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An Oklahoma company has developed a new concept in RV rentals in which the consumer simply calls a telephone number and within hours a travel trailer is set up for their use in any Oklahoma state park.
“All you do is drive up and it’s there waiting for you. Everything is hooked up,” said Sterling Zearley, northeast regional manager for Oklahoma State Parks.
The concept, which started as a pilot program between Oklahoma State Parks and Tulsa-based Rent-A-RV last summer, has become so popular that the state agency is planning to go out to bid this year to solicit a permanent vendor.
Rent-A-RV hopes to win the contract and believes it is the only contender at this point, said Don Osby, one of the company’s founding stockholders.
“This is something that could boost trailer sales,” Osby said, adding that about half of his customers have indicated an interest in purchasing a trailer, but wanted to try one out before making the investment.
“We were looking for different companies that would be interested in a trial-buy program,” Osby said, “but most dealerships won’t let you test drive a travel trailer.”
Rent-A-RV decided to purchase its own units, he said, and set them up for campers through the trial partnership. The state parks receives a portion of the revenues collected by Rent-A-RV.
Osby figures the program is a good fit because Oklahoma State Parks, like many public park systems across the country, faces budget shortfalls that affect everything from maintenance and repairs to visitor services. The new rental concept also introduces more people to trailer camping, he said, while providing an option for experienced RV enthusiasts who don’t have a tow vehicle.
Rental rates are as low as $49 a day with a three-day minimum, while additional fees are charged for cleaning and sanitation, including dumping each unit’s holding tanks.
The trailers are 24 to 28 feet long with one or more slideouts, sleep six and come fully equipped with a bathroom, shower, a microwave oven, stove and refrigerator, a stereo with CD player and a television with a DVD player. Some units also feature high-speed Internet access.
Although the rental concept started as a pilot program with Sequoyah State Park and Sequoyah Bay State Park, Rent-A-RV also has delivered units to people’s homes to use as an extra bedroom for visiting family members or friends. The company has made its trailers available for disaster relief purposes.
Currently, Rent-A-RV has a staff of six and 14 towable units. But Osby expects to expand the fleet through the purchase of additional units and increased consumer participation in the company’s fleet management program. Participating RV owners lend their trailers to Rent-A-RV for rental use when they’re not using the units themselves.
“We use both units we own and units we get from other RV owners,” Osby said, adding, “If (trailer owners) put a unit in our RV program, they can make as much as $20 a day for each day it’s rented.”