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How To Start Your Own Motorhome Rental Business

Wednesday 24th July 2019
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power
Maybe your motorhome has spent the past six months gathering dust in your driveway. Perhaps you don’t even own an RV but have heard about all that profit your neighbour’s been pocketing from his rental. Whatever your situation, it’s time you hopped on the motorhome hire bandwagon. 

Approach it the right way and you’ll have yourself an affordable, convenient and lucrative business venture. First of all, you can set up shop for next to nothing if you use your existing campervan, caravan or motorhome. And although having to purchase an RV will set you back initially, this investment can reap significant returns in the long run. Not to mention that you could be making big money without even leaving the house.

To top it off, with more and more UK holidaymakers wanting a taste of van life, the RV rental industry is booming like never before. Thanks to the increasing popularity of road trips and remote getaways, the Centre for Economic and Business Research estimates that a whopping 889,000 motorhomes and caravans will be roaming our roads by 2030! 

So strike while the iron’s hot. Now is a better time than ever to buy your first RV and take advantage of this cost-effective business opportunity. And to all of you existing owners out there: Wouldn’t it be nice to make some money from your motorhome when you aren’t able to explore the country yourself? 

Whether you’re an RV pro or completely new to the game, it’s safe to say that you could make a pretty penny from starting your own motorhome, caravan or campervan rental business. And with Camplify, you can join the UK's fastest growing RV sharing community at the touch of a button. 

Not sure where to begin? From pricing and insurance to marketing and decor, our comprehensive guide has got you covered. Read on to discover how to start your own RV rental business the smart way.

Do Your Market Research

Photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash

Before you do anything else, get familiar with your market and any of its key trends. This market research will give you a clear understanding of the industry you’ll be joining, the hirers you’ll be up against and the people you’ll be renting to. Most importantly, you’ll also gain a better idea of whether it will actually be feasible (and profitable) to start your own RV rental business.

Know Your Audience

The first thing to determine is who your potential customers are. This will be tied to whichever van type you already own - Campervans are best suited to lone travellers or couples looking to explore on a budget, while motorhomes and caravans are great for larger groups like families and friends. On a finer level, your van’s specs, features and number of berths will also play a role in determining your target audience - Someone planning a camping adventure in the wilderness will gravitate towards 4WD rentals with off-grid capability, while a family might be on the lookout for an RV with a roomy kitchen and lots of beds. You get the idea.

If you have yet to buy your RV, consider which type will bring you the most bookings. Motorhomes are the most popular RV on Camplify due to their family appeal - While they are certainly more expensive than campervans and trailer tents, motorhomes boast more space, facilities and home comforts when on the road. 

The more you know what your customers are looking for, the more you can customise your RV to boost hires! And the best way to do this is fairly straightforward – speak to them. Discuss your new venture with family, colleagues and friends, post questions in RV-related Facebook groups, chat with caravanning enthusiasts at RV shows or reach out to existing Camplify users for some pro tips. 

Suss Out The Competition

Once you know your audience, you can look up competitor listings to get a feel of what you’re up against. Investigate how much other owners are charging, what features they are providing and where they are located. Also check out how many vehicles they manage and whether they are always booked out or struggling to fill their calendars. This should give you an insight into how much demand you can expect. And if you want to be extra savvy, make a note of what your competitors are not offering - Whether it’s a cheaper price per night, a WiFi modem or Pinterest-worthy decor, little touches will make your rental stand out from the crowd!

Location, Location, Location

It’s standard for customers to pick up the RV from your location before journeying on to their camping spot, so you can start a motorhome rental business from pretty much anywhere in the UK. Of course, hirers in major cities or travel hubs will likely have the most success. These locations serve as common launching pads for many holidays, as people like to hire and load up the RV close to home or near where they’ve gotten off the plane. 

Wherever you are, we recommend starting your rental business on your doorstep. As long as you have your own garage, driveway or parking space to house your RV (And the customer’s car when they’re away), you’re good to go. Just make sure you are easy-to-reach and available - Your location should be accessible and you should have the flexibility to attend handovers during the working week, which is when they are usually requested. 

Camplify team members are always on hand to offer advice and guidance if you need some help at the start of your journey.

Purchase The Right RV

Photo by Rob Hayman on Unsplash

If you aren’t already the proud owner of a motorhome, caravan or campervan, you’ll need to buy one. This is such an obvious stage, it’s almost offensive to include (but trust us, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye). RV prices vary widely according to the model, previous usage, features, facilities and number of berths - You can expect to pay anything from £5,000 to £300,000! 

So narrow down the search by considering your budget and target audience. If you understand exactly what your customers are after, you’ll have a clear idea of which RV to buy. But rather than digging deep into your savings for that shiny new model, stop and think about your other options. Buying used might just be the smarter move. 

Buying Brand-New

When you buy an RV straight off the assembly line, you get exactly what you want! And there’s nothing quite like taking a seat in a spanking new vehicle. You get to enjoy its pristine condition without the stress of any hidden wear and tear that might pop up after you’ve closed the deal. 

But with sparkle and shine comes higher prices, especially if you go for all the bells and whistles. Not to mention your vehicle will depreciate as soon as it’s driven away from the dealership. To discover whether this is the right choice for you, check out our comprehensive guide on exactly what to consider when buying a new RV.

Buying Second-Hand

The main advantage of buying a used RV is its considerably lower price - You’ll actually get to benefit from the depreciation that its original owner bears. For example, a new Fiat Tribute 4-berth motorhome could be worth at least £40,000, compared to just £14,000 for the 2000 model. 

To strike a balance between cost and quality, we generally recommend aiming for an RV that is one to two years old - But of course, it all depends on the make, mileage and condition. You can also use any restoration as an opportunity to make it your own, rebuilding and redecorating to create your dream conversion. But be warned: You might fall victim to sneaky damage (rust is a top offender), which could result in having to cough up lots of money for future repairs.

If this seems like an attractive option, we’ve got more tips on buying a pre-loved vehicle right here!

Rent-Proof Your RV

Safety First

It goes without saying that customers must be completely out of harm’s way when staying in your RV, so you need to ensure that it is safe for hire by legal standards. Organise a gas and electricity safety inspection, as well as a habituation check. You should also supply a first aid kit and fire extinguisher, just in case of emergency.

And for your RV’s own safety, consider installing a vehicle tracking system so that you can pinpoint its location at all times. This will give you peace of mind while it’s out for hire, not only mitigating the tiny risk of theft but also enabling you to contact local authorities on the off chance it has been whisked away without your consent.

Van Life Essentials

Your customer will be living, playing and possibly even working in your RV throughout their holiday. To ensure that they remain carefree and well looked after, it’s important to stock up your rental with some off-the-grid necessities. Here are some basic living essentials to include: Kitchen equipment, bedding, cleaning products and utensils, maps of the local area (Or GPS) and a heating system. To finish off this list, we recommend that you spend a night in your RV and take note of everything that you find yourself needing as it springs to mind.

All The Home Comforts

It’s just as crucial to consider the aesthetics and extras that will make your RV stand out. The aim is to create a home away from home, without any clutter (Keep your personal belongings at home). Look to Instagram and Pinterest for decor inspiration, creating a unique space that customers will want to share snaps of on their own social media. Finishing touches like a ‘welcome’ bottle of wine, comfy bedding, cute mugs, fairy lights, a surfboard or camping chairs will provide hirers with that extra level of comfort that makes all the difference. Trust us, little things go a long way! 

Get Covered With Comprehensive Insurance

Of course, letting customers drive your RV is fundamental to your business. But there’s no need to play with fire - You want to be rest assured as you watch them set off in one of your most valuable assets! So make sure you have comprehensive insurance cover for your RV that includes hiring it out and that this policy takes effect before you hand it over for hire. 

Take The Risk Out Of Renting

In fact, if you’re renting out your motorhome, self-drive hire insurance is the law. This covers both the driver and your vehicle against potential risks like fender benders and theft throughout their holiday. That way, you're financially protected on the off-chance that something goes wrong, and your customer feels safe and secure when they hit the road. And while static caravan insurance isn’t a legal requirement, we have no doubt that you’ll want to protect your home away from home from any damage or robbery.

Your Coverage Options

In the world of RV rentals, pay-as-you-go insurance cover is standard due to its flexibility and affordability. With this structure, you can keep your personal insurance for when you use your motorhome, and then ‘top up’ your coverage when the van is out on hire.

Camplify has teamed up with the great minds over at LV and Hiscox so that your van is covered whenever it is out on hire. For drivables the daily insurance rate is based on the value of your vehicle, ranging from just £7 (plus IPT). For static caravans and those delivered and set up by the owner, they simply add on a 4% fee to ensure that you are protected if anything happens to your van when hired out through Camplify.

The beauty of this approach is that you don't have to claim via your current provider and it won’t affect your existing premiums in the event of an accident. It’s also only charged on the days that it’s out on hire so there’s no need for an additional annual policy which will save you money too. Plus, a deposit is always taken from the hirer, which covers the excess on the policy so that you are never left high and dry!

An alternative option is to take out your own annual policy, which provides coverage for an unlimited number of rentals throughout the year but is also more expensive. If you go for this payment structure, make sure to shop around before settling on a provider that best fits your needs and budget. Insurance providers like Allianz, Lifesure, Bollington Insurance and Alan Boswell Group are all worth checking out.

Set A Smart Price

Photo by Collin Watts on Unsplash

Now that your RV is kitted out and ready for hire, you need to determine its rental value. We cannot stress how important it is to hit the nail on the head when it comes to pricing your rental - It must be competitive yet fair, affordable yet profitable. Tricky, eh? Fret no more, we’ve outlined the four key considerations to take into account below:

Your RV And Its USP

This one might seem obvious, but it’s essential to examine all aspects of your vehicle and what it’s worth. How many people can it sleep? Is it a recent model or decades old? Is it designed for a luxury escape with all the frills or a rugged off-road adventure? What is its unique selling point? If your RV is offering a one-of-a-kind experience, you have grounds to set a higher price. And bare in mind that if you have an assorted fleet of rental vehicles, you can charge different rates for each one.

Business Expenses

We’re assuming you are not a lottery winner looking for a way to pass the time, so you’ll want to get the most out of every penny and minute you spend on your rental business. Work out what you will have to pay for each booking and how much the admin, management and set up is worth to you. Add up the cost of your insurance, supplies, subscriptions, cleaning and maintenance services, tracking software… The list goes on. As your business needs to make financial sense, your prices should exceed your costs when it’s all said and done.

Competitors’ Prices

Have a look at what other owners are charging for similar rentals and use this as a pricing guide. If you ignore this benchmark and list your vehicle for a higher price, chances are you’ll lose out on potential bookings. On the flipside, setting a much lower price could be shooting yourself in the foot. Our advice? Start off with slightly cheaper pricing to give you a competitive edge. Once you’ve secured some ace reviews, think about increasing it.

Seasonal Demand

While you’re likely to make a profit on each hire from the outset, your rental income will probably fluctuate depending on the time of year. We recommend adjusting your pricing with each season rather than setting a fixed price all year round - Lower your price during off-peak seasons to make the holiday more appealing, and when peak season sets in, the increased demand means you can raise your price slightly. In the UK, campervan hire and motorhome rental surges from April to September (Hello, summer holidays!). Business can also boom over Christmas and New Year, with many people taking time off for some festivities. 

In short, your profit depends on your rates, vehicle maintenance expenses, seasonal demand, and how many bookings you can secure. Find that pricing sweet spot and you could be like Simon and Steve or Simon and Cheryl, earning over £10,000 per year! 

To get a better idea of how much you could earn by renting your motorhome through Camplify, check out our handy calculator. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

List Your RV Online

Your business can’t be a success if no one knows about it! So as soon as you’re ready to take your first booking, you’ll need to spread the word online. 

Try To Build Your Own Website

Your website will need to be professional, on brand and simple to use. This is a lot easier said than done, so we recommend either hiring a web designer to create it for you or purchasing a website building tool. If you go down the latter route, you’ll need to purchase a content management software, a web host, a template and plugins. Then you’ll have to develop your content, updating and optimising it for search engines so that it actually appears when people look for rentals online. We know, things are getting a bit complicated!

Once you’ve taken care of the not-so-basic basics, make your site hire friendly. Customers should need to make enquiries and bookings, so fit it out with a booking software that accepts card payments. And to receive these, you must set up both a business bank account and a merchant account. Last but not least, organising year-round advertising is crucial because you’ll probably confirm most of your peak-season bookings during the quieter months.

Or Discover Why So Many Owners Are Hiring Through Camplify...

Sit back, relax and let Camplify do all of that boring stuff for you! Simply set up your listing and we’ll take it from there. You won’t have to waste any time and effort marketing your rental without expert know-how, organising bookings without a quick and easy platform, or exchanging funds without protection. Not to mention all of the savings you’ll pocket!

Our dedicated marketing team are constantly using their expertise to come up with new and improved ways to increase your hires. What’s more, our advanced booking platform and secure payment system will connect you with a traveller wanting to rent an RV exactly like yours. Not only is it a smoother experience for everyone involved, you can also hire out with confidence knowing that your customers have been vetted by us and reviewed by other owners - Because your RV should always be in trusted hands.

Maximise Your Rental Income

Now that your rental business is up and running, you’ll want to secure as many bookings as possible. Thankfully, you can follow a few easy steps to keep your RV up to scratch and grow a happy customer base! Get the most out of your listing with these pro tips:

Don’t Skimp On Quality Photographs

Never underestimate the power of a great photograph when it comes to attracting potential customers. Understandably, customers like to see what they’re hiring before they pay for it, so a dimly lit, pixelated image of an unattractive part of your RV could be the difference between securing a booking or not. Snap all of your RV’s best features with a professional-grade camera. For more tips, check out our photography guide!

Keep On Top Of Enquiries

When the enquiries start rolling in, respond quickly. This not only shows professionalism and organisation, but will also speed up the whole rental process - The faster you reply, the sooner you'll build those bookings.

Go The Extra Mile For Your Customers

Renting is a repeat business so make sure your customers will come back to you when they want to go on another RV holiday. Treat each customer right, offering friendly service and tailored advice so that they can experience a hassle-free holiday. Essentially, you want to be worthy of a five star review (ratings are the be-all and end-all of peer-to-peer sharing platforms). 

Give Your RV Some TLC

You don’t have a business without your RV so it deserves to be looked after. Give your vehicle a proper clean between each booking, keep on top of regular maintenance (fixing issues before customer’s spot them!) and make prompt, effective repairs so that they don’t come back to bite you later on. Lastly, make sure your RV is always looking on top of its game – No one wants to hire a shabby vehicle.

Make Your T&Cs Known

To prevent any confusion or conflict down the line, make sure everyone is on the same page before a booking is confirmed. How should customers treat your RV? When and where should the rental be picked up and dropped off? What’s the process if anything goes wrong while they’re on the road? Have such terms and conditions clearly communicated in your listing.

Equipped with all of the above tips and tricks, you should be ready to set off on the rewarding journey of starting your own motorhome rental business - And with thriving success nonetheless!

So, what’s stopping you? Thicken your wallet with that idle motorhome or earn a solid return on your new investment today. Getting started is as simple as signing up with Camplify!

What is Camplify?
We are the UK’s largest caravan and motorhome RV sharing community, helping connect thousands of holidaymakers with RV owners.

What does that mean?
Essentially, we provide a unique sharing service where owners of caravans, camper trailers,
motorhomes, and campervans list their RV for hire while not in use. As an owner, this enables you to earn over £10,000 each year instead of having your RV just sitting around while you’re not using it.

As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself.

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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