Jon Gray was an executive at HomeAway, a peer-to-peer vacation rental marketplace, for 12 years. His tenure ended only when the company was sold to Expedia in 2015. Now Gray is taking over as CEO of RVShare, a peer-to-peer RV rental platform serving the United States. While I see the rental lodging marketplace as an obvious winner in travel, peer-to-peer RV rentals seems like a much harder road to profitability. But apparently Gray is up for the challenge.
RVShare currently has 60,000 listings. An impressive number, especially for a relatively new business. But according to Gray there are 15 million RVs in the United States. It’s clear most people’s RVs sit idle for much of the year. It’s a rare owner who actually lives out of their RV. So for most of these 15 million RVs, there is the potential for owners to rent them out and earn some extra money. And this also means people wanting to use an RV just a few times a year really don’t need to buy one.
But there are already commercial RV rental companies out there, so what’s going to lure people away from Cruise America? I compared prices for a random 3 day weekend rental out of San Francisco on Cruise America and RVShare. There are a lot of potential add-on costs, but breaking it down to the basics, Cruise America seems overall cheaper. This is true whether or not you consider supplemental insurance (which is included in the Cruise America price). But to rent from them you have to go to one of their rental sites. And they are not everywhere in the country. RVShare, on the other hand, potentially has an RV available anywhere there’s an RV owner in the country.
RVShare also has a lot more options than a standard commercial RV rental company. You can get teardrop campers, classic VW campers, all possible Winnebago models, and even some high end Mercedes vehicles. While commercial companies like Cruise America don’t offer towed campers, if you have your own truck you can find tons of choices for tow along vehicles on RVShare. It might be the flexibility and options that help peer-to-peer camper rentals succeed.
I’m aware of 15 peer-to-peer RV rental businesses globally. You can find them all in my spreadsheet of peer-to-peer travel resources. Filter the sub-category to “Motorhome.”