WEST FARGO — Summer vacations look a little different, and a lot more mobile, this year. Across the country, people are trading airline tickets for bench seats and hotel mattresses for pullout beds.
Motorhomes and travel trailers aren’t just making a comeback. The RV industry is booming as vacationers look for low-risk ways to travel amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Normally, GoGo Rental in West Fargo would still have a few RVs available to rent for the Fourth of July. But the rental shop has already had to turn away about 30 to 40 people.
“Everyone wants to get out of the house, and instead of staying in a hotel or flying, they'd rather take a motorhome somewhere,” GoGo Rental manager Tyler Fix said. “We’re always busy during the four months of the summer, but this year, we’ve had to turn away more people than we’ve obviously wanted to.”
Right when COVID-19 hit in March, there was an onslaught of motorhome rentals as planes were grounded, which left people to take RVs to pick up family members or other friends across the country, Fix said.
“There was a major spike there in March when everything shut down,” Fix said. “We were still open and running and kind of doing double the business we did in the past few years.”
That early surge in business has remained steady. At this point, GoGo Rental is basically booked until the middle of August.
“We’ve definitely seen a spike for how quickly we booked up, and then for how many calls came in after,” Fix said. “It’s definitely a lot more than the last few summers.”
Not many people want to hop on a plane right now, and elderly couples aren’t flocking to hotels, so staying in a secluded camper can be the most ideal situation, Fix said.
GoGo has 11 motorhomes, which have been the most popular, and 22 travel trailers in its fleet. The business offers a three-night price and nightly fee after that. The average weekend ranges from $700 to $800 for motorhomes, and anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800 for a week.
The business also added a few recreational toys available for rent this summer, such as bikes and kayaks.
Sales have also spiked for Adventure RV Center in West Fargo.
The RV dealership wasn’t expecting to see the industry skyrocket after the pandemic hit. They thought people would be cautious, not venturing out much this year. It was a welcome surprise, Adventure RV Center general manager Mike Boe said.
“I think you’ve just got just a lot of people that are sick and tired of being cooped up inside,” Boe said. “They want to get outside and go do something, but they’re not going to fly. They don't want to stay in a hotel room. They're not going to take a cruise. So I think this is what they've decided to do with their family.”
“Kids aren’t in as many sports and things like that. And as we know with kids, we have to keep them busy,” Boe added. “I truly think that’s what’s driving this increase in sales lately.”
When the lockdowns were first introduced, the dealership’s analytics climbed. Adventure RV Center saw a 15- to 20% increase in web traffic that has remained up. As the lockdowns were lifted and weather improved, lot traffic soon followed.
Usually, there’s a ramp up in sales in January following early RV shows. But the dealership got off to a much later start this year.
“You didn’t have anything until mid- to late April when all of a sudden it broke wide open like this,” Boe said.
There’s definitely more people — who already have their products — out and about camping, Boe added, as the dealership has also seen increased activity in its service and parts department.
Still, the dealership is facing some pandemic-related hurdles. As plants were shut down due to the pandemic, getting product from manufacturers has been challenging, Boe said.
“Everyone is short on inventory,” Boe said. “You’ll never see the RV lots look so thin as they do in Fargo today. I don't think you'll see that again for a long time. Customers are looking, looking, looking and as soon as they see something, it’s sold. Part of that is, there’s increased interest, but the dealers can’t get any new product.”
For those interested in a mobile summer getaway, the best way to reserve an RV from GoGo Rental is to book online at gogorental.com/ or call the shop.
“Anyone who’s trying to take a trip this year, definitely get on there and look,” GoGo’s Fix said. “And even for next year, we imagine the same thing is going to be happening. Obviously, hopefully the pandemic is over, but we’re assuming the motorhome renting is going to keep going up over the years.”