Building a Successful Seasonal Rental Business; Top 3 Things You Need to Consider Before You Invest
Updated: May 27, 2020
Have you ever dreamed of spending your summers at a mountain resort, living the scenic life, and providing your customers with the equipment they need to experience their next adventure? Are you crazy about bicycles? Love the loamy smell of forests? The bright glare of sunlight and blue skies?
Add a record scratch here. Take a breath. Building a successful seasonal rental business is a tough proposition, but well worth the rewards when done right. Summer activities are becoming a booming business in ski towns across the world, with lodging facilities at major resorts experiencing a 70% average rise in occupancy rates over the past few years. Visitors are flocking to mountain resorts in the summer to enjoy the cooler temperatures, the incredible views, and the wide range of attractions and events that ski resorts now provide in the hotter months.
Bicycles and gravity vehicle rentals have also been on the rise at mountain resorts in the summer, so the opportunity to earn seasonal summer income is definitely there, but what are the key things you need to know before you put time, money and energy into your own adventure venture?
Is your favored location a popular destination in the summer months? Does your ski resort, or resort partners, invest in enough marketing (events, activities, social media) to draw the number of visitors you need in order to reach your profit goals? Who are your competitors and are there gaps in their offering that you can take advantage of? Some rental businesses may be offering early model bikes or less powerful electrics. Some don’t offer the brands that people want to test. Some have service gaps (Enduro bikes for trails, but no Cross-Country bikes). Many do not offer tours. Find your niche.
It is critical to determine the ideal equipment for your terrain and the average skill level of the visitors who vacation in your area. Do you have rocky, difficult, or slippery terrain that will cause problems, or discourage beginning riders from renting your equipment? Too often, I see trails that are labeled as ‘easy’ or ‘family’ that are actually too difficult for beginners. Remember that, as a rental business, you are catering to riders that are largely unskilled. Skilled riders bring their own equipment. Your target group should always be set to beginner-level tourists. You need to ensure that your partner resort offers the terrain you need to be successful with unskilled riders. Crashes, accidents, and injuries lead to bad reviews and customers who will either not revisit the resort, or who will not rent bicycles or gravity vehicles if they do.
This may be the most difficult point. If you are going to rent technical equipment (bikes, gravity vehicles, electric vehicles) you NEED to have at least one technical staff-member; a bike mechanic at minimum. This person needs to understand the basics of bike maintenance and needs to be able to find and understand the instructions provided in equipment manuals. This may seem impossible because the people who work seasonal jobs are often not technically versed, but there are many bike enthusiasts who are drawn to seasonal summer work. Never make the assumption that a person with no bike maintenance experience is going to save you money in a bike rental shop. Rental equipment requires constant maintenance; part replacements, repairs, upgrades, etc. A non-technical person placed in a technical position will do nothing but cost you money.
Do you have experience in the equipment rental business? Any nightmare stories, words of caution, or business hacks you would like to share? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to share your stories. We love hearing from you!