This summer, instead of plotting an annual cottage escape to the Muskokas, a lot of Canadians are staying home—but not by choice.
Until provincial border restrictions ease up, the Government of Canada is urging Canadians to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. This may include cross-country travel as some provinces, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, have imposed strict policies against welcoming visitors (only residents).
Staying home versus travelling will walk a fine line in the coming months. Still, the federal government recognizes that some Canadians may want to stay closer to home if (and when) they decide to start packing.
Over the weekend, Ottawa pledged $70 million dollars to promote holiday travel within Canada, a move that encourages Canadians to explore their own backyards this summer.
This is where booking clients on an RV holiday comes in. For a set price, people can enjoy summer in Canada with accommodation and transportation completely taken care of.
Recognizing a growing niche, RV companies across Canada 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 (and perhaps stay closer to home).
Why an RV?
Despite the current travel restrictions, renting an RV in the era of COVID-19 is smart for several reasons:
The average vehicle sleeps between two to six people (which aligns with Ontario's rule of congregating with five people or fewer, for example).
The majority of RVs also have small kitchenettes, which eliminates the need for dining out, thus eliminating potential third-party contact.
Canadian-owned and operated RVezy.com, the country's first peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, is one RV rental company that's seen a surge in reservations with an increase of more than 800 per cent in summer travel.
"RVs are perfectly suited for vacation travel this summer" said RVezy co-founder, Michael McNaught. "In an RV you are in full control of your environment while in a self-contained RV. You have full access to cooking facilitates, washrooms, shower, air conditioning and best of all many come fully stocked with beddings, board games and camping supplies. Booking a campsite with an RV is ideal for maintaining social distancing while experiencing the great outdoors."
Bookings are commissionable to Canadian travel agents, too.
A less risky and affordable travel option
With crossborder cruises and all-inclusive resorts out of the picture, RV companies are seeing a rise in a new customer demographic that traditionally wouldn't book an RV.
In a recent survey conducted by Abacus, one in three Canadians said they never before thought RVing was right for them, but are open to it now. Another one in five Canadians say they had considered RVing before and are even more open to it now.
Moreover, the study suggests that an overwhelming majority of Canadians feel safe travelling in an RV, because of the low-risk factor associated with it.
Additionally, among those "RV curious" consumers, 63 per cent felt there was little to no risk involved in renting an RV, motorhome, or trailer while at the same time feeling that hotels, resorts, or waterparks are quite risky in the current environment.
The majority of RVs come fully-stocked with bedding and kitchen utensils, too.
But the overall cleanliness of those items, as well as the inside of the RV, is something that's been on the minds of many during COVID-19, McNaught says.
As RVEzy doesn't own any RVs (they operate on a similar business model to Airbnb), owners are responsible for making sure their RVs are properly disinfected.
"We provide all owners with Health Canada's current recommendations on disinfecting bedding and surfaces, and we encourage owners to follow those directions," McNaught explained. "It's up to the comfort level of the person renting whether they bring their own bedding or kitchen supplies, or have the convenience of the owner provide it. But when you look at it this way, an RV is a much safer option, because it's a couple families a year, rather than a hotel room that sees hundreds of guests a year."
Once the borders reopen, and travel restrictions ease up, it's worth noting that although RVs must be registered in Canada, travellers can drive across the U.S. border for a road trip, as insurance generally extends across North America.
And the best part?
Renting an RV is extremely cost-effective, largely in part to hotel, car rental, and meal costs being absorbed automatically.
"The average cost for a week is $1,500, and that can be split between two to six people," McNaught said.
(Travel agents interested in learning more about RVEzy's commission structures can contact Michael McNaught at Mike@RVEzy.com).
Go RVing Canada, based in Toronto, Ontario, is another option, and operates as 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.
Trade opportunities are growing
Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) is another company that sees the value in promoting RV travel, and recently partnered with one of the largest recreational vehicles (RV) rental and sales companies in Canada, CanaDream.
With pick up locations from seven gateways in Canada, and a fleet of more than 1,300 luxury vehicles, CanaDream offers the perfect option for couples and families of all ages looking to get away this year.
“Transat Distribution Canada is always proactively looking for suppliers that will enhance what our members have to offer their customer," said Louise Fecteau, general manager at TDC. “The recent feedback we've received from them indicates that Canadians are eager to travel, which is why we wanted to expand our usual offering of overseas destinations with a different proposal. That is why we feel now is an ideal time to see Canada. We are fortunate to partner with CanaDream at this time and offer this vacation option to our clients. Because we all want to support local business and communities to rebound, and with gas prices so low, now is a great time to experience Canada."
CanaDream RV guest and sales locations can be found in cities offering an incredible variety of natural experiences and include Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta), Vancouver (British Columbia), Whitehorse (Yukon), Toronto (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Halifax (Nova Scotia).
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