Cabins and RV Rentals Carve Out Their Niche During the Pandemic

Brands including Getaway, Outdoorsy, RVshare make their push on Facebook, Instagram

Getaway said creative with single photos has driven the most engagement during the pandemic. Getaway

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the travel sector, hitting the airline, cruise and hotel categories hard. But travel subcategories such as nature gateways and rentals of recreational vehicles are booming, and seizing the opportunity to grow.

With people reluctant to travel long distances or in crowds, companies like Getaway, which connects people with rental cabins in the woods, and RV rental services Outdoorsy and RVshare are thriving. In turn, they’re using Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms to get their messages out.

The three companies had different approaches to their social marketing efforts, but each used Facebook’s ad-targeting capabilities despite the massive advertiser boycott the social network faced starting in July.

Getaway vice president of marketing Rachel Mansfield said that while her company did not participate in the boycott, “it impacted our planning and helped reinforce our efforts toward channel diversification,” while Outdoorsy co-founder and chief marketing officer Jennifer Young said the company moved forward after internal discussions.

RVshare social media manager Alex Fritsch was even more succinct when asked if the boycott had an impact on his company’s strategy, responding with a flat, “No.”

The three executives shared more details on their respective companies’ strategies during the pandemic:

Getaway takes an old-school tactic

Bucking the industry trend toward more and more video advertising, Getaway said creative with single photos has driven the most engagement during its campaigns.

“A big challenge for us as marketers is that we tell people to put away their phones and disconnect, but it’s an Instagrammable product, and that is partially why people want to come,” Mansfield said. “Many guests will take their photos immediately upon arrival, while the cabin is still pristine, and then put their phones in the cellphone lockbox. Often, a potential guest will see an organic post from a friend and, by commenting or clicking our profile, they enter a retargeting pool.”

Getaway focuses on in-feed ads on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Instagram Stories, and follows a diversified advertising strategy by setting metrics, including for age and background.

While much of its creative is fueled by user-generated content, Getaway also incorporates ad sets in foreign languages, helping it to further engage with diverse communities near its outposts in the U.S., along with ads featuring press callouts.

“We find that it is more authentic to let our guests speak to their experience. So much of the copy we use in ads is either written directly by the guests via testimonials, or by reading a bunch of testimonials and boiling it down to capture the ethos of what they are saying,” she said.

Getaway also advertises on Nextdoor and Snapchat, with plans to add TikTok to its mix soon.

Outdoorsy was early to Facebook Groups

After a lull in the early stages of the pandemic, Outdoorsy rebounded in the summer. The company credits Facebook with connecting RV owners looking to generate revenue from their vehicles with potential renters.

Its Outdoorsy RV Owner Community Facebook group formed in October 2016, and now includes roughly 10,500 owners. It boasts an engagement rate of 84%.

On the advertising front, the company’s goal is to provide multiple creative options for all available placements by taking advantage of Facebook’s automation tools, including dynamic ads and conversion-based bidding.

Outdoorsy also relies mainly on static images, sprinkling in some GIFs, and it is developing and testing video creative. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.