A camper trailer rental would have one big advantage over the motor home rental market - the tow vehicle. I looked into renting a motor home and every renter barred towing ANYTHING with the motor home. So no vehicle for running around sight seeing while leaving the motor home parked.
As far as Airstream rentals I don't think that they could be competitively priced. I think that the only market would be come from people who wanted to try before they buy.
I don't think he gets it. Part of the Airstream experience is the fiddeling with the thing. and make no mistake, there is a lot of constant fiddeling required to keep the thing mobile. And most of us enjoyit a bit. I don't believe that the people renting such a perceived high end product are going to have the knowledge or desire to spend 5 minutes fixing something that doesn't belong to them. The cell phone calls to the service department will be constant. The money to be made here is in the delivery of the call service. Sort of like the guys that made the money during the Yukon Gold rush were the ones hiring themselves out as equipment packers for the Gold seekers. Most of the Gold seekers eventually went home broke. However, if the guys on the line were included as investors in the new company, perhaps we all may benefit. But then we would have nothing to fix.
I suspect there are a few factors here that have not been considered yet.
1) Where will these Airstream's be located to rent from? Will this be available from RV dealers like Cruise America does with their motorhomes? If so, then it could bring business into the dealers, a value add for selling the brand.
2) With 65 dealer (I think that's about right) if they were to stock 1 or 2 per dealer that would create a demand of 130 trailers which could increase production by 10%.
3) I think the the whole RV dealer business model is based on providing the RV dealers financing for the trailers they "buy" from the mothership. That being said, I bet some type of similar financing is available for a project like this.
4) Will tow vehicles be offer with the trailers? I suspect this is probable and they could probably get similar incentives from an auto maker.
You have to assume there was plenty of number crunching done before deciding to jump in feet first with an idea like this. Risk usually means higher rewards if you succeed. Only time will tell where this project ends up.
There is probably some sort of parachute (perhaps an aluminum one) where Riegel leases the Airstreams from the company at a reduced rate, reducing his risk and the company probably gets a better deal on insurance for the trailer than he could with a new company. Riegel is not hurting for money, so this is an avocation.
It may not be travel trailers—the Interstates would solve the problem is inexperienced people towing—they may also have a higher resale value than the trailers.
Several years ago Airstream worked with several campgrounds to supply them with 25' FB's specially designed as a sort of park model (emphasis on "sort of") and that effort seems to have been less than successful. We saw the 25's in Las Vegas at the CG next to Circus Circus and at the KOA on the way to Key West. I didn't see anyone renting the Airstreams at these CG's when we were there. I can't recall the exact nightly fee in Vegas but I was surprised how high it was.
Why would Reigel give up the lucrative corporate post for such a risky business? Was he eased out with a promise to help him with a new business? Was he bored at Thor?
Now that he will be an Airstream consumer, I wonder how he'll feel about Airstream QC?
We rented one of those Airstreams at Circus Circus for our kids when we were in Vegas at the start of our cross country trip in 2010. My wife recalls them renting for about $150.00 per night (with the KOA membership discount). This was during the New Year's Eve holiday, so it could have been a bit higher than usual. If I recall, Airstream sent several 25 ft. units to Circus Circus, but ended up relocating all but two to other KOA campgrounds.
Our friends (also Airstreamers) rented the only other AS and, aside from their water hose freezing one night, had a good experience in theirs. As you can see from the pictures, they appeared to be well used/abused. Wish I had taken some pictures of the inside. It showed noticeable use, as well. A bit pricey, but the location was good.
That being said, I think Dickie Riegel is indeed taking a significant gamble.I say this based on my experience of seeing the various levels of driving abilities of renters that I have witnessed during my many miles of RVing. I wish him the best. It may introduce those who want to experience the joys of Airstreaming, before committing to the purchase.
Here are the pictures (probably out of order):
1. The Airstream site, complete with barbeque grill and propane fire pit.
2. If you look close, you can see the clear coat starting to peel on the tail light bezel.
3. The broken steps were propped up with some wooden blocks, and a milk crate.
4. We all had a great time. Somebody put my wife up to rewarding this dancer up on Fremont.