Meg Furey-Marquess
by Meg Furey-Marquess
Posted November 23, 2020

For the most part, here at Outdoorsy, a love of nature is, well, second-nature to most of us. Even those of us who would prefer glamping in a fully furnished yurt to high-tailing it off-grid in a campervan for a far-afield boondocker’s paradise, we can all agree that being outdoors is pretty great. 

However, recently we were asked a question that hadn’t really occurred to us — if you’re looking to start an RV business, do you have to love the outdoors? And that got us to thinking….do you?  

Must Love Nature?

We’ve all heard this before — do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life. When it comes to working or running a business, our society often likes to believe that money follows passion.

However, was Jeff Bezos a bookworm? Debatable. What we do know is that before he was the world’s richest man, he was an engineer who learned the ins and outs of international trade before creating the Amazon empire we know today. 

Did Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, have an insatiable appetite for flat-top hamburgers? Probably not, but he did have a passion for serving consistently high-quality food that tasted the same in Alaska as it did in Alabama. 

And was Steve Jobs obsessed with computers? No more than he was calligraphy or Japanese gardens. However, he was obsessed with simplicity, form, and function and felt that most people deserved products that adhered to these elements of design. 

The point is, you don’t need to love nature or the great outdoors to start an RV business. What you need is a love for entrepreneurship, a passion for starting your own business, and a desire to create wonderful customer-centric experiences.

Because Outdoorsy is, at its core, a hospitality business.

The Hospitality Business on Wheels

While it may seem that we’re in the camping business, the truth is, Outdoorsy is a hospitality brand. Like any hospitality brand, one of our top priorities is to offer our owners and renters something completely inspired. We like to think we’re in the business of creating unique experiences. 

The experience that we cultivate encompasses everything from a sense of freedom and wonder to satisfaction and adventure for renters looking to do things differently. We offer a change of pace, the opportunity to try something new, and a much-needed breather from the every day. You don’t need to love the outdoors to run a successful RV rental business; all you need is to love providing people with something new, something special, or something that they’ll remember for years to come. 

Starting an RV Rental Business

If you feel the love for creating magical experiences for your customers, then an RV business could be for you. Even though you don’t need to personally crave RVing, you’ll still need to get started by researching the types of RVs you might want to rent out and how those rigs fit with your business goals and budget.

Here are a few steps we think everyone should follow when deciding whether to start an RV rental business:

  1. Take inventory of your skills and passions – You need to be customer-centric to run an RV rental business. You have to have a genuine heart for serving people and creating experiences that make them happy. You don’t need to be the world’s greatest extrovert, but you do need to take a deep-dive into what makes you tick and decide if that jives with running an RV rental business.
  2. Build an RV rental business that focuses on your strengths – We have owners on our platform renting out rigs that range from pop-up campers to ultra-lux motorhomes. You will want to take inventory of your business experience, life background, and budget to decide which type or rental business plays to your strengths.For example, if you have a background renting out lux homes on Airbnb, then decked out motorhomes could be in your wheelhouse. If, on the other hand, you have a background running a budget hostel, you might want to consider starting with pop-ups or small trailers because you’d have transferrable skills.
  3. Set short term and long term goals – Let’s say you have a vision for building an RV rental fleet with 100+ campers. While that’s an admirable goal, few of us will be able to start there. That’s why it’s important to have an idea of how you’re going to get from where you are to where you want to be. Set one, five, and ten year goals for your business. Then, you’ll be ready to research the rigs that’ll help get you there.

How to Research RVs to Rent Out

The Outdoorsy platform is a great way to build an understanding of how much you could rent out RVs for in your area. By running a simple search on our platform, you’ll find RVs of all types and stripes for rent near you. 

Once you feel you have a basic understanding of our rental marketplace, you’ll want to ask these important questions to determine the type(s) of RV(s) you’d want in your rental fleet:

  • Do you want to rent out motorized RVs or trailer/pop-up style rigs?
    • Motorized units are more expensive, but can be more appealing because your renters don’t need to provide a tow-vehicle
    • Travel trailers and pop-ups are less expensive and easier to maintain – you can also offer customers the option to rent a tow vehicle from you as part of your rental listing on Outdoorsy
  • Used or New?
    • Used rigs can save you a bundle but can also come with problems if you don’t do your homework
    • New rigs are more expensive and lose value fast but often come with warranties to limit your costs

Once you zero in on the type of RV(s) you might want in your rental business, sites like RV Trader or Facebook Marketplace are two solid options to research prices for new/used RVs. When you have a general idea of the RVs that are out there, you could then visit an RV dealer to explore further.

But be sure to arm yourself with information before setting foot on a dealer’s lot. Also, if you’re looking to finance your RV rentals, your local bank or credit union might offer you more favorable loan terms than an RV dealership. By researching prices and financing options ahead of a visit to your dealer, you’ll be better prepared to get the best deal.

Stationary RV Rentals

Many of our owners opt to only offer stationary rentals. With a stationary rental, the RV owner offers delivery service and setup – for an extra fee – to the renter’s campspot. This can be a great way to run a rental business if you love hospitality, but don’t want the stress and worry of renters driving your property around.

Stationary rentals can also be more convenient for the renter. For example, many renters don’t have access to a tow vehicle large enough for a travel trailer. By offering a stationary rental to these customers, you can create a seamless experience for them where they simply arrive to a ready-made camp-cation.

How Much Can I Make With RV Rentals?

As you might imagine, there are multiple factors that go into this equation. That’s why we created this handy calculator to help get a ballpark idea of how much you might make.

Joining our Outdoorsy RV Owner Community will also help you immensely as you decide the sort of RV rental business you might want.

Regardless of what inspires our owners to rent their RV on our platform, at the end of the day, the owners that are most successful are the ones that put our renters first, and isn’t that what drives entrepreneurship in the first place? After all, no one gets into business to get into the business of disappointing customers.

Meg Furey-Marquess

Outdoorsy Author

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