Monday,  September 25, 2023  3:42 am

RV trips an untapped market for travel agents

RV trips an untapped market for travel agents
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Growing up, summer was synonymous with going to the cottage.

After my sister, brother and I fought it out for the best seat and one of us inserted a homemade “best of summer” mixtape, it was a three-hour drive north, no stops, until we reached the lake.

READ MORE: Family travel on the grow, says new report

And for one solid week, it was nothing but swimming and canoeing by day, and toasting gooey marshmallows over the fire at night.

Research shows that many Canadian families were, and still are, a lot like my own. Summer in Canada can be short, and plenty of us want nothing more than to stay and play in our own big backyards.

According to a recent study by Expedia, Canadian families love a good road trip. The lengthiest option of spending more than eight hours of travel time together ranked as the top choice, in comparison to shorter distances. 

Adventure travel is the second-favourite kind of travel, after a beach escape in the cold winters, and Canadian parents stated that the Atlantic provinces (63 per cent) and the Rockies in the West (62 per cent) were both on their bucket list when choosing which parts of the country to explore with their families.

Vacation vs. $taycation?

The bad news is that cottage rentals in Canada have skyrocketed in price. A quick, informal Google search reveals that on average, a week in Muskoka can set you back nearly $1,200 for a rustic experience, and upwards of $20,000 for the typical two-storey, lakefront oasis that sleeps 10 to 15.

For that price, it’s no wonder Canadians give up and book an all-inclusive down south, because at least then the food and drinks are covered, and no one has to worry about buying firewood, or if a gang of raccoons will steal your s'mores kit.

That’s where booking your clients on an RV holiday comes in. For a set price, they can enjoy summer in Canada with accommodation and transportation completely taken care of.

According to the 2018 National Study of RV Owners & Non-Owners by Go RVing Canada and RVDA Canada, there are more than two million RVs on the road in Canada with more than 15 per cent of Canadian households actually owning one.

According to the survey, the RV industry in Canada generates a whopping $3.3 billion in tourism dollars; from a travel agent perspective, it's a largely untapped market - or rather, a goldmine - when it comes to the possibilities of earning solid commission dollars.

The RV industry has grown by 13 per cent since 2017, and 67 per cent of RVers are now under the age of 55, which is no surprise, given that millennial travellers make up a growing segment of the active and adventure travel segment.

Recognizing a growing niche, RV companies across the country are now partnering with travel agents and wholesale suppliers to create custom packages and dream staycations for Canadians who want to get up close and personal with their home country in the summer months.

Cozy and commissionable

Go RVing Canada, based in Toronto, Ontario, is an online hub that connects interested travellers to nearby RV dealers and rentals. The site also offers up helpful tips and facts that help travel agents identify which RV will best suit their clients needs, as well as helpful hints and routes to planning the ultimate trip.

Although Go RVing Canada doesn't yet have a designated travel agent portal, they do have a new trip planner and national reservation system as a tool for travellers to research, explore trip guides and book RV vacation experiences all in one place. Agents can consult the trip planning tool to narrow down campsites or national parks, and additionally, book hotels or tours in the area if their clients are interested.

CanaDream, based in Brampton, Ontario, has been working with Canadian agents for years, and has a brand-new designated travel agent portal on its homepage.

"We love working with agents and wholesale partners, and we offer gross rate commission as well as net rates for wholesalers who sell a lot of volume," said Kathryn Munro, VP of sales and marketing, CanaDream RV Experiences. She added that agents who are interested can contact to learn more about making a booking with CanaDream.

Once a client's booking via CanaDream is confirmed by their agent, the guest is given a booking reference which they can then use to easily complete their online check-in via the website. Commissions are paid once the guests picks up the RV from any of the locations listed in Canada.

RV rentals may include accommodation and transportation. However, the key ingredients to a dream vacation are not included, which means there's plenty of opportunity for agents to earn even more. 

Guests receive a rough itinerary, but any tours or excursions are not included. CanaDream lists a series of itineraries in every destination covered, that agents can book directly for their clients, or use as a guide to create a custom itinerary. All prices are in Canadian dollars.

Think of RV holidays as like booking a luxury condo on wheels, says Kathryn Munro, vp of sales and marketing, CanaDream RV Experiences.

According to Munro, typically 10 per cent of the company's business comes from domestic travel. 

CanaDream operates in seven Canadian cities: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Whitehorse, with more than 40 travel itineraries across Canada, which agents can reference when building the ultimate RV trip for their clients. With a fleet of more than 1,000 RVs that sleep anywhere from two to six people, there's a style for everyone, regardless of budget.

Plus you can choose anything from a rustic camper van to a luxury "condo on wheels," as Munro puts it. 

All of CanaDream's RVs can be driven across the U.S. border. However, there is a small $10 fee for insurance coverage. The same fee applies, per day, to driving in remote parts of Northern Canada, due to unknown road conditions. This means there are countless options for road-trips across Canada, across the U.S., or even a mix of both.

RV interiors are quite luxurious these days, offering guests everything from fully functioning kitchens to memory foam mattresses.

"CanaDream has been in business for 25 years and we have developed a range of premium RVs which allow our guests to have the best experience in Canada," explained Munro. "Our units are like lodges on wheels and guests can expect the best of comfort within them. "Many more people today are wanting to unplug and get off the grid, and an RV provides that luxury, because luxury isn't always about a five-star hotel; sometimes it's a luxury experience in an outdoor environment."

And don't think for a second RVing in Canada is anything like it used to be— from king-sized mattresses made of memory foam, to fully-functioning kitchens with gas stoves and stainless steel furnishings, this is the coziest, cost-effective, commissionable Canadian camping staycation your clients will have yet!

For travel agents looking to get a sense of available RV rental companies via Go RVing Canada, click here.

All photos courtesy of Go RVing Canada.

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