Just getting your start in the RV rental business? This month’s edition of our Mapping the Road Ahead virtual series discusses success. Where does it start? What does it look like on Outdoorsy?
Topics covered include:
- How to Get Started on Outdoorsy
- How to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition
- What You Need to be Successful
We gathered a panel of expert RV owners to lead you to success on Outdoorsy.
- Jen Young, Co-founder and CMO of Outdoorsy
- Jason Sibley, Co-founder of Simple Camper
- Christian and Kayla Manzano, Founders of Discover Campervans
- Alex Lindamood, Founder of AdventureSome LLC
How to Get Started on Outdoorsy
The two most important things you need to do as you get started on Outdoorsy are:
- Detach from Your RV
- Develop Your Processes
Detach from Your RV
Watching someone drive away with your RV for the first time can be difficult. If you’re planning on renting out your RV, the first thing you need to do is emotionally detach. This is the advice that Kayla of Discover Campevervans has for new owners. The reality of it all is that things are going to break. Your RV is there to do a job after all — earn income and bring others a sense of adventure.
Develop Your Process
Figuring out your rental processes, from cleaning to customer turnover to renter communication, takes a little trial and error. But, once you figure out what works best for your businesses, you’re off to the races. Jason and Alex both agree that ironing out your processes allows for a well-oiled business.
And if you’re wondering where Jason got insights to figure out his processes, the answer is the Outdoorsy RV Owner Community!
How to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition
Simply put, to set your business apart, you need to:
- Perfect Your Listing
- Create Unique Content
- Listen to Your Renters
Perfect Your Listing
All of our panelists agree that your listing page is critical! Your RV, business name, and description is the first thing renters see. So how do you make it the best it can be?
To create the best RV listing, you need:
- Consistent Branding
- Good Photos
- An Experience
Jason of Simple Camper focuses on simplifying RVing for new renters. This simplicity is their defining factor, which fits with their guest experience as well as the business name.
Discover Campervans has done a great job extending its consistency in branding to social media. They do so by sharing the two things we discuss next — good photos and an experience.
There are three kinds of photos every RV listing should have.
- The RV in Nature —This sells the experience. Renters can see what taking your RV on their road trip will look like.
- The Bedroom — Make the bed, even if that just means a cute duvet and a couple of throw pillows!
- The Bathroom and Shower — This is something many renters wonder about. The age-old question of “How do I use the bathroom in an RV?” is one that can be answered with a picture or two.
Christian says they spent a lot of time getting staged photos for their listing. With this, they are able to really showcase the campervan experience.
Make sure your listing reads more about the experience your renter is going to have instead of just a list of rules. “It’s a little Motel 6,” Alex says, if you’re listing is just a list of dos and do nots. With 16 years in the hotel industry, we can take his word for it.
He also advises that “As you get to know your customers and who’s in your market and what’s important to them, keep changing your listing to make it better and better.”
Create Unique Content
Alex advises creating unique content that gives a full picture of what renting an RV is like, and our very own, Jen Young seconds that. The more unique and helpful content you produce, the better you’ll rank in search results. Not to mention, you can always reuse and repurpose this content for social media, outreach, and more.
Listen to Your Renters
This is one of the best things you can do, and it’s something that keeps renters coming back, Jason tells us. “I know that they’re very anxious when they first come to me, so I very much try to encourage them in what they’re talking about.” This also goes far in becoming successful on Outdoorsy.
What You Need to Be Successful on Outdoorsy
We asked our panelists what main characteristics an Outdoorsy RV owner needs to be successful.
To start a successful RV business, you need:
- Patience and Customer Focus
- Involvement in the Lifestyle and Outdoor World
- Listening Skills
Patience and Customer Focus
“What’s going to help you grow on Outdoorsy is having a good customer experience leading to good reviews and return business,” Jason shares. This, in turn, takes patience to build up those customer experience and grow your business.
Involvement in the RV Lifestyle and Outdoor World
For Christian and Kayla, the key is being involved in the camping and outdoor world. This way you can really understand how people will be experiencing your vehicle.
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again. Listening to your renters is important. Many have never rented, let alone driven, an RV before. Walk them through it, but also listen to their concerns, so that you can offer them some extra encouragement when necessary. Jason put it well when he said, “The owner really sets the tone.” Understand what they’re hoping to get out of their trip and get excited for them!
Ask the Experts
To close the panel, we opened up the discussion to answer some of the audience’s burning questions.
What’s one piece of advice you wish somebody would’ve given you when you first started?
“I would say that having a business partner or some sort of support is really important,” Jason says. Starting any business, even a side hustle, is difficult, so it’s good to have that extra help or people who know what you’re doing and can support you throughout the process.
Put Processes in Place Early
Christian advises new Outdoorsy owners to start putting your processes in place early on. For Christian and Kayla, remembering to take arrival and departure photos was a struggle. Outdoorsy’s new photo upload feature as a part of the digital key exchange has helped a lot. Now as the renters are loading their belonging into the RV for their trip, Christian is taking and uploading the photos straight to the app.
Know Your Market
“Make sure you understand, in your own market, what kind of rigs will help you the best to meet your goals for revenue,” Alex says. The worst thing is not being able to make the revenue you want. Alex almost bought a bigger RV that wouldn’t have thrived as much in his specific market. Get what will sell rather than what you want as your personal RV if you intend to rent.
When you have multiple vehicles in your fleet, what do you do for storage?
Storage seems to be a struggle for most RV owners starting out, especially as their fleet grows. The storage answer, however, is different for everyone. Jason suggests looking into industrial lots if you have more than a fleet of one.
Kayla and Christian lucked out with partners who had a commercial office near the Denver airport. Here, they built out their custom campervans and then stored them for rentals.
And Alex? Well, he has connections in the hotel industry, so when his RVs aren’t all rented out, he can usually park them at hotels.
What’s been your favorite rental experience so far?
This was the toughest question by far, but we made our panelists choose.
For Jason, it was two young, first-timers driving to Minnesota for a 10-day trip. They came back dirty, messy-haired, and wearing the biggest smiles.
For Alex, it was when the plumbing system in the RV went amuck. He had to get a repair for it in the middle of Arkansas. On the bright side, the renters weren’t upset at all, taking it all as “just part of the adventure.” A true testament to finding some celebration among the mishaps. Jen put it well when she said, “Not everything will go right, and that’s part of the beauty.” Things are going to go wrong. It’s all about how the owner deals with it.
And for Christian and Kayla, wedding bells were chiming. Because of COVID this year, many couples had to cancel their weddings. Unlucky for two renters, they were one of these couples. Lucky for them though, there was Discover Campervans. The couple decided to leave Florida to go get married on a mountain in Colorado. With their wealth of knowledge about the area, Christian and Kayla hopped on a video chat to help them plan out their entire itinerary from boondocking to the wedding.
What’s the best way to set up an Outdoorsy business? As an LLC or DBA?
Jason registered his RV rental business as an LLC to protect himself legally. There are a lot of other benefits that come with that, including taking “research trips” that can be considered tax write-offs. Score!
What are the things you include as part of your rentals?
In a Discover Campervan, “All you need is some food and your clothes,” Christian says. They include a kitchen bin with all pots, pans, plates, silverware, a propane stove, other cooking essentials, along with bedding, camping chairs, and a camping table.
Alex added that he also includes all the kitchen essentials. However, now in the midst of a pandemic, more renters want to bring their own things, from bedding to toilet paper. This may change, but for now, Alex just adds a mattress pad and fitted sheet to the bed and leaves renters to bring the rest.
In Case You Missed It
If you missed any of our virtual panels, don’t fret! You can go back and watch them all.
- The Future of RV Travel: Mapping the Road Ahead After COVID-19
- Mapping the Road Ahead: Post-Pandemic RV Travel Destinations
- Mapping the Road Ahead: The Next Great Side Hustle
- Mapping the Road Ahead: A New Generation of RV Travel
- Mapping the Road Ahead: Success Starts Somewhere
And for more helpful tips, tricks, and advice from our owners, join the Outdoorsy RV Owner Community and check out our newly launched Owner’s Handbook! Lastly, check our COVID FAQ page for the latest safety information and stay updated about park openings, both national and state, in your area.
Wishing you the best start with all your RV rental endeavors!