A growing number of people, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, recognize that renting something—not just a home or car, but almost anything they need or want—can be easier and make more financial sense than buying and owning it.
This has driven demand for businesses that enable people to rent the things they need, from tools to garden space to camping gear—and even goats.
If you’ve noticed this trend and have been thinking about how add a rental component to your tour company to generate some ancillary income, here are some things to consider and some rental business ideas for inspiration. And if you’re looking to start a new rental business, we’ve got you covered, too.
Why start a rental business?
The simple answer is there’s a growing demand for rental businesses that enable people to rent rather than buy specific things. Many people, especially younger generations, look at renting as a better option than buying for a number of reasons:
It’s easier and more convenient: Not everyone has a garage, basement, or other storage space to store items they may only use a few times a month/year. This makes renting everything from a kayak to power tools an attractive option.
It’s cheaper: Typically people look to rent things they may only use temporarily. They can’t justify the cost of buying the item outright, so renting makes more financial sense. In addition, renting rather than buying lets people avoid maintenance and other upkeep costs.
It’s kinder to the planet: Lots of people sharing one item is better for the environment than all of those people buying the same item.
It’s the thing to do: Today’s sharing and rental culture has removed any stigma that used to be attached to the word “rent.” Car and bike share companies paved the way for a variety of other rental businesses.
8 popular rental ideas for 2023
Here are a few rental business ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Wedding rentals, party rentals and other event items and supplies
Tour operators who run destination weddings or group travel with an event or party as part of the experience can rent event supplies and equipment. These could include bouncy castles, photo booths, smoke machines, audio equipment, decorations, games equipment, and other items and supplies people typically don’t take with them on a trip or want to buy for a one-off event.
The Party Rental Collective is a wedding and party supply rental business in Canada that works with Kamloops tourism businesses to ensure Okanagan destination weddings have everything they need, from chairs to porta potties.
2. Sports gear rentals
There are many other sports and activities that need specialist equipment people may not own, either because they lack room to store the equipment, or they don’t take part often enough to justify the cost of buying their own gear. For example:
- Winter sports equipment
- Fishing and hunting equipment
- Golf clubs
- Climbing gear
- Fitness equipment
- Mountain bikes
- Snow tubes
- Helmets and other protective gear
Briskby is a sports equipment rental business in Europe that rents everything from home gym equipment to skis to surfboards, in addition to associated travel experiences.
3. Recreational boat rentals and other things that float
When people visit a lake or the ocean, they naturally want to get out there and paddle, surf, or just bob around in the water. While there are many inflatable products available these days that pack down small for travel, even they can take up a lot of space—not to mention the question of what to do if they burst. Here are a few watery rental ideas:
- Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs)
- Windsurfing boards
- Kitesurfing equipment
- Inner tubes
- Motor boats
- Jet skis
Adventure Parasail in Virginia Beach, USA rents parasailing equipment, jet skis, kayaks and paddleboards, and even a banana boat. Note how they’ve continued to add new rentals as activities like paddleboarding emerge in their region.
4. Vehicle rentals
A car rental business is an obvious idea, but consider the variety of other vehicles people can get around or play on, including:
- Luxury or unusual cars
Tampa Bay eBikes has different locations and bikes to cater to people looking for city, beach or trail biking experiences.
5. Camping gear rentals
Everyone who has ever planned a camping trip knows how time-consuming it can be to identify what you need. Then you have to store it all for the rest of the year. Many are more than happy to delegate that work to a company that can both advise them on what they need (maybe not the cappuccino machine?) and rent them the items.
Packlist is a camping gear rental business in Canada that offers to take the stress out of packing for a camping trip, with a range of packages available that cater to different seasons and types of camping trip.
6. Camper van rentals
You can blame whoever came up with the #vanlife hashtag, but many travelers today want the freedom to explore in a camper van, whether that’s a 40-year-old classic VW “hippy van” or a tricked out Sprinter. Renting a van is the perfect alternative to buying and maintaining your own van—all the fun with none of the oily rags.
Lazy Days is a small camper van rental business in Ireland that advertises its vans to both local and international travelers. Promoting their vans as a way to “try before you buy” is a great idea to capitalize on the demand for camper vans to buy as well as rent.
7. Property rentals
These days, property rental options have expanded from a cottage or other holiday home to yurts, pods, tree houses, windmills, buses… If you can fit a bed in it there’s a good chance someone might want to rent it for a night or two.
Ever missed your bus stop by falling asleep? The Bus Stop in Scotland offers “glamping” buses you can doze on to your heart’s content.
Another option is to turn renting a property or item into an experience in itself. For example, The Open Book in the village of Wigtown in Scotland allows bookworms to not only rent the apartment above the book shop, but also take over the running of the shop for a week.
Key considerations when running a rental business
After you’ve chosen your niche, there a few important cost, operations, and other things to consider when it comes to managing a rental business:
Factor in maintenance and replacement costs: Everything you rent out needs to be maintained so it is in good working order when someone pays to use it. This means regular pre- and post-rental maintenance checks and tune-ups or repairs as needed. Eventually, or even annually, your inventory needs to be updated. Kayak and mountain bike rental businesses often sell off part or all of their rental fleet each year to ensure they offer the latest models.
Establish trust: There’s a certain amount of trust involved when renting certain items. As they are not brand new, customers may have some concerns about something going wrong. You need to make sure you have good reviews and customers have confidence in the items they are renting.
Go above and beyond: Don’t just think of yourself as a rental business, think of yourself as an “experience business.” Instead of just sending someone out in a rental kayak, provide some tips of good places to go and things to see.
Cover yourself: Make sure you have liability insurance to protect your business in the event of something going wrong.
Enable customers to book rentals online: Make it as easy as possible for customers to see what you offer and book rentals online. Rezgo’s selectable start times and resource management system let you manage your rentals easily behind the scenes, while your customers enjoy seamless bookings of rentals and activities anytime, anywhere.
Rezgo offers all the tools you need to manage your tourism business and sell rentals, tours and activities online. Sign up for free or book a demo to discover how you can do more with your rental business.