I first heard about the sharing economy at the NRMA, who I was employed by at the time. It had just introduced some sort of employee initiative giving us access to a sharing hub from which we could hire or borrow tools from other people in the community. It touted itself as something like Gumtree, but for peer to peer borrowing rather than selling the crap you don’t need from your shed. Considering that at the time, the speech preceded our weekly staff morning tea, (a massive table full of cupcakes, lollies and fruit platters), I wasn’t concentrating too much on what was being said. But one sentence stuck with me. “Most people don’t need a drill; they just need a hole.”
It wasn’t too long after that when Airbnb and Uber really took off, although both had been around for years already. Together, though, they legitimised the ‘sharing economy’, even if they’ve pissed off hotel owners and taxi drivers in the process. And like many people realised they don’t need a car, they just need a lift, at least one person realised he didn’t need a caravan, he just needed a holiday.
I first met Justin Hales, Camplify’s CEO, a few months after Camplify became a thing. He’d just won a grant from the NRMA to develop the idea further. Because I was the editor of NRMA’s caravan magazine, we were introduced. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this to him, but I didn’t think much of the idea at first (and I was probably a little frustrated my employer had invested tens of thousands of dollars in his business but declined to increase my own budgets). Mostly, I wasn’t sure Justin would be able to convince enough Australian caravan owners to let perfect strangers use their caravans. Turns out I was both very right, and very wrong.
Today Camplify is a massive success story. What began as an idea concocted one afternoon while walking around Newcastle, has now seen everyday Aussies spend more than a quarter-of-a-million nights in someone else’s pride-and-joy. In fact, the service is so popular, that last summer holidays, nearly every single caravan, camper, motorhome and RV listed on the platform was booked out, and Camplify’s staff were in a mad scramble trying to find more of all of them to fill the demand. Justin still hasn’t been able to convince enough people to let perfect strangers use their caravans, but considering his platform is the largest fleet of hire caravans in Australia (larger even than Apollo, which as a 25% stake in the business), my doubts were entirely misplaced.
So misplaced, in fact, that we currently list our own 1977 Viscount Supreme (Vincent) on Camplify and we’ve got another 1969 Viscount Duralvan being restored, specifically to be hired out alongside it.
I could wax lyrical on all the reasons we list Vincent on Camplify, but in the end, it’s because we see Camplify as a way to make more money with idle assets. Currently, we rent Vincent out for somewhere between $85 and $120 a night, depending on the season. On his last booking, we received $706.75 for a seven-night booking. We dropped Vincent off at a campsite, set up the awning and picked him up a week later, just as clean. It took half-a-day each side to do the drop-off, so not a bad return for a day’s work.
Coming up at Christmas, we’ve got Vincent hired out on one of his bookings for 10 days at $120 per night. He’s being picked up, taken out to the Parkes Elvis Festival (we’re going to have to evict Johnny Cash from the doorway for that one), and returned at the end. All we have to do is make sure he’s clean and tidy and watch the money roll into our bank account.
There are also significant tax benefits, as we highlighted in this video from last year.
And although the money is good, we are only doing it because we’re confident in the system. Insurance, for instance, is completely handled by Camplify. If something goes wrong, they’ve put a robust system in place to pick up the pieces. Which is quite important for us. Vincent isn’t just our pride-and-joy, but as the centrepiece of our current subscription promotion and the major prize, we a relying on him coming out the other side unscathed.
Likewise, Camplify gives us full control to accept or decline hires, and we have the opportunity to chat with anyone wanting to borrow Vincent before they do. We can ask any questions we want, find out about towing experience, what they’re towing with, where they’re planning on going, and who’s coming with them. We can decline their request if we’re not comfortable with it, and in one case, we offered to tow Vincent to a location for them, to save us both a hassle.
And lastly, because of how often I’ve sat down to a beer with Justin, I know how much work his business does to attract hirers – people who will ultimately rent our caravan, or someone elses, on Camplify. I’ve shared stands with Camplify at caravan shows and spoken to people who’ve come specifically to find out how to hire a caravan or try before they buy, or work out if they really need to buy one when they could just rent one for the time they need it each year. Because of the work Camplify’s done to convince people they don’t need a caravan, they just need a caravan holiday, Vincent is part of the largest, most in-demand fleet of hire caravans in the country – maybe even the world.
Of course, it would be easy to read this and think; Camplify is paying ROAM to say these things, why should we believe them? That’s easy to answer – because you’ll find out if we’re wrong. We’re giving Vincent away in the middle of next year (subscribe to ROAM, and you’re in the draw), and as part of the prize, the money he’s making on Camplify. If that’s $706.75 in another 9 months’ time, you’ll know we’re leading you up the garden path. If it’s $5000 or $10,000, then I reckon that’s enough to prove a point. Plus, it costs nothing to list your caravan on the site – you pay nothing unless you get paid first.
Peer-to-peer caravan hire has no losers. People who own caravans can earn a little extra money from a typically depreciating asset that, statistically, sits idle for 48 weeks of the year. People who don’t have a caravan can enjoy all the freedom of caravan travel, without the upfront expense of buying one and having it sit in their yard for 48 weeks.
If you want to find out more about how much money Camplify could make you, click here.
If you want to enter the draw to win Vincent and the money he makes on Camplify, click here.
If you want to hire Vincent for your own holiday, click here.
Do you use Camplify? Tell us about your own experiences in the comments below.
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