Interest in outdoor recreational activities is at an all-time high. The results from the latest Outdoor Industry Association Survey indicate that more Americans are participating in outdoor recreation than at any other time on record. Because of lockdowns and social distancing measures, outdoor recreation added more value to the economy in 2020 than it did in 2019. This trend was primarily driven by interest in boating and fishing, although RVing and motorcycle/ATV activities added significant value as well. And there’s no sign of things slowing down any time soon. If you’re in the business of renting boats, campers, RVs, 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, and other outdoor recreational equipment, then you know just how much interest has spiked in recent years.
While rewarding, so are the risks. With recreational equipment and vehicles in such high demand, they’re a prime target for thieves. Inexperienced users and crowded waterways, trails, and campsites can increase the likelihood of accidents. Those risks can undermine your ability to truly profit from the boom. For that reason, many recreation equipment rental companies are increasingly relying on GPS trackers to proactively reduce theft and improve safety and operational efficiency. Here’s how.
Prevent theft and recover assets quickly
There’s a large market of buyers for outdoor recreation equipment, from private individuals to mom-and-pop resellers. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for thieves to unload stolen equipment without much of a paper trail. One man managed to steal and resell 70 golf carts worth $222,000 before being caught. Authorities in Kentucky uncovered a large theft ring that had also stolen at least ten ATVs from four different states, each worth $20,000 or more. The ring was caught because the owner of the tenth ATV had GPS trackers installed, so police could be guided directly to the thieves’ storage facility.
Early intervention is critical to recovering stolen assets. GPS trackers can alert you when the battery has been disconnected. Or, using geofencing, they can tell you when an asset leaves a designated area. You can then immediately follow up and notify authorities if you need to. And if your asset is in fact stolen, you can recover it before it’s been sold or disassembled, just like the ATV owner.
Improve operational efficiency
When demand is high, it’s crucial to manage your assets efficiently. There’s much less wiggle room to accommodate late arrivals, and turning customers away because you don’t have the equipment they need is never good for business. With GPS tracking, you can predict that a customer will be late based on how far away they are, and set realistic expectations for your renters.
This allows you to utilize staff more efficiently as well. Based on the estimated return times, workers can be prepared to receive equipment from your customers and turn it over so it will be ready for the next renter as quickly as possible. If you need to retrieve an asset, but its exact location is unknown, you can perform a location lookup before you go or on the way via a mobile device. With tracking devices, you can operate with a much leaner staff, since equipment can be monitored from anywhere. Whether you’re planning a vacation or simply short-staffed, that flexibility frees up your resources.
GPS trackers also make customer interactions smoother and more efficient. It makes billing more accurate and fair, since it’s an objective measure of where the equipment was taken and how long it was in use. You can also see where your customers are using your equipment and provide customized advice. For instance, if scooter renters tend to frequent a certain area of the city, or if ATV renters commonly ride certain trails, you can provide guidance on the best sites and features of that area.
Improve renter safety
With so many newbies involved in activities, mistakes and accidents are on the rise. Knowing where your customers use your equipment can also prevent safety incidents. If you find that renters are commonly taking an unsafe path you can warn them of the danger. Officials in northern New York reported an uptick in snowmobile accidents in 2021 due to increased activity on the slopes and high speeds. And boating accidents increased 25% in 2020 over 2019, a trend that many experts tie to inexperienced boaters who don’t understand safety protocols.
GPS tracking can help prevent behavior that leads to accidents. You can set up geofence alerts around troublesome areas or areas that customers are not allowed to enter. Speed alerts allow you to notify renters in the event they violate local waterway or trail rules. These allow you to notify customers when they violate rules, and potentially even identify repeat offenders, to help keep recreational areas safe for everyone. They also help you resolve disputes in the event that your equipment is damaged.
GPS trackers also allow you to quickly locate renters who may be stranded or injured. Outdoor recreation equipment is meant to be used in sometimes far-flung locations. It can take hours to locate a renter in distress in the middle of the woods or a large body of water. GPS trackers can facilitate a quick, precise rescue.
Track your assets to reduce risk
No matter what type of recreational equipment you rent, from boats to bikes, GPS trackers help reduce risk. With more information about where and how your assets are being used, you can prevent thefts, operate more efficiently, and help keep renters safe. HoloTrak offers a wide variety of easy-to-use trackers and activation plans that make it possible to get up and running quickly. Our plans span the range from anti-theft infrequent tracking to full history reports with activity tracked at 1-minute intervals. Let us know what your needs are and we can put together a cost-effective solution that improves the efficiency and safety of your rental operations.