Business profile: Mighway

By: Peta Stavelli


It was an offer too good to refuse: to test drive the first of its kind private motorhome rental from THL offshoot Mighway. Peta Stavelli said yes and ended up happily at Cape Farewell.

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It was all a bit secret squirrel. I rang Nelson’s RV Leisure Centre to organise its next test vehicle and became unwittingly involved in a clandestine operation. Luckily for me, my involvement in this top secret mission began just as it was on the eve of going public. I was soon to meet the key players behind the launch of a private rental scheme from Tourism Holdings Limited (THL).

THL, as the majority of you will already know, is the one of the country’s largest tourism operators. It is firmly established in Australia with familiar brands like Maui, KEA, Britz and (USA-based) Road Bear. It is also the owner of Waitomo Caves and Kiwi Experience, although the backbone of its business is, and always has been, rentals centric.

So you could have knocked me down with a feather when the company, which has grown like Topsy on the strength of its motorhome rental business, announced it was launching a new business promoting the rental of privately owned motorhomes. At first glimpse it seemed counter intuitive.

I spoke with Ben Lane who is the head of market development and partnerships for Tourism Holdings Limited. His first question to me was to ask if I was familiar with Airbnb – an online service which connects international travellers with the owners of private accommodation to rent. Indeed I was. Airbnb was formed in San Francisco just seven years ago but in this short time it has grown to become a household name for travellers searching for authentic local experiences.

The coin began its slow descent as I came to understand that in this global online world, connecting would-be RV travellers with an authentic local experience worldwide was a no-brainer. For many of us, the idea of travelling full-time in our motorhome is an impossible dream blocked from conception by our hectic schedules. In the real world, those motorhomes which we intended to use at every available break, sit for long periods of time in our garage or driveway, or worse, in costly storage facilities.

It was inevitable that at some unspecified time, privately owned motorhomes would go the way of holiday apartments and boats and be offered under a timeshare arrangement. Indeed, the concept was not new to me as we had met some lovely enterprising people at a previous motorhome show who were set to launch such a scheme. But there was still some concern about how the vehicles were to be insured. The NZMCA urged its members to proceed with caution.

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And, as you would expect from my level-headed partner, the co-pilot, this was his first concern when I bubbled over with the news we would be taking a privately owned vehicle on our next excursion. I admitted I was scant on the details but assured him that THL and the RV Leisure Centre were both companies with long-standing reputations for good business and neither would be involved in anything dodgy. And so it came to pass.

Vehicles managed by Mighway come with the full backing of the company and includes insurance, secure deposits, payment handling, cleaning and maintaining your vehicle as if it was one of their own. Basic servicing forms part of the package and owners have the option of using the company’s central storage facilities. Customers can choose the level of service they want.

For an idea as to how much your vehicle might be worth, Mighway publishes a guide. Based on 10 weeks rental per year and subject to its condition, a two-berth motorhome might return anywhere from $3750 to $8750 a year. This figure might climb to $15,000 per year for a six-berth vehicle, which seems like money for jam to me.

So what of our personal experience? The co-pilot was initially slow to come on board (if you will pardon the pun) but he came around to it eventually. And we had a great time exploring Nelson and Golden Bay in an exceptionally comfortable four-berth vehicle kitted out with everything we could possibly need for our comfort, except food and wine. Well that’s not strictly true. To celebrate the launch of the scheme the good folks at the RV Leisure Centre had placed a very fine bottle of bubbles in the fridge, along with some chocolates. Neither of these returned intact.

Mighway has appointed RV Leisure Centre as one of its managed partners alongside Merit RV in New Plymouth, and Country Caravans in Mount Maunganui. Parent company THL’s own RV Super Centre is also an active partner covering the main centres, Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

For more information, call 0800 555 695.

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