More than three-quarters of RV rental agents report higher rental-related revenue in 2014 and the healthy gains are fueling optimism for the upcoming travel season, according to a spring 2015 survey by the Recreation Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA).
According to a written announcement, almost one-third of RV rental dealers reported revenue increases of 10% to 19% in 2014 over the previous year’s numbers, with 10% saying their revenue climbed by 50% or more. Additionally, 17% of rental agents reported increases between 20% and 49% and another 17% said from 1% to 9%.
“RV rentals continue to represent a great opportunity for dealers to improve their bottom line and help introduce consumers to the value of the RV lifestyle,” said RVRA President Scott Krenek of Krenek RV Rentals in Coloma, Mich. “This is a profitable and growing market with great return on investment for dealers willing to meet the unique challenges of managing a rental fleet.”
Most dealers responding to the 2015 survey have small rental fleets and the number of units some dealers said they plan to add to their fleet was almost completely offset by others who plan to scale back. Consequently, the survey results suggest the size of this year’s RV rental fleet will be about the same as it was in 2014.
Despite growing revenue, dealers cited finding insurance for rental units (30%) as the most significant challenge to their ability to add units prior to this year’s peak travel season. After insurance, they reported financing challenges (28%) and inability to acquire the right type of units as major obstacles.
A high percentage of dealers responding to this year’s RVRA survey said they rent only towables, in contrast to the large national RV rental chains which primarily rent Class C motorhomes. In fact, two-thirds of respondents said they will deliver the trailer to the location where the rental customer will use it, eliminating the need to limit rentals only to customers with adequate tow vehicles.
Almost half of the dealers responding said three nights was the average length of their rental contracts, suggesting that three-day weekends are a big draw for rental customers. Nearly one quarter said four to more than seven nights was the average length of their contracts. Only 8% of responding dealers said their rental contracts averaged one or two nights.
While couples and families with children continue to represent a big part of the RV rental market, dealers report a trend toward groups renting RVs for hunting/fishing trips, and weekends at major sporting events. Because of that development, the number of “sleeping areas” has become more important. This is reflected in the fact 41% of responding dealers said their rental RV customers want at least four separate sleeping areas. Twenty-eight percent want at least two sleeping areas and another 28% want at least six sleeping areas.
RVRA is a unit of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), and the survey was conducted through the RV Retailer Intelligence program, a service of the RV Assistance Corp. (RVAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of RVDA.