Okotoks couple offer up a wheel deal with peer-to-peer camper rentals
Hope to change the vacation industry with Airbnb of trailers
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You might think of it as Airbnb on wheels.
An Okotoks couple are hoping to start an entirely new peer-to-peer market with travel trailers and utility trailers.
Their service WheelEstate.ca allows owners of travel trailers (think fifth-wheels, camper trailers, pop-up tents, etc.) to rent them out to other users by the day.
The idea was born in the 2009 economic downturn, according to co-founder Cherie Ball. She and her husband Chad were feeling the pinch.
“We really wanted to go away on a cheap little get away – the Cancun beach vacation was too expensive,” she said.
So they approached a neighbour about privately renting his trailer.
“We found out that you cannot privately rent out your travel trailer – there’s no insurance that covers it unless you buy a commercial policy,” said Cherie.
That’s the problem she and Chad set out to solve, and they did it with one of the most famous insurers in the world – Lloyds of London.
Now people looking to rent out their trailers through WheelEstate.ca have the trailer insured the minute it's handed over to the person renting it. That person foots the insurance bill per day, and trailers are only insured while they’re rented out.
Rentals also come with 24-hour roadside assistance.
Cherie said there are other rental companies out there, but often they use trailers that come from dealerships. WheelEstate will give the average trailer owner a chance to make some money back on an asset that might otherwise be parked.
“That’s why our service is so awesome,” she said. “We’re completely transparent about the insurance and we’re very transparent about being peer-to-peer.”
The website just launched and so far they’ve signed up about 15 trailer owners around southern Alberta.
Brian Gentles of Calgary is one of those customers. His 37-foot fifth wheel is up for $175 per day, or $1,000 a week.
He’s seen this sort of business model work with pleasure boats on the west coast, so he’s optimistic it will work for trailers.
“I think it’s fairly enterprising of them,” he said. “I wish them every success.”