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This Airbnb of the RV industry is seeing sales explode during the COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 mins read

The RV industry is definitely having a moment during the COVID-19 pandemic as people seek out safe ways to escape their homes for a weekend (or a week).

Privately owned Outdoorsy — which bills itself as the Airbnb of RV-centric vacation travel and has raised north of $80 million in capital since being founded in 2015 — saw sales explode 4,500% from March to June, the company tells Yahoo Finance. Momentum has continued for the RV rental platform through the summer: Labor Day weekend sales have already surged 227% from a year ago.

“The pandemic has changed the way Americans think about travel. In terms of mass market hotels, mass market cities and airports, they have chosen to hit the road in recreational vehicles, camper vans, trailers as a way to avoid the pressure of life and lockup. And importantly because you can travel in one of these vehicles where you are maintaining disinfected environments. It’s a socially distant activity by design, and it seems to have become a national pastime in the last 90 days,” Outdoorsy co-founder Jeff Cavins told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

GARGANTILLA DE LOZOYA, SPAIN - JUNE 13: A family enjoys a weekend with their motorhome at the Monte Holiday campsite on June 13, 2020 in Gargantilla de Lozoya y Pinilla de Buitrago, Spain. The campsite, which had to close during the country's months-long coronavirus lockdown, has a capacity for 1,200 people and is completely booked for every weekend from mid-July through August. They have an average of 4,000 daily visits on the web and are seeing a large increase in people who come with motorhomes. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
A family enjoys a weekend with their motorhome at the Monte Holiday campsite on June 13, 2020 in Gargantilla de Lozoya y Pinilla de Buitrago, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

The major upswing for Outdoorsy finally brings some validation to Cavins, a long-time executive in Corporate America and a well known name in Silicon Valley. For quite some time, Cavins had trouble raising money to support Outdoorsy’s growth as venture capitalists didn’t believe in the model.

How did that work out for them looking back now? Not so wise. Cavins says his business is profitable and the phone is ringing each day with capital offers.

“I think they may still think I am crazy,” Cavins says of the VC community.

Adds Cavins, “Now they all believe because the numbers are bearing out that it’s true. We are seeing this new renaissance. We have a biological pandemic. We have somewhat of a psychological pandemic going on as well.”

Not only are people renting RVs, they are plunking down the cash to buy them outright.

Camping World said earlier this month second quarter new vehicle unit sales surged 15% from the prior year on the back of strong RV demand. LCI Industries also said this month RV sales remains at record levels.

Shares of the main RV stocks Camping World, LCI Industries, Winnebago and Thor Industries have all enjoyed strong run-ups in the past six months, per Yahoo Finance Premium data.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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