Companies that rent recreational vehicles in Maine are trying to get a bill passed that would tax the renter of the RV instead of the actual owner, just as people who rent cars or movies are taxed.
WLBZ TV, Bangor, reported that a law that’s currently on the books states that any recreational vehicle that is in Maine for more than 24 hours is subject to a 5% tax. It’s a law that Maine Revenue Services has told businesses it doesn’t plan on enforcing. Yet a recent audit revealed that an RV rental company in Vermont owes nearly $300,000 to Maine in taxes for its rentals. RV rental company owners like Kit Coty are trying to get LD 1809 passed to tax the rental stream and not the product.
“Because people expect they’re going to pay a tax on a service they’re getting,” Coty said. “To charge a business tax up front for doing business is not feasible.”
WLBZ tried to contact Maine Revenue Services, but didn’t get a response. The bill was recently passed 10-1 by the Taxation Committee and is not waiting to be approved in appropriations.
Half of the households planning to become first-time RV buyers recently told researchers from the University of Michigan that they’ll rent an RV first. So should RV dealers focus more on rentals in order to expand the number of RV owners? Opinions are divided, according to a report in RV Executive Today.
Although no more than 5% to 10% of the renters at United RV Center in Fort Worth, Texas, become buyers, dealer Kevin White believes that percentage will grow. United RV rents both towables and motorhomes and has a program allowing customers to apply their rental fees toward an eventual RV purchase.
The dealership only rents what it sells and competes with rentals-only operations in the Dallas- Fort Worth market by “not nickel and diming rental customers with a generator fee” and other add-ons, says Bill White, Kevin White’s brother.
But John Myers of Myers RV Center Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., believes converting rental customers will always be a challenge. “We were in the rental business for about 20 years, and although a lot of people said they were interested in renting first before buying, we saw very few examples of that happening,” he said.
“It sounds good in theory, but when customers find they can’t necessarily rent the same configuration of RV that they want to buy, they change their mind,” says Myers. “For the most part, rental customers are rental customers, and buyers are buyers.”
Nexus RV will be hosting an Open House for rental dealers Sept. 19-25 at its facility in Elkhart, Ind., according to a press release.
Hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will include a comprehensive factory tour and review of the rental program for those dealers “looking to add value to their rental fleet.” The event coincides with Elkhart County’s 4th Annual Open House, running Sept. 19-23.
“We are excited to go into our second year of supplying major rental customers with their units,” said Dave Middleton, vice president of Nexus RV. “We learned a great deal about what will separate our units from the pack. A big part of our product is giving more features for less money and we feel we have designed the best product for customer usage.”
Nexus RV is a factory direct manufacturer that also supplies rental customers with Class C and Class B-plus units. The company is located at 3400 Reedy Drive in Elkhart, one block north of CR 6 on CR 13.
Find out some of the best practices that make for a profitable RV rental operation at the upcoming RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Oct. 3-7, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Topics will include:
Advanced Rental Topic 1: Lot Operations
Oct. 5, 2:45- 4 p.m.
This workshop will cover best practices for everything that happens on your rental lot. Walk-throughs, maintenance, Pre-rental prep, check-ins, service calls, cleaning, and repairs, will be among the topics that the three instructors, and the participants, will explore. The instructors for this 75-minute workshop are Martin Onken, Expedition Motorhomes Inc., Tom Zielstra, Pierce RV Supercenter and Donn Kaebisch, RV Rental Outlet.
Advanced Rental Topic 2: Office Operations
Oct. 6, 2:45-4 p.m.
This workshop will cover best practices for everything that happens in your rental office. Procedures, paperwork, phones, counter, website, customer appreciation, profitability and pricing, will be the topics that the three instructors, and the participants, will explore. The instructors for this 75-minute workshop are Martin Onken, Barry Raye, 84 RV Rentals & Service, and Brad Bacon, PleasureLand RV Center Inc.
How to Run a Successful Rental Department
Oct. 6, 1:15-2:30 p.m.
Led by Randall Jeremiah of Adventure on Earth, this workshop is geared for dealers considering rentals. The first half of the session will examine profitability. The discussion will include specific examples and possible fleet configurations. The session will then turn to RV rental myths, including debunking the myth that rental units are often returned in poor condition. You’ll also learn about turning a fleet for a profit. The goal of this workshop is to provide attendees with a enough information on RV rental operations that they’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether rental is right for their dealership.
The convention will also feature special sessions designed to help you make the right decisions regarding your business in the coming months. Click here for more of the convention workshop and general session schedule and to register. Register by Aug. 6, stay at the Rio and you could win a special golf or spa package.
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.
The parking lot of Tom Young RV in Kings Mountain, N.C., should be packed with potential buyers this time of year.
“We should be over-the-top busy,” owner Tom Young told WSOC TV, Charlotte.
Young said instead, there are lots of RVs and no takers. “It’s almost like a perfect storm,” he said.
He said skyrocketing gas prices have had the biggest impact on his business. Young wouldn’t say how much business he’s lost, but said it’s also cost him good workers.
“At one time, we had about 30 employees,” he said. “Now we have only half of that.”
In stark contrast, when WSOC TV went to Quality RV Rentals in nearby Belmont, workers were turning away clients. “It just blows our minds,” owner Terry Jenkins said.
Workers said they expected rentals to drop, but instead, they’re through the roof. Jenkins estimated a 50% to 75% increase over the previous year.
John Youngerman, who has a towable RV that he’s taking on his family vacation, said that staying in the RV is cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Quality Rental workers think that’s what’s driving their sales. And now, Young is hoping the same logic will catch on at his business.
New Zealand-based Tourism Holdings is boosting its earnings forecast after better-than-expected United States vehicle sales and improved rentals following the Christchurch earthquake.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the tourism operator – which is the target of a takeover attempt – upgraded its forecast operating earnings before interest and tax (ebit) for the year ending June 30 to $4 million from break-even. Its operating loss after tax is now put at $1.4 million, compared with a previously expected $4 million loss.
Tourism Holdings’ assets include car and motorhome rentals in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., Waitomo Glowworm Caves, motorhome manufacturing in Hamilton and Kiwi Experience backpacker transport.
The improved outlook included better-than-expected vehicle sales volumes and margins in the U.S., which would result in a small earnings gain for the six months ending June 30 for the Road Bear RV Rentals and Sales business bought last year.
New Zealand rentals improved primarily because of motorhome use after the earthquake in February.
Costs had also improved compared to the previous forecast.
Tourism Holdings forecast earnings for the 2012 financial year of about $17 million, with net profit after tax of $6 million.
Chief executive Grant Webster said: “We’re happy that that’s a good step forward from where we are and it’s a realistic step forward and then we’ll be looking for further gains the following year.”
Burning Man, the fabled celebration of art and self-expression in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, creates a big bump in business for El Monte RV Rentals.
Long linked to the Burning Man festival as a supplier of RV rentals to attendees of the event, the Los Angeles-based RV rental firm has learned to prepare for the rush, according to a news release.
This year’s Burning Man festival runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 6. Tens of thousands of participants bring in everything necessary for survival on the playa. Festival goers create “Black Rock City,” with fantastically decorative camping villages and spectacular expressions of art. A “leave-no-trace” festival, Burning Man culminates in disassembling the entire temporary community and clearing away all traces of the festival.
Preparing for Burning Man means planning for water, food, shelter and fuel during the event. Few vendors are allowed within Black Rock City and disposal of wastewater and sewage is tightly regulated by BLM. Recreational vehicles have become popular as festival goers have learned the rigors of life on the desert without adequate preparation.
In addition to renting motorhomes for the event the company offers luxury RV rental packages that include a fully outfitted and provisioned deluxe motorhome delivered to the attendees campsite at the event.
“We begin moving in inventory early for Burning Man rentals to our Burning Man departure campground location in Reno, as well as others on the West Coast. This has become a major camping event, something we many adventurous RV campers want to experience,” says Joe Laing, director of marketing for the nationwide RV rental firm.
Laing noted that area El Monte RV Rentals locations start taking reservations immediately after one Burning Man event for the next year. Festival planners expect that nearly 50,000 people will attend in 2010.
It wasn’t planes, trains or automobiles, but a 29-foot rented motorhome that carried Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge officials to Springfield on a day trip in April.
Now the recreational vehicle’s rental is causing a minor flap around Oak Lawn’s village hall after the owners of rental company Bridgeview RV contacted Mayor Dave Heilmann earlier this month to help them collect the $275 bill, the Southtown Star reported.
That was the first that Heilmann, who didn’t attend the day trip, said he had heard of the rental.
Village manager Larry Deetjen; Oak Lawn Trustees Tom Duhig, Tom Phelan and Bob Streit; and Chicago Ridge Trustees Mike Davies and Brad Grove used the RV to travel to Springfield for Legislative Day, an annual opportunity for local officials to pitch their wish lists to state leaders.
Heilmann, who said he provides legal help occasionally to Bridgeview RV when they have to collect outstanding debts, called it “embarrassing” for the village to lag on its bills. What’s more, Heilmann said he can’t figure out why the village would need an RV in the first place.
“If you need to go to Springfield, you get in your car and go,” he said. “This wasn’t a camping trip to Springfield, it was a Legislative Day. … It sets a bad example.”
The bill since has been paid for the RV, a Winnebago equipped with a bed, couch and dinette that seats 10 people and can sleep six or seven, Bridgeview RV owner Evelyn Wingo said. The company received a check for the full amount July 16, three months after the April 14 rental.
Village manager Larry Deetjen chalked up the missing payment to an administrative mix-up but defended the decision to rent the RV for the day. Officials put in a 20-hour day, leaving village hall at 6 a.m. and returning at 2 a.m. the next morning, and using an RV gave them a chance to clean up and change before meetings, Deetjen said.
“It comes down to a very economical trip,” he said.
Oak Lawn covered $200 of the tab, Deetjen said, and Chicago Ridge covered the remaining $75. The village uses the standard Internal Revenue Service reimbursement rate of 50 cents a mile for approved travel, so if Oak Lawn’s officials had car-pooled in a personal vehicle for the 195-mile trip, the cost to the village would have been approximately the same.
Still, Heilmann said, the village could have been on the hook for much more money if the RV had been involved in an accident. The vehicles can be hard to drive, he said, and their reputation as traveling party buses gives the wrong impression to village residents.
“I think everyone knows why you take RVs,” he said. “It’s not a lot of money; it’s just a dumb thing to do.”
Until this summer, El Monte RV Rentals’ locations across the country found themselves turning away late July customers hoping for August rentals. This year, thanks to the firm’s new purchasing strategy, lucky last-minute rental clients will be driving away in rented RVs, according to a news release.
Keeping adequate rental inventory at more than 50 locations is always a bit of a chess game, according to Joe Laing, El Monte RV Rentals director of marketing. “We know which areas will create the highest number of late summer rentals and begin shifting inventory to meet the need. In years past, however, last-minute rentals for August might not be serviced.”
Laing went on to explain that late-summer vacations are especially attractive to families soon to enter the school year. RV camping is also experiencing a resurgence thanks to cash-strapped travelers unable to afford international destinations.
Timely fleet purchases of new rental units this year have changed the landscape for this giant recreational vehicle rental company. Recognizing an upswing in RV camping earlier this summer, the company stepped up purchasing in time to meet additional late summer rental needs.
“We never like to say ‘no’ to a client, especially since we’re recognized as one of the world’s largest RV rental companies,” Laing said. “We’re happy to see people camping again, and are working hard to supply adequate inventory for their late summer vacations.”