Harvest Hosts, an annual subscription company offering recreational vehicle (RV) owners unlimited overnight stays to thousands of locations, recently raised $37 million in funding from Stripes. The investment will be used to increase the number of locations (hosts), create a new reservation system, and develop route planning tools.
The RV industry has boomed in the last twenty years, with 11.2 million households being RV owners. This number is expected to rise in the next five years as a projected 9.6 million households intend to purchase an RV. Van and RV life comes at a time when a variety of hospitality and vacation companies are finding new ways to adapt to changing consumer behaviors.
Investing in Convenience, Comfort and Scenery
Stripes, an investment firm focusing on software products and innovative consumer brands, seeks a certain type of innovator when it comes to investing. Fortunately for Harvest Hosts’ CEO Joel Holland, his subscription business checked all of Stripes’ boxes with its innovation within the RV industry.
“We look to back ambitious entrepreneurs who are delivering amazing products,” stated Chris Carey, Partner at Stripes, “and it became clear as we spent more time in the space that Joel is building a really special product for RVers.”
Stripes surveyed thousands of drivers and hosts to learn more about the different experiences. The overwhelming feedback revealed new opportunities to grow and expand the leading RV experience platform.
Holland plans on focusing on growing the number of available locations, aiming to reach 3,000 with Stripes’ investment.
Additionally, Harvest Hosts will work to keep up with its growing members’ demands. The company will implement feature improvements for route planning tools and reservation systems, facilitating the travel-planning process for its customers.
These upgrades won’t just benefit Harvest Host members, it will also help local shops partnering with the company. Members spent over $25 million within the businesses they visited. This year, that number is expected to reach at least $30 million.
History of Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts was established in 2010 after Don and Kim Greene, the original founders and owners, stumbled upon a concept in Europe called agritourism — the practice of visiting rural and agricultural areas. While the idea grew in popularity overseas during the 20th century, Americans had yet to be exposed to the concept in the early 2000s.
Don and Kim decided to make the most of the opportunity and launched Harvest Hosts. The company started by offering annual membership programs with locations in Oregon, California, and Washington. By 2018, members could choose between 600 locations that extended across the entire Northern-American continent.
Current CEO and long-time RVer Joel Holland discovered Harvest Hosts with his wife, Mary Ashley, and used it to fuel their passion for RV camping. After enjoying the access to overnight stays, he purchased the company with the primary goal of expanding locations and making the platform more user friendly.
The company is now offering more than 2,000 locations, has a brand new website, and a mobile application, and Holland has big plans for future improvements.
Company Adaptability to the Changing Consumer Habits
Harvest Hosts’ mission is to offer ultimate freedom to RV owners, which could not come at a better time amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Road travel became increasingly popular in 2020. RV manufacturers increased shipments by 39.2% between last January and the beginning of 2021. With consumer habits shifting to easily accessible traveling, Harvest Hosts’ program was the perfect adaptation to these unprecedented times.
Travel influencers Kara and Nate are well known on Instagram and YouTube for vlogs detailing their adventures across the world. After four years spent hitting their goal of traveling to 100 countries, the two brainstormed on how to readjust to the new travel restrictions while still creating content for their fans.
Kara and Nate bought a converted sprinter van and began traveling the United States. The influencers say that Harvest Hosts enabled them to make the most out of their life on the road.
“The cool thing about Harvest Hosts is that it’s a win-win for van lifers and RVers,” said Nate on social media. “We get a free place to sleep for the night and we also get a cool local experience. And then for the local businesses, it’s a way for them to draw in more customers and generate more revenue.”
The company offers its members two different subscription plans: $99 a year with access to all hosts and $139 a year offering the same features with additional access to golf courses, country clubs, spa facilities, and restaurants. Both plans provide unlimited overnight stays around North America.
Harvest Hosts’ membership base doubled in size last summer, a clear indication that profits are trending upward. The industry continues to boom as 46 million Americans plan to take a trip in an RV this year, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. As travel options evolve, Harvest Hosts is in a good position to fill a need while keeping everyone safe.
- Harvest Hosts raised $37 million through investment from Stripes.
- The investment will be used for growing host locations, improving reservation systems, and offering route planning tools.
- RV manufacturers increased shipments by 39.2% between last January and the beginning of 2021.
- 46 million Americans plan to take a trip in an RV this year, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.