RV Rental Fleet Size Remains Stable in 2019
Travel trailers and Class C motorhomes are the most popular products with renters
By Jeff Kurowski, RVDA director of industry relations
The RV rental fleet will be about the same size during the 2019 peak rental season as it was a year ago, with conventional travel trailers and Class C motorhomes, once again, being the most widely available product types, according to results of the RV Rental Association’s annual survey. the rental fleet operators responding to an RV Rental Association (RVRA) survey in April and May.
The national fleet is expected to be just one percent larger this season than it was last year, with 48 percent of the rental operators who responded to the survey saying they have no plans to change their fleet’s size. Another 38 percent of respondents plan to expand, and 14 percent plan to reduce in size. Altogether, 109 RV rental operators participated in the survey.
Conventional trailers are expected to account for 52 percent of this year’s rental fleet, up from 51 percent in 2018, while Class Cs will account for 34 percent, up from 32 percent in 2018, according to the survey.
Class A motorhomes will account for 5 percent of the rental fleet this year, down from 8 percent last year.
Class B motorhomes, fifth wheels, toy haulers, and soft-sided pop-ups are each expected to account for 2 percent of the fleet. (The percentages add up to more than 100 because most rental operators include more than one RV product type in their fleet.)
Because pickup trucks and SUVs with towing capacity are the best-selling vehicles in North America, it’s not surprising that rental operators offering towable RVs say most of their customers are “tow and go” renters. But many operators also report that significant portions of their business come from customers who want the rental company to deliver and set up the trailer at a campground.
A smaller but still significant portion of customers want trailers delivered and set up at outdoor concerts, festivals, sporting events, and other special venues.
The plateauing of the RV retail market this year – albeit at a near-record-high level – may explain why rental fleet operators aren’t planning a major fleet expansion. In fact, 19 percent of the survey respondents said they saw no change in their rental revenue between 2017 and 2018, and almost 20 percent saw a revenue decrease.
That means a majority of RV rental operators saw revenue increase last year, and a majority of them also believe their revenue will be higher in 2019. But because more spending is needed to generate higher revenue, staying profitable continues to be viewed as one of the biggest challenges faced by RV rental operators.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the shortness of the rental season is their biggest challenge, while 34 percent said staying profitable was the biggest challenge.
The next biggest challenges were the acquisition of rental fleet units – cited by 25 percent – and rental units breaking down while in use – cited by 22 percent.
RVs with at least four sleeping areas are the most popular with renters, according to the survey. Thirty-six percent of respondents said the ability to sleep at least four adults and children is the most popular set-up, while 34 percent at least six sleeping areas is the most popular. Eighteen percent said at least two sleeping areas is the most popular, and 12 percent said seven or more sleeping areas is the most popular.
In terms of the average length of rental contracts, 37 percent said it was four to five nights, while 31 percent said three nights. Another 22 percent said six to seven nights, 5 percent said more than seven nights, and 4 percent said two nights.