Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, RV rental businesses have been negatively affected. Despite the slight improvements since then, the financial fallout is still large and has impacted numerous businesses worldwide.
From travel bans to border closures, these measures taken to safeguard people’s health have resulted in tourism and travel rates reaching rock bottom. Though measures have eased, many potential travelers are now looking to domestic travel rather than risk international travel to countries where the pandemic is not well-managed. Theoretically, this is good for the RV rental business, but the fact of the matter is that the financial impact is still felt as a result of the decline in reservations during the height of the pandemic.
A thorough survey was done to come up with strategies that will help you to navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic world, ensuring that your business stays afloat. If you’ve been wondering ‘how do I rent my camper‘, read on to find out more.’
1. Come up with a crisis management plan if you don’t already have one
It is important to learn from mistakes even if it seems like a useless thing to do. Though another crisis is the last thing that anybody wants, it is better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. A good place to start is by relooking at your business’ performance in the pre-COVID years. Figure out areas you can cut costs on or pinpoint a target market that you can serve. These can help you come up with a crisis plan to put in place to mitigate any possible impact from future crises.
2. Re-think who your target audience is
Prior to the pandemic, it is likely that the bulk of your customers were international travelers who were looking for a cheap way to explore. Perhaps the Europeans made up the bulk of your customer base given their preference for outdoor travel compared to the Asians. It might be time to re-think this given the continued border closures since COVID started in 2020. It may be worthwhile to focus more on domestic tourists from out-of-state instead of international ones. Be flexible and research more into these new demographics, and you can watch your booking numbers slowly increase.
3. Collect reviews from satisfied customers
Research has shown that word of mouth is the best form of advertisement as it is most trusted by consumers. Use the pandemic low session to reach out to past customers who have had a satisfactory experience and get them to write you a positive review. These could take the form of Google reviews, Yelp reviews, or even reviews on a website that you set up for your business. If customers are reluctant, you could even offer them a return discount in exchange for writing the review — in fact, this is what many successful businesses do. The next time you head to McDonald’s or Subway, look carefully at the receipt: you’ll see that they offer a free serving of fries or a free cookie for providing them feedback. Take a leaf out of their books and adopt this practice too!
4. Have a generous cancellation and rescheduling policy
The pandemic is a volatile situation that has led to many uncertainties. There may be unprecedented restrictions on movements or border closures. This has led to customers being reluctant to book in fear that they would lose the whole amount paid.
While canceling a booking is obviously not an ideal situation, it’s much better to let the customers book and reschedule than not book at all. Consider having a generous rescheduling policy where customers can reschedule to a later date at no extra cost. This also helps with your cash flow, as you receive their cash beforehand and lock it down.
You may also want to give customers a better deal for booking now and using the service later, in order to sweeten the deal for them. Consider offering a small discount, or perhaps one night free with a minimum number of nights booked. These are just some ways to entice customers to make the booking when they have doubts over the price and the uncertain situation.
5. Prepare a downloadable kit for customers to refer to
Uncertainty is a large factor that holds back a lot of customers from committing to a booking. This is especially so when the government announces COVID lockdowns at the snap of a finger when the situation worsens. To deal with this, RV rental businesses can help customers to allay some of these worries by coming up with a downloadable RV toolkit.
Within the kit, there should be sufficient information about the vehicle, including photos of its interior and exterior and the type of drive it is — manual or auto. It is also nice to have information on emergency contact numbers for the locality. Customers can refer to this toolkit instead of bombarding you with calls and emails, and it would also allow them peace of mind before booking their RV.
6. Find ways of promoting your business that you don’t have to pay for
Put on your thinking hat because this tip might require you to think outside of the box — there are many organic marketing strategies to help you increase your customer pool. For those who don’t already know, organic marketing is a strategy that generates traffic to your business over time rather than using paid methods.
With restrictions on movement easing, people are now on the lookout and exploring options for that getaway they’ve been craving since the lockdown started. Hence, it is important that you get reviews from past customers so your business stands out amongst the competition. People always trust listings that have good reviews and a great track record, after all! From writing opinion pieces to pitching your business to reputable holiday blogs or magazines, these are just some of the ways that you may wish to consider promoting your RV business without spending a cent!
It is important to remember that each business is different, so be sure to consider if the tips we provided are suitable for your business, or if some tweaks are needed. Your business should always have a unique experience or selling point to offer, and these tips should be tailored accordingly! The last thing you want to do is to implement something detrimental to your business.
Hundreds, if not thousands of RV rentals have been hit by the onset of the COVID pandemic, and business owners everywhere are trying their best to overcome these challenges. Hopefully, the tips listed here give your business a shine that no one else has, and we wish only the best for you ahead!