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Old 10-22-2019, 02:54 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Testing the appetite for a Business idea! Feedback needed!!

Hi Everyone!

First, thank you for welcoming me to your community! I LOVE airstreams, camping, and the great outdoors. I reside in Denver and am always looking for a way to get out to the wilderness!

I would LOVE your feedback on a business idea.

Airstreams are expensive to own, to store, and sit idle a massive portion of the time. This creates high barrier to entry, and high cost of ownership.

My business idea would be to buy a plot of land in an attractive area - let's say Evergreen colorado for an example. Owners of airstreams would "rent" a place to store their trailer. I would build a lodge, and operate an airbnb or hotel service for everyone's trailers and we would share revenue. People would be able to rent out their trailer with zero leg work, as I would take care of booking, demand generation, cleaning, repairs, insurance, rentals, etc. We would split the revenue after the expenses for the operations are recovered.

My background is an MBA who recently left UBER corporate managing operations and logistics for 5 states. I also have extensive hospitality experience in Aspen Colorado, and know quite a bit about running a service like this. I am currently researching the following:

I would love to know:

- Is this a service you would be interested in using
- What would be the "Must Haves" for a service like this to make it worth your while to store your airstream as a hotel on my lot
- What type of income would make this service worth it for you
- What do you currently do to store your trailer?
- How much on average does your airstream cost per year (mortgage, storage, repairs, insurance, etc). Ideally, I would like to make the economics work to at minimum make it a net 0 for the owner, and a positive cash flow after airstream is paid off.
- Any other thoughts on this business idea are welcome!

Thanks everyone,

Looking forward to hearing from you!! If you would like to partner on something like this, I would love to hear from you as well.
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Old 10-22-2019, 03:38 PM   #2
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Hi Randy, I see a few people have looked at your post but no one as answered yet so I’ll go first.
Not to be too discouraging but others have tossed out your idea in the past and not had much luck and one of the reasons is a lot, many even most, AS owners are pretty protective of their TT. I know I won’t let anyone except Jackson Center touch mine and even then I stand there and watch. I don’t even let family members use it.
Another obstacle is that Airstream’s are not 4 season campers and if your thoughts are to have this work and open for winter then I’m not sure about all the extra insulation would be needed but it would be substantial. I see the potential for lots of frozen pipes and water leaks. Chasing down a leak is not fun.
There are several Airstream parks throughout the country and a few have been reasonably successful but others have either closed up all together or opened up to allow all brands of RV’s in to try and make ends meet. Opening up an RV park is a rather daunting task. Permits, infrastructure, support systems get very expensive very fast.
In theory, you have a nice idea and you may find a few owners that might consider it but I’d be really surprised if you find 10 owners that would give it a try.
As far as maintenance costs, as long as nothing major breaks it nominal. Not worth the hassle of worrying if some idiot just trashed my AS. Mine is 3 years old and was fully paid for the day I bought it and again, I won’t even let my brother borrow it so there’s just no way I’d let some college kids rent it for a weekend.
I wish you all the best and please keep us posted on how your plan is working.
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Old 10-22-2019, 03:38 PM   #3
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Testing the appetite for a Business idea! Feedback needed!!

The business idea of renting out Airstream time to other than for use by the owners has been discussed several time in the forums.

Personally, the only person I would let occupy my Airstream other than my wife, dogs, and I, is my youngest son...he’s the one that brought it into the family, and is competent to do so. Note that this does not include the rest of my immediate or extended family.

Total strangers, however well-intentioned, would not take good enough care of it, IMHO. I would not have any interest in such an arrangement. Others may, si just take this as one data point. My unit is paid for, and only costs $100 a month for storage. Maintenance cost, other than 4 new tires every five years or so, is minimal, because I do it all myself.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:29 PM   #4
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Hi

Indeed others have set up places like you describe. They don't seem to have caught on very well with current owners. The result has been they switch over to "stocking" their site with used trailers.

Like others, I would be *very* reluctant to let people play in my AS. With a new one up around $150K and at least a dozen things that have to be done "just right" (or you quickly do thousands of dollars of damage), I don't think I'm that unusual.

Bob
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:52 PM   #5
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My nephew just went up to live in the Denver area and thought that he was the first guy who thought of living in a travel trailer full time instead of paying $1600/month for a 1 bedroom apartment. Well, he was surprised to find that every RV lot in the Denver area had lengthy wait-lists, and that $1000/month for an RV spot was common. The nearest campground he could find with anything available was in Greeley!

So maybe you could leave the whole Airstream AirB&B thing out of the equation and just open up an RV lot. Seems like there is plenty of demand.

All that being said, there must be some reason why RV lots aren't popping up everywhere...

good luck!
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:27 PM   #6
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I bought my Airstream to travel and not go to the same place all the time. That's the fun of having it.

If I were you I would set up your own RV park and forget about maintaining RV's. And I'm like most. I wouldn't let anyone touch my Airstream. They are expensive. A ding on a panel is a $2500 replacement.

But RV parks are getting hard to come by as there are more RV's on the road. Many run seasonal campgrounds where people rent the site for the entire year. That way you just maintain the grounds. Takes less people, and less overhead.

By the way I am a real estate appraiser and live in a heavy tourist area with lots of Airbnbs. We appraisers in the area have run the numbers over and over again, and there is no way an owner can make money if he/she has to hire someone to do the maintenance. About the only thing that gets covered is the cost of ownership. And WHY would I do that?

We have lots of condotels in our area. Same thing. Own a condo, have a management company run it and rent it out, and then you can use a few weeks a year. Again we as appraisers have run the numbers. They do not pay, and in some cases actually loose money.

What you are essentially doing is running a condotel or airbnb with a $100,000 airstream. Most of these condotels are selling for $50,000 to $70,000 with more room than an AS. They are getting $250 a night during the peak season for a 2 bedroom. AND THEY STILL can't cash flow after all the expenses. And in my county we have 2 million visitors a year.

The numbers don't work.

I DO think a well run RV park would have good demand if in the right place BUT here are the problems:
1) Expensive land and the expense of development.
2) Owners around you not wanting an RV park close by. We are having a big controversy with land owners right now in the county I live in with regard to a potential RV park. They think the world will end.
3) Designing it so that it will be attractive and people will pay good money to stay there.

So here is what I've found. City RV parks charge about $25 a night. At least the one's I've been to. They basically run the thing on a song on free land. Most are not very well run as far as reservations, etc. But I've been to 2 really nice ones. Most RV parks cost about $40 to $60 a night for full hook ups; depending upon the locality and the cost of land. The season lasts from basically Mid March to Mid October. Longer further south.

Run the numbers with various occupancy rates (not high in March, April, May). Full in the Summer and maybe September. If you can't make 5 to 10% on your investment after paying yourself, I'd say not worth it.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:06 PM   #7
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Hello - you’ve gotten some good feedback already. At the risk of piling on the wet blankets, I’ll answer your questions directly.

- Is this a service you would be interested in using

No - neither as a user nor as an AS owner.

- What would be the "Must Haves" for a service like this to make it worth your while to store your airstream as a hotel on my lot

Honestly:

A $150K retainer in escrow available to me if in my opinion my trailer was ruined. For starters....


- What type of income would make this service worth it for you

If you had said retainer and I was earning $5K/month I might consider it but honestly, not very likely even at 3X that rate...

- What do you currently do to store your trailer?

Outdoor storage in a secure lot.

- How much on average does your airstream cost per year (mortgage, storage, repairs, insurance, etc). Ideally, I would like to make the economics work to at minimum make it a net 0 for the owner, and a positive cash flow after airstream is paid off.

No mortgage, $960/yr for storage, maintenance/repairs/insurance avg. approx. $1500/yr

- Any other thoughts on this business idea are welcome!

There may be a narrow market for this but people like me who jealously guard their AS expense/investment and know lack of education on exactly how to treat the AS can be very costly to correct are not likely to participate. I wouldn’t share my Airstream with any friend or family member - to do so with complete strangers would be a practically insurmountable mental hurdle no amount of money could overcome.

But there’s a market for everything I suppose. Just need to find the right players. Good luck!
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:27 PM   #8
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Nope. No way. No how. I did not purchase a Airstream to go into business. I purchased it for me. Why anyone would let clueless strangers in their airstream is beyond my comprehension.

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Old 10-22-2019, 06:28 PM   #9
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And all this is just from the part-timers. Full-timers would have no use for such a place.

A decent campground is another matter. Find a campground for sale, update it, price it right and you may make a few dollars.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:48 PM   #10
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Not a chance.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:54 PM   #11
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Owners that take the time to post here do so because like myself they are obsessed with their Airstreams. That said most here would probably not be interested.
If you could raise the capital a better approach would be a business model similar to Moorings. A sailing/ charter business. You could partner with buyers who might not otherwise be able to justify the purchase. This way you bring in owners who are not emotionally attached to there units while also giving them a more affordable path to ownership.

RVs are becoming very popular again. I really think some kind of fractional ownership or sharing type of thing could take off. Your just talking to the wrong audience.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:54 PM   #12
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not a chance.


x2!
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:02 PM   #13
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Additionally to my previous post. This type of model would also allow you to keep relatively new units available for rentals. You could also investigate having units built by Airstream that would specifically meet the needs of the rental market. Moorings does this with Benateau.
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:48 PM   #14
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Have you reviewed this facility?
https://www.tigerrunresort.com.

If you could offer that, plus YOU buy all the airstreams, and still make money.
That would be the only way this would work.

Having owned a rental in Summit County, I can say that you only make any money when selling as real estate there appreciates. Not on rental revenue and its related expenses.

Trailers don't appreciate. They cost.

Airstreams probably have about the highest possible per square foot acquisition cost you could find. I don't think this idea is sound unless you already own the real estate and want a way to possibly break even while it appreciates.
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:06 PM   #15
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Randy, On a positive note, love your passion. You may have noticed there are not many campgrounds within reasonable reach of Denver - would love it if you created one. Best of luck.
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:07 PM   #16
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Would you rent your Porsche out to the kid down the street for the weekend?? Same thoughts with my Airstream. Only one that uses it is me and the wife, no friends, no family, nobody else!! Great idea if you own the Airstreams, you have control, you do the renting, and you have to clean up the messes and do the repairs that people with no brains leave you with. Good luck! JMHO
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:33 PM   #17
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To directly answer your questions as follows:
How much on average does your airstream cost per year (mortgage, storage, repairs, insurance, etc). Ideally, I would like to make the economics work to at minimum make it a net 0 for the owner, and a positive cash flow after airstream is paid off.



My reply: no mortgage paid cash, storage zero on site in a shop, repairs....please clarify necessary or what I choose to "repair" when I get asked why I spent the money on "X" by someone else in my house......Insurance $450 (so you are going to pay our insurance and the increased premium because it is now a rental unit?
So now to add to your business model computations, I would like payment for the time I loose working on my trailer in the shop in the middle of winter with the space heater working having an adult libation that someone in the house doesn't put on my daily count. Not to be snotty but a bit of why Airstream owners have what they have. It is more than dollars, it is the interaction and some of the maintenance contact involved. Actually any trailer is more than dollars I think.
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:47 PM   #18
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Another Idea

That might work better.

https://junebugretroresort.com/

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Old 10-22-2019, 11:02 PM   #19
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That might work better.

https://junebugretroresort.com/

Jim
Yep, you nailed it for this question. This is probably the first model I have seen that might actually work. No surprise where it is located....climate, close to Asheville, and can still ship farm products to cities that can pay the premium.
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Old 10-23-2019, 10:12 AM   #20
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Hi

We seem to have drifted from RV hotels to campgrounds .....

Around here, campgrounds seem to be a dying breed. They pop up on the market with some regularity. Based on their (apparent) sell price .... yikes ... not a good business to be in if they sell for that little money.

Like it or not, there are a lot of competing alternatives for a campsite "out in the wild". Full hookups for $12 a night, done that. 50A electric for free for a night, done that. (both at very nice facilities). BLM land for free, people do that as well.

To make any money, location matters. It matters a lot. Are you close enough to walk to restaurants, stores, bars, and attractions? Are you far enough out that it's quiet at night and not super noisy during the day? Is there lots of space between the sites? Is there a nice view? Ticking all those boxes is impossible. Ticking most of them will be hard (and expensive).

Doing this in the middle of nowhere with a giant septic field is ok (until the field fails and needs to be re-done). Hooking all those sites up to a municipal plant .... wow ... $$$$$. "Peak demand" is what matters in this case and that's what you get billed for (or have to design for).

If I decide I need to open the windows for fresh air and run the A/C to cool it down, I'm pulling about 30A. Do that for 24 hours and the electric meter likely chalked up $15 to $25 for the day. If you look around a typical campground, this sort of thing does see to be common.

Like it or not, camping in most of the country is seasonal. The campground fills up in two or three peak months. It's empty for two or four off months. Sure, full on Saturday is pretty common. Full 7 days a week is what pays the bills. You need to be way over the top in those peak months to survive the rest of the year.

If you can charge >$120 a night for a site and bill for every little service on top of that and still be booked full months in advance, this is a fine business idea. Unless you are have Disney somewhere in the name, doing that is unlikely ....

Bob
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