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Maryland’s Cabin Rentals Site A Success

August 21, 2015 by · Comments Off on Maryland’s Cabin Rentals Site A Success 

The decision whether or not to maintain standalone “Cabins & Cottages” content seems to be a question that is often on the minds of executive directors of state campground associations, Pelland Advertising said in a written announcement. Will members embrace (or balk at) the opportunity to participate, what are the costs, and will the venture prove profitable for participants? These are all important questions.

Pelland Advertising has been the website development and hosting services provider for the Maryland Association of Campgrounds since 2009. According to MAC Executive Director Deborah Carter, “The Maryland Association of Campgrounds is a small organization, with an equally small budget. We volunteer our time, and we work together as a team to promote our industry.” With only about two dozen members, there was nonetheless an interest in exploring this new direction in late 2014. Eight of the members ultimately participated in the program in its first year, and a bit of brainstorming and technical creativity were required to find ways to minimize costs.

The MAC website was built with a custom-programmed, searchable member database. Listings of campground members in any of the state’s six tourism regions were already generated through navigational shortcuts, and only a minor database revision was necessary to trigger a list of members with cabins or park models who chose to participate in the new program.

The search shortcut added to the site’s navigation was mdcamping.com/search.html?Rentals=yes. To increase awareness of the new program, Pelland Advertising also designed a four-color rack card that included the new MDCampingRentals.com address that redirects to the search shortcut. The result was both simple and inexpensive to implement.

Carter continued, “Peter and Josh Pelland worked with us to put the card together, came up with the layout, and made all of the technical aspects work.”

The lingering question was whether, despite the minimal costs, the new project would prove to be effective. According to Peter Pelland, CEO of Pelland Advertising, “Thanks to the use of click tracking in Google Analytics, we were able to uncover some impressive results. Since the new content was introduced on Dec. 12, 2014, there have been 8,238 page views from 5,588 unique users, spending an average of 3:17 of time on the ‘Cabins & Cottages’ data output page. Within that time period, this page has accounted for 5.68% of the MAC website’s overall traffic. In fact, the rentals page is the site’s fourth most popular content.”

He continued, “What is even more interesting is that the eight parks that participated in the Cabins & Cottages program all ranked among the top 10 recipients of outbound click traffic, which is a very healthy measurement of performance. This could be coincidental, but it is a likely conclusion that participation in the program helped to enhance these statistics.

“Each of these participants received anywhere from 1,046 to 1,930 clicks. If only 10% of that highly pre-qualified traffic is converted to reservations, and if a typical two-night stay generates an arbitrary $100.00 in income,” Pelland continued, “participants in the program realized roughly $10,000 to $20,000 in income from the MAC website alone. It is fair to say that the parks’ membership fees and the small added fee to participate in the Cabins & Cottages program were easily recovered many times over.”

According to Carter, “One of the best business decisions we’ve ever made was to work with Pelland Advertising. Peter created our very first website, and the company maintains updates and re-energizes the latest incarnation of our website to this day. His company also produces our ARVC-award-winning print directory. Having Peter Pelland on speed dial is just like having an easy button.”

Pelland Clients Get CONY Marketing Awards

November 21, 2014 by · Comments Off on Pelland Clients Get CONY Marketing Awards 

Two Pelland Advertising clients took top marketing awards at the 51st Annual Campground Owners of New York (CONY) Exposition for the Outdoor Hospitality Industry, held at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y. According to an announcement from Pelland Advertising, at the annual banquet on Saturday evening, Nov. 8, Brook n Wood Campground was honored with the Best Website marketing award, and Copake Kampgrounds of America (KOA) was honored with the Best Brochure marketing award. Both campgrounds are located in New York’s Hudson River Valley, and the owners consider themselves not only friendly competitors but very good friends.

Peter Pelland, Pelland Advertising CEO; Joe & Vanessa Leto, Brook n Wood Campground Owners; Mike Papp, CONY Chairman; Don Bennett, CONY President/CEO pose at the CONY awards ceremony.

Peter Pelland, Pelland Advertising CEO; Gary and Cathy Reinard, Copake KOA Owners; Mike Papp, CONY Chairman; Don Bennett, CONY President/CEO pose at the CONY awards ceremony.

Copake KOA owners Gary & Cathy Reinard are veterans of the campground industry and have just completed their fifth season at their park. According to Cathy, “We purchased a diamond in the rough, and spent the next five years shaping and polishing every facet of the park. In 2014, we were sufficiently satisfied with the results of our labor to hire a professional photographer and to produce a full-color brochure that will showcase our park at the upcoming camping shows.”

A companion rack card was produced for distribution throughout the KOA network of parks. She continued, “We are anxious to see the impact our new marketing materials will have upon business. In the meantime, the affirmation that we have received at the CONY convention has been really encouraging and satisfying.”

Peter Pelland, Pelland Advertising CEO; Joe & Vanessa Leto, Brook n Wood Campground Owners; Mike Papp, CONY Chairman; Don Bennett, CONY President/CEO, pause for a picture at the CONY awards ceremony.

Peter Pelland, Pelland Advertising CEO; Joe & Vanessa Leto, Brook n Wood Campground Owners; Mike Papp, CONY Chairman; Don Bennett, CONY President/CEO, pause for a picture at the CONY awards ceremony.

Brook n Wood Campground owners Joe and Vanessa Leto purchased their park in 2004 and soon had the opportunity to meet and welcome their new peers from a few miles down the road, since Joe was serving as a CONY regional director at that time. According to Vanessa, “We bought our park as the culmination of a dream where we could work together and build something for the future to hand down.”

With respect to the Reinards, she continued, “We are all actively involved in our communities. We have children in the same age bracket, turning into young adults with their own dreams and struggles. We share similar philosophies, and feel that the entire industry is elevated as we improve our parks.”

The parks have a practice of providing mutual referrals, though each park is unique and targets slightly different niche markets. As Vanessa Leto said, “We like each other and wish each other all the best in life.” Carrying that level of mutual commitment one step further, Gary Reinard is currently CONY’s region 12 director and Joe Leto is the alternate director. It is no surprise that they were each honored for their professional accomplishments.

According to Pelland Advertising CEO Peter Pelland, who was called up to join the winners during their award presentations, “We are pleased to be of service to the owners of these two fine parks and really appreciate the fact that Pelland Advertising is a key component that they share in common,” recalling how last year’s Best Website marketing award winner was Copake KOA – this year’s Best Brochure award winner. He continued, “We are thrilled to see Brook n Wood Campground and Copake KOA so deservedly recognized.”

Pelland: Avoid Big Guys In GCUSA Switch

June 19, 2014 by · Comments Off on Pelland: Avoid Big Guys In GCUSA Switch 

It’s turning out to be a year where campground owners are seeing many changes in the sea of vendors serving their industry. Following on the heels of the announcement by Evergreen USA RRG, the recent notice from Go USA Camping is certain to impact many campgrounds at the most inopportune time possible – at the height of the camping season in Northern states, according to a written announcement from Pelland Advertising.

According to Peter Pelland, the CEO and founder, “We are not in the business of chasing ambulances, and we do not seek to profit from the misfortune of our fellow industry vendors; however, we also would like to assist individual park owners to take the time to make informed, long-term decisions rather than hurried choices that bear a semblance to panic attacks.”

The notice that Go USA Camping sent to its clients included the advice, “If we designed and hosted your web site then contact a website hosting and web builder company such as ‘godaddy.com’ or ‘1&1.com’ to assist you with a new website.” Pelland took strong exception to that advice, and would never advise any small business owner to turn to one of those Internet industry behemoths to provide website development or hosting services.

There are several campground industry vendors who are small enough to know their clients by name, who understand the unique needs of your business, and who have a track record of serving the industry. Pelland Advertising is one of those companies, the company said.

Whether your park is directly impacted by the Go USA Camping announcement – or you simply feel that the time might be right for a change – Pelland Advertising would like to present an alternative to a rushed decision. Pelland said, “We are one of the campground industry’s leading suppliers of website development and hosting services. Independent of any alliances with third-party online reservation services, the reservation engine of your choice may be embedded into or linked from your site. Many of our clients prefer a simpler online reservation request system that is highly effective, particularly for smaller parks, and free of transaction fees. We offer solutions and alternatives.”

If your park is directly impacted by the Go USA Camping announcement, Pelland Advertising would like to assist you in making a carefully considered decision that will provide an easy transition that will not interrupt your business and will also be as seamless as possible in the eyes of your customers, according to the company’s announcement. It will provide the following services:

• Move your site to one of its dedicated servers at no charge.

• Begin hosting your site at an annual rate that will reimburse you for 50% of the cost of any prepaid hosting fees that you may have already incurred for 2014.

• Perform the necessary content revisions as specified by Go USA Camping, at no charge.

• Build and install an online reservation request form onto your site for a discounted flat fee, allowing you to independently handle inquiries while you make an unrushed, intelligent long-term reservation software decision.

• Get all of this done within the 30-day window specified by Go USA Camping.

Afterward, when your unhurried decision has been made, the company will replace the online reservation request form with the reservation engine of your choice, either embedded or linked (depending upon what is available from the third-party service provider that you will have chosen.) It will also provide a discount should you choose to have Pelland Advertising build a new site within the next 12 months.

Pelland ended the announcement by saying, “The timing may not be ideal, but we are here to help park owners to maintain the type of continuity that is essential to their long-term success.”

Pelland: Beaver Dam Campground’s New Look

September 9, 2013 by · Comments Off on Pelland: Beaver Dam Campground’s New Look 

With an extensive list of new work in production, Pelland Advertising announced the completion of the first two legs of a new marketing campaign for Beaver Dam Campground, in Berwick, Maine.

A website built by Pelland Advertising back in 2004 has been replaced by a new responsive website that complements the look of the park’s new advertising designed by Pelland for the 2014 MECOA (Maine Campground Owners Association) directory, according to a news release.

According to Michelle Burgess and Sheila Buck, co-owners of Beaver Dam Campground, “After we bought a campground with an obviously ‘broken’ website, we met Peter Pelland at a trade show and knew that Pelland Advertising was the one for our website and advertising needs. Peter is professional, knowledgeable, a perfectionist, has a great sense of humor, and is a pleasure to work with. His company created a new website for us which literally paid for itself within two weeks.”

This year, when new specifications forced the production of a new ad for the MECOA directory, “the new ad that Pelland Advertising produced far exceeded our expectations. We knew that the ad would effectively draw people to our website which, in turn, made us take a closer look at our existing site. We are thrilled with our new responsive website, and the reaction that we have received has been tremendous.”

According to Pelland Advertising’s Charles Davis, the designer on the Beaver Dam projects, “One of our tasks with the new website was to create a fully responsive, smart-device friendly table system with rows and columns that dynamically respond in width and height. On the Rates & Reservations page, for example, the table of information adjusts to the device view, producing a toggle with a plus/minus button. The result is that HTML tables look awesome on smaller devices, regardless of the number of columns of data.”

Additional legs of this new marketing campaign for Beaver Dam Campground will be gradually introduced over the coming months. Michelle Burgess and Sheila Buck continue, “As small business owners, resources are limited, so our brochures will be updated when we are running low. When it is time to produce those, along with our new business cards and site maps, we will once again turn to Pelland Advertising.”

For more information on Pelland Advertising contact Peter Pelland at plpelland@pelland.com or call
(413) 268-0100 / Fax: (413) 268-0173 / Toll-Free: 1 800 848-0501.

Pelland Launches a Responsive NCA Website

August 26, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Following on the heels of a newly launched website for the Vermont Campground Association, which was the first fully responsive campground association website in the United States, Pelland Advertising designed and implemented an all-new consumer-facing website – www.CampNCA.com – for the Northeast Campground Association (NCA), based in Stafford Springs, Conn., on July 18, according to a news release.

According to David R. Tetrault, executive director of the NCA, “Throughout the entire redesign process, Pelland Advertising listened intently to the needs of NCA and the desire to provide our members and our state associations with the best tool to bring campers to their campgrounds and interested travelers to their own state association websites as they plan their Northeast vacations.

“The new responsive site allows visitors to view the information they desire from any device by adapting and scaling to different screen sizes. This was key in the updating of the site as visits from mobile devices to CampNCA.com increased more than 31% from January 2012 through August 2013.

“Pelland Advertising’s commitment to excellence is greatly appreciated by the Northeast Campground Association as we rely on their professionalism in making sure our online presence is appropriate, functional, and a pleasant experience for prospective guests as we promote camping in the Northeast.”

The new site helps to promote the NCA’s member associations and individual campgrounds by providing online visitors with tools that include:

  • A searchable database to find the perfect member campgrounds, based upon key amenities.
  • The most comprehensive online listing of RV and camping shows in the Northeast.
  • The ability to request print directories from any member state associations with a single click.
  • An exciting new look that uses fluid content to display a presentation that is optimized for every device, from smartphones to large desktop displays.

Founded by Peter Pelland back in 1980, Pelland Advertising is the longest-running provider of advertising services to the family camping industry in the United States, producing four-color brochures and related collateral advertising products from the company’s start, now producing websites for family campgrounds longer than any existing supplier. Dedicated to serving the needs of the family camping industry, the company is increasingly recognized as one of the industry’s leading developers of social media content and responsive web technology.

 

NCA Launching New Website – CampNCA.com

July 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on NCA Launching New Website – CampNCA.com 

New user-friendly NCA consumer website is easily accessible by a variety of devices.

The Northeast Campground Association (NCA), the regional camping industry association of associations in the Northeast based in Stafford, Conn., has announced the launch of the updated CampNCA.com – its consumer-facing website.

The clean, modern design and user interface of the new site, with simple and clear navigation, makes visiting a more pleasant experience, according to a news release.

Visitors to the responsive site will notice that it adapts and scales to different screen sizes and devices, from large monitors to tablets, phones and anything in between. This “mobile-friendly” website prominently features NCA’s 10 state associations along with each state’s individual member campgrounds, providing further value to the states as NCA members.

Designed and hosted by Pelland Advertising of Haydenville, Mass., the new CampNCA.com consumer website will be of greater use to prospective campers. One of its designers, Josh Pelland, commented, “With enhanced search functions and consumer-oriented text, this site will now provide the camping public a valuable resource to rediscover camping in the Northeast. Emphasis has also been placed upon two of the most popular components of the previous site: regional Camping Show listings and an area for prospective campers to order state camping guides.”

NCA prides itself in being dedicated to the promotion and growth of camping through networking and education in collaboration with state associations. The association will be celebrating its 50th Annual Northeast Conference on Camping & Trade Show in March 2014.

 

Hidden Valley Rebounding from May 25 Flood

July 8, 2013 by · Comments Off on Hidden Valley Rebounding from May 25 Flood 

Hidden Valley RV Park in Van Ormy, Texas, has been owned by the Coleman family and operated by family members Teri and Mark Blaschke for 40 years.

But the family business was almost completely destroyed May 25 when a flood swelled the Medio Creek into a raging river that buried the 25-site park under 12 feet of water, according to a news release.

“The flood waters completely uprooted the electrical utilities, including the poles that were set in the ground four feet deep,” Teri Blaschke said. “It filled the sewer lines and septic tanks with silt from the creek and gravel from the roads. Our water faucets were all cut off at the ground. Even our camping pads with gravel and other types of materials were destroyed.”

To make matters worse, the Blaschkes’ insurance was of no benefit.

“When you have a body of water on your property, getting flood insurance is close to impossible to obtain,” Blaschke said.

“I thought we might at least have insurance coverage on the RVs we rent out, but our insurance company wouldn’t even cover that because of the flood,” she said.

But despite the obvious financial hardship, the Blaschkes are rebuilding and hope to have Hidden Valley RV Park back in operation by the time the Winter Texans return to Hill Country in the fall.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Blaschke said, adding that construction will be underway as soon as they obtain the necessary building permits.

Despite the obvious hardship, Blaschke said the flood may have been a blessing in disguise for the park, which was founded by her father, Jack Coleman, in 1973.

The Medio Creek when not in flood stage.

“When he built the park, RVs were a lot smaller. Now, they are much larger and we need bigger campsites.”

And when the park reopens, it will have larger sites that are big enough for today’s RVs, an improvement that will make the park more competitive and better able to accommodate RVers with vehicles of any size.

Help is also on the way from the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), which is donating the company’s Silver marketing package to help them step up their marketing efforts as they rebuild.

The package, valued at nearly $3,500, includes 3,000 rack cards; 3,000 cooperative promotional placements in RV shows and other venues; a free link to their website at www.hiddenvalleyrv.net from www.TexasCampground.com; a free month on blogging on their behalf; plus 1,000 custom coupons and 1,000 car tags. Peter Pelland of Haydenville, Mass.-based Pelland Advertising (http://pelland.com  has also offered to print the rack cards, which will be designed by Crowley-based Texas Advertising.

 

Maryland Association Mulls Google ###s

March 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Maryland Association Mulls Google ###s 

Deb Carter, MAC executive director

Peter Pelland

Editor’s Note: The following report on the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC) spring conference comes from Deb Carter, executive director.

Our spring MAC meeting was held on March 4 at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover, Del., on the day prior to the Mid-Atlantic Conference to help boost attendance at the conference. The meeting was well attended (13 campgrounds were represented) and everyone is anticipating a good season ahead.

I took an informal survey of the members present – the average number of years they had been in the campground business was 44 per campground. That’s pretty amazing to think that we are small businesses, with all of the economic challenges we face. One of our associate members, Silvertop, has been in business for 66 years. And the newest MAC member, Bryleigh Irons from Ole Mink Farm, just turned seven weeks old.

The MAC Facebook has been online since September 2012. We are working on ways to increase viewership on the page. Several of our members have staff dedicated to increasing social media penetration and participation.

Peter Pelland, Pelland Advertising, prepared an extensive four-page report on our Google Analytics from our website, mdcamping.com. Some of the highlights:

  • Total of 68,322 unique people (out of 84,151 visits) spent an average of 4.18 minutes on the site between  March 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013.
  • Average visitors viewed 3.35 pages of content; approximately 80% were new visitors.
  • 98.14% of the traffic came from within the United States, followed by 1.06% from Canada.
  • Demographically the states leading the traffic in order were Maryland, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Virginia, New York and New Jersey.
  • Increased viewership: Michigan (92.61% increase); Illinois (up 58.82%); Wisconsin (up by 61.68%) and Iowa (increase of 141.67%).
  • Numbers suggested MAC could benefit through greater promotion in the Midwest.
  • Drops in traffic from California, Texas, Maine and Oregon.
  • Total of 560 direct clicks from listings to email inquiries.
  • 61,094 clicks from the website listings to external websites over the past year. These numbers alone justify membership fees.

MAC Praises ARVC

Our members are very happy with the work being done at ARVC, and praised ARVC President Paul Bambei, Board Chairman Rob Schutter, Past Chairman David Berg, the ARVC Board and the support staff that works very hard to fulfill their mission of promoting the success and growth of RV parks, campgrounds and the Outdoor Hospitality industry. We discussed the number of ARVC benefits, both old and new.

Huge thanks to Jeff Sims, ARVC director of state relations and program advocacy, and all that he does for state associations across the country. The use of State Net is a very valuable tool for a small association like MAC.

In February a conference call was held with our Executive Director, Deb Carter, Bambei, Sims and other ARVC staff members. This is part of a new affiliated state association contact effort initiated by ARVC. We discussed marketing and membership – trying to find ways to work more closely together. The call was very insightful.

Maryland Legislation

A discussion of the bills before the Maryland General Assembly, now in Session until April 8 included:

  • Proposed increases in taxes/fees to aid with transportation funding.
  • Study to move the school start date back until after Labor Day.
  • Third Crossing of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Offshore Wind Energy.
  • Swimming Pools: Automated External Defibrillator.
  • Admissions and Amusement Tax.
  • Gun Restrictions.
  • Death Penalty.
  • Tables games in casinos.

Other Concerns

We are looking forward to the CAMP meeting and National Issues Conference in May.

We continue to work closely with the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, the Maryland Tourism Council and the Destination Marketing Organization of Maryland. In Maryland, at least 43% of our residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. That generates $9.5 billion in consumer spending, generating $2.8 billion in wages and salaries and $686 million in state and local tax revenue.

 

PCOA Launches New Mobile Content

April 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on PCOA Launches New Mobile Content 

PCOA adds another phone feature for campers.

The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) announced the launch of its new mobile content at http://pacamping.mobi.

This site allows users to see the most essential content of the full PCOA website at http://pacamping.com, optimized for the display size and functionality of SmartPhones, according to a news release.

Studies have shown that most SmartPhone users are much further along in their decision-making process, typically looking for a place to camp this weekend rather than two months from now. With those usage patterns in mind, the new PCOA mobile site provides basic search capabilities (by campground name, town name, or region) and presents special camping deals from participating campgrounds.

Search results include basic information, one photo, and links to the campground’s website, online reservations page, e-mail, telephone, and integration with the device’s native mapping application, which takes advantage of the navigational features offered by those apps. Members with enhanced listings will also have links to their Facebook page.

Users may also obtain more information about the six regions in Pennsylvania, order a printed directory, or even download the full directory (which might be a useful option for people using i-Pads or netbooks). They also have access to essential information about PCOA and camping in Pennsylvania. Of course, the site provides direct access to the main website for those who would like to access the full range of content. Additional features may be added to the mobile site as users express their interests.

There are different approaches to the presentation of mobile content. One is to simply produce an alternate, “mobile-friendly” site, with slimmed down content and minimal text and graphics. Another option is to produce a native app that must be downloaded, installed, and frequently updated by users. This is a more expensive option and generally requires the production of separate apps for i-Phones and Android devices. It can also present a potential drain on your phone battery.

The PCOA mobile site takes a third approach, developing a hosted mobile framework web app that is developed using the jQuery Mobile framework. No downloads are required and content is dynamically generated, simulating the features of a native app, and always up to date. The framework is compatible with all major mobile and desktop applications including iOS (i-Phones and i-Pads), Android, Blackberry, Palm WebOS, Nokia/Symbian, Windows Mobile, Opera Mobile/Mini, Firefox Mobile and all modern desktop browsers. The resulting site is lightweight and fast.

Statistics show that many mobile apps are downloaded, installed, then used only once. Downloaded apps can be found on a phone’s app store and can be added to a phone’s desktop screen, but most people are likely to find the type of content that PCOA is providing through a direct link on our main website or a link or QR code on a directory or other print advertising. The development of mobile Web content is still in its infancy, but we feel that we have taken the proper approach at this time, with a product that came at about half the cost of the development of separate downloaded apps for the two major platforms.

PCOA’s new mobile content was developed by Pelland Advertising (https://pelland.com/), PCOA’s website development and hosting services partner since 2002.

Pelland: Time to Look at the Big Picture for RV Parks and Campgrounds

November 21, 2011 by · Comments Off on Pelland: Time to Look at the Big Picture for RV Parks and Campgrounds 

Peter Pelland

Editor’s Note: Peter Pelland is the founder and owner of Pelland Advertising and several subsidiary ventures. This column comes from Campground Success and was recently published in Northeast InSites, a publication of the Northeast Campground Association. Pelland tells WCM: “This article is part of Chapter 1 in the new book that Evanne Schmarder and I are currently writing. The book is titled, “Unconventional Wisdom Works! 25 Strategies to Build Your Outdoor Hospitality Business… Today!” We expect to be publishing in late February or early March of 2012.” Contact Peter Pelland at plpelland@pelland.com.

As individual business operators and the industry as a whole, I believe that the RV camping industry is limited by too narrow a view of the role of family camping. We have our trade associations and industry advocates that promote this fine outdoor pursuit, but I think that we are sometimes handicapped by a set of blinders that prevent us from seeing family camping as part of a much broader concept of outdoor recreation.

I am willing to bet that most campground owners are not familiar with the Outdoor Industry Association or the Outdoor Foundation’s annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Reports. The family camping industry is one component of the overall outdoor recreation industry. To grow, it must embrace growing components of the overall industry in a much more active manner.

Before we go further, I strongly encourage you to download and digest the following PDF file: Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report 2011. The 10-page document is a free download. You should also download and thoroughly read the Outdoor Foundation’s full 68-page Outdoor Recreation Participation Report 2010, another free download that offers far more details on the trends that have continued into 2011. These reports are the results of the largest ongoing surveys of Americans of all ages and ethnicities, detailing their participation (or lack of participation) in over 100 outdoor recreational activities – including family camping.

Both the 2010 and the 2011 reports outline the importance of engaging youth and minorities in outdoor recreation, also outlining the reasons for lack of participation among these demographic groups. If you want to grow your business, you simply must engage a broad range of participants who are not your existing guests. You must strive to appeal to younger campers because they are your future return guests and potential seasonals. According to the 2010 U.S. Census report, 16.3% of the American population is Hispanic or Latino; 12.6% is African-American; and 4.8% is Asian. How does this compare with the demographic makeup of your campground? My guess is that most campgrounds are not even approaching the point where they are getting their share of these vast demographic markets.

Back to the outdoor recreation reports, there are several crucial statistics that we all need to comprehend. First of all, 83% of RV campers participate in other outdoor activities (2010 report, page 29). According to the 2011 report, participation in RV camping declined by 9% from 2010 to 2011, after a modest gain of 5.6% from 2009 to 2010. The only bigger drop than camping was sailing, another form of outdoor recreation that typically involves a significant investment in equipment.

Compare this with some of the outdoor recreational pursuits that showed the greatest rates of growth from 2010 to 2011: Adventure Racing +23%; BMX Bicycling +30.8%; Boardsailing/Windsurfing +43.4%; Climbing (Indoor) +10.6%; Climbing (Outdoor) +19.8%; Kayaking (Salt Water) +21.1%; Kayaking (White Water) +34.6%; Running/Jogging +12.6%; Triathlon (Off Road) +39.5%; and Triathlon (Road) +63.7%. Notice that most of these pursuits that showed the greatest gains in participation rates are relatively inexpensive and are more exercise-based, rather than passive, activities. They also tend to appeal to a younger demographic.

If 83% of RV campers participate in another outdoor activity when camping, how are you capitalizing on this statistic? Clearly, you must offer more than campsites, either in your on-site amenities or in your partnering arrangements with nearby outdoor recreational businesses. Consider sponsoring events, serving as a designated lodging services provider. Offer discounts to nearby recreational attractions and provide their customers with discounts on camping. If people are traveling outside of their local area to climb, raft or bicycle, they are going to need a place to stay – and that place should be your campground. Try to concentrate on partnering with businesses that complement camping, that do not compete with you in providing lodging, and that are trending upward in popularity. Some of the hottest recreational pursuits do not yet appear on the recent reports, but they will certainly appear in the future. One of these would be zip lines – a very popular new recreational pursuit. If you have a zip line operator nearby, what are you waiting for?

These reports show that, despite the recent decrease in participation, camping remains one of the most popular outdoor activities for adults over the age of 25, third only to fishing and running/jogging, and only slightly ahead of bicycling. That is good news because many, if not most, campgrounds offer some sort of fishing, as well as trails for running and bicycling. Many more are in close proximity to bike trails and scenic roadways that are well suited for bicycling. The only glitch is that RV camping is showing a downward (-14.2%) three-year trend among youth ages 6-24, along with other recreational pursuits that the younger crowd identifies as “their parents’ style” of activities. By associating the camping experience with other activities that are more popular with the youth market, you will build your current customer base and be making a very sound long-term investment.

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