10 - February 2018 Woodall’s Campground Management SMART OPERATIONS Peter Pelland I opened a box of breakfast cereal recently and the inner bag of contents reached about half the height of the packaging. It was a classic example of the disclaimer that warns that “con- tents are sold by weight, not volume.” If the packaging properly matched the size of its contents, it would have been half the size, have far less visibility on the supermarket shelf and I probably would have passed on a purchase that did not appear to represent a very good value.YoumightsaythatIwasdeceived into making the purchase. Even though I liked the cereal, I am unlikely to purchase it again. There are so many instances where corporate marketing decision-makers seem to underestimate the ability of theircustomerstomakeinformedbuy- ing decisions and to alternately choose substitute products. Then there are in- stances that border on collusion — where companies follow the lead of a competitor who trailblazes a reduction in product size without a correspon- ding reduction in price. For example, it only took one orange juice company to shrink its half-gallon container down to 59 ounces before every other company quickly followed suit.The same thing happened with ice cream, where the half-gallon container somehow evolved into a quart-and-a- half. Perhaps the greatest offenses to consumer intelligence are meaningless comparison claims. I recently pur- chased a 50-ounce container of liquid laundry detergent where the label prominently stated“25% more ounces” (in a 36-point font)“vs. 40 fluid ounces” (in a 6-point font). Needless to say, that claim did not influence my purchase. Respect Your Guests’ Intelligence People who feel that they have been somehow deceived into making a buy- ing decision are almost never going to be return customers. When it comes to the outdoor hospitality industry, one of the biggest complaints is when guests feel like they are being “nickeled and dimed” during their stay. Although it is farpreferabletoavoidtheimpositionof add-onfeesforincidentalslikeshowers, Wi-Fi or your planned activities, it is very important that any such fees be fullydisclosedatthetimeofreservation. (Oneofmypetpeevesistheimposition of so-called “convenience fees” for the making of reservations themselves!) My best advice is to bundle as much as possible into your basic fees, pro- mote the value within your rate struc- ture and stop presuming that people are comparison shopping for price without reading the fine print. One trend that I hope does not make inroadswiththeoutdoorhospitalityin- dustry is the growing practice of hotels to impose so-called“resort fees.” This practice is so deceptive that it has generated lawsuits filed on behalf ofconsumersby47stateattorneysgen- eral, who had recently negotiated an agreementwiththeFederalTradeCom- missionuntiltheTrumpadministration ordered the FTC to back off, siding with the hotel industry rather than the inter- ests of consumers. Nonetheless, guests have little or no tolerance for deceptive rate embellishments. Consider the All-Inclusive Approach A far better — and opposite — Park Guests Will Pay a Premium for All-Inclusive Pricing approach is the all-inclusive concept, where guests are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of avoiding add-on fees. The all-inclusive concept originated with Club Med way back in 1950. It is the rule rather than the ex- ception in some vacation destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean.The concept has since been embraced by resort operators, cruise lines, travel agencies and online booking compa- nies, several major airlines (including United, JetBlue and Southwest), hotel chains (including Marriott and Hilton) and even wholesale buying clubs like Costco. With all-inclusive pricing, as the name implies, guests willingly pay a premium fee for the privilege of vaca- tioning without having to pull out their wallets throughout the course of their stay. All-inclusive pricing is most popular with destination resorts and highly competitive, saturated tourism markets. The essential point is that guests feel that they are being offered far more than they would otherwise expect. Unfortunately, when I perform a Google search for the terms “all-inclu- sive campgrounds” or “all-inclusive camping resorts,” the results are limited. I am more likely to find dude ranches, cabin resorts and family re- sorts that do not fit the definition of a campground. Nonetheless, it seems that there is a small — but growing — list of campgrounds, ownership groups and franchises that are discovering and beginning to capitalize upon the “all- inclusive” buzz words. When I clicked through to the web- site of a campground in Michigan that calls itself“all-inclusive,” I found that it did not charge extra fees for most of its planned activities (something that is not all that uncommon); however, it charges extra fees for bike rentals, boat rentals, boat launching and a few other “add-ons.” Another park in Wisconsin is promoting its all-inclusive pricing, butisalsochargingforashortlistofop- tional services that include boat and golf cart rentals as well as laundry and honey wagon service. Finally, a Yogi Bear’sJellystonePark-Camp inTexas is really promoting an all-inclusive pricing concept that includes full use of a wide range of recreational amenities — from miniature golf to a jumping pil- low to a splash park. In each instance, the point of emphasis is not the list of fee-based options, but the list of what is included at no additional charge. Thekeytogrowthinthefamilycamp- ing industry has always been to draw in a new wave of guests who do not cur- rently consider themselves campers. To reach them, offer them the unexpected — and create the perception of overwhelming value that they have come to appreciate elsewhere. An all- inclusiveapproachtopricingmayprove to be an idea whose time has come. PeterPellandistheCEOofPelland Advertising, a company that he founded in 1980 and that has been serving the family camping industry for more than 30 years.His company specializes in building fully respon- sive websites,along with producing a full range of four-color process print advertising for clients from coast to coast.Learn more about PellandAd- vertising at www.pelland.com. WCM Manufacturers of Quality Recreation FUNniture www.ParkEquipment.com 1-800-376-7897 2061 Sulphur Springs Rd Morristown, TN 37813