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RVshare takes road to growth with Microsoft Advertising

  Article , Travel , Success stories

Microsoft Audience Network drives more traffic for RV rental marketplace

RVshare logo

It began with a honeymoon

In 2012, Mark Jenney bought a recreational vehicle, more commonly known as an RV, to take his wife on a long road trip for their honeymoon. Upon their return, Jenney decided to rent out the RV and make a secondary income stream out of it instead of allowing the vehicle to sit in the driveway or languish in storage. An Airbnb-type solution for renting out RVs didn’t exist at the time, and Jenney realised he could create a platform tailored to that. Thus began the RVshare journey.

RVshare is one of the first RV rental marketplaces to emerge catering to over 11 million U.S. households owning an RV. The company has since grown into a peer-to-peer platform where more than 100,000 owners rent out their RVs to travelers and adventurers across the U.S. With RVshare, people can find an RV of their choice — from an affordable trailer they can tow themselves to a luxury motorhome they can drive to their favourite spot — as close as possible to their local area.

Through paid search, we’re able to tap into keywords based on search intent not only for anything RV rental-related but also for popular destinations.

— Martijn Scheijbeler, Vice President of Marketing, RVshare

A bump in the road — then it’s all uphill from there

2020 was a challenging year for everyone. The pandemic negatively impacted the travel industry in many ways, including the closure of national parks, campgrounds, and trailer parks. And people wanted to remain safe and home. However, many industries had to continue delivering important services to the world — and they needed housing. While the demand for RVs for vacation was impacted, RVshare found it could supply provisional housing for those frontline workers. Taking a short-term pivot, RVshare provided RVs as temporary housing for medical workers who didn’t want to risk bringing COVID-19 into their homes, or for on-site personnel of oil and gas companies who didn’t find it safe staying in hotels.

Image of a RVshare rental RV lakeside.

RVshare rental RV parked lakeside.

Yet the pandemic also opened opportunities for the RV space, with the vehicles becoming a go-to option for those who wanted to dip their toes into travel adventures closer to home. “RV travel is a relatively safe way to travel with people you’re close to,” says Martijn Scheijbeler, vice president of marketing at RVshare. “You can still go to places and stay distant from everybody else. That provided a massive increase in demand for the RV space.”

As a result, the number of RVs listed on the RVshare platform soared, and RVshare’s business grew 3X in the summer of 2020. “By the end of April 2020, we were back at pre-COVID levels,” Scheijbeler says. “Throughout May and into June, we were seeing the highest demand levels we’d ever seen for RV travel. That peaked in the middle of summer with many holidays and weekends off.”

As more people took RV trips, RVshare noticed certain changes in the way people traveled. Trips were longer, more family-focused, and centred around open and outdoor spaces as well as bucket list destinations. Meanwhile, there were those who took RV trips to a destination of their choice and worked from there. This is a trend that RVshare envisions will last into the future as more organisations embrace remote work. “People can take week-long trips and work from the road as long they can find a good Wi-Fi hot spot,” says Scheijbeler.

Powering RV trips with the help of Microsoft Advertising

Digital marketing is a core focus of RVshare’s overall marketing strategy, with paid search being its most important growth channel to reach people as they search for destinations they dream of and then plan on visiting.

The goals for RVshare as a platform are twofold: to connect with RV owners to grow the number of RVs available for rent on the platform, and to reach more people searching for travel opportunities and RVs to rent to take them on their travel adventures.

Image of a family in an RVshare rental.

A family in their rental RV from RVshare.

"Through paid search, we’re able to tap into keywords based on search intent not only for anything RV rental-related but also for popular destinations,” Scheijbeler says. Along with paid search, the company uses display advertising to encourage people to take an RV trip or consider RVs as an option for their travel plans.

Moreover, RVshare leverages the Microsoft Audience Network to reach more RV renters and engage more RV owners to join the platform. “We use the Microsoft Audience Network to reach audiences that have an intent to travel outdoors on the renter side, while we also target RV owners so we can match them up with our renters,” says Scheijbeler.

Audience targeting is another strategy RVshare employs, with a focus on targeting audiences by age, geography, and locations with more supply. For example, RVshare sees vital opportunities in areas close to national parks like the Grand Canyon, or destinations like Phoenix which are big on outdoor travel and adventure.

Microsoft Advertising has helped RVshare reach new customers and take advantage of last year’s surge in demand. “With Microsoft Advertising’s digital marketing channels, we were able to quickly tap into that additional demand from people searching on travel related topics,” Scheijbeler says. “With other channels, that wasn’t always as easy.”

As a result of working with the Microsoft Advertising platform, RVshare was able to drive 76% more traffic to their website in the summer of 2020 compared to the previous year. The company also experienced double-digit growth while maintaining a stable cost per click (CPC) year-over-year.

A glimmer of hope for a travel-filled future

With most of the world and the U.S. slowly reopening and carving a path toward recovery, RVshare is optimistic that demand for RV travel will continue to increase, and the broader travel industry will get back on its feet. Additionally, consumers will continue looking for ways to travel safely, explore areas close to home, and work remotely while traveling, all of which will fuel the RV market.

“What we’re already noticing is that a lot of events and festivals are coming back, so people have a need for an RV to get to and stay at the event site. But there are also those who still don’t want to go to as many places that are crowded, so the demand is still there,” says Scheijbeler. “There’s an increased awareness for RV travel, and more travel options coming back post-pandemic.”

We use the Microsoft Audience Network to reach audiences that have an intent to travel outdoors on the renter side, while we also target RV owners so we can match them up with our renters.

— Martijn Scheijbeler, Vice President of Marketing, RVshare

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