Ever wish you could escape the city with your neighbour’s travel trailer for a weekend? That sweet little Teardrop unit sits parked in their driveway for most of the year anyway, right?
Well, our latest sponsor at Toque & Canoe is the inventive, Alberta-based startup Wheel Estate and we think they’re onto something genius as they grow what is essentially the Airbnb of travel trailers in Canada.
With an eye on the Canadian sharing economy, Cherie and Chad Ball have dreams of becoming the ultimate online directory for affordable travel trailer rentals — a win/win for owners (extra income stream) and renters (affordable vacation options).
The couple says that 10 years ago, they learned that the vast majority of the million travel trailers owned by Canadians are used for only two weeks a year.
How did the discovery come about? The entrepreneurial couple stumbled on this research during a downturn in the economy, on the heels of losing everything they owned.
Desperate for a break, the pair asked to rent a friend’s travel trailer to get away for the weekend, but found it impossible because there was no insurance available that would cover the transaction.
“So, I looked into the pricing of mainstream RV rental outlets and I was floored at how expensive it is,” recalls Cherie. “The bottom line is that when I inquired with travel trailer owners, they were very interested in renting. But there was no system in place for them and there was no insurance available. It was maddening for everyone involved.”
The seed was planted and as of January 1, 2017 — after years in development with a London, England-based insurance company — Wheel Estate has a $1-million trailer protection policy teed up for the company’s marketplace.
“Today, because of Wheel Estate, travel trailer owners have already made over half a million dollars in revenue, and average Canadians who love to camp are enjoying huge savings,” says Chad, adding that rentals — from tent trailers to luxury 5th wheel units (and depending on the experience renters are looking for) — run from $40 to $250 a night.
“Sure, we’re creating a business where we see an opportunity, but there’s no question that we’re motivated by the idea of keeping this community affordable for people like us.”
Given the nature of their business, you’d think the couple has exciting camping adventures of their own in the works for the summer ahead.
“Nothing planned yet,” says Cherie, with a laugh. “Given how quickly we’re growing, our primary focus is to ensure that our members are well cared for, and that our operations are run as efficiently as possible.”
Note from the publisher: This post was powered by Toque & Canoe sponsor Wheel Estate
Founded by two Canucks on the loose in a big country, Toque & Canoe is an award-winning Canadian travel blog.