PLYMOUTH, Minnesota — Jason Sprayberry never imagined he'd be in the full-time business of helping people plan their family vacations. Until recently, he had a full-time job in tech. Five years ago, on the side, he started renting out his RV.
"I had a nice job in technology and bought a van so I could go do my own adventure travel, mountain biking and fly fishing," Sprayberry said. "I decided I would put it up for rent just to see what would happen, and pretty soon the unit was gone all the time. I bought another one for myself so I could have one, and then it was rented all the time."
He soon realized others had interest in renting their RVs as well, and he decided to provide them with a platform, called RVThereYet.com for motorhomes, and CamptasticRentals.com, for travel trailers.
"We are an Airbnb of RVs," he said.
The interest only accelerated during COVID, and Sprayberry was able to make it his full-time source of income.
"All of a sudden it went completely crazy. People didn’t want to have to go to hotel rooms or airplanes, and this gave them all the convenience and safety of still being able to get out and travel during a really difficult time where everyone else was quarantining."
Even though vacations including flight travel and hotels have picked back up, Sprayberry said thankfully, the interest in his business has stayed high. The same goes for a much larger-scale RV rental service, RVshare. The platform boasts more than 100,000 units for rental.
"[COVID] didn’t start the trend – it just accelerated it," said CEO Jon Gray. "It kind of dramatically pushed RV travel into the mainstream of the American travel conscience, and we have experienced that benefit. We’re seeing stronger growth now than we saw during the first two years of the pandemic."
RVshare worked with a third party company to conduct a survey about travel patterns, and found that 70% of millennials said they would go on a vacation in the following year that involved a road trip.
"It’s the more traditional stuff is popping back up," Gray said. "People are going to Yellowstone again. People are going to the Grand Canyon. They’re going to the Smoky Mountains."
Gray also said their company is working with a service to provide WiFi in their rental units.
"Funny enough, five years ago, I think 3% of people who were going on an RV trip wanted WiFi," he said. "Their plan was to get off the grid. Now, that’s completely shifted and people do want to blend their business life with their personal and travel life."