Kansas ARVC Issues Mid-Summer Report

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July 28, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Mary Arlington, Kansas ARVC president

RV park owners in Kansas have faced many hurdles during this camping season.

“Road construction, floods, drought and of course the unrelenting heat have added burdens to Kansas RV parks and have caused some RVers to adjust or even cancel their summer vacation plans, but the mid-summer reports from many of our park owners look mighty fine, all things considered,” Mary Arlington, president of the Kansas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (KARVC), stated in a news release.

Park owners had these comments.

Capital City KOA (Topeka) reports overnight traffic is up 20%. This June was their best month ever. Charlie Reaser, owner, said he is also seeing good results from local advertising. He said, “In the last year we have added cable TV and finished our floors in the bath house and barn. The addition of cable TV has been well worth it. I believe it is now the second most sought-after amenity, next to Wi-Fi.”

Brenda Harris, owner of Rutlader Outpost (Louisburg), reports a busy summer, and 2011 will be one of their best years. They opened in 2001. This year they’re seeing a considerable increase in the monthly and weekly stays. She also reported that, although RV club rallies are down, there are a few huge rallies scheduled for the fall.

Greg Wright, a partner with Walnut Grove RV Park (Merriam), says, “The year has just been great” with occupancy being up every month of the year.

Some campgrounds reported slightly lower occupancy over last year, but not as much as was feared when media reports were projecting fuel prices to be $5 per gallon.

Sheila Wagner, USI RV Park (Wichita), reports a slight dip from last year. She said she’s heard “very few comments on fuel prices, mostly on the heat!” Wichita has repeatedly broken record highs this summer. This year her park, which is accustomed to RVers staying for a while, is now seeing customers staying longer or they stay for just a day or two. She added that Wichita is hosting the National Junior Track & Field Meet. The event is bringing in people, including RVers, from all the country. Sheila’s reservations’ books are looking good.

She also commented that some of her guests have been traveling in new RVs. The owners have said, “The price was right.”

Arlington, owner of High Plains Camping (Oakley), is relieved fuel prices didn’t climb as high since most of her customers stop for just one night on their long (often cross-country) trips. She braced for a spike by renovating her 18-hole miniature-golf course and by packing the store with new types of merchandise. Her goal was to grow ancillary revenue in case RV traffic was down. She also focused marketing efforts across Kansas and in surrounding states. She reports, “The winter months were downright horrible, but fortunately our summer traffic is improving and the year could turn out to be very good. Last year was our best since buying the park in 2002.”

Karen Weber, owner of Mid-America Camp Inn (Goodland), sees an increase in people with rental RVs who aren’t properly trained in RV “do’s and don’ts.” She says, and many others will probably agree, that the rental companies need to provide more education before leasing the units. Aside from the basic instructions, she feels these RVers need to be trained on dumping tanks without leaving a mess, and taught about essential RV etiquette so they don’t disrupt the enjoyment of others (not letting their children run through other campsites and not running generators at a private park, to name a few).

As for her park’s occupancy, she noted, “Some days are up, some days are down.”

Natalie Donges owns Deer Grove RV Park (El Dorado) and she is seeing an increase in overnight traffic but a decrease in long-stays. She added that they’re seeing more large motorhomes and fifth-wheels than other years.

Speaking for KARVC, Arlington added, “Not all parks are so fortunate. A few of our members are truly uneasy about the season, but they haven’t yet given up on 2011. I remain hopeful they’ll see a turn-around very soon. For example, Kansas City Jellystone Park is still recovering from last year’s change in name and management, and the interstate road construction hasn’t helped their situation. The park’s team is working hard to catch up, and with the array of special events they have scheduled for July and August, including an open-house and barbecue, I’m remaining very hopeful about their turn-around.”

Reaser summed it up best when he said, “I hope the trend (he’s seeing at Capital City KOA) continues well into the fall season because, like a lot of other parks, the last three years have been difficult.”

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