The smart way to upgrade, or purchase your next RV…

Kim's Airstream Rental, Palm Springs CA.
Kim’s Airstream Rental, Palm Springs CA.

You can fund your next upgrade or brand new RV without taxing the family budget. How is this possible? We all know how expensive it is to purchase, own and operate an RV-monthly payments, insurance, storage, fuel cost, maintenance and repairs. The list goes on, so how in the world can you upgrade or even buy a new RV without breaking the bank?

Answer: By sharing your RV with other families, for a fee, you can finance your next dream coach and all the associated costs that go with it.

Kim's typical party set up for his guests.
Kim’s typical party set up for his guests.

To be sure, it’s not for everyone. In fact only about 1 in 10 RV owners would actually consider renting their “baby” but without a doubt it is the smart way to purchase your next rig. And it’s not as hard as you think.

Peer to peer markets are blooming all over the world, and sharing your RV is just one way to make this happen. Example; RVPlusYou offers a turn-key solution for earning extra income from your RV, and it’s safe; your renters don’t drive or tow your RV!

In a recent blog post I outline the 5 key reasons why every family should own an RV. The first three reasons are a no brainer, and no doubt this audience already knows the benefits. However, reasons number 4 and 5 may surprise you: income, and tax benefits. I highly recommend that you read this post, and then visit RVPlusYou to learn more.

What about the RV rental business? The biggest difference between renting an RV from a private party on RVPlusYou, and renting from one of the big 3 RV rental companies (besides price) is amenities and service.

The big RV rental companies will find it difficult to compete with you on either price or amenities. So, do it right and you’ll be able to rent your rig all season long, or if you prefer, just a few times a year. Earn enough for your next trip, your next mortgage payment, or enough to cover your kid’s living expenses for college next month. Just make sure you do it right. After all, this is a well established, professional industry so treat your business as such and get the details right.

Speaking of details, nothing is more important than getting the details right when renting your RV to someone, especially a novice camper. By including those little things such as coffee, sugar, paper plates, or trash bags, you have just set yourself apart from all the other rental companies out there.

Kim's rental delivered, ready for check-in
Kim’s rental delivered, ready for check-in

By truly hosting your guests with an RV rental that is delivered and setup in advance of arrival, you not only greatly reduce the risk of damage, you create the opportunity for new RV’ers to get outdoors!

RVPlusYou has great information and a checklist that will help you think about what to include with your RV rental. Remember, it’s the experience that you are providing and the amenities that you include may make all the difference between just an okay experience for your guest and a truly fantastic one.

Attention to detail, impeccable service
Attention to detail, impeccable service

What does a great listing look like? One of our newer RV Hosts, Kim, recently posted this listing. From profile, to pictures, description and details, Kim knows what it takes to satisfy his guests. There is complete support from the team at RVPlusYou along with helpful hints and their RV Rental Playbook.

Want to rent, earn extra income, reap tax benefits but don’t want to do the work? RVPlusYou has a solution for you: Concierge Service Providers (CSPs). All across North America folks who have experience as hosts are learning about the opportunity to become CSP’s, individuals who, for a fee, will deliver your RV rental, check in your guests, provide maintenance/cleaning, etc.

A turn-key solution to your next RV upgrade or new RV purchase is out there, and who knows, a new business opportunity may be born from your passion and willingness to explore more than just the open road.

RV Rentals Delivered: Why every RV rental company owner should read this…

There are over 400 independent RV rental companies operating in North America according to Woodall’s. Last summer I visited almost 50 of them and spoke to their owner/operators prior to launching RVPlusYou. One of the most revealing facts that I learned was the astonishing rate of growth in demand for RV Rentals delivered to the campsite. What?!!! No driving?!

A common misconception is that an “RV rental” equates to an open road vacation where families endure thousands of miles of trekking across great expanses of wilderness packing it all in over their two week vacation. It turns out that this is a false assumption, and there is a huge market for RV rentals delivered to the campsite.

According to the independent RV rental companies that I met with in Sept/Oct of 2014 while doing research for our start up, one big bright spot in the RV rental industry is ‘Delivered RV Rentals’, set up and ready for check in. “People love it,” says General Manager Angela Dudziak of Neff Brothers RV. “Their favorite destination is Lighthouse Point RV Campground at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH; where the family can ride roller coasters all day, then come back for hot dogs and burgers on the grill under a starry sky overlooking the beautiful shores of Lake Erie.”

Beach camping in a delivered RV Rental, set up and ready for check-in
Beach camping in a delivered RV Rental, set up and ready for check-in

Who’s renting these RV’s? Well, everyone. It’s hard to pick one major source of market demand but Ryan Dore, owner of Adventure in Camping says they come from all over, “So. Cal., Bay area, We have families fly in from all over the US to Mammoth and enjoy the ease of our camping experience.  We even get some Europeans on their month long tours of the USA who love taking one week out of their vacation to camp in the Mammoth Lakes wilderness area. Our guests roll up in their compact rental cars right to the campsite”. says Dore. “We have it all set up and waiting for them upon arrival.”

From the Pacific Northwest, where I met Ted Swyers of RV-Northwest, all the way to Cherry Hill RV Resort just outside of Washington DC, most owners agree that delivery is growing. The GM at Cherry Hill, one of the most popular and convenient RV Parks in the DC area, told me they have several RV rental companies that deliver to their park. People are reserving locations and having the RV delivered. They arrive in a small rental car, see the DC sites and then move on to the next stop, mixing up their lodging options along the way. The ease and convenience along with the potential savings is hard to argue with.

Driving or towing a big rig does seem to be a major factor too. There are many people who don’t want to or simply can’t drive a big box down the highway. Some site fuel expense, or the inconvenience (impossible in some cases) of parking in cities. They, like many, are opting to keep the flexibility and fuel efficiency of their smaller car.

Demand for delivery is growing, and for good reason, which is why every RV rental company in North America, and indeed the world should consider the benefits of offering to deliver and set up their inventory. What are the most compelling reasons?dollar sign

The top three:

  1. Less damage – Novice RV drivers have more accidents. This is fact, and the more time your inventory spends in the shop, that’s fewer days being rented.
  2. Convenience – By renting to those select locations in your geographic market, you can control inventory and better serve customers.
  3. Higher average rental rates – By adding on delivery/set up fees, RV rental companies can effectively increase their ave rental rates per unit. Special events and tailgating are proof of higher rates for deliveries. If you currently provide delivered event rentals, you know exactly what I’m referring to.

So, if I’m right and there is an even larger market for RV rentals to be had, then its time to take notice. Is there a larger market to be tapped?

The RV Rental industry is tiny compared to the overall vacation travel and lodging market, approximately $350 million according to the RVIA. Compare that to the overall travel lodging market of $457 billion! How many have never been camping?

Roll all of this fun info around in your head and then combine it with the fact that over 50% of travel is now booked online! This figure is astonishing and one that the RV rental industry better take note of.

A tidal wave of opportunity is ready to be caught and ridden, especially for those already offering deliveries in their area, however in order to ride this wave you must be prepared to do offer three things: 1) offer delivery, 2) offer amazing hotel style service and amenities up the wazoo, and 3) offer your inventory, availability, and bookings online.

If your website is static and nothing more than a glorified brochure, start investigating options. Travelers expect information at their fingertips (yes, lots of pictures). They also want the convenience of booking on-line 24/7 with customer service waiting at 3 am.

If you like to travel, I urge you to consider a delivered RV rental; set up in advance at your location of choice and ready for your arrival. If you own an RV rental company, I urge you to investigate and do some homework on this largely untapped market. Growth opportunities abound!

Burning Man-RV Rental Strategy: 5 Simple Steps

burning man sky viewIt can easily be said that Burning Man is the mother load of event driven RV rentals. After all, you’re out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but yourself and 65 thousand other free spirits. No infrastructure, electricity, or running water. An RV is not required but having shelter and a few basics sure make a week in the desert a lot more tolerable, (just my humble opinion).

Apparently a good number of the “burners” agree because from what I’ve read (no I’ve never been) many RV rental companies get around $7,000 for a motorhome rental at Burning Man. Attendees have driven up prices for RV rentals at this event to over-the-top sums; $7,000?! It’s only a week! We need a plan folks. Let’s figure out a way to offset this expense.

Burning Man RV Rental Strategy – 5 Simple Steps

  1. Purchase, don’t rent – If you and your pals can afford $7,000 weekly accommodations, you can figure out a way to buy a used RV for your desert trip. I don’t need to tell you how to find a used RV for sale, they are all over and you can always find a deal.
  2. Use – There are over 10 million RV’s in North America and on average they sit idle 84% of the time. For the most part, they just don’t get used as the owners had intended when they laid down that $50k for their vacation rental on wheels. Plan for this fact, and don’t feel guilty for not using it. One event per year, no problem. Know it going in.
  3. Rental Plan – The average nightly rental rate (outside of Burning Man Event) is $200 -$300 per night. Cruise America gets anywhere from $200 to $400 per night depending on the model and time of year. On RVPlusYou, the average owner gets about $135.00 per night for a delivered RV rental. If you rented yours just 7 days a month, 11 months out of the year, you would earn over $10,000 and this doesn’t include delivery and cleaning fees. Do I have your attention?
  4. Storage – Your burner home on wheels is big, it needs a home and it needs maintenance. On average expect to spend around $100 per month on storage. Some locations are less expensive but some offer maintenance, dumping service, and some are even getting into the RV Rental consignment business on RVPlusYou. This means a one-stop shop for storage and RV Rental Management services. They get a % of the rental for handling the rental transaction with the renter. This is how it works on RVPlusYou.
  5. It’s a business – There are tax benefits involved with owning a “vacation rental on wheels”. Yes, it’s a business and you can write off much of your expenses going in. If you have it available for rent year round, minus ‘Playa Month’, you are operating a business. The IRS says that if you rent it for less than 14 days in the year you don’t even have to claim the income! Check with your accountant on all of this because I’m certainly no expert. It seems the tax benefits alone can make a lot of sense depending on your personal income situation. Helpful info here.

This year RVPlusYou plans to go heavy into events and Burning Man is on the list. It’s a whole different animal but it might just make sense, especially if we can match up RV Owners with RV Burners. See you on Playa.

Sample pricing for RV Rentals at Burning Man:

America, land of the free… Are we really free?

freedom_quoteI recently read a blog post that inspired this one: True independence – Does it exist? The author poses a good question which I applied to my own long held opinion that freedom rings a bit hollow if you’re saddled with a mountain of debt. I’m not bagging on capitalism by any means. A free market system is an absolute requirement for any hope at freedom anywhere, and there is no better role model to the world, or place to live, than the United States. I’m simply asking how free can one be if we are working like a dog night and day just to pay the bills each month?

My major was business economics so my perspective on freedom tends to come from a financial viewpoint, which I believe drives most of the major decisions we make in life. At the age of 18 I made my first credit card payment for a motorcycle that I couldn’t afford? What in the world was I thinking? Why didn’t I know better? Why didn’t someone stop me? Oh yeah, I didn’t know better and I was free to make that dumb decision.

That was then and I’ve since recovered from youth, learning along the way, observing our nation’s debt pile up and incomes stagnate. Not only is our national debt growing out of control, each citizen owes an estimated $56,660 (1) thanks to our free spending representatives, but families too have racked up so much personal debt that a dual income home is now a requirement just to eek by. Whew, what a downer and I haven’t even gotten to the student loans!

Speaking of student loans, WHAT THE!!!!? The ave household owes $32,264 (2) in student loans and this figure is growing out of control. So, question: Should we as a nation be encouraging this much debt for our kids, many of whom haven’t even settled on what the want to do? Our government makes it so easy to take out enormous student loans, over $1 Trillion (3), more and more to acquire low level or unmarketable degrees. Are we asking any tough questions here?

I’m not knocking education, or even questioning the value of getting your degree, but I am questioning the cost/benefit equation and why we make it so simple for kids to borrow and sometimes party their way through their college years only to end up with a near worthless degree, a mountain of debt, and a low paying job to facilitate the monthly payments? Where is our government? Where is our education system? Parents? Why is society encouraging this behavior? Shouldn’t we be teaching some basics on finances, interest rates, predatory lending, late payment fees, etc? Shouldn’t we be teaching economics 101 to our kids in high school and demand that they graduate with some basic understanding of the way money works, how credit works, and how they stand the best chance to maintain financial control of their lives?

But here we are. The hole has been dug and we find ourselves or our kids or both of us in it. We must stop digging. We must stop borrowing. We must stop buying crap that we don’t need. No matter how deep we find ourselves into that hole of debt, realize that we are all free to stop digging. We are free to make decisions that will one day free us from the the bonds of debt.

Never before has there been so much opportunity to create, to grow, to learn, to change, to improve. Technology has completely changed the old paradigms of capitalism and given each of us the ability to create value from our time, from our skills, from our assets, and from our minds. Conversely, we have the ability to buy only that which we need; a ride to the store, a neighbors help assembling an Ikea desk, or even an RV camping trip. It’s time that we look for ways out of the race.

Knowing that you're actually in it is half the battle.
Knowing that you’re actually in it is half the battle…

A new ‘Shared Economy‘ is evolving and developing right before our eyes and it may very well hold the answer to how we all truly regain our financial freedom. RVPlusYou is but one of many possible exit plans, Uber is another. You can even make extra income doing some side work or by renting your stuff. A great way to explore options is at Peers.

I believe that we have to start educating our kids and ourselves about money and how it works. We must talk about what credit is for and how we can use it responsibly to better our lives, not enslave ourselves to it. We must demand that our government do a better job asking questions about how a student loan will be used in terms of cost/benefit, not borrow/benefit I deserve it now.

We recently had a new customer named Jason sign up and list his brand new 30 foot Coachman Freelander for rent in Sonoma Valley and Bodega Bay campgrounds. Jason is a young professional, in the tech industry, has a wife and two kids. He and his wife decided that camping was the family activity for them, but they didn’t just run out and buy this $60,000 rig without thinking it through. Jason worked out a business plan that included renting this new family activity. He researched his options, looked at insurance requirements, and foretasted revenues and expenses before he pulled the trigger.

Jason did it right and now has a tax write off against his income producing asset. He runs a legitimate RV rental business and enjoys the outdoors with his family when his schedule allows.

I say, way to go Jason, and to you I say go explore…. find the exit!

Do you know Peer to Peer? Time for an introduction.

Why is peer to peer marketing and the shared economy important for us to understand? Why is this concept exploding right in front of us and how will it impact our lives?

peer-to-peer

The ‘Peer to Peer’ marketing concept encourages customers to market to each other. Instead of the norm, or established ‘top down corporate approach’ of company selling to consumer, peer to peer sidesteps production, advertising, and distribution and gets straight to the point. I have an RV, you want to camp, let’s do a deal. In this shared economy, efficiency rules and the savings is passed between the peers. I love it! There is no greater disruptive market condition going on right now than this, which is why you need to know about it and understand how to take advantage of it.

This Peer to Peer article about Airbnb does a great job of explaining the pros and cons of this recent market dynamic. I encourage you to take a look because it’s not going away. Technology is exploding and with it comes opportunity. Recent advances in tech; broadband, wireless, software, apps, smart phones, etc. all enable peer to to peer: I have an RV, want to use it this weekend? I have a car, need a ride? I’m not using my lawnmower today, want to mow your grass neighbor, please? I have time this week, want me to watch your dogs?

Of course I’m biased. My partners and I have launched RVPlusYou; a peer to peer RV lending site, and it works great because we target those campers who really don’t want to drive it, they just want to camp in it or they want the extra space parked at their house for the big family reunion this weekend.

RV rental set up: Avila Beach, CA
RV rental set up: Avila Beach, CA

So start thinking about what you need and what you have to share, then go online and find the application or website (technology) that will facilitate some savings, or extra income. It’s not going away and it can make a huge difference in your life!

5 good reasons why your family should buy an RV

It has often been said that the happiest days of a boat owners life is the day they buy and the day they sell. We’ve all hear this saying, and many of us have heard this same expression applied to RV ownership… and for good reason I might add. So, how can I make the argument that you should buy an RV, and at the same time agree that RV ownership is a kin to a boat anchor?

I’ll give you 5 good reasons why more and more smart buyers are employing this vacation rental strategy for their families.

Reason #1 – Camping is fun!

P1010058

It’s always at the top of the ‘fond memories’ list when you ask anyone, young or old, about their most favorite vacation. The bond that families develop while camping is very powerful, especially when you limit the electronic distractions and focus on each other.

Reason #2 – State and National Parks

There is no better way to see and experience our national treasures than to camp and hike them. And if you’ve ever been hiking or tent camping, you know how restful sleeping on the ground can be. Try a high tech memory foam mattress inside a warm camper. It won’t disappoint. You’ll be rested and ready for that hike to half dome if you’re camping in comfort.

Half_Dome_Yosemite144

Reason # 3 – Vacation savings

Not only will you and your family experience the best vacations of your lives, but it can also be the least expensive. Most RV vacations include steep savings over hotel stays, eating out at restaurants, and those high cost tours and amusement parks. Compare the cost of fishing, hiking, boating, or a campfire to your average resort or theme park activity.

Reason #4 – Extra Income

The smart money is on turning your new purchase into a revenue producing cash cow. For most of us, vacation time is limited given jobs and normal demands on time. So instead of letting the RV sit idle while you’re at work and the kids are at school, put that asset to work and share it! Peer to peer sharing sites such as RVPlusYou are amazingly simple, effective, and make RV rental easy, safe, and profitable for any RV owner. From the do-it-yourself RV owner who wants to handle each rental transaction to the hands off owner who wants someone else to manage the process, there is a solution for all.

Reason #5 – Tax Benefits

Most RV’s are vacation rentals on wheels in the eyes of the IRS, they certainly cost as much, and by renting your RV you are essentially engaging in a business activity that allows significant deductions. Some great information can be found in this article on vacation rental deductions. Do your own research and consult with your tax professional, but even a casual glance at the possible deductions will reveal major tax benefits that deserve serious consideration.

Tax-Deduction Pic

Be a smart RV buyer and owner. Do your research and planning, then execute on starting your RV Rental business!

The responsible and professional RV rental

Okay, you’ve secured your first booking and your guest is just days away from arriving. What should you be thinking about to insure a smooth rental and a happy guest?

The biggest difference between renting an RV from a private party, and renting from one of the big 3 RV rental companies (besides price) has to be the amenities that come with the RV. You know, those little things like salt and pepper, a trash can, a decent knife that will actually cut through a tomato!

Nothing is more important that getting the details right when renting your RV to someone, especially a novice camper who may not think about bringing the beach chairs. By including those little things such as coffee, sugar, paper plates, or trash bags, you have just set yourself apart from all the other rental companies out there. If you really want to set yourself apart, why not include your BBQ? You’ve made your guest’s vacation that much easier when you share some of your stuff, which translates to, “Wow, we had a blast and we’ll be back soon!”. You’ve just stacked the deck against your competition.

Avila Beach listing at RVPlusYou.com
Avila Beach listing at RVPlusYou.com

RVPlusYou has great information and a checklist that will help you think about what to include with your RV. Remember, it’s the experience that you are providing and the amenities that you include may make all the difference between just an okay experience for your guest and a truly fantastic one.

As your check in date approaches and you’re preparing your RV to accommodate your guests think about the following:

  • Is your RV clean and in complete working condition? A/C, furnace, lights, batteries, smoke alarm, appliances, shower, toilet, etc.
  • Are your tanks ready? Emptied the grey and black tanks? Are the water and propane tanks full?
  • Are the locks working properly?
  • Any repairs or maintenance needed?
  • Smoke, propane, and Carbon Monoxide alarms working? Batteries fresh?

Remember that in many cases you’ll be renting to a novice camper. Think about all of the things that they might forget and anticipate their needs. You’ll be glad you did!

Military RV Campgrounds

Did you know that there are hundreds of military bases around the country that have RV parks? You must be a veteran, active or honorably discharged, to use the facilities and each installation has their own rules. This can be an amazing opportunity for those who have served our great country, one that you should take advantage of if at all possible. Below is a California Central Coast gem, Camp San Luis Obispo. Located just 40 miles south of Hearst Castle on the scenic Highway 1, this RV Park is a must visit for qualified campers. There are 12 spaces with full hook-ups, and almost unlimited overflow for dry RV and tent camping. The facilities are open year round and open to active, National Guard, reservists, retired, 100% DAV, and their guests. Besides the great facilities, the location can’t be better. You’re just a few miles north of downtown San Luis Obispo, and it’s famous Thursday Farmer’s Market. Cal Poly University is even closer! You can find more information here on specific campgrounds available, including Camp San Luis Obispo. As you consider your camping possibilities for your next vacation, consider campground app developed by All Stays. This cool tool allows yo to search various campgrounds on the go, including those available at military bases and installations all across the country. So no more excuses; go out and explore!

Share your stuff

So, my wife and I decided to share our stuff. More precisely, our camping stuff and our RV. We rented it to a stranger who is now a friend. It was a strange road we traveled to this point where we began sharing our stuff, but as I look back on the journey I’m really glad we did it. So many positives and tangible benefits for us as well as our community.

What am I talking about? Well, in a picture, this is our stuff that we share and this is but one of the places we share it; a beach campground in California.

IMG_3209

Those tangible benefits? Well, the first tangible is some extra income. Not just a few bucks but the worthwhile kind that can really make a difference. Example: We rented this set up 3 times, 3 days each just before our trip across the country all in the month of July. We netted over $1,250 tangible dollars! That’s the kind that helps pay the mortgage, or tuition, or helps you say yes to the lobster instead of the chicken. It can make a real difference.

The second is less tangible but more powerful because it will stay with you forever. When a dad says, “Hey, thank you. No, really, thanks. Never will I ever own an RV or all this camping gear and “stuff”. I just won’t, but you renting us your ‘stuff’ made it possible for me and my family to have an unforgettable experience; my daughter saw dolphin every morning, we cooked fresh fish on the BBQ, campfire under the stars. Thank you”. Okay, enough said on that. You get the point.

By sharing what would otherwise be sitting in storage, you not only make a few bucks and keep your RV’s water pump from corroding, you can make a difference in the lives of others by providing a cost effective vacation. That guy and his family from San Francisco didn’t have to go out and buy and bunch of stuff to get that experience. They drove 5 hours in their fuel efficient car and used our stuff, then went home and shared pics of the dolphins. Very cool.

So, instead of letting your RV sit and rot in your driveway, think about sharing it and make the world a better place. Oh, and make a deposit in your kids college fund too while your at it.