The popularity of RV vacations will continue to gain speed long after the pandemic.
The limitations imposed by COVID-19 drove banner recreational vehicle sales and rentals in 2020, especially with people entering the market for the first time. Observers expect the trend to continue this year as more people experience the safety, flexibility, and comforts-of-home quality of RV trips.
“Our latest forecast shows that 2021 is projected to be the best year on record with 507,000 units shipped,” RV Industry Association spokeswoman Monika Geraci said. “Once they try the lifestyle, they become RVers for life. This is going to be what we see as a long-term trend.”
Winnebago CEO Michael Happe, whose company’s revenue far exceeded expectations last year, said he expects the momentum to continue. “We were really pleased, obviously, with the way the consumers flocked to the outdoors in 2020 as they tried to manage through the pandemic’s impact on their lives, and we believe you’ll see a similar behavior trend in 2021. There is a great deal of pent-up demand, we believe, by consumers who were perhaps interested in the space and the category earlier this year and maybe didn’t pull the trigger but are still very excited to explore a way to get into RVing and boating in 2021.”
Like sales, RV rentals surged last year, with new users accounting for four-fifths of the business. RV travel is no longer identified with retirees—73 percent of millennials in a survey said they’re likely to rent an RV—the most of any age group—with 68 percent saying that COVID-19 makes the option more appealing than before.
The pandemic was the perfect environment for the industry to flourish. Travelers were reluctant to fly, to stay in hotels, or to choose crowded indoor spaces for their destinations. RVs offer a “self-catered” vacation—sleep in your own bed, use your own bathroom, cook your own means, spend time outdoors, and stay as socially distant as you like from strangers. National parks are favorite destinations, and RVs free travelers to enjoy nature off the beaten path.
In a survey, 57 percent said RV travel is more appealing now than before the pandemic, 75 percent said RVs are great for spontaneous travel and quick getaways, and 77 percent said RV travel is as convenient as staying in a hotel and more comfortable than camping. Nearly one-third of those surveyed said RVing would be their preferred self-catering, more than staying with friends or relatives or in a vacation rental.
Learn more about travel trends, Glenwood Springs and geothermal soaking at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.