October '20

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rv-pro.com October 2020 • RV PRO • 31 he figured that – given the platforms' online marketing domi- nance – it made sense to adopt the "If you can't beat 'em, join' em" philosophy. The platforms supply "found business that you would not normally get. They're spending advertising dollars, and you get to take advantage of that," says Lewis, one of the leaders of the RV Rental Association, an arm of the RV Dealers Association. "I think the platforms are here to stay, and because I'm on the platforms, I don't want to give them a black eye." Still, Lewis believes traditional RV rental businesses rise above the rental platforms when it comes to customer service. He cites one of his company's referral codes as an example. Lightnin RV Rentals' "peer-to-peer bailout" code lives alongside other codes identifying referrals from sources like walkups, phone calls, online inquiries and repeat business. "All day, every day, somebody calls up and says, 'I went to pick up my coach and it wasn't what was represented,' or it was wrecked or broken or whatever," Lewis says of deflated customers of rental platforms who contact Lightnin RV Rentals. To accommodate these "peer-to-peer bailouts," Lewis' busi- ness either rents out units that aren't already reserved, he says, or offers a "spare" unit that Lightnin RV Rentals has tucked away for emergency situations. He says that if an RV owner utilizing an online platform to rent their unit isn't available for some reason, they often don't have a backup unit available. Beyond that, Lewis stresses other benefits of renting from "We love that the dealership network is also supporting our customers – as we're supporting theirs. We have each other's backs, and we have a common goal: To take care of the consumer," says Jeff Cavins, co-founder and CEO of Austin, Texas- based Outdoorsy. An RVer himself, Cavins is pictured with company co-founder Jennifer Young. (Photo courtesy of Outdoorsy)

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