What will travel look like after the coronavirus dust settles? Last week, Outdoorsy set out to explore that very question with our first virtual live panel event, Mapping the Road Ahead: Post-Pandemic RV Travel.
Mapping the Road Ahead (hosted and moderated by Outdoorsy Co-Founder & CMO Jen Young) brought together a dream team of RV travel industry experts to help RV business owners and renters alike understand what to expect once social distancing and travel guidelines are lifted in the coming months. The consensus on the COVID-ravaged travel industry? Things are looking up.
Mapping the Road Ahead: Post-Pandemic RV Travel Panelists
- Jen Young, Co-founder & CMO, Outdoorsy
- Karen Redfern, VP of Brand Marketing & Comms, RVIA/GoRVing
- Joel Holland, Owner, Harvest Hosts
- Mike Jackson, Founder & CEO, Southwinds Rentals
- Deborah Kane, Founder & CEO, GoCamp Campervan Rentals
Let’s dig into some of the conversation highlights.
How has COVID-19 affected RV travel?
Overall, RV rental bookings were significantly down in March and April. Even still, Jen Young noted Outdoorsy has seen new strange trends like customers booking as late as 24-hours before their trip departure date, or people who booked an RV to park it outside their homes just to have something new to do.
Recently, Outdoorsy noticed some were renting for healthcare workers who want a place to self-quarantine away from their families but still be close to home. To aid in this effort, Outdoorsy partnered with Sutter Health on the Healthcare Heroes program that gets healthcare workers into RVs when they need them.
Deborah Kane of GoCamp Campervan Rentals noted that she too has noticed this trend, inspiring GoCamp to launch Roadtrips for the Rockstars, a program that gives renters 20% off a future trip while allowing them to nominate a healthcare worker for free RV travel.
When will RV travel bounce back?
One of the most common predictions is that domestic road travel will be the first type of travel to bounce back once restrictions are lifted. Joel Holland, Owner of Harvest Hosts, says he can feel the pent-up demand, which he thinks indicates road travel will probably rebound as soon as people are given the green light to hit the road again.
“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”, Holland said, predicting that many travelers will be sticking close to home and enjoying local sights rather than traveling cross-country.
What will post-pandemic RV travel look like?
- People will want to visit the great places in their own backyards
- People will be craving nature
- Virtual check-ins/key exchanges/etc
- Cleanliness even more important, possibly a new value prop
In addition to Holland’s theory of more local travel post-COVID, most panelists predicted technology would start to play a larger role in the RV rental industry.
Deborah Kane spoke to GoCamp’s already-changing relationship with technology. Pre-COVID, all check-ins were done in person. Now, many GoCamp owners are recording videos to give key exchange instructions, RV walk-throughs, and vehicle operating instructions.
Kane mentioned that while this started as a way for owners to social distance themselves, videos will probably stick around long after the coronavirus because they save a ton of time and are a fun, different way to engage with customers.
The panelists also spoke about how cleanliness will play a much larger role in the rental process than before the pandemic. While cleanliness has always been a priority for owners, you can expect it to become a much larger value prop to renters who want to be assured of their safety.
Want more insights? Download your very own copy of Mapping the Road Ahead: Post-Pandemic RV Travel, or check out our other live panel re-caps: