Canadian Campground Exec Promotes Marketing
Editor’s Note: Chris Bower, president of the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association and owner of the Nk Mip Campground & RV Resort in Osoyoos, British Columbia, wrote this column for the August issue of the association’s Dogwood Express newsletter.
The global economic downturn has affected many members as evidenced by our first occupancy survey in June, with 68% reporting weeker conditions than in 2008. However, 21% reported stronger conditions. How you are doing depends largely on your markets, for instance, many campgrounds/RV parks, mine for example, have seen stronger business as people look for cheaper alternative vacations, while lodging businesses, especially those relying on corporate and winter business, are reporting weak sales patterns. This summer season is also showing slow bookings for the lodging sector as they compete with aggressive discounting from hotels.
Cancellations seem to be up for both lodging and camping as well. The situation is best summed up by one member who said, “While our basic clientele of business travelers and group traffic remains fairly consistent for 2009, we have found that the number of customers traveling for leisure have decreased overall, showing a 5-10% decrease in occupancy between 2008 and 2009. This case can be attributed to a decrease in people traveling on holidays as well as an increase in hotels competing in our markets.”
Economic forecasts continue to be mixed with some saying full recovery will not be reached until 2012 or 2013. With the unemployment rate at 8%, it must be remembered 92% of employable people are working. The stock markets have recovered some of their losses, which will help to build back some of the consumers’ portfolios. So what can be done to stimulate travel? I believe that constant, quality marketing is the key to success. It does not matter how good your product is, if you do not tell people about yourself they will not find you. I also think that this is a good time to focus on close-in markets with value-added propositions. Now is the time to begin planning your marketing strategy for 2010, a year that includes the Olympics. It is very important that you maintain marketing on channels that have brought you success in the past, however, since the majority of new business is likely to come from British Columbia and Alberta, your task is to ensure you get your slice of the pie.”