Over the last 15 years, the self-storage industry has diversified into several different types of specialty services that include RV and boat storage, wine cellar storage, media storage, locker storage and file storage. Specialty services for RV tenants are unique to the product and require varying marketing and business approaches. According to the Recreational Vehicle Association, there are more than seven million RVs on the road and this number is expected to grow. RV storage was once an interim use for these facilities but has now become a more profitable income stream.

Growth During the Pandemic

This true American pastime was a $27.5 billion dollar industry in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic. Industry revenue is expected to rise an annualized 3.2% over the five years to 2025. This revenue growth can partly be attributed to an expected dramatic recovery in domestic travel once safety measures are lifted and consumers relieve pent up demand according to IBISWorld.

Baby Boomers and Beyond

Baby boomers, or individuals born between 1946 and 1964, account for 73.0 million people nationwide in 2019 (latest data available according to the US Census Bureau). All baby boomers are now 57 years or older. In 2020, consumers aged 45 through 64 made up the largest segment of RV owners, many of whom will have reached retirement age over the next five years. Baby boomers with considerable retirement savings will likely be able to purchase more expensive RVs and the demand for secured RV storage with amenities will continue to grow, as they protect their investment from the elements. The popularity extends well beyond baby boomers. The internet and social media news feeds are filled with stories of young couples and young families enjoying a life of adventure on the road.

Self Storage Opportunities

The recreational vehicle market has created opportunity for self-storage facilities to capitalize on this growing popularity. It’s not uncommon to see self-storage facilities offering parking spaces for RV’s, however, until recently the majority of “For Rent” parking for RVs has been uncovered, and often unpaved. More recently there have been a number of developments that dedicate more, if not all, of their interior space to the RV storage segment.

Diversification

Owner/operators are also catering to the boat, non-motorized trailers, motorcycle, car, food trucks and jet ski owners. This progression to a more parking oriented development mirrors the increase in prices and demand for these vehicles. This also reflects the growing demand for more sheltered storage than typical uncovered spaces.

Facility Amenities

Newer facility types can range in design, from open-air carports with galvanized steel columns and beams and metal deck roofing, to conventional enclosed storage units. Added amenities can be utilized as additional income generators. These amenities can include hurricane resistant canopy/building design, security fencing, electronic gate access, and high-tech security cameras. Other desirable features in these facilities include high turn radius for easy access, fire sprinkler systems, dump and power wash rinse stations, 50amp electric outlets, potable water and compressed air stations. Some facilities offer concierge services where RV owners can have their vehicles valeted, cleaned and stored.

Self-storage facilities offer a unique opportunity to cater to the growing need for recreational vehicle storage. The growth in RV popularity with retiring baby boomers, young families, young couples and many others will continue to fuel the need for RV storage. The variety of vehicle types and price points will also command expanded storage options from unpaved, uncovered spaces to fully enclosed garage units. Amenities will be a key component in attracting and retaining storage users. Taking advantage of this market segment will help further diversify self-storage facility options.


Thumbnail: Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash


Lance Ponton

Lance Ponton is currently a Valuation Specialist in the Tampa office of Colliers International Valuation & Advisory Services. Mr. Ponton has been actively engaged in real estate valuation and counseling since 2001. He has prepared appraisal reports for a wide variety of clients. His experience includes analysis and appraisal of all types of real estate, including residential, retail, office, agricultural, industrial, and special purpose properties, among others.