Profaizer – Hotels are Biting into Our Markets!
Linda Profaizer, a Colorado resident and immediate past-president of ARVC, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Having stepped away from her association duties at the end of 2010, she welcomes input on topics of importance to campground owners for upcoming columns. She provided the following column for the July issue of Woodall’s Campground Management.
It looks like the hotel industry has finally realized that there is real life beyond the four walls of their hotels. In a recent article in the Huffington Post titled, “Hotels Help Visitors Play Outside,” hotels are now realizing that they can lure more leisure travelers by promoting outdoor activities to keep them fit while on the road.
I’m not sure that this is a cause for concern among park owners, but it does give pause. As our industry (both RV manufacturers and campgrounds) are trying to expand the market by offering onsite accommodations to non-campers, the awakening by hotels that they can promote outdoor activities to their clients could make a dent in our market expansion efforts.
The article talks about even hotels located in cities promoting walks and bicycle rides as standard fare. The article cites that managers or assistant managers in boutique hotels have taken to leading the morning run. Many of the hotels offer bicycle borrowing.
One of the reasons for their doing this is the studies that show that exercising outdoors offers advantages over indoor, gym-based fitness routines. Some British researchers found that natural environments may increase activity levels with less perceived exertion, reduce stress and improve moods. Hotels also now realize that leisure travelers are increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
No kidding!!! This is something that the RV park/campground industry has known for years.
Just as an example of what a hotel is doing: A hotel in the California wine country now offers bike tours to local wineries, walking tours to local purveyors and a hike to a 2,000 year-old Redwood Tree as well as treks of varying levels of difficulty and water yoga classes in thermal mineral pools. A manager at the hotel said the hikes sell out most mornings.
A spokesperson for Hilton Worldwide said, “We always want to take advantage of the great outdoors.” Bike rentals are part of their program and they have even incorporated city route maps printed on the backs of water bottles (which they sell) – cool idea.
There will always be travelers who prefer hotels as accommodations no matter what, but RV parks and campgrounds are now offering great accommodations to a population who might have been hotel stayers before. As we are more interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consider what activities you are offering in your park that appeal to a wide variety of your guests and how easy you make it for your guests to participate in these activities.
RV parks and campgrounds still have the upper hand when it comes to participating in outdoor activities. After all, you are located in the outdoors and outdoor activities are what you are all about. Just consider what your accommodations are providing and that you are promoting your activities in the correct media and in the right way.
I can’t believe that hotels recognizing that outdoor activities are important to travelers will affect the RV/camping business in a big way, but ignoring the possibilities is being too confident in the knowledge that we already serve this market. As Neil Armstrong said about the space program, “Well, I think we tried very hard not to be overconfident, because when you get overconfident, that’s when something snaps up and bites you.”