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Pandemic travel restrictions force van rental company to think local

Ondevan Campervan is back on the road
Ondevan Campervan is back on the road 02:25

When the coronavirus all but ended foreign travel to the U.S. earlier this year, Ondevan Campervan saw business drop to practically zero. That's when owner Omar Bendezu hit upon an idea that he hoped would help keep the tourism-dependent company from going out of business.

"We had to change the marketing strategy to target local travelers," who before the pandemic made up just 5% of the customized camper van company's total customer base, Bendezu told CBS News. "So we had to change from 5% to 100%."

Such an abrupt shift in strategy is a tall order for businesses in the best of times, let alone in the face of an unprecedented global health crisis. But the move has proved vital for the the three-year old company, as stir-crazy Floridians look for ways to vacation in the age of COVID-19. 

And in switching its focus to serving local residents, Onedevan also has built a tight-knit community that's helping revive the business. 

"They kind of become friends," Bendezu said. 

Camper van travel has proved to be a popular way to explore new territory as airlines, cruise lines and hotels suffer from a sharp reduction in demand from travelers. Nearly 50 million Americans said they plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months, according to research from RV Industry Association. 

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