Six Elements of Good Campground Websites
Jeff Loper, a 17-year marketing professional and Campgrounds Connect founder, provides campgrounds/RV parks with affordable marketing, social media, website design, video production, photography and graphic design solutions. Jeff is also available to speak at association meetings/events. He wrote the following guest roundtable for the June issue of Woodall's Campground Management. Visit www.CampgroundsConnect.com to subscribe to the blog which offers valuable marketing ideas. E-mail email@example.com.
More often than not your website is the gateway to your campground or RV park. It’s the first impression many people have of your business. If you have an unkempt website, it can give people the impression the same is true for your campground even though it may be the greatest facility on the planet.
With technology moving so rapidly it’s hard to know where to place your website efforts. Aside from great design and navigation, my aim here is to provide you with the most crucial components needed today to have a website that fills campsites. Some of these ideas may seem obvious, some may be new, some may be for you, and some may not. If you’re already applying them, keep up the great work. If you aren’t, read closely and consider the possibilities. The digital revolution is NOW!
Did you know?
- Of the 88% of U.S. adults who own a cell phone, 55% use them to access the Internet or go online. Of the 55%, 31% use their phones to go online more than they use their computers or tablets.
- Nearly 25 million US mobile users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip this year. Nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans.
The above facts should clearly state the need for a mobile-ready website that is easy to navigate on today’s smaller screens. To do so you have two options. The first is to create a mobile version of your existing website. However, if you’re ready to upgrade your site, the second option is developing a new site that’s – and here’s the key word – responsive. A responsive website adjusts to whatever device is accessing it; be it a smart phone, tablet, or computer. When developing a new site don’t fall for anyone wanting to create or charge you for a mobile version. They can be one in the same. This means not only money savings, but also time savings when making revisions.
You work hard to keep your property up-to-date and inviting. The same should go for your website. Updated content, events, and area attractions not only put your campground in the best light, it gives people a reason to visit. The content you supply is an essential marketing and customer service tool that must not be overlooked.
So, why do many campgrounds have outdated content? Experience has shown me that campgrounds do want an up-to-date website, but it often comes down to ability. They either don’t know how or don’t want to pay someone to do it. The truth is there are solutions that require little more knowledge than browsing the web and writing a Microsoft Word document. Perhaps campgrounds have hired a web developer that’s not knowledgeable of the possibilities. Not only that, some developers want to hold the keys to the website, meaning they don’t want the client to be able to update it. Why? Because it sacrifices ongoing revenue. Make sure you have the ability to update your website should you choose to do so.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is an often overlooked key website component. It’s the process of making your website as visible as possible when people search Google, Yahoo, and Bing. While no one, and I mean no one, can guarantee you the number one position on Google, the better your SEO, the better your rank will be. Sure, you can likely type your campground’s name into Google and it may appear. But, for example, what if you’re located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and someone does a search for “Colorado campgrounds,” “Colorado RV parks”, or more specifically, “Glenwood Springs, CO Campground?” These are some possible search examples, but the end result is that your campground should appear.
While a whole article on SEO could be written, the takeaway is that you should invest in the process and have it reviewed regularly to make sure it is working for you or you won’t be found.
In working with campgrounds and RV parks I find varying levels of comfort and acceptance when it comes to social media. If you’ve made social media part of your strategy – excellent! It’s a powerful marketing tool and you likely have your social profiles displayed on your site. For those of you that fall into that “resist” category, did you know you can still integrate social into your site without having to maintain any social profiles? Tools such as AddThis or ShareThis allow you to add the ability for website visitors to easily share your campground to their social networks.
Digital Contact Information
You should have a way for people to contact you digitally on your website, whether it’s an e-mail address or contact form. You may say, “pick up the phone” but that’s not realistic in an age where digital is the way of life for most. If they can’t get in touch with you, they’ll go someplace else – plain and simple.
Online reservations are a point of contention for many given that it comes at a cost. While some campgrounds are able to be fully booked without online reservations, there are others of you that are being passed by because you don’t offer the ability. People are busy and when it comes to making travel plans it is often reserved for the late night hours long after you’re closed. If they can’t book right then and there, they’re moving on to someone who accommodates them.
In conclusion, as you review the list above you may be thinking that a well designed and developed website that does all of this and more would be expensive. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be if you’re working with the right developer that understands your needs, and the developer is working with the right tools.