October '20

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30 • RV PRO • October 2020 rv-pro.com RV D E A L E R S S teve Lewis sits at a crossroads in the RV rental market. As owner of Lightnin RV Rentals in Lawrenceville, Ga., Lewis rents out motorhomes and trailers from a fleet of about 50 units, primarily thorough his company website. How- ever, he also rents out some of his inventory through four online marketplaces: Outdoorsy, RVTrader, RVnGo and RVshare. Welcome to the split-personality nature of RV rentals in the 21st Century. While some longtime RV professionals like Lewis rely in part on RV rental platforms to bring in some extra busi- ness, they also compete against them. Other dealers steer clear of those platforms altogether. The role of RV rental marketplaces has come into sharper focus amid a massive spike in rentals during the coronavirus pandemic. In September, RVshare reported that it booked 1 million rental days in just 13 months – a number equal to the com- pany's combined rental day bookings during its first six years in business. The company further reported that bookings for the fall have already increased by 123 percent year-over-year and are increasing. Outdoorsy, meanwhile, saw its June bookings skyrocket to $80 million – representing an increase of more than 200 percent above the $24 million it had forecast. At Lightnin RV Rentals, Lewis reports reservations in June and July climbed about 75 percent compared with the same months last year; about 70 percent of the company's bookings come through its own website. Lewis estimates that rentals through the four platforms he's signed up for represent less than 10 percent of his business. How- ever, he notes that the platforms deliver incremental rentals that otherwise might be out of reach. He adds, however, that book- ings through the platforms tend to be shorter-term rentals than bookings his business receives on its own. Lightnin RV Rentals joined the four rental marketplaces during last winter's offseason, after Lewis noticed that the platforms had grabbed business from him in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Lewis says Peer-to-peer RV rental marketplaces reported huge spikes in rentals this summer, as many consumers opted to give camping a try in place of getting on a cruise ship or relying on commercial airlines to travel to a destination. Independent rental operations also reported strong demand for their rental units. (Photo courtesy of RVshare) RV Rentals RV Rentals COVID-19 spurred record-shattering RV rentals this year, benefiting both traditional rental businesses and peer-to-peer online platforms. Some dealers are learning to embrace rental disruptors Outdoorsy and RVshare while others remain wary. By John Egan On the Rise On the Rise

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