Mesa, Ariz,-based RV rental firm Cruise America reported that 2 million visitors have viewed its YouTube channel where the company offers over 100 videos.
Cruise America representative Michael Smalley noted, “We are very pleased with the number of viewers who have watched our videos on YouTube. Many of our customers have found us as a result of these productions. We want to get the message out to the world that RV travel is the most convenient and relaxing way to travel. By placing these videos online, our customers and potential customers get to know us a little better; it’s like giving them a peek into the world of the RV lifestyle.”
Cruise America YouTube videos can be viewed on desktop computers, laptops, phones, tablets, TVs and even the new technologically advanced refrigerators. Each month, one of the videos is placed on Cruise America’s Facebook page, which has drawn a very positive reaction from followers. The large number of people tuning in evidences the popularity of the videos, both on YouTube and on Facebook.
In addition to a high-volume YouTube channel, Cruise America offers their inventory of fully equipped, self-contained class C rental RVs and used motorhomes for sale on their website, as well as an extensive list of rental and sales locations.
“This enables the public to research, review and make their selection according to their needs,” said Smalley. “On the site, there are informative videos, featuring the many accommodations and convenient amenities that come with each model.”
Mesa, Ariz.-based RV rental firm Cruise America has become a sponsor of Team Green Beret, a “Race Across America” relay cycling team.
According to a press release, the team is comprised of military veterans that are raising money to support the Green Beret Foundation (GBF), a nonprofit foundation that provides financial assistance, immediate-need supplies, assistance with caretaking and educational scholarships to wounded or sick Army Special Forces members and their families.
Cruise America has agreed to donate one of their top-of-the-line motorhomes to serve as the rolling command post for Team GBF, as the cycling team competes in the 2013 Race Across America. This Cruise America motorhome will afford the four-team members and their crew the opportunity to rest or sleep while they take turns peddling nonstop around the clock for a week, as they cross the nation on bicycles. The Team GBF cyclists are David Viens, Gino Elsea, Dave Johnson and Andrew Schaaf and Crew Chief John Roberts, all having served in the military. The team coach is Susan Hefler. More information about Team GBF can be found at http://www.teamgbf.com.
Cruise America representative Michael Smalley said, “We are proud to be a sponsor of the Green Beret Foundation Racing Team. We are thankful for each of the members of the military, and the sacrifices they make for our freedom. Donating a motorhome is a small way for us to say ‘thank you’ to these warriors for their dedication to such a worthy cause.”
The annual Race Across America Event starts in Oceanside, Calif., on June 11-16, 2013 and ends in Annapolis, Md., June 20-24. The route encompasses 3,000 miles of peddling across 12 states. The route includes 170,000 feet of climbing. The racers have nine days to finish the race, so the teams must cover between 250-350 miles a day. Needless to say, the athletes that participate in this event must be at the pinnacle of physical condition.
For more information on Cruise America visit http://www.cruiseamerica.com/.
RV rental firm Cruise America has been named as the official Oscar carrier for the 2013 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards show.
According to a press release, for the first time in the history of the Academy Awards, which began in 1929, Oscar will be taking a 21-day social media publicity tour across the United States.
The road trip will travel from New York to Hollywood, visiting several cities along the way.
Cruise America representative Michael Smalley noted, “Cruise America feels it a privilege to be associated with a time-honored event such as the Oscars. These awards are given as a merit for distinctive achievement in the film industry, so it’s only fitting that Oscar would be treated to a ride in a top-of-the-line Cruise America RV.”
On Feb. 4, the Oscar-carrying motorhome will depart from New York, and head west. While there are 11 designated cities that will be visited, the majority of the trip’s stopping points will be determined through input from fans on social media.
As Oscar rolls into their towns, fans will be able to see the iconic statuette and have their picture taken with it. They will also be able to track the journey on Cruise America’s Facebook page.
Rental firm Cruise America announced that it recently took delivery on its 30,000th Class C motorhome, acquired over its 40 years of operation. According to a press release, the Mesa, Ariz.-based company has 4,000 Ford-powered rental recreational vehicles operating throughout the United States and Canada.
Cruise America reported that one of the reasons for its growth over the last 40 years, despite slowdowns in the economy, is the fact that the company enjoys a heavy percentage of repeat business.
“I believe that our unparalleled repeat business is due to the fact that we really do care about our customers and we show it through our commitment to top-notch service,” said President Bob Smalley Jr. “This, combined with the fact that we care enough to provide the best motorhomes on the market, has made us the leaders in the industry.”
For 25 years, Cruise America has teamed up with Thor Motor Coach, which manufactures all of the company’s Class C motorhomes – each designed and built to Cruise America’s specifications. These motorhomes, wrapped in attractive scenery, have become iconic along the highways of the U.S. and Canada, according to the release.
In addition, as new inventory comes in, the used coaches are reconditioned, refurbished and sold to the public at affordable prices. Over the last 40 years, Cruise America has sold 26,000 of used Class C RVs to customers.
Cruise America offers its inventory of fully equipped, self-contained Class C rental RVs and used motorhomes for purchase on its website, as well as an extensive list of rental and sales locations. For more information visit http://www.cruiseamerica.com/.
Cruise America, the nation’s leader in RV rentals and sales, announced a grand giveaway in conjunction with its 40th Anniversary to be celebrated this month.
Each week from July 1 through December, Cruise America will be giving away a $500 gift certificate to one lucky weekly winner, which can be used toward the rental of one of Cruise America’s top-of-the-line recreational vehicles, according to a news release.
According to Cruise America’s president, Bob Smalley Jr., “More and more people are discovering that vacationing in a motorhome provides travelers with an economical way to travel in comfort and convenience without giving up any luxury.”
For those that do not yet own a recreational vehicle, they can rent one from Cruise America at a very reasonable price. No matter what the circumstances may be, or what the rental RV is needed for, Cruise America has a selection of Class C motorhomes in pristine condition and excellent running order that is sure to please the renter.
Should the traveler be interested in the purchase of a motorhome, Cruise America sells their used RVs to the public as new stock comes in. Each of these used motorhomes is completely refurbished and made to look and run like new. They are priced at just a fraction of what the purchaser would pay for a new one, and the buyers are still assured to receive the Cruise America quality service and support.
In order for those interested in winning one of these weekly $500 gift certificates to enter, they simply need to fill out the entry form found on the Cruise America website at www.cruiseamerica.com.
Robert A. “Bob” Smalley, founder of Cruise America, died on Monday (May 28). He was 88.
In 1972 he launched Cruise America with his two sons, Bob Jr. and Randy. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, Cruise America today is the world’s largest RV rental firm and operates a fleet of over 4,000 motorhomes, rented locally and one-way, from some 130 locations across the lower 48 States, Alaska and Canada. The company is still in family hands to this day.
A Detroit native, Smalley relocated as a child to his adopted hometown of Miami, Fla., where he began his early auto rental career in the mid-1930s helping out his grandfather at his fledgling car rental agency on Miami Beach. Bob’s grandfather was Frank Couture who migrated from Michigan to Florida in the 1920s with the intention of starting up a “U-Drive-It” auto rental business. Soon after arriving in Miami Beach, he opened Couture Motor Company and began renting cars. Miami was a new and booming tourist town whose growth was fueled by attracting winter visitors from the north.
After serving his country in the United States Navy during WW II, Smalley returned to Miami in 1945. There, he went back to work for his grandfather renting cars to Miami’s expanding tourist base. Soon after, in 1950, Bob and his brother Earl bought the auto rental company from their elderly grandfather and immediately renamed the company Couture Rent A Car to better describe its primary focus. From their home base in Miami Beach, the brothers rapidly expanded the company by opening new locations all over Florida and the Caribbean.
The company quickly became the nation’s third largest car rental firm. Along the way, the upstart company caught the eye of the Hertz Corp. At that time, Hertz was the world’s largest rental car company. In 1958 Couture Rent A Car was acquired and merged with The Hertz Corp. Smalley hired on with Hertz and moved his family to corporate headquarters Chicago.
After stints in various areas within Hertz, Smalley joined the international division. Rising to division president, he led the rapid growth of Hertz International in the early 1960’sThe expansion turned Hertz into an international car rental powerhouse and global brand name.
In the early 1960s, Hertz relocated its headquarters to New York City as it continued to expand. Smalley’s rise within the organization continued until he was named to the top slot: president and CEO in August 1968.
He took early retirement in 1971 and returned to South Florida where he launched Cruise America the following year.
RV rental firm Cruise America will hold the grand opening of its newest location on July 13, located at Capitol Rentals & Sales located in Carlisle, Pa., according to a press release.
Cruise America said it has extended its coverage in the Harrisburg, Pa., area – home of the region’s busiest airport – because of the high demand for RV travel this year.
“People are striving to save money where they can in this economy, yet they don’t want to give up the family vacation,” said Mike Smalley, vice president of operations for the Mesa, Ariz.-based company. “By renting an RV, they are saving money in several areas, so the rental virtually pays for itself.”
The company said families around the U.S. are saving dollars and travel expense by renting RVs and taking road trips, rather than flying to destination locations. The press release stated, “By doing this, they no longer have to book airline flights, rent motel or hotel rooms, and continually eat out in restaurants. Many find that the savings accumulated is more than enough to cover the cost of the rental, which is surprisingly affordable.”
At their new location, Cruise America will be offering rental motorhomes of different sizes, including their standard and large RVs. Depending on the model, there are comfortable sleeping accommodations for up to seven people. Because each unit includes convenient kitchen designs, cooking is a popular money saving option.
Cruise America also offers their inventory of fully equipped, self-contained RVs, as well as an extensive list of their locations online, which enables the public to make their selection according to their needs. On the site there are informative videos, featuring the many accommodations and convenient amenities that come with each model.
A sport utility vehicle backed into a building at Cruise America RV in Everett, Wash., around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 25), The Sky Valley Chronicle, Monroe, Wash., reported.
The accident injured three people inside the building and caused serious damage, said Rebecca Hover spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff ‘s office.
None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening but a 6-year-old boy suffered serious injuries and a woman suffered a serious arm injury,
The driver, a man in his 20s, fled the scene of the accident but was found a short time later and arrested.
He was arrested and booked into the Snohomish County Jail on suspicion of vehicular assault and hit-and-run.
Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association. His story appeared in the The Tampa Tribune.
As soon as I found out that we were going to my wife’s family reunion in Ohio, the wheels started spinning — RV wheels that is.
The closest our daughters Sarah, now 6, and Megan, 5, had ever come to a road trip in a house on wheels was playing in the very stationary display models at RV shows.
Hard to believe, I know. I’m the marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association. I have done hundreds of interviews talking about the fun, freedom and flexibility of recreational vehicle travel, yet my family had never experienced it firsthand. Now, all I had to do was get my wife, Jody, on board. “I’m scared,” she said when I suggested it. “Scared of what?” I asked.
“What if the kids don’t like it? What if it’s too small? What if it’s too big? What if you back into something? What if …””They’ll love it! You’ll see.”
You can rent an RV at a number of places. There are more options in the Orlando area than in Tampa because the Magic Kingdom draws more international travelers there. But you can find rental companies all over the country through the Recreation Vehicle Rental Association’s website, www.rvra.org.
At Cruise America, a national chain with an office in Tampa, manager Bonita Martinez says business has been brisk, despite the economy. “We’ve sold out every weekend this month,” she says, noting the office has 25 RVs ranging from 19 feet to 30 feet long. “People have been choosing land travel versus air.”
The price at Cruise America averages about $100 a day. In addition, there’s usually a charge of 32 cents a mile, but that’s reduced to 16 cents through Dec. 15. Being in the industry, I was able to get a loaner from a friend. Jeff Crum at Dusty’s RV in Bartow had three from which to choose. At first, I thought they were all about the same, but soon it became apparent which one was right for my family: the 31-foot Sun Seeker Class C Motorhome by Forest River. The Class C styles have a loft bunk over the cab — my girls would love sleeping and playing there. They’d also like eating at the dinette and watching our portable DVD player on the queen-size bed while I drove and my wife relaxed on the sofa with a book.
When I got home, Megan and Sarah’s delighted squeals quickly proved I’d chosen well – at least for them. But what about Jody? She entered slowly, stood quietly for a second taking it all in, and then exclaimed, “I love it!”
We headed out on a Wednesday morning, bound for our first stop, Atlanta. My only previous experience driving RVs was ferrying them to shows; I’d never hit the highway for a long haul.
Handling was surprisingly easy. I drove a little more slowly than usual because you can’t make sudden moves, like lane changes. (Why rush anyway when you’re in an RV?) For the same reason, I also paid closer attention to what was going on farther up the highway and behind me.
It’s good to know how tall the RV is, so you don’t drive under anything too low, and when you pull into a restaurant or gas station, you need to make sure you’re in a spot you can get out of again.
When I needed to back up, Jody jumped out to spot me.
Martinez, at Cruise America, says her company orients renters how to drive and operate the RVs using an online video tutorial. She says the rigs at the Tampa office are akin to driving an SUV, and she’s never heard a customer complain they couldn’t manage the vehicle.
In Atlanta, we picked up two more passengers: 12-year-old nephew Zach, and 14-year-old niece Rachel. Both opted to ride with us rather than their parents because a trip to Ohio in an RV looked like a lot more fun than a 9-hour car ride.
Even with two more travelers, the camper was roomy and comfortable. Jody and Rachel played Bananagrams (get it if you don’t have it) while the girls played with their toys and Zach read and texted his friends. As the kids got hungry, they could sit at the dinette and have a snack. That was especially convenient for Megan’s favorite snack, cucumbers.
Later in the day, we stopped for a special lunch. It was Sarah’s 6th birthday and her favorite restaurant is Olive Garden. Jody went on-line and found one on our route. Note to future RVers: Having a laptop with an air card helps a lot with spontaneity and flexibility. Throughout our trip, we were able to easily change plans because Jody could find campgrounds, gas stations and whatever else we needed online.
With full bellies, we were back on the road headed to Cumberland Gap Falls State Park in southern Kentucky. We arrived in the early evening, time enough for a quick swim in the pool and a snack for dinner before setting up camp.
One thing about RVs, when you park them for camping, they have to be on a level surface. It doesn’t matter so much when you’re up and about, but sleeping on a slant can be less than restful. As soon as I parked and got out, I realized our rig was listing. Thank goodness RVers are the friendliest people in the world. My “neighbor” was over in minutes with a few boards and advice. I pulled the RV forward and he stacked a couple pieces of wood on the slab for me to back the rear tire onto. Problem solved.
Sleeping six was no problem. Megan and Rachel got the overhead bed, Zach took the sofa bed, and Sarah slept on the dinette, which converts to a bed. Jody and I got the queen-size bed in the back.
When you’re checking out campers, be sure each average-sized adult will have a bed at least 6 feet long, or sleeping won’t be as comfortable.
The next day we drove to just outside Columbus, Ohio. Jody’s family has a house on an island in the middle of Buckeye Lake. There were about 50 people at the reunion and most of them were staying on the island in tents. We decided to do the same. Lying in my tent that night, I could not stop thinking about the cozy beds we left behind in the RV. But eventually, the cool night air and chirps of crickets lulled me to sleep.
The weekend was full of fishing, swimming, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing. Two rope swings were rarely idle and a shady hammock held a certain snoozing RV driver on two or three different occasions. On Sunday it was time to say good-bye and return home. We loaded up the bottom of the RV with our camping gear, filled the fridge with the leftovers from our cooler, and started our RV wheels spinning toward southern West Virginia. Zach and Rachel were going back with their parents, so we took a different route home. On the laptop, Jody found a campground right off the interstate. Camp Creek State Park and Forest turned out to be a wonderful place, with a new playground that had slides, swings, a climbing wall and two sets of monkey bars. I’m sure we’ll never forget that playground, because both girls became monkey bar masters there.
In another memorable moment, Sarah and Megan spotted deer in a field near the road and more alongside a creek. The campground is beautifully serene, with lots of trees and even a small stream that ran alongside our site. So it was especially jarring when, in the middle of the night, we were awakened by a loud electronic chirping coming from inside the camper. It was the carbon monoxide detector. These detectors are a vital feature in a house that runs on a gasoline-powered engine and comes equipped with a power generator. Gas-powered machinery can produce carbon monoxide, a deadly odorless and tasteless gas that can quietly rise to lethal levels. Thankfully, the alarm was chirping only to let us know the batteries were low. My wife just happened to have a fresh pack of the size needed, so we were able to quickly silence the alarm — and rest easy knowing it was standing guard. Note to future RVers: Though rental companies likely change out alarm batteries on a regular basis, it doesn’t hurt to put fresh ones in at the start of your trip. Or at least know what kind of batteries it takes and have some on hand.
With two days left on the road, we decided to try to cover a lot of ground. In an RV, it’s much easier to go a long distance with your family than in a car. The kids and Jody were able to eat, play, stretch their legs and use the restroom while I drove more than six hours that day. That put us just outside Savannah, Ga. We were thinking about staying in a hotel, but Jody had changed her mind.
“This will be the last night in our little home,” she said.
We found a KOA campground right off the interstate, with a playground, swimming pool and a lake. We got an early start the next morning and rolled into Tampa around midday. It was sad unloading our belongings; I’d started thinking of our RV as home. A house is just bricks and a roof, but a home is where you share time with family and friends. A home is where you laugh, cry, eat, sleep, play and create memories.
I know that this will not be our last family RV trip. My wheels are already spinning imagining where we’ll go and what memories we will create. And the best news is, my family’s on board.
Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream Inc., was in Stoughton, Mass., today (Oct. 6) to welcome the first Airstream dealership in New England.
Airstream New England will operate from Bay State Ford Commercial Truck Center at 1776 Washington St., Route 138. It will be the exclusive Airstream dealer for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, southern Maine and parts of Connecticut, according to The Enterprise, Brockton, Mass.
Airstream New England is owned by Frank Lupacchino of Southboro, who in April opened a new 38,000-square-foot dealership and repair center, Bay State Ford, at 703 Washington St., Route 138, in Easton.
Lupacchino also owns Clark and White Autos, a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership in Newton.
Luppachino’s Stoughton location is already the rental agent for Cruise America motorhomes, handling rentals for customers from Europe and the Far East. Adding Airstream made sense because the Stoughton site already sells Ford trucks to pull the trailers, he said.
“We’re very excited,” said Lupacchino. “It’s a great brand.”
Airstream trailers, which list for between $30,000 and $80,000, appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, retirees who have time and resources to travel and young professionals who like the brand’s design.
Based in Jackson Center, Ohio, the company bills itself as the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America and the only one to have increased production last year.
Several RV dealers in New England sell used Airstream trailers, but until the opening of the Stoughton dealership, customers wanting to buy new vehicles were forced to order them
Rent an RV, hit the road and save gobs of money on your next vacation.
Really? Maybe not, even some advocates concede, according to Jane Engle, travel writer for Los Angeles Times.
“You could probably pack four people in a car, eat at restaurants, stay in hotels, and I imagine it’s about the same cost,” said Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVTravel.com, a consumer website offering tips and tricks for RVers.
But consider the intangibles.
“The real advantage of the RV is that the family’s together, and you can cook and eat healthy meals,” Woodbury said. “There’s something about being in a little house that’s very appealing. Sitting around a campfire at night is a lot more fun than sitting around a hotel room and watching TV.”
Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer’s Travel Guides series for budget travelers, said she was won over by her first-ever family RV trip last year. (And, yes, “we probably spent exactly what we would have spent if we went on a car road trip,” she added.)
I priced a hypothetical one-week vacation trip for a family of four from Los Angeles to South Lake Tahoe and back in July by rented RV versus going in the family car and staying at a hotel. Excluding food, the cost was about the same. But because it’s typically cheaper to make your own meals than to eat out, the RV won by a nose. (I priced a 25-foot Class C RV rental with a KOA campground stay and used a standard AAA calculator for driving costs of a medium sedan, with some tweaks.)
But why spend more than you need to? With that in mind, I gleaned tips from Woodbury and Frommer on how to save.
Rent the right size. Many people overestimate what they need.
Frommer’s family of four rented a 30-foot RV to tour the West. But in Sedona, Ariz., she said, “we realized we couldn’t drive it to a trail head. It was too big to park anywhere. So we turned out having to rent another car.”
Next time, she said, they’ll rent a smaller unit or even a pop-up camping trailer, which Woodbury said often rents for a fourth of what a regular RV costs.
Scout out free or low-cost parking: On my hypothetical trip, it cost $69 a night to park my RV with full hookups.
“You picked the high season and a very popular spot,” which boosted the price, Woodbury said.
Many private and national forest campgrounds charge less than $25 a night, he said. Cheaper spots don’t come with hookups or may just have water and electric. So consider doing without for a night or two, Woodbury said; rely more on battery power and siphon waste into a dump station.
You can park free on some public lands, he added, and many Wal-Marts will let you pull into their lots and spend the night — not exactly a nature experience, but OK in a pinch. For tips on cheap parking places, check out websites such as FreeCampgrounds.com.
Don’t write off private campgrounds, such as KOA, which may cost more but provide a resort-like experience.
“KOA is great for kids,” Woodbury said. “They’re in heaven. Many KOAs have swimming pools, game rooms, pancake breakfasts, movies at night and ice cream socials. It’s safe. There’s a store for supplies.”
Vacation off-season. By avoiding summer, the peak time for RV rentals in most places, you’ll pay less. Cruise America, which claims to be North America’s largest RV rental company, was recently giving 25% off rentals between Sept. 10 and Dec. 15.
Grab a one-way special. Rental companies sometimes need to move their inventory around, and if you help them, you can get “incredible deals,” Woodbury said.
Cruise America, for instance, was recently offering one-way autumn rentals from Carson, Calif., to Phoenix for $24 a night, with 1,000 free miles and no dropoff fee. By comparison, when I priced the 25-foot RV for my hypothetical trip in July, the company quoted $169 a night, plus 32 cents a mile.
Three Rivers RV has partnered with Cruise America RV Rentals & Sales as the sole representative of the Cruise America line of RV rentals for the St. Louis region.
Through the partnership, Three Rivers began providing RVs for short-term rental in October, according to the Alton (Ill.) Telegraph. The RVs are available in 25- and 30-foot lengths that can accommodate five to seven people.
Cruise America ranks as the nation’s largest RV rental firm. For more information, visit www.threeriversrv.com or call (618) 254-8856.
The Teton County (Wyo.) Board of Commissioners filed a lawsuit last week alleging the owner of Flat Creek Inn in Jackson, Wyo., and businesses that have been renting recreational vehicles there are violating county regulations.
The suit follows an order commissioners issued in June telling Flat Creek Inn owner Carl King to stop the pickup and drop-off of Cruise America RVs from his property, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide. King owns Flat Creek Inn and Mart, a 72-unit motel and convenience store one mile north of Jackson.
The lawsuit also names Cruise America and Eagle Rentals. King also owns a house and acreage on the hillside just above the motel.
Teton County commissioners and Teton County Planning Director Jeff Daugherty brought the court case against King last week alleging he was violating land-development regulations by allowing the motel and the residential property to be used as part of a commercial enterprise for RV pickup and drop-off.
The county maintains the RV rentals violate regulations for the business conservation district, which was originally approved to allow the continuation of commercial uses that had sprouted in locations planners later considered unfit for such use and therefore subject to expansion limits.
The county says it has exhausted its administrative efforts to stop the rentals before going to court. Officials held a two-day hearing in June, found King was violating land-use rules and ordered him to stop.
King’s attorney, Ken Cohen, filed a lawsuit against the county in July, asking 9th District Judge Nancy Guthrie to reverse the cease-and-desist order and to determine if King was really in violation of land-use regulations.
The county’s lawsuit, filed last week, asks Guthrie to order that King stop delivering RVs to guests at his property. It asks that commissioners be granted the authority to stop the illegal activity “by any and all means necessary” and that commissioners be allowed to have the property periodically inspected to ensure King has stopped.
It also requests that Guthrie grant commissioners the authority to fine King for the ongoing activity back to 2007 when he first started renting recreation vehicles at the site. The suit doesn’t specify the amount the commissioners would fine King.
Comfort and relative affordability are two reasons why some travelers and RV renters say rentals are up this year over last year, while RV sales are down in the sluggish economy.
About 5 percent of the nation’s 3,100 dealerships nationwide have closed in recent months and about 10 of 105 U.S. RV manufacturers have stopped production, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Sales are expected to be down 40% from 2008, the RVIA said.
But rental activity will be up about 12% this year, according to the Fairfax, Va.-based RV Rental Association (RVRA).
Businesses that sell and rent RVs in the Reno, Nev., area say they are seeing more rentals, especially around holidays such as the Fourth of July and next month’s Burning Man counterculture arts festival, for which local dealers have been booked for months, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.
“Yes, the economy has slowed down, but people still take vacations,” said Veera On Ta, owner of El Monte RV in Reno. “Our rentals are up 10% from last year.”
Cruise America in Reno has seen a 10% drop in business from last year, manager Wes Johnson said, but he expects things to turn around with a mid-season surge through September.
“The last few weeks have been great,” Johnson said. “We have eight units here, and just one has canceled, so its not doing too bad.”
And Classic Adventures RV Rentals is seeing brisk business, general manager Erik Schultz said.
Standing outside the RV he rented Thursday (May 21) for a family Memorial Day weekend trip from his home in Shipshewana, Ind., to Ohio, Matt Oxender was all smiles, according to WSBT-TV, South Bend.
The RV fit the bill perfectly, he said.
“You have all the luxuries of home right there. It has a nice full size refrigerator, so you don’t need to run to town for dinner or anything. There’s plenty of space for the kids. And you’re right there with all the action. You don’t have to go to a hotel room and drive back and forth,” he said.
It all comes for about $800 for the long four-day weekend.
It’s not cheap, but it’s better than the alternative, Oxender said.
“By the time you figure out renting hotel rooms each night, this comes out to be about the same. And it’s a convenience. It’s all about the convenience,” he said.
And it’s a convenience that’s suddenly skyrocketing in popularity.
Just ask Rick Slusher.
As the head representative for Cruise America RV Rentals at Techworks in Elkhart, Slusher has seen the down economy’s effects on rentals recently. He’s also seen a sudden upswing.
“We have nothing available. Nothing on the lot,” Slusher said. “All of our RVs are rented for the holiday weekend.”
It’s a far cry from just two years ago, when rentals were sluggish.
“We were down to maybe one or two calls a day (for RV rentals). Now, we’re up to maybe a dozen every day,” he said.
Rentals are up, too.
“We’re up 13% from last year. And, last year, we were up 100% at this time. So, we are up 13% over that hundred as of last year,” Slusher said.
He thinks there’s a simple reason why.
“I think it’s a money thing right now. People want to save money. People don’t have a lot of money like they used to (for vacations). So, they’re going the cheapest and best way they can go,” Slusher said.
It’s quickly becoming a national trend.
Across the country, rentals and sales of RVs are on the rise over the last few weeks.
Experts say it’s another encouraging sign for the hard hit RV industry.
“The kids can play, rest, and relax in there if it gets too hot outside,” Oxender said.
After all, the most valuable part of the whole deal is time spent together as a family. It’s so valuable, that Oxender says he’s considering buying an RV of his own.