I had a dream to build a business…just not an RV rental business.
In the spring of 2014, we purchased a barn on the revitalizing Los Angeles River with the intent of turning it into a club for outdoor enthusiasts: The River Ridge Club and Stables. A family club to offer exercise, horseback riding, bike and kayak barn, fine food and drink, and adventure for all willing to seek it out. As it turns out, we are achieving so much more.
While developing the business plan for the club, I thought to include camper vans for member travel to the vantastic state and national parks on the west coast. To understand the functionality, reliability, and ease-of-use, we bought a new design of the traditional “Class B” RV – a 2015 Winnebago Travato. It’s a camper van that can comfortably sleep a family of 4, yet is as easy to drive and park as a standard SUV.
After exploring the west coast ourselves in the spring of 2015, the next step was to see how other families would use and appreciate these little adventure wagons. We started by renting out the Travato on the peer-to-peer RV rental site RVShare.com – the only site I had heard about at the time. The van was booked so often that first summer, we bought a second identical unit in the fall. With a little research, I learned of another peer-to-peer rental site, Outdoorsy.co. To compare the two platforms, we advertised van #2 only on Outdoorsy.co. To educate renters how to safely operate the vans, we created a few wacky videos. And with that, CamperVanGuy was born.
While still laying the groundwork for the River Ridge Club and Stables, we have discovered that renting the vans can be profitable. It takes a bit of effort, but with the right platform, it is possible. I found that though I initially received less referrals from Outdoorsy, the platform is starting to catch up. And with benefits like included insurance, payment processing, and an “owner’s group” to share ideas and tactics, it’s a no-brainer on where I will partner up in the future.
With benefits like included insurance, payment processing, and an “owner’s group” to share ideas and tactics, it’s a no-brainer on where I will partner up in the future.
Van #3, listed only on Outdoorsy.co, is the European designed, North American built 2017 Hymer Aktiv. It arrived a few weeks ago and has already completed two weekend trips – one to Joshua Tree, the other to a redwood grove near Santa Cruz. Both renters said it was “awesome!”
Van #4, a Dodge Promaster Cargo Van, will be delivered any day now. I’m planning to outfit it with the help of the team from Happier Camper, the small fiberglass trailer with an avid online following and a knack for way-cool modular interiors.
As CamperVanGuy continues to grow, I feel I am finally getting to that place in life where we all hope to be – doing something that you truly enjoy, and being rewarded for it. In addition to acquiring more vans and gear to satisfy customer (and my own!) demand, I’m also looking to geographical growth and conveying my love for the outdoors to those I meet along the way. For future videos, I can’t wait to cover topics like campfire cooking, canoe and kayak use, horseback riding, and where to have the best time while staying in our little vans.
I still have my “eyes on the prize” of bringing The River Ridge Club and Stables to life – to connect families with nature and adventure. But in the meantime, growing CamperVanGuy on the Outdoorsy platform has been a much welcomed (and profitable) distraction. I can’t wait to see where it goes.