Surprise reason to buy a RV: It's cleaner than a hotel room
We can come up with many a reason to buy a RV. For camping, exploring the country, experiencing the great outdoors and – these days -protecting yourself in a pandemic.
A good friend of mine just bought an RV.
His name is Mort Crim and he is one of the most respected TV anchormen in the U.S. We worked together for the better part of two decades in Detroit at the NBC-TV station there. Mort, now retired and living in Florida , hadn't planned to buy an RV this week. In fact, just before the pandemic hit, he and his wife, Renee, sold their Tiffin Class A motorhome, which they had used to travel around the country for the past several years.
Instead of RVing this summer, they instead planned a leisurely tour of Europe, staying in hotels and resorts and enjong fine restaurants and shops. They thought their RV days had ended.
Then COVID-19 hit, locking them down in their Florida home and causing them to cancel that European vacation.
Now the only travel they are planning is to drive to visit their children living in various parts of the country later this summer, when travel restrictions ease.
But they dodn't want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants. Not just now, when the virus is still out there. So they bought a Class B RV, a 22-foot Coachman Beyond on the Ford Transit chassis. When they hit the road in a month or so, they'll stay overnight in it on the road, using their RV's own bathroom, sleeping in their own bed, preparing their own meals in their own kitchen and being self-contained and socially distant.
“We are both at that vulnerable age for this virus and we want to take every precaution,” said Mort. “But we also want to visit our children. Commercial air travel is not something we're comfortable with just yet and we didn't want to drive in our car and stay at hotels and run the extra risk of exposure that entails. But an RV is the perfect travel solution. So here we are again.”
Avoiding the virus is reason to buy a RV
They are buying a RV because they believe it is cleaner, healthier and a much safer way to travel right now than using hotel rooms, eating at restaurants and traveling on an airplane, cruise ship, train, taxi or even Uber.
And they are not alone.
Every week I talk to different RV buyers, dealers and industry observers and I'm hearing variations of my friend's story from all of them.
RV travel is perceived by many new buyers as something they can do and enjoy that will greatly minimize possible exposure to the virus. The trend is being noticed among those who sell boats, too.
Fox Business recently had a story headlined “RV Sales Surge during coronavirus lockdown“ about RV travel this summer featuring comments from the CEO of Lippert Components Inc., which supplies parts for the leading original equipment manufacturers in the recreation and transportation product markets.
“RVs and boats provide attractive alternatives to vacation more safely as families are eager to get out of the house,” said Jason Lippert, the CEO. “At the same time, RVing and boating offer a great solution to social distancing for families that want to travel the country and experience the great outdoors. For most consumers air travel, cruise ships and hotels are likely going to be less popular, at least in the near term.”
Bob Martin, the CEO of Thor Industries, the largest RV manufacturing company in the world, said pretty much the same thing, noting that interest in RVs has increased since the outbreak of the virus.
To be sure, there are lots of other reasons, some even quite silly. We recently did a video on it.
New reason to buy a RV is bringing in first time buyers
Nick Schmidt, from Sunshine State RVs in Gainesville, FL is the dealer who sold Mort and Renee the Class B. He told me that when the nationwide shut down occurred back in March and foot traffic to his dealership dried up, he worried about what would happen to his business. But while in-person customers diminished, the online inquires greatly increased and phones kept ringing.
Nick would go out to the lot with a cell phone and use FaceTime to give private video tours of the RVs. The week I talked to him, he had sold five such RVs, which he delivered right to the customer's driveways in different parts of the country.
“We're hearing from a lot of first time buyers who can't wait to get out and get away once the lockdowns end,” said Nick. “They tell us that a big reason they are buying is because it's their own germs they will be encountering, not stranger germs in a hotel.”
There's no doubt the economy has taken a staggering hit from the pandemic.
But the RV business seems to have ducked this one.
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