Park Manager Cashes in on Social Media Networking

September 23, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Editor’s Note: Harold Hays, president of the Kansas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and manager of the Lawrence/Kansas City KOA, shared his thoughts on social media networking in the September issue of the Kansas ARVC newsletter.

“How did you hear about my park?”

My staff is trained to ask every single person that walks through my door this exact question. And every year I look at the numbers that are compiled and judge where I think advertising dollars should be spent: Woodalls, TrailerLife, Billboards. You get the picture.

Earlier this summer a marketing strategy that I employed caused a curious reaction and change in my customers. Answering a call for information from ARVC, my park and several other parks in Kansas, were featured in a national media release from ARVC. With the installation of our new jumping pillow I also had sent out a media release and hosted a press day for all to come see the glorious new
Jumping Pillow. All of this happened on the official start of our season, Memorial Day.

Result of this campaign was free press in newspapers, radio shows, TV interviews and news spots for two weeks from Kansas City to Topeka. At NO cost to my park. A few months ago I asked a camper that was at my park how she found us. She answered “I remembered seeing something on TV so I Googled ‘family camping’ and you popped up.”

As I made plans for my Monte Carlo Weekend last night, I Googled ‘Candy bar bingo,’ a game I want to play with the kids. To my surprise no less than 15 campgrounds popped up. That’s right CAMPGROUNDS.

I have always been an Internet savvy guy and try to lead the way with the newest and greatest social network thingies, and am willing to try almost anything to promote my park. In the age of Googling, Facebooking and Twitting we all must stay with the times. If you don’t, you will find it harder and harder to survive. Parks with multiple websites and social pages are finding it easier and easier to stay in the public eye. One customer text messages on Facebook from her phone as she’s jumping on my pillow “I’m at the KOA jumping on this giant pillow,” and immediately all 268 of her 13-year-old friends know what she is doing and where she is doing it.

It is going to be a long winter for me updating my web page with new keywords, Facebooking with my summer customers and making new MySpace friends while Twitting about next summer’s events. And if this year is any indication as to how these things have worked, next
year I will be using that “No Vacancy” sign every weekend, like I’ve had to for the last three weekends.


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