The travel industry took a hit during the COVID-19 crisis. Suddenly the idea of crowded airports and bus stations, in addition to mandated travel bans, made vacations less appealing, or even impossible, for most of us. It was no different for the RV industry. With campgrounds shutting down and stay-at-home mandates, RVing was put on hold with the rest of the travel methods.
This pandemic won’t last forever, and it’s important to look to the (brighter) future. After spending months at home cooped up inside, many people are going to be looking to book, or rebook, those much-needed vacations. According to a recent survey of our travelers, 77 percent are looking to make travel plans within the next three months*. While the rush back to airports or hotels in busy cities may take a little more time, many will turn to RV travel. Renting an RV is the ideal way to travel to not only avoid large groups, but a way to escape into nature and spend time outdoors; whether it’s hiking your favorite trails, reading a book next to the lake, or cozying up around a campfire.
Better days are ahead, and the pent up demand for travel is building. Here are the travel trends we see arising now and into the future:
Expect acceleration in the RV industry once this virus passes. RVs are self-contained, meaning they provide a more intimate way to travel. Even before COVID-19 RVshare had seen an interest in RV rentals grow 650% since 2013
Road trips will become even more popular. Whether by car or RV, road tripping with just family and loved ones and skipping busier methods of travel is more appealing than ever, with 78% of those surveyed stating they will visit a drivable destination*
Trips that focus on outdoors/nature will be on the rise. People are ready to stretch their legs and get outside after months of being confined indoors, with 65% of travelers reporting they will be heading somewhere in nature such as a national park*
People will continue to be wary of crowded locations. Many will avoid the close quarters of airplanes, cruise ships, hotels, and restaurants, with 93% of those polled stating they will avoid crowds*
Affordability will be even more key. After the loss of many jobs during COVID-19, affordable vacations such as an RV trip that rolls a method of travel, place to sleep, and kitchen into one will be more appealing
Local travel holds more appeal. The idea of choosing a destination closer to home resonated with 82% of RVshare travelers polled*
There’s more good news for the RV industry overall. According to the RV Industry Association, 2019 marked the fourth highest year on record for RV shipments. The RVIA also indicates several reasons for future growth:
- The highest level of households ever recorded now own RVs – more than 9 million
- The most common age of buyers range from 35-54, meaning long-term growth in the market
- Baby boomers are continuing to enter the age range where RV ownership has been highest in the past
Some other reasons why the RV industry has been on the upswing?
- Pet friendly: More people than ever consider their pets part of the family. The pet friendliness of an RV attracts vacationers skipping the hotels and resorts that typically do not welcome furry friends.
- Peer-to-peer markets: The RV sharing economy brings the joys of RV travel to folks who do not wish to have the responsibility of owning an RV, and provides a source of income for those who do own campers.
- Lifestyle trends: The ease of a quick weekend getaway and the opportunity to have a more nature-immersed experience are high up on people’s lists when it comes to owning or renting an RV
The RV industry has a $114 billion economic impact according to the results of the 2019 RVs Move America Study. The industry provides 596,355 jobs and $32.2 billion in wages. This new flood of RV travel will impact more than one industry. National and state parks and public and private campgrounds will also likely benefit. Not to mention the surrounding restaurants, shops, museums, and tourist attractions. The RV industry along with parks and campgrounds go hand in hand, with the RV industry being dependent upon our national parks and state and private campgrounds for recreation, conservation, enjoyment and overnight camping. Plus many traveling families utilizing campgrounds as their only source of temporary accommodations. In return, these campgrounds and parks depend on these travelers to keep a steady source of income.
During this uncertain time, we saw a lot of good. In March RVshare launched a Disaster Response Solutions program for COVID-19, which asked our community to opt-in to renting out their RVs to first responders for free or at a discounted rate. We saw over 500 of our amazing owners step up to help within the first few days. We are incredibly proud to expand upon our Disaster Response Solutions by partnering with RVs 4 MDs, a Facebook group created to connect RV owners with COVID-19 first responders.
Expect to see the first wave of RV travel build alongside the reopening of our iconic national parks and state parks. Until then, start planning your next epic RV trip. We can’t wait to see you out on the open road.
*Source: RVshare Travel Sentiment Survey, April 2020