When the pandemic slammed the travel industry earlier this year, Jeff Cavins didn’t know if his startup was going to make it. Cavins is the chief executive officer of Outdoorsy Inc., a Texas-based RV marketplace. In March and April, as Americans scrapped their travel plans en masse, Outdoorsy’s cancellation rate ran as high as 90 percent.
Cavins furloughed 40 percent of his staff, gave across-the-board pay cuts and said he wouldn’t take a salary through the end of the year. Despite having raised more than $80 million from investors, the company took a $1.5 million loan from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program to staunch the bleeding.
“If we don’t do it, we’re going to sink this company and there will be nothing left,” Cavins recalls telling his team before the changes. “It’s kind of like a meteor hit our planet and we had to deal with it.”
Now, a few months later, Outdoory’s outlook is dramatically different. As the coronavirus has lingered in the U.S., air travel is seen as more dangerous than driving and even hotels could be potential vectors for disease. That combination has prompted millions of Americans to plan to vacation in RVs this year, according to data compiled by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, far more than traveled that way last year.
The result for Outdoorsy -- clinging to life just a few months ago -- is that business is booming.
Last month, Cavins said about 40,000 bookings were made through the startup, which connects RV owners with renters, and roughly 93 percent of customers were renting for the first time. Outdoorsy has styled itself as a kind of Airbnb Inc. for mobile homes, offering a platform for peer-to-peer rentals, and catering to travelers not yet ready to make the jump into RV ownership. Rates depend on the size of the vehicle but start around $50 a night and can reach more than $400 a night for a full-sized Class A mobile camper.
Check out the full article from Bloomberg here.