The global health crisis has affected RV rental businesses since the start of 2020 and, even though there are signs of improvement, the ensuing financial fallout continues to impact lot of owners today.
Travel bans and nationwide lockdowns have resulted in the lowest tourism and travel rates of the past several decades. And, even though restrictions are starting to ease, many travelers are opting for alternative holiday destinations that don’t require traveling through crowded airports. This, in theory, is good for the RV rental industry, but the truth is that many business owners have struggled during the pandemic.
At Wheelbase PRO, we partner with some of the top RV rental businesses, many of which have been able to successfully navigate challenges related to COVID-19 and thrive under these unique circumstances.
We conducted a company-wide survey and reached out to Omar Bendezú, owner of Ondevan Campervan, to put together a list of actionable tips to help RV rental businesses successfully overcome the obstacles brought on by the pandemic.
Let’s take a look at our findings.
Navigating Your RV Rental Business Through the COVID Crisis
Let’s start off by saying that all RV rental companies are different. So, instead of implementing every tip we list below, take a moment and consider if it’s a suitable alternative for your company.
Likewise, you may find that one of our suggestions works best if you tweak it to make sure that it matches your particular case, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on your requirements.
With the above in mind, let’s take a look at 7 tips to help you navigate your RV rental business through the COVID crisis.
1. Analyze Past/Current Performance and Develop Contingencies
It may seem like too little too late, but the last thing RV rental business owners want is to have the same thing happen again. Therefore, you should look at your company performance prior to COVID, evaluate your current output, figure out what went wrong, and develop contingencies to prevent these from repeating themselves. For instance, many RV rental businesses took advantage of all this unexpected time off to improve their operations by implementing WheelbasePro.
2. Re-Evaluate Your Target Audience
“Before the pandemic, about 95% of my customers came from Europe,” says Mr. Bendezú, owner of Ondevan Campervan. “It’s funny, because I never thought about targeting local customers. But since the pandemic began, all of my business has come from people who live in the US. Most of them are actually from Florida, so I’ve put a lot of emphasis on catering to my local clientele.”
3. Adjust Your Strategy to Generate the Best Results
All businesses have a strategy, even if it’s not set in stone. But, the COVID-19 brought on unprecedented challenges for RV rental business owners. Savvy entrepreneurs have learned to adjust their strategies in order to allocate their resources in a way that increases their chances of success.
Some of the areas you can evaluate and adjust include:
- Product and Services: Figure out if there are additional services/features you can offer, like specialized cleaning procedures that you can share with renters to make them feel completely safe
- Competitive Landscape: Analyze competitors and see what tactics they implemented
- Flexible Terms and Conditions: Give customers the ability to acquire credits that can be used later instead of canceling their reservations (and you get to keep more cash as a bonus!)
- Marketing and Promotion: Focus on creating a positive brand and distributing valuable content through the channels that your audience uses the most (social media, review sites, forums, etc.)
4. Collect Client Testimonials
Testimonials are great closing tools in all industries, especially in the RV rental space. You should use the extra time you have in your hands to reach out to clients who’ve had a great experience, ask them to write up a testimonial, and create a page to display these. Depending on the type of relationship you have with previous customers, you can even ask them to leave the same feedback on review sites like Yelp.
5. Create a Reliable RV Rental Toolkit
In some parts of the world, COVID lockdowns lasted more than 6 months. Now, consumers hesitate to book vacations because there is still a level of uncertainty.
Lot owners can relieve some of these worries and increase the number of customers by creating downloadable RV rental tool kits. These should not only include information about the vehicle and safe traveling, but also contain information about the steps that RV rental business owners take to create a secure environment in every way.
6. Adjust Your Cancellation Policy and Let Customers Reschedule Their Trips
“Before the pandemic occurred, almost all of my RVs were rented for the whole year. Once it was obvious that the pandemic would last a while, I started seeing cancellations and refund requests,” says Omar.
“This wasn’t ideal for obvious reasons and again I thought that this would last for a while. So, instead of sending refunds right away, I had the idea of offering a voucher that was valid for two years for customers to reschedule their trip later on.”
“The plan worked like a gem! Almost, if not all of my clients accepted the deal. They thought two years was a sensible number, especially with advancements in vaccination rates and everything that entails. I’m a small business like most RV rental places, so I think my clients were happy to meet me halfway and push their vacations back for a bit.”
7. Find Alternative Organic Promotion Means
It may take some creative thinking, but finding alternative organic marketing and promotion channels can also help you get more customers during COVID.
Now that lockdown restrictions are easing across the board, people are more aware of where and how they spend their money. So, getting kudos from a reputable source can help your business stand out and get more exposure.
“My business was featured in a few large publications, like the Miami Herald and New York Times, which gave me a lot of exposure. I actually had the opportunity to appear on television on CBS to talk about our RV rentals and encourage people to discover their local attractions. And, the best part is that I didn’t pay for the additional exposure, it was all organic.”
Ready to Start Making Adjustments? WheelBase PRO Is Here to Help
Like Mr. Bendezú, there are thousands of RV business owners across the world trying to overcome the challenges brought on by COVID-19. We hope that the tips listed above help you navigate your RV rental business during the current health crisis and increase your chances of attracting new customers.