RV rental website expands into Okanagan

RV rental website expands into Okanagan

Wheel Estate connects RV owners and potential renters

Six years ago, Chad Ball wanted to go on an RV vacation.

Seeking an escape from the stress of a downturn in the Alberta construction industry, in which he worked as a project manager in the home building industry, Ball and his wife Cherie wanted to go camping in the Rocky Mountains as an inexpensive getaway option.

But when they inquired with local RV dealers, the Okotoks couple learned it would cost almost as much as a beach vacation.

So they talked to a neighbour about renting his trailer, but that idea was shot down because of the additional insurance required by the owner.

In the end, the two borrowed a trailer from a friend, taking note along the trip of how many trailer and motorhomes sat idle in people’s driveways or sat dormant in storage lots.

Related: Viability of private campsites threatened

The impression of that experience inspired Ball and his wife to create a new online sharing economy startup called Wheel Estate, an online marketplace that connects RV owners with people looking for an affordable camping vacation—call it an Airbnb version for campers.

The service was launched in Alberta last year because it is home to 350,000 camping rigs.

Camping at Kekuli Bay between Vernon and Kelowna. Photo: Contributed

“Alberta is the province with the most RV owners in Canada and the next biggest markets are in B.C. and Ontario, which we are focusing more on expanding into this year,” Ball said.

The concept is simple—the website connects RV and trailer owners willing to rent their vacation rigs to earn extra income with people looking for an affordable camping vacation.

The initial launch with 30 trailers for rent has now escalated to more than 600, with Ball’s idea to make Wheel Estate a nation-wide service.

“There are some similar models in Ontario but nobody has come up with this idea for across Canada,” he said.

“From an RV owner’s perspective, they are seeing this as an opportunity to earn extra income for something on average is used 14 days out of the year and sits idle the rest of the time. It has started what I call rentpreneurs, people who see the value in buying more than one trailer and offering them for rent through our website.”

But great business ideas can sometimes struggle to reach fruition, and Ball says Wheel Estate had one major stumbling block—insurance coverage.

“We couldn’t find any insurance underwriters to see the financial feasibility of what we wanted to do, and for people to get the extra insurance privately was just too expensive,” Ball said.

“We then got a lucky break whey Lloyd’s of London expressed an interest but it ultimately took about four years for that to get ironed out to where we could launch the company last year.”

As the connecting element, Ball said Wheel Estate controls the money transaction, holding back the fee to trailer owners for 48 hours after pickup to ensure their obligations were delivered on, and not releasing the security deposit for 48 hours after the trailer’s return to account for any potential damages.

And they encourage both parties to share their stories online for the knowledge and awareness benefit of others.

The company also forged a relationship with the RV roadside assistance service Coach-Net to provide help if renters get into trouble on the road, whether it be mechanical or how to work a camping unit’s given features.

Ball said the RV sales industry has been somewhat cool initially to their website service, in part because it competes with a given dealership’s own rental business and people may shy away from investing in a new trailer or motorhome.

“We are disruptive by nature in that we are changing what has been an established norm of how things work, but we don’t feel this is a zero sum game. The RV dealers don’t have to lose in order for us to win,” Ball said.

He feels the more opportunity people have to access a camping vacation, the better the chance they would be motivated to ultimately buy their own trailer or RV unit, particularly if they can earn rental income from it.

“It’s not really about trailers so much as it is people making connections with one another and what that can mean to people’s lives,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

On the first day of his retirement, April 12, 2021, Marcel Bedard, former Salmon Arm bylaw enforcement officer, looks over a scrapbook he created of his 24 years on the job. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm bylaw officer parks his parking tickets after 24 years

Despite the insults that go with the job, Marcel Bedard enjoyed his work for the city

(Natalia Cuevas-Huaico - Kelowna Capital News)
Missy MacKintosh, founder of MisMacK Clean Cosmetics, smiles broadly beneath her mask as she is thrilled to have opened her new storefront location at 231 Alexander St. in Salmon Arm on April 10, 2021. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Downtown Salmon Arm store ‘a dream come true’ for clean cosmetics owner

Missy MacKintosh’s MisMack Clean Cosmetics moves from home basement to storefront

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking for the rightful owners of two standup paddleboards seized in an investigation March 19, 2021. (RCMP)
Is this your SUP?: Vernon police

Two standup paddleboards seized by police to be returned

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read