If you are like most vacation rental owners, you have at least one other large asset right under your nose you could be renting out…and you probably don’t even realize it!
What exactly am I talking about? Renting out your CAR!
RelayRides.com is basically AirBnB for cars. It provides a safe platform that lets anyone share their car for fun & profit! Luckily, RelayRides also covers the hairy paperwork stuff like providing driver screening and a $1,000,000 commercial insurance policy while the car is being rented out.
Vacation rental owners get “the sharing economy” and understand what it’s like to let strangers borrow your expensive real estate investments. We also understand how to appeal to guests to make our listings look amazing, offer stellar customer service and earn 5 star reviews.
This skill set puts us in a unique position to add a very cool amenity to our VR business, or create a completely separate side business in your home town.
My experience renting out my Ford Explorer on RelayRides:
I stumbled across the RelayRides site and it quickly caught my attention since it parallels a typical vacation rental listing site. It’s a very easy site to navigate, and simple to use. At first I was looking for cars to rent for a quick trip up to my cabin, which costs $60 in gas in my 15 mpg Explorer. Since there were lots of cars for $20 something a day that got 30 to 50 Mpg I figured I could save as much in gas as the rental car would cost! As it turns out, I didn’t make that trip, but it got me thinking…
Why not list MY car?
Since I’m always up for a marketing challenge I decided why not!
As I got to work with the listing my VR instincts took over! First, I checked out the competition. I poured over the listings in my area. What other SUV’s where there and how were they priced? What were the photos like? How were the successful profiles filled out?
When I looked at my competition, I knew I could blow them out of the water. Why? 95% of the listings were making the SAME mistakes we see everyday with vacation rentals.
- Horrible photos of the car. Bad lighting. Only posting 1 photo when 20 are allowed.
- A bad profile photo of the owner, or worse – none at all.
- Poorly written descriptions, or, you guessed it – none at all!
The listing process itself was super easy. It’s actually much less complex than a VR listing, so it will be easy-peasy for any of you.
When you get to the pricing section RelayRides suggests a daly price for you based on the make, model and year of your car to maximize rentals.
While the 25% cut that RelayRides charges seemed steep at first, it’s actually pretty fair. It includes driver records check screening, the $1M insurance policy and all the credit card fees as well as the RelayRides fee all rolled into one.The site suggested I list my 2002 Explorer for $27 a day. Well, umm… no thanks! Since it’s my only car, it’s certainly not worth my time to be stranded for a mere $20 (my take after RelayRides 25% cut). Luckily, you can set any price you wish, so I doubled that price to $55 a day. Even though my car was overpriced versus newer & nicer cars, I was beating out my competition simply because my listing was so much better and more trustworthy.
Go check out my listing here. You can see my pictures are 10x better than any other SUVs in my area. Why? I took the time to drive to a scenic area that would just have nature around the car. No distractions, you just see the car itself. I got it washed and looking good of course and took many photos inside and out. This would leave no doubt in customers minds what they were getting.
For my profile picture, I found a clear, smiling photo that would help build likability and trust. I took the extra 5 minutes to write thoughtful descriptions that would make me stand out from the crowd.
So what happened? 2 days after my listing went live, I got my first inquiry! It was from a great guy named Stewart who was going on a 4 day road trip to LA! A little longer than I wanted to be without a car, but I figured I would do it just for the experience. We exchanged a few calls and texts, and quickly arranged the car pick-up details.
To prep for the first rental I had to do a few things: First, I had to print the RelayRides insurance card from their website and throw it in the glovebox. Easy. Second, I printed off a 1 page check in/check out sheet. This is to do a quick walk around the car noting any previous damage, along with the checking the milage and gas gauge levels. Pretty simple stuff!
When Stewart came by it was a breeze, even though it was the first time using RelayRides for either of us. I showed him around the car, gave him the keys, and he was off! It felt like I was loaning my car to a friend but also getting paid for it. I also felt like they would treat the car like it was their own due to the trusting bond you create during the exchange. Sure enough, I got a text from him later that day saying they arrived safe and sound! Would you ever call a car rental place to let them know you arrived safe?Several days later, they returned the car in perfect condition, gassed up and ready to go. The great thing was it was such a better experience for both people. They also mentioned how much easier it was then the normal rental car hassles of dealing with a big corporation. Several days later, I got my $165 rental fee direct deposited into my account.
How can vacation rental owners increase exposure for your VR & your car?
1) Offer a package deal on your VR and Car! Include a link to your car in your VR inquiry emails.
2) Use your RelayRides listing to also promote your VR like I did! See my listing here, but be sure and promote the car first and the VR second or your listing will get taken down.
3) Use the marketing skills you have learned in the VR business to rack up the rentals for your car!
So, what are you waiting for? Set up your Free RelayRides listing right here, right now!