Georgia Motorcoach founder acquired his second RV and within days had both rigs rented out for the Bonnaroo Music Festival. After a summer of success, David knew he had a chance to keep growing their RV rental business and now owns and rents out a fleet of RVs.

Here are a few other success stories that all started with one RV:

    • Los Angeles-based RV owner Nika Shneyder has scaled from one to eight RVs, completed more than 500 rentals, and has made more than $300,000 in three-and-a-half years listing her Class C’s on Outdoorsy.
    • Denver-based RV owners Jarom and Katie Walz started out on Outdoorsy listing two campervans before purchasing four more last year. They have made more than $175K and completed over 200 bookings so far, with plans to be renting out 12 campervans by the end of 2022.
    • Las Vegas-based RV owners Jessica and Tobias Litchenberger started their RV rental business in 2018. In three years’ time, growth had been the name of the game as they watched their fleet expand from five to 12 RVs and bookings skyrocket during the pandemic. On average, they’re making more than $60,000 a year and will celebrate Christmas this year with the opening of a new 4,600-square-foot RV rental facility just 10 minutes from the Las Vegas airport.

RVtravel.com: Outdoorsy has added a few more “products” in past months for financing and other things. What else do you have coming that might round out the Outdoorsy portfolio?

Jeff Cavins: Our brand covers more than just RV renting. Roamly, Outdoorsy’s insurtech business, recently announced it had booked over $40 million in premium in the last 12 months. This major milestone shows how the demand for easy-to-access coverage coincides with the skyrocketing appeal of the RV market. Roamly has expanded into multiple offerings and insurance products, from rental insurance, trip and travel insurance, and now pet insurance. We’re excited to continue to expand this offering and deliver amazing service to our customers.

90 percent of RV owners never shop around for a better loan on their RV purchase. Through the launch of Outdoorsy Financial Services, Outdoorsy now offers low-interest financing on new or existing loans—to owners of new and used RVs.

Outdoorsy has made a substantial investment and partnership in luxury outdoor hospitality provider Collective Retreats. In the next year, we’ll be debuting the Outdoorsy x Collective Retreats “casita” which offer RV renters a boutique accommodation experience that meets them halfway between the RV and the hotel, offering them an elevated camping and outdoor experience that doesn’t skimp on the creature comforts of home. You can learn more about the partnership here.

RVtravel.com: What do you think the future holds for peer-to-peer rentals over the next five years?

Jeff Cavins: We think the idea of “revenge travel” is here to stay. Canceled vacation plans in the past two years planted seeds of pent-up demand we would come to call “revenge travel” as the world reopened in 2021 and 2022. With a year of “revenge travel” in our rearview, the travel industry is thriving like never before—and nowhere has this wave of wanderlust been more felt than in the RV rental space.

There’s an estimated 50,000+ campsites that are expected to be developed at new and existing privately owned RV parks and campgrounds in 2022. What does that mean? Well, camping and RV travel isn’t slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it will continue to become more and more popular. We know with the growth, awareness and expansion of the peer-to-peer rental industry will bring in future renters and RV owners.

We also know that education—for new RV owners and new RV travelers—will be critical to delivering excellent customer experiences. We’re tapping our owner community to provide new members with expert advice, how-to videos, and a community they can rely on.

There’s an infinite road for growth ahead when it comes to increasing accessibility and diversity in the outdoors. We’re continuously inspired by the community around us that is making the outdoors more inclusive and accessible and we’re working on initiatives that help support those communities—and, ultimately, support the values at Outdoorsy’s core:

    • We always put the customer ahead of ourselves.
    • We do the right thing.
    • We keep it simple and amplify the positives.
    • We like winning.
    • We make long-term progress in the world.
    • We repay our gratitude.
    • We make the world a better place.

So, how about renting out that RV?

##RVT1045

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Del W
6 months ago

Not one mention of the cost to the owners. Rental income is taxable and not at a low rate. It must be listed on a 1099 form if over $600. You can write off some of it with certain deductions but will it be enough to truly make it worthwhile. If you live in a state with state income taxes you have a double whammy.
This article reads more like a promotional ad than a true discussion of all the factors.

Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  Del W

Yes, I agree that there are many negative issues about renting your RV that were not covered in this article/interview. Tax implications are one of many factors not covered. I own ten rental trailers and can give a long list of problems I’ve experienced over the past four years I’ve been in the RV rental business.

Mike Albert
6 months ago

We own several rental properties. I know in advance, before I even have a lease signed for the tenant, that there will be wear and tear on the property at the end of the lease term. I also know that I will find damages to the property. These are expected but not wanted expenses that occur. That being said, we have a a townhouse in Chincoteague VA. When we bought it 35 years ago, we did rent it out, long term, but after the first rental, we needed to replace flooring, the bathtub, counter tops, a sliding glass door and some walls and interior doors. The security deposit didn’t cover anywhere near the cost.
Lesson learned! Never rent out our personal use property that we care about and want to use ourselves. A property purchased for rental is one thing, but one for us is just for us!

Last edited 6 months ago by Mike Albert
robert
6 months ago

If you have ever had rental property then you know that renters will mistreat it because they have nothing invested in it.

Bob
6 months ago

Wasn’t the purpose of this interview to help an RV owner have more information about renting their RV through peer-to-peer websites? Why are Outdoorsy’s get-rich quick examples based on southern dealers with a 12-month rental season? What about the earnings potential of an individual with a 6-month rental season?

Mr. Gavins says, “On average, Outdoorsy owners can make $40,000 a year.” (Outdoorsy’s website says $50,000.) Are these data-driven numbers? Gross revenue or bottom-line profit? What does “…on average” or “make” really mean? I doubt individual RV owners will “make” anywhere near $40,000 a year.

There are some tough questions that were not asked: Are interior damages covered by Outdoorsy’s insurance? What is Outdoorsy’s commission structure? Does the commission apply to extra fees like pets, delivery, and cleaning? Why do some listings violate Outdoorsy’s listing agreement and not suffer any consequences? Maybe RV Travel should ask some more questions of Mr. Gavins.

Ron Yanuszewski
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Exactly right! In colder climates you’d be lucky to make over 12k for the year with an average travel trailer, And that’s being rented for nearly the entire season. You can obviously make some $. It’s not easy and there’s huge risk and time put in. The way they’re marketing these platforms they are getting over saturated fast. Many doing this and growing quick better have a good liquidation plan.

Bob
6 months ago

I’ve been in the RV rental business for five years, and with ten trailers I gross about $8,000 per trailer. I assume all the risks. In our area there used to be 225 trailers listed on Ourdoorsy last year, now it’s 315. We are in a 6-momth rental season area. I do have a liquidation plan depending on how this summer plays out.

B Janeway
6 months ago

Not for us. We never rented out our mountain cabin and have no interest in renting out our Lance trailer. For the same reasons

Mike Waller
6 months ago

And, let’s see what happens when there is an Insurance claim when you have your “rental” on the road and not defined as a rental on your insurance contract. No way would I rent my Class A out as people tend to thrash and trash what is not theirs.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

Not a snowball’s chance in Hell!

Patty
6 months ago

No way!! Nobody is sleeping in my bed.

David Binkley
6 months ago
Reply to  Patty

Exactly. And no one will ever take care of my rig like I do. Never. I used to let my clients use two moving trucks I owned and they were both completely destroyed within a year. Ain’t no way someone, regardless if I know them or not, have responsibility for a $200k coach.

Del W
6 months ago
Reply to  Patty

X2