RV rental companies say they saw a more than 1,000% spike in May as more states come out of lockdown

RV rental companies say they saw a more than 1,000% spike in May as more states come out of lockdown
Getty Images/ Evgeny Vasenev / Aurora Photos
  • RV rental companies have seen a spike in bookings as several states have started lifting stay-at-home orders.
  • RVshare saw a 1,000% increase in bookings from early April to May 19, while Outdoorsy saw a 1,500% increase from the lowest booking day amid the pandemic to the highest booking day during the third week of May.
  • Many of the bookings reflect new trends, such as more last-minute bookings, longer booking times, and more first time users.

As the summer season starts to descend on the pandemic-crumbled travel industry, one vacation method has started to shine through: RV rentals.

As more states have started lifting stay-at-home orders, and more people are now considering a summer vacation again, interest in camper vans and RVs have begun rising.

This interest in road trips, and subsequently RVs, is now being reflected in the current spike of RV rental bookings. For example, RVshare has seen a 1,000% increase in bookings as of May 19 from early April.

Outdoorsy, another RV rental company, is also seeing a similar surge in bookings to the tune of about 1,500% from the lowest booking day amid the coronavirus pandemic to the highest booking day during the second to last week of May. The platform has also seen a daily 450% booking growth since April 1.

"We're already a pretty fast-growing business, but this is definitely unprecedented," founder and chief marketing officer of Outdoorsy officer Jen Young told Business Insider. "The curve is a very steep hockey stick."


Like most industries, however, the RV rental companies saw shakeups amid the pandemic

RV rental companies say they saw a more than 1,000% spike in May as more states come out of lockdown
An EMT staying in an RV parked in front his parent's home in order to protect his family for any potential exposure during the coronavirus pandemic on April 29 in Thornton, Colorado.RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

"We saw an immediate fall-off in bookings and a wave of cancellations come through for people who were not sure that they would be able to go on vacation," RVshare CEO Jon Gray told Business Insider.

This drop in bookings, however, changed for RVshare on April 17, when Texas announced the reopening of state parks, and Florida reopened some beaches.

"From that day forward, we've seen robust growth week after week," Gray continued. "The first week after April 17, the business more than doubled and it's just been on a tear ever since."

Outdoorsy also experienced this strong growth: this past week, the company recorded its highest number of bookings in a single day, reflecting a 240% year-over-year growth.


The stark increase in bookings isn't the only new trend that's cropped up as states have started loosening restrictions. RVshare and Outdoorsy have both been seeing an increase in first-time visitors to their websites.

In May, around 88% of Outdoorsy's bookings have been made by first-time Outdoorsy users.

And while most trips are booked two to three months in advance, Outdoorsy has been seeing a rise in more spontaneous bookings created just one to three days before the actual rental is set to begin. Now, half of the rentals are being booked for the same week, often for trips that are longer than average.

"As the virus progressed, we all started to get the sense that actually road travel and outdoor travel really had a place in the future of the overall travel category for so many reasons," Young said. "In our world, you take your hotel with you,"

Like Outdoorsy, RVshare has also been seeing more last-minute bookings.

RV rental companies say they saw a more than 1,000% spike in May as more states come out of lockdown
Winnebago vehicles for rent and sale are on display at a dealership in San Jose, Calif. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 said that recreational vehicle shipments from manufacturers to dealers are expected to increase by nearly 4 percent to 361,400 units in 2015AP Photo/Paul Sakuma


The rental platform's booking window — which is the time from when somebody first makes a booking to when the trip actually begins — has reduced by a third comparing this year to last year's booking trends.

"As restrictions are lifting the time from, 'holy crap I can go on a vacation' to booking a vacation has shortened," Gray said. "Also people are concerned that they won't be able to go, so they're waiting until the last minute to book."

In order to ensure safety amongst the RV owners and renters, both Outdoorsy and RVshare have set guidelines for the platforms' RV owners, such as disinfecting the vehicles between bookings.

RVshare distributed guidelines to its renters that included CDC regulations and instructions on how to clean items like laundry and "porous surfaces," according to Gray.

Along with creating new cleaning and safety standards, Outdoorsy created a blog series about cleaning that featured a doctor and professional panel. And because the platform allows RV owners to deliver their own home on wheels to the renters' campsites, the RV exchange can be contact-free.


"People [have] started getting excited, and they're like, 'Wait a minute, I can rent a vehicle, I can get out of town, I can go check out a little lake or a fishing hole or a nearby trail, and I can have a great campfire and stay overnight,'" Young said. "And that makes an awesome travel destination, and it scratches that need that everybody's feeling to travel again and to be mobile."