Outdoorsy is jumping into the growing market for tours and experiences. Initially a platform for RV and campervan rentals, the company is launching the new service with more than 200,000 activities for travelers. Outdoorsy has over 50,000 RV and campervans listed on their platform, from private owners and some rental companies. And they’ve got a solid foothold in this market in 14 countries with over 800,000 bookings since their founding in late 2015.
Partnership with Viator for experiences
Rather than build their own peer to peer marketplace for experiences, Outdoorsy is integrating Viator, a Tripadvisor-owned platform for booking tours and activities. This is a smart move by Outdoorsy. They have a captive audience of travelers already booking RVs on the website. They even know where users will be traveling. So it makes sense to offer activity booking to these travelers.
While I think Viator is a smart choice for this integration, this isn’t a peer to peer experiences company. Viator is a reseller of package tours and tickets. I’m pretty sure individuals can sign up with Viator to offer a local tour or activity. But that’s not what I see listed. It’s a good central place to book all the traditional tourist stuff. But Viator doesn’t offer the kinds of unique local experiences you find with peer to peer networks.
I asked Jen Young, co-founder and CMO of Outdoorsy, if we could hope to see peer to peer experiences offered on Outdoorsy some time soon. She affirmed that we can look forward to some peer to peer experiences as Outdoorsy expands the experiences partners and community. As for why they started with Viator, Jen explained: “Viator will not be the only platform we roll out. We started with Viator because it offers highly rated and curated experiences in the markets we are present in. Our number one goal is to provide our customers the best experience possible for their vacation.”
Expanding the campervan rental business
Outdoorsy also recently partnered with ReserveAmerica.com, commonly known as the platform to book camp sites. This alliance will put RV rental opportunities in front of folks already traveling on the road. The more than 14.5 million annual visitors to ReserveAmerica will be a great additional marketplace for Outdoorsy.
In addition to helping campervan owners rent out their unused vehicles, Outdoorsy recently launched a vehicle purchase program. This will help address the tremendous demand for Class B campers. Mercedes Benz is now offering a price discount on Sprinters to Outdoorsy customers. Those vehicles are not cheap so getting a 7-12% discount could be really useful for buyers. And Outdoorsy is planning to offer discounts from other manufacturers in the future.
The company raised over $75M in five rounds of funding, most recently $50M in January 2019. Outdoorsy is clearly making a big push for expansion with this money. I asked Jen where the company hopes to be in a few years. They plan to expand their RV rental presence in the 14 major markets already covered and continue to invest in their core business of RV and campervan rentals. But they are also expanding into adjacent markets. This step into experiences could herald a move towards providing a one-stop booking solution for RV travelers.