With nearly a year's experience now of hiring campervans, this blog is designed to help anyone new to or thinking about hiring out a campervan or campervans as a business or to earn some extra income.
Choosing your van. Maybe you already own your own campervan and want to hire this out to earn some extra income. If so, great! If not and you are looking to buy one to hire one out then you will need to think carefully about this. You might start by thinking about the type of customer you might want to attract e.g. families looking to stay on campsites or couples looking to be off the grid/wild camping. This will determine, size, number of berths etc. Obviously budget will be a big factor. Hiring newer vans reduces risks of any issues, but newer vans are expensive! You could buy an already converted second hand one or do a conversion yourselves. See our previous blog on this which gives you tips on where to buy as well as conversion ideas.
Choose a platform that works for you. Most people have heard of Air B&B but what platforms/host sites are available for renting out a campervan and is necessary to use one? Well, firstly we would definitely recommend using a third party platform. Over 90% of our bookings last year came through Quirky Campers. To give you some perspective, they have 29k followers on Facebook. We have just over 400! So their reach is huge. Not only this but they are an established, trusted booking site. Using them also means that they do all the marketing, handle enquiries and bookings. They are also there to support owners. So why did we choose Quirky Campers? Well because our campers are quirky! They are hand-built, one off campers that meet their specification. They were also looking for more campers in the North East of England. We did look into Camptoo, Camplify and more recently Paul Camper, a new provider that has just launched on the UK market. Things to consider when choosing are: who is their target market, what is their reach, is information clear and communicated effectively, what do customer reviews show and how much do they charge in commission and how is this structured? With Quirky you can take your own bookings and still use their booking system.
The legal/boring stuff. Before you hire out your campervan you must have the correct insurance in place. We use Alan Boswell for this. There are two options. The first being an annual self drive hire policy and the second being a daily rate. If you are just hiring out your own van a few times then you might opt for a daily rate. You also need to have a breakdown service in place, a gas safety certificate from a certified gas safety engineer, these can cost between £100- £300 depending on the company you choose and the complexity of your appliances. You will also need to get a weighbridge certificate. Weighbridge centres can be found on council websites.
Photographing your van. There is no denying it, phones have awesome cameras on them these days, but if you can afford to get professional photos done, or know someone who will do them for you and it makes the world of difference. Great photos will make your van stand our and generate more bookings. Planning for your photo shoot is really important and give yourself a few hours to do it. Quirky produce a guide for you to follow which is great but you just need some common sense and do your research on what others have done. Most importantly though, pick a good weather day and a scenic location. Make sure you have all your props ready and a list of what shots you want to capture. Remember that you are selling an experience/dream, so think about what your potential customers might aspire to/how they would see themselves on an adventure in your van.
5. Pet Friendly? For us, accepting dogs was a no-brainer! However this decision might need some thought. Are you happy to accept that there will be dog hair to clean up when your campervan returns? Approx. 70% of our hires, have brought along their dogs, so personally we think that accepting them does help secure bookings!
6. What makes your camper stand out? While demand for campervans is really high, particularly at the moment, customers are comparing your van with others! Therefore it is important to make it stand out. With Alaska our first van, everyone loved the colour: bright yellow! With Tala, people love the idea of the log burner. What would you choose? Netflix on a projector, a pizza oven, bunks for the kids or maybe a floating bed!
7. Contents. Whatever you decide to include in your van, make sure you write up an inventory. Think about your van being a home on wheels. A well equipped kitchen is really important in terms of utensils, pots and pans etc. and try to make sure that items you have included practical e.g. lightweight, collapsible and or multi-functional. Buy cheap, buy twice definitely applies here. We recommend getting good quality items and if they get broken, you can use your security deposit to replace them if necessary. Also think about cleaning equipment, essentials such as salt and pepper, and what soft furnishings you want to include.
8. Add- ons. With Quirky Campers there is an option to include add-ons for additional costs. This is a great way to earn extra revenue (and Quirky don't charge commission on this). Look at what others offer and charge and be reasonable. Things you can add include: toilet, bedding, camping chairs, parking. If you have secure parking, which we do, we have found that customers are willing to pay £10 a day for this.
9. Welcome/handover. You have to remember that most people that hire a camper have either not done so before and even if they have, every van is different. The handover takes time. Much more time than you anticipate. We recommend leaving at least an hour. You will need to talk them through everything and how it all works from the gas and water, to how to open the skylights, storage, assembling the bed, safety etc. It is also a good idea to pop a "how to guide" in the van incase they forget and also provide your number and encourage them to call rather than struggle or break something! You will then need time to do the paperwork and then they will load up the campervan with their stuff. This takes the longest! Especially if they have children with them!
10. Reviews. Most people read reviews these days and if you choose to use a third party platform then they will handle this for you. However we have book in our vans that people can leave their feedback. We then post this on our social media and have included these on our own website.