AirBNB for camping trailers taking off in Alberta
Okotoks-based startup Wheel Estate hits a sweet spot with consumers
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When TeNari Veneruz went back to school full time for the summer, she knew she and her husband Mike would have less time to use their 28-foot camping trailer.
While they’ve only made it out camping three times over the summer, the trailer has been somewhere every weekend.
The couple have been advertising it on Wheel Estate, an Okotoks-based startup that describes itself as the Airbnb for camping trailers.
“We needed the extra income so Wheel Estate was able to offer us the insurance coverage so it really fell into place at the perfect time when we really needed it,” said Veneruz.
They’re seeing just how steep the demand is for trailer rentals in Alberta.
“I could have rented it 25 times over this weekend,” she said, in reference to the August long weekend. Instead they kept it for themselves.
Chad Ball, one of the co-founders of Wheel Estate, said since launching in the spring, users have made over $160,000 renting out their trailers.
He said there are currently 130 trailers live on the site, and 350 registered, although not everyone has taken the last step to hit publish and make their ad go live just yet.
Ball said owners are being flexible about how they rent out their trailers. One thing he’s noticed since creating the site is that some people will deliver the campers to a site and set it up, either for an extra fee or as part of the rental fee.
“That’s been super popular with people who maybe aren’t comfortable towing a trailer, or maybe they just want to show up and have that luxury experience instead of buying the trailer,” he said.
Ball and his wife Cherie said they idea came about after they tried to rent a trailer from a neighbour, but found out insurance was an issue.
Veneruz said she and her husband had looked into renting their trailer out before this year but also ran into the problem of insurance.
Ball overcame that by purchasing a commercial policy with Lloyds of London. All Wheel Estate listings are covered, and even come with roadside assistance.
The bulk of the trailers for rent are in Alberta, with a few in B.C. and Ontario too, but Ball has had calls from the U.S. with people interested in renting. He’s hoping to grow the business into new markets over time.
“We want to prove the concept in our own backyard first,” he said.