By Elizabeth Peroni
As the number of Recreation Vehicles on the road grows, campgrounds continue to fill their spaces leaving some RVers without a place to camp. Colonel Mike Lockwood found himself in that predicament when the U.S. Army assigned him to the Pentagon. His wife Kim was tired of moving and wanted to stay in their home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, so Lockwood bought a used travel trailer to live in during his assignment in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, he found it difficult to find long-term camping and he ended up staying at a place with an hour and half to two-hour commute to work.
“Every morning I would pass by properties with their own RV in the driveway, and I would look at that and think why can’t I rent out that space and I could get closer to work and a property owner could make a little bit of money,” Lockwood says.
Two years later, he retired and after researching the campground industry – Up Close RV was born.
People looking to earn some extra income on their property can become a host for Up Close RV by visiting the website and setting up a profile. They answer questions about the size of the RV they can accommodate, what hookups (if any) are available, where they are located and any special rules they want followed. Hosts set their own rates with locations close to tourist attractions charging a premium rate. Up Close RV’s fee is 3% of their rate.
RV owners who are looking for a place to camp can visit the website and search for properties close to their destination. They have to fill out a liability waiver and Up Close RV charges a 12 percent booking fee. At just a year from startup, the company offers 40 properties with camping space in 12 states.
“We’re finding good traction for the business,” Lockwood says. “We’re actually gaining about two properties a month.”
One of those properties is owned by Edna Hawkins, 80, who lives near Opossum Lake in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She greets campers staying on her property with a loaf of fresh baked zucchini bread. Her family has owned the small farm since 1939. RVers staying on her property share space near her chickens and cattle fenced in a nearby pasture. She likes to make them feel at home.
“It’s nice to have company here and it’s nice to have the extra money,” she says.
Other Pennsylvania properties hosting RV campers are located near Fredericksburg, Gaines, Gettysburg, Hummelstown, Hershey and Newville.
Lockwood and his team are working hard to grow the number of host properties and campers.
“With the economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, property owners are hurting for dollars and can use the money and RVers are hurting for more economical places to stay. That is the perfect storm for us to help property owners and RVers at the same time.”
In addition to his wife Kim, Lockwood works with a small staff, who truly believe in the business. They aren’t paid, but most staff have equity in the company. Lockwood says they see the potential in the business and want to work to grow it. The company is 70 percent veteran-owned.
Lockwood says Up Close RV facilitates the RV community and gives them extra opportunities.
“Campgrounds ‑ many of them are overcrowded,” he says. We don’t see ourselves in competition with campgrounds. We see this as an alternate to a campground.”
To learn more about Up Close RV, visit the website at upcloserv.com.