Hemphill Brothers pivots RV leases from rock stars to vacationers throughout Covid
The Hemphill Brothers Coach Company knows a thing or two about how celebrities live on the streets. The Nashville-based RV company, run by brothers Joey and Trent Hemphill, has been building and equipping luxury tour buses for 40 years, promoting an A-list of megastars ranging from Taylor Swift, Oprah, Dolly Parton and Beyonce to former US presidents.
“2020 was our best year yet. It has already been booked as our biggest year in our company’s history,” said Trent Hemphill when CNBC first caught up with Hemphill in October.
When the coronavirus pandemic led to the sudden cancellation of concerts across the country in early March 2020, RV rentals booked with them totaling $ 30 million for musicians on tour went out the door. “My brother and I have been through many things together in this business, but none of the above,” said Trent Hemphill.
American Bus Association data estimates that the 75% to 80% decline in tour bus journeys since mid-March 2020 has been canceled due to the pandemic, a loss of nearly $ 5 billion to the US entertainment bus industry, which includes tour buses Organizers and tour operators.
The Hemphills grew up touring as a successful family gospel group before borrowing money from their father in 1980 to buy their first bus for rent. Now they have over 100 buses. The Hemphill Brothers Coach Company is located in Nashville, Tenn.
Brothers Joey and Trent Hemphill entered the RV business in 1980 with just one bus. The Nashville-based fleet now includes more than 100 coaches and over 200 employees, and has a long list of celebrity A-list customers.
Hemphill Brothers Coach Company
Business was booming in the first five months of 2019, with 95% of the Hemphill fleet on the open road. But in early 2020, “not a single RV left the lot for three months,” said Joey Hemphill. “We were seen as essential transportation for the government. But there was no business.”
“The most painful thing we ever had to do was lay off employees. We had to be very nimble and cut costs immediately and find a way to get to the other side,” he added.
So the brothers put their heads together and decided to do something they had never done before: create a social media presence and start marketing their buses to the masses.
“We’re dealing with tour managers. Dealing with the public is something we’ve never done in our 40 years. So it was all new to us,” said Joey Hemphill.
“We said our equipment can be used by the public who don’t even know we exist. We just need to get the message across,” added Trent Hemphill.
To cause a stir, the brothers came up with the idea of ”Travel Like a Rock Star” to market their luxury RVs to American tourists and travelers looking for an alternative to air travel during the pandemic.
“This has not only generated revenue for the company, but also for our employees and drivers,” said Trent Hemphill. The “Rockstar Experience” went viral – and the Hemphills said they had closed dozen of tourist road trip rentals in the past year and through 2021.
The buses resemble a rolling five-star hotel, and drivers can choose between several layouts. The “Sternbus” offers space for up to 12 people and even for pets. Every part of the bus can be closed for privacy reasons. The brothers said that every bus is “extremely bespoke” and “no two buses are the same”.
The famous Hemphill Brothers motorhomes are equipped with high quality materials and decorations such as real leather, hardwood floors, granite, marble and quartz. The lavish buses are aimed at luxury travelers looking for the ultimate in comfort on the road.
Hemphill Brothers Coach Company
Hemphill buses offer travelers a ride in luxury: each motorhome is fitted with high quality finishes, including real leather, hardwood floors, granite, marble and quartz.
The cost of renting the camper starts between $ 1,200 and $ 1,500 per day, depending on the mileage. Driver, fuel, and utilities are included, and drivers can meet travelers in their homes anywhere in the Americas
Trent Hemphill said the advantages of traveling by road over an airplane are numerous. “You only have to pack once,” and passengers wake up at their next destination in the morning while the bus travels overnight, “he added.” Our drivers are so good at giving you such a smooth ride. They don’t even know you’re moving. “
“Personally, I sleep better on a bus than at home,” said Joey Hemphill.
Who else slept on a Hemphill bus? The same company that made superstar Taylor Swift’s first tour bus made the last built by country legend Merle Haggard.
The buses are sterilized before each trip and the drivers are tested for Covid before each trip and spend the night in pre-arranged accommodations between the destinations. Prices may vary based on a person’s schedule and itinerary, or travelers can opt for a tailored itinerary.
The Calderon family said when their South Africa trip derailed due to the pandemic, one of the best decisions would be to rent a Hemphill bus for the same amount of money and take a tour overland.
“We have been all over the world and had some great vacations. I think we had no idea that we would come back and say of all the trips we have made in our lives that this was our favorite,” said Karla Calderon.
Karla, her husband Rafael, and their two young children rode their Hemphill bus west for 12 days, starting in Nashville and ending in Yosemite National Park. “We always want to travel outside of the US and see all of these things. This [trip] reminded me that this country is amazing, “said Rafael Calderon.
The Hemphill Brothers said they have also increased other revenue streams through sales of used equipment and custom interior modifications and remodeling for outside customers. The company said this helped offset some of the loss in rental income during the pandemic and enabled them to get employees back to work.
Even if live concerts return, the Hemphills plan to keep part of their fleet for tourists.
“We experienced a storm and had to take control of the company again. And we realized that we can still do that.” said Trent Hemphill. “It was a challenge, but it also enlivened him and me a little to see that the decisions we make every day can affect the bottom line of our business. Just like in the beginning. It makes you feel young again.”