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Marketer Touts DIY Course for RV/Park Firms

July 2, 2013 by · Comments Off on Marketer Touts DIY Course for RV/Park Firms 

RV Camping Connect is offering a variety of services to help RV and RV park businesses improve online marketing efforts, including Facebook, Google+, e-mail marketing, videos, YouTube, consulting, Adwords and mobile.

According to a press release, the company has created a slate of  do-it-yourself training courses that demonstrate how to best utilize these online platforms in marketing.

Visibility, reputation and profitability are the “three things that businesses will achieve in abundance if they adopt the right strategies,” the release stated. RV Camping Connect offers easy, effective marketing strategies for RV dealers and RV parks concentrating on improving reputation, approachability, resale of services and gaining referrals for their clients.

To know more about the marketing services offered by RV Camping Connect visit website www.rvcampingconnect.com

Fisher Touts Park Model Living in New Book

June 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on Fisher Touts Park Model Living in New Book 

The cover of a new book by Gary Fisher on park models.

Gary Fisher, a certified park operator (CPO), has just published another book for the RV park and campground sector.

Titled “How to Own A Second Home on a Small Budget,” the book is for the general public and can be used by parks to help market park model homes in their parks.

“It’s a quick read to inform more people about having a second home in an RV park, and a tool to get conversations started between parks and potential park guests,” Fisher states in a news release.

An earlier book was titled “Sorry, We’re Full” and explained how to fill an RV park and keep it filled year after year.

Background

While serving as the general manager of an RV park, Fisher lived in a park model home. Having never even seen one before, he was impressed by its simplicity, easy lifestyle and affordability.

“When I tried to explain park models to people, even family and friends, who talked about getting away in a second home, my words never seemed enough. So I decided to write down my thoughts about park model homes in order to more easily share thoughts,” he said. They include:

  • What they look like.
  • That you can design your own.
  • How little they cost.
  • Where to get a good one at a great price.
  • Where to place it.

The book includes thoughts on the art of getting away and having a second home in an RV park.

Available Versions for RV Parks:

  • Paperback wholesale.
  • e-book – Free (PDF version of the book is available to parks at no charge by a simple e-mail request).
  • Customized – This version contains a park’s contact information. (PDF or Paperback).
  • Flip book – Parks can also request a free website version or link.
For more info and to request a copy, parks may contact Fisher at Fillthepark@aol.com. For retail, visit the book’s website: www.Getawaybook.org.

Fisher’s free monthly online magazine “Inside The Park” is a middle-of-the-month publication featuring tips and ideas on how to get more people to stay at an RV park. To review the current edition: Click Here

‘Big Rigs Best Bets’ Explains Big Rig Friendly

March 6, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

The cover of the 2013 edition of “Big Rigs Best Bets.”

For more than half a century, private park operators have relied on printed campground directories as the primary way to market their campgrounds, RV parks and resorts. But as consumers increasingly turn to the Internet to research their vacation and travel plans, printed campground directories face increasing competition from a growing number of travel planning websites. Today, in fact, several print directories are no longer published. Those that remain have developed searchable digital versions of their directories, which consumers can access through their laptops, smart phones and other portable electronic devices. In Woodall’s Campground Management’s (WCM) ongoing effort to delve into every facet of the RV park and campground business, we spoke with Ken Hamill, publisher of “Big Rigs Best Bets,” one of two remaining North American print campground directories. Based in Kerrville, Texas, Hamill and his wife, Ellanora, oversee production of the nation’s only campground directory that specializes in providing detailed listings of big rig friendly parks, both public and private. The publication retails for $24.95 and can be purchased at www.Big-Rigs-RV.com. Here are highlights of that conversation with WCM Writer Jeff Crider:

WCM: How did you come up with the idea for a directory that would solely focus on the needs of big rig RV owners?

Hamill: It was back in October of 2000. I had sold my business in San Antonio. My wife and I were with some friends at an RV park in southwest Colorado and the more wine we drank, the more disenchanted we became with existing resources to find RV parks. My wife and I later talked and thought, ‘why don’t we see if we could write a book about parks?’

WCM: So was your frustration that you had to sift through campground directories to find big rig friendly parks or were they just not described the way you thought they should be described?

Hamill: I’m not trying to be negative here, but we couldn’t depend on what (the other directories) said about the park. We didn’t know when we arrived there if (the park) could handle us or not and if it was a comfortable surrounding. But the main issue was being able to get in and out of the park.

WCM: So you’re saying that other directories could be unclear when they talked about whether a park was big rig friendly?

Hamill: There was no way to tell until we actually physically got there. Now they say “big rig friendly” in their listings, but those are questionable many times. It will say the sites are 30 by 60 (feet) or 25 by 40 (feet) or whatever they put there. There’s one size description. But we might get in there and (find that) the access to get in and out of there is very tight or that there are manmade obstacles. Although the space may be 60 feet long, which is pretty minimal these days – at least for a pull through – you couldn’t get into the site.

WCM: Why, in your view, are other directories’ descriptions of big rig friendly sites insufficient or inadequate?

Hamill: If you look at a directory, you will see listings that say “big rig friendly.” But the people that look at those parks (for other directories), many of them don’t have a large rig. Most importantly, they don’t look at swing room and access within the park. So you go around a corner. Is there enough swing room there? Are the streets wide enough? In our criteria, (big rig friendly means being able to accommodate) a 40-foot coach with a tow vehicle. When you get to the site, can you get in and out of there? Are the trees in the way? Are the streets wide enough?

WCM: So how do you determine if a park is truly big rig friendly?

Hamill: I visit it myself.

WCM: You really visit every park?

Hamill: 99.9% of the time I have physically been to the park and reviewed the park. There is one consultant that we rely on (for information about big rig friendly parks) because we know how he designs a park. If I can’t get to the park, then I may put that park in the book (if my consultant assures me that the park meets our criteria). Aside from that, I look at all the parks myself.

WCM: Big rig owners often say that the reason they park in Walmarts or other retail parking lots is because it’s hard for them to maneuver their rigs into campgrounds. Do you think your guide has helped counter the Walmart camping phenomenon by making more consumers aware of big rig friendly parks?

Hamill: There’s no way to measure that. I’m sure that’s true from time to time. But I think there’s more to the Walmart equation than not being able to get into a park. I think a lot of (the reason for Walmart camping is because) it’s free. I think that’s the primary reason people go to Walmarts. Our market base is not just half million dollar rigs or $300,000 rigs. We have a lot of fifth-wheels that buy the book. But (there is) a safety issue (with Walmart camping). Some folks don’t like to go to Walmart because of that. But I can’t really say with honesty that our book has directed folks away from Walmarts.

WCM: You also consider other factors, such as the overall feel of the park?

Hamill: Are the surroundings comfortable? Would you feel safe and secure staying there? Is there a lot of trailer park trash there?

WCM: So if a park doesn’t have a safe feel to it, it won’t be listed in your directory?

Hamill: We don’t comment on (safety issues). We only have about 1,200 parks in the book. I’ve looked at a lot of them more than once and about 700 or so that have not made the cut. If I wouldn’t feel comfortable and secure staying there, I won’t include them, and I don’t care about how big their sites are.

WCM: So, when somebody calls up and says they want to be listed in your directory, you tell them you’ll visit their park and include them only if they meet your criteria?

Hamill: That’s correct.

WCM: How often do you turn people down?

Hamill: Quite a bit. Every year we send checks back to people who want to advertise in the book. Of course, they’re not accustomed to that. I have to politely decline.

WCM: How do you find out about big rig friendly parks?

Hamill: We take every lead. Some come from parks, though the majority are from RVers. We take those seriously and put them in a file and I will try to go and look at those parks.

WCM: Which leads are better, the ones from parks or the ones from consumers?

Hamill: The ones that come from park owners, I’d say, the vast majority of them, I can’t put in the book. But the ones the come from our readers, the vast majority are going to get into the book.

WCM: It sounds like park operators take liberties with what they describe as big rig friendly.

Hamill: I think it’s getting better.

WCM: This sounds like the kind of thing that could actually hurt a park operator if they misrepresent the size of their sites.

Hamill: Exactly. It’s not only the size of the site, but also the accessibility of the site that’s key.

WCM: Looking beyond size and accessibility, what else do you look for in parks that are trying to position themselves as big rig friendly?

Hamill: I think 50-amp service is essential these days. A lot of the public parks are upgrading to 50 amps. They’ve seen the need. But I also think (parks need to pay attention to) Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is almost as important as a sewer connection, and that’s the God’s honest truth. If a park doesn’t provide adequate Wi-Fi, then they are doing themselves a disservice. But things are changing so rapidly. I kind of defend the parks. Everybody has a device or two that they are traveling with – a computer or a smart phone, a tablet or all three. They want to see videos. It’s not just about e-mailing your kids. It’s a tough job for the RV parks to stay up with that. But I think they need to continue to improve what they have to some degree. Some parks are doing it and some aren’t. I think that’s important not just for big rigs, but any size rigs.

WCM: Tell us more about the mix of both public and private parks in your directory?

Hamill: We’ve got a blend of upscale resorts, interstate overnight stops, destination parks and suitable public parks that we think make sense to most of our reader base. Five percent to 7% are public. The rest are private.

WCM: We’ve talked about some of the challenges private parks face as they try to accommodate big rigs. What are the biggest issues public parks face with big rig owners?

Hamill: The biggest issue is trees. They don’t cut their trees back. I can’t tell you how many public parks have got overgrown trees. You can’t get (in or) out of the park without scratching your rig.

WCM: Do you have a mobile version of your directory that works on tablets, cellphones and iPads?

Hamill: Yes, two years ago we engaged a firm to design a very innovative and navigable platform for our book. Our book this year has 504 pages and there is a lot of information in there. It really turned out nice. It’s totally different from anything else in the marketplace and it contains all of the content that’s in the book. It is compatible with all computers, all tablets, all smartphones, even the new e-readers like the Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook. It’s membership driven. It’s a $24.95 buy-in or a $15 buy-in when you purchase the book. The book will be compatible with any new devices that come out.

WCM: What’s your thinking about print directories vs. online directories? Do you think the circulation of print directories will decline with the growth of online campsite listings or do you think there is always going to be a need for print directories?

Hamill: I think there will always be a need for them. We are fortunate in that our book is spiral bound. It’s 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches and it’s user friendly. It’s not really bulky. Since we brought on our online version, our hard copy sales have not decreased.

WCM: What is your circulation?

Hamill: Over 11,000 and growing daily, including print distribution and online paid memberships.

WCM: How many issues of “Big Rigs Best Bets” are in circulation?

Hamill: There’s got to be 60,000 or 70,000 out there (from multiple years).

WCM: You’ve been publishing “Big Rigs Best Bets” for 13 years now, so you’ve obviously identified a viable niche in the campground directory business.

Hamill: The concept was accepted in the marketplace, so we pursued it and brought it where it is today to the point where we are certainly a factor in the marketplace, along with our credible and selective approach. We’re very busy. We’re doing very well. But we’re not for everybody.

WCM: You’ve been publishing your directory for 13 years now. To what do you attribute your continued success among big rig RV owners?

Hamill: I think it’s that the existing publications out there do not meet their needs.

 

 

Market Your Campground with ‘GuestReviews’

March 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Market Your Campground with ‘GuestReviews’ 

Bob MacKinnon

Bob MacKinnon, president of GuestReviews and MacKinnon Campground Consulting, is a leading campground industry consultant, instructor and regent for ARVC’s National School of RV Park & Campground Management, and a 30-year veteran of the Walt Disney Co. He provides a broad range of services, including feasibility studies, business plans and design concepts for park owners, buyers, and developers. He wrote this column for Woodall’s Campground Management. Contact MacKinnon at bob@guestreviews.com.

One of my mentors routinely reminded me that “success is a journey, not a destination.” On my journey, I’ve met scores of successful managers who are continually seeking the answers to “How do I improve my business, retain current customers, gain new customers and enhance profits?” One of the best strategies that I’ve found is to stay close to your customers – understand their needs and expectations, then do everything possible to satisfy them. In 2008, we introduced the GuestReviews system with the main objectives of providing easy-to-use tools that measure guest satisfaction, provide actionable data and create a reliable guest-driven rating system.

Over many years as a consultant, I’ve helped campgrounds develop marketing strategies that produce cost-effective ways to achieve competitive advantages. However, when I ask them, “How are you using online reviews to market your park?” I get a lot of blank stares. Most operators understand the value of guest feedback to make better business decisions, manage employee performance and resolve guest complaints, but, until recently, only a few were actively utilizing ratings and reviews to promote their park.

Marketing through reviews is not a new or radical concept. For a long time, businesses have used customer testimonials as word-of-mouth advertising. However, potential customers are smart enough to realize that those testimonials have been handpicked by the advertiser to position their business in the best light. How many times have you read a less than glowing testimonial?

The Public Does Not Trust Testimonials

Today’s reality is that consumers do not trust testimonials. They want reliable, unbiased, and transparent information from other people about their experiences. Research has shown that potential customers now use online research as their primary source of information to make buying decisions – and reviews are an important part of that process. When guests plan a visit to an unknown locale, they search multiple sites and make decisions based upon features, availability, price and reviews. The following are five key reasons to make online reviews a core element of your marketing strategy.

1. Guests seek credible information. 78% of the respondents to a Nielsen survey of Internet users stated that “consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising.”

2. Guests want an alternative to directory ratings. As the driver of purchase decisions, online reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend, and user reviews are more influential than third-party reviews.

3. Ratings provide a competitive advantage. Parks should display their guest ratings and comments everywhere possible. Transparent comments increase the information’s credibility.

4. Reviews drive buying decisions. 82% of those who read reviews said that their purchasing decisions were directly influenced by those reviews.

5. Reviewers are your best customers. Consumers who contribute reviews or post messages will visit a website nine times as often as non-contributors do, and review contributors make purchases nearly twice as often.

Currently, more than 1,100 campgrounds are actively using the GuestReviews system and realizing benefits from guest feedback to improve the guest experience, and to encourage guest interaction and expand social marketing. These unique features of GuestReviews help campgrounds and guests benefit from feedback.

1. No anonymous reviews. Reliable information can only come from actual guests and not fake or fraudulent reviews. Guests must submit a valid e-mail address to begin the GuestReviews process. Parks can know who submitted a review to determine appropriate action.

2. Real-time online feedback. Guests expect a quick response to their problem and parks can know about an issue within minutes of the review submission. Our online ratings and comments are always current and updated immediately.

3. Detailed, actionable data. Strengths and weaknesses can be pinpointed through the results of our standardized 55-question survey so that appropriate action can be focused on the specific problem.

4. Turnkey tools to promote reviews. The GuestReviews system provides tools to engage your guests in the review process and boost response volume – 50 reviews carry more credibility than five reviews.

5. Links to display ratings and comments. Displaying real, unfiltered comments adds credibility and value to the ratings. Our links allow you to post real-time ratings and comments on your website.

6. Management Response postings. Posting a response from management is a critical part of the social media process. Real-time responses are easy to post to any guest comment.

In today’s marketplace, promoting feedback must be an on-going part of your marketing strategy. Reviews are a basic expectation for today’s guests and a key factor in your social media efforts. They represent an important connection between you and your guests. The technology of online feedback through GuestReviews puts you in control. Unlike other online review programs, GuestReviews was specifically designed by, and for, campground owners. It puts you in the driver’s seat by channeling feedback directly to you. You get survey data, you get guest appreciation for providing the review opportunity and you get to promote your park through your scores. It’s a three-way winner for you and strengthens the loyalty bond with your guests.

Go to www.GuestReviews.com for more information and see how easy it is to connect with your guests through feedback. Online registration takes only a few minutes and you can begin using these tools right away.

 

 

 

Park Vendors Unveiling New Products for 2013

March 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Park Vendors Unveiling New Products for 2013 

Krueger fire pit gains traction in RV park and campground sector in the U.S.

One of the relatively new entries in the RV park and campground market is Krueger Custom Steel & Machining Ltd., based in Owen Sound, Ontario.

The company began manufacturing outdoor fire pits for the retail market in 2010 and has since branched out into the park sector with the fire pits, as well as cooking grills, smokers, pokers, benches and small foot bridges, according to Bill Krueger, president.

“We can build exactly what the customer wants. For example, we have manufactured pits and rings to a specific diameter to match existing poured concrete or stone patios,” he noted.

Krueger took his products to the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) convention in Orlando, Fla., last November and received a good response from the campgrounds, he said.

“We’re feeling our way out into the states right now,” Krueger said. “We’re making a lot of contacts with campground owners to get information out in front of them. Our goal is to get as many of our units to North American campgrounds and quality retail establishments as we can find.”

His retailing partner and distribution center in the U.S. is Fleming Sales and Distribution in Elkhart, Ind.

Krueger, who founded his metal fabricating company in 1994, is currently working with Ontario Provincial Parks and was waiting to learn if his firm would be recognized as a sole supplier for the near future.

“We’re actively going after individual campgrounds,” he said. “High-end campgrounds will look at our fire pits as permanent replacements. The design is unique.”

“I think we’re going to do well this year. It’s still early with a lot of people. Time will tell,” he said.

For more information, contact Krueger at (888) 244-4187 or visit www.kruegersteel.ca.

*****

Adventure Golf Services, based in Traverse City, Mich., had campgrounds in mind when it designed the LittleDuffer Mini Golf, which it is launching this year. The 30-year-old company planned to attend conventions in Wisconsin and Michigan this season to promote the new product, which is a low-cost indoor or outdoor modular miniature golf course.

“Adventure Golf Services created LittleDuffer to answer the customer demand for a smaller and a more economically priced miniature golf course that looks good and is fun to play,” said Scott Lundmark, vice president.

Adventure Golf Services’s Little Duffer

“LittleDuffer is a product launch that is a perfect solution for the client who has limited or restricted space or a need for a more portable course. The exciting part is the price: the standard 9-hole model is only $6,000 and $12,000 for an 18-hole course,” he said.

LittleDuffer also features specialty holes that can be purchased to replace individual golf holes in the standard model. These specialty golf holes feature more play options including: over and under holes and ball runs that carry a ball from one green to another, according to Lundmark.

“Low cost fun is the focus of the new mini golf course and various obstacle options,” said course designer Arne Lundmark. “Fun happens with the use of a variety of props such as colorful rubber bumps which can change the direction of the ball. Props such as a mini loop-de-loop or elevated golf hole cup and bridges make a great connection with all ages. We also offer optional colorful turf including red, yellow, and other colors to add even more eye appeal for guests. Finally we have added a touch of whimsy with the golf hole edge, which is made from heavy rope.”

The golf holes are ideal for special events and rentals as they are lightweight and can be moved from one location to another. The interlocking panel system from recycled materials makes this portability possible, according to Scott Lundmark. Because of LittleDuffer’s small size and low cost it will provide a new profit center or amenity for campgrounds.

A nine-hole course fits into a 625- to 900-square-foot area depending on the number of ADA compliant golf holes desired, while the 18-hole course requires a 1,250- to 1,800- square-foot area, according to Scott Lundmark. The LittleDuffer modular product is the fourth modular product introduced by the company. Other models are AnyWhereLinks, LawnCourt and GolfCourt. Other modular products include MiniLinks, MiniLinks Jr., and a variety of putting green products.

Lead times run from two to four weeks. The courses can be assembled in a half-day.

Adventure Golf Services is a global leader in the design, building and installation of indoor/outdoor miniature golf and other golf related, special application products. For more information visit www.adventureandfun.com or call (888) 725-4fun.

*****

Norman Boucher (left) of LCN Outdoors talks with a visitor at a trade show.

Veteran RV park and campground vendor Norman Boucher of LCN Outdoors, Windsor, Conn., a distributor of 1,800 items that are found in campgrounds and camp stores, offered several marketing tips to operators to help promote their parks.

“The lowest cost per impression is for specialty advertising products. Return on investment and value of ad specialties per impression of a promotional item can be less than $0.10. People who receive promotional products tend to see the advertiser’s message many times for a longer period of time. The best-kept items are bags, pens and T-shirts.”

Wearables are gaining in marketing strength, he continued. “Your T-shirts with your full chest or back logo and name will make you feel good, but will the average camper purchase that garment? Most often not, unless you are a vacation destination or franchise park or you have one of the seven wonders close by.”

“Now put Gus and Lucy, your mascots, on the shirt with a small name drop and Gus and Lucy will go home while your name goes for free.”

Boucher also urges operators to think of their seasonal mirror parking hangtag. “This item may have your name on it, but truly is only visible in your campground. Think of replacing this item with a rear window static sticker decal, much like the colleges use.

This will help you to identify your seasonals’ coming and going, along with advertising your park all day, every day.”

The bumper sticker craze has slowed down with the new and improved plastic bumper, but a clear outdoor decal can be placed on a window and seen by all, Boucher noted. “Maybe you should look at doing a window decal in a different shape using a 4-color process. These outdoor decals are a bit more costly, starting around $4 each. These can be sold as well as given away at different venues.”

How often do campground operators attend shows and hand nothing out? “Put a magnet in peoples’ hands with your activities listed on it,” Boucher advised. “Most camping shows are during the winter months so wouldn’t an ice scraper be useful and kept handy?”

Finally, Boucher advised, “Think of your clients as a diversified group, but remember that women of the house will make most decisions, so how about a shopping or grocery bag with your information on it.”

For more information, contact Boucher at (800) 552-2267 or visit www.lcnoutdoors.com.

*****

Murbles are finding their way into campground stores.

Murray Kramer, owner of Kramer Kreations, Pensacola, Fla., and creator of the Murbles game, has been a frequent vendor at campground trade shows since last fall, including ones for KOA, ARVC, Good Sam and FMCA. Murble sales are crossing a new threshold and Kramer is optimistic about this year.

“One driving force is the new, inexpensive Murble Activity sets for eight and 16 players,” Kramer said. “The game is easy to play, fun and exciting for all ages and abilities.”

Campground owners like Murbles as an activity because there is no designated playing area required, no capital outlay and no yearly maintenance expense, Kramer noted.

As an activity complete with winning ribbons or medals, Kramer says, Murbles will help to produce fond family memories and returning guests for years to come. “Murbles are available with custom logo bags in the two- and four-player sets, they make great souvenirs and generate additional retail sales,” he said.

Contact Kramer at (850) 458-5858 or check out www.MurbleGame.com.

*****

Trailmate is modifying the Funcycle so a caregiver could accompany an adult child with TARS syndrome.

This year’s focus at tricycle manufacturer Trailmate, Sarasota, Fla., started off with “an exciting journey into the leisure world of adaptive products,” said Wendy Shim, company president. “We started off by re-engineering the Funcycle so a caregiver could accompany an adult child with TARS syndrome. Our plan is to build on more adaptive technology and offer a 400-pound capacity trike for recreation and exercise for very large or overweight adults and children.

“We are looking forward to attending the WACO (Wisconsin) show, which always seems to offer its own unique brand to the trade show experience,” she said.

She concluded, “The campground business seems to be continuously evolving as they add new ways for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. I expect the 2013 campground business to be better than last year as more people discover that camping is a low-cost vacation experience where you can meet great people, build memories and bring families closer than ever.”

For more information contact Shim (800) 777-1034 or visit at www.trailmate.com.

 

 

Study: 2.4% Annual Growth for Parks to 2017

January 28, 2013 by · Comments Off on Study: 2.4% Annual Growth for Parks to 2017 

Editor’s Note: The following information about the future of RV parks and campgrounds and the RV industry appeared in a news release from Wert-Berater Inc. For more information call (888) 661-4449 or visit www.wert-berater.com.

Industry Outlook

Recovery for the campgrounds and RV parks industry has arrived. After fighting through declines, industry revenue is expected to perk up in 2012 and 2013. Wert-Berater Inc. forecasts that revenue will increase at an estimated annualized rate of 2.4% to $5.4 billion over the five years to 2017. Furthermore, industry revenue will increase 2.6% to $4.9 billion from 2012 to 2013.

Sensitivities

Travel spending is expected to increase over the next five years. In 2013, domestic travel is projected to increase 4.1%, while inbound travel will rise 5.4%. Increased travel rates will benefit campgrounds and RV parks, which have felt the pinch as people canceled and delayed their trips. Over the five years to 2017, domestic travel is forecast to increase at an average rate of 3.3% per year, while inbound travel will increase at an average annual rate of 5.3%.

The industry will also benefit from the economy improving, unemployment rates declining and people spending more money. Consumer spending is expected to increase 1.2% in 2013, and some of this renewed spending is expected to go toward trips and travel. Over the five years to 2017, consumer spending is anticipated to increase at an average annual rate of 3.3%.

Changes in the relative price of domestic and international travel also play a large part in determining travel patterns. Over the past five years, the U.S. dollar has depreciated, which has encouraged domestic travel by making foreign travel relatively more expensive. This factor has also encouraged foreigners to visit the United States. These trends benefit the campgrounds and RV parks industry by encouraging Americans to travel domestically while spurring an influx of foreign tourists. Other non-economic factors include the time available to travel, cultural and family links and the age of travelers. The price of gas is an additional factor that feeds directly into travel costs, especially in driving-dependent industries such as the campgrounds and RV parks industry.

RV sales

The performance of the RV dealers industry will improve through 2017. In 2013, its revenue is expected to increase 2.7% to $18.5 billion. Furthermore, revenue is forecast to grow at an annualized rate of 2.9% over the five years to 2017. However, RV sales will take years to return to their zenith, hampered by the lasting effects of wealth destruction on key customer markets’ ability to finance RV purchases. Current RV owners will also likely continue to choose domestic campgrounds and national parks over international tourist destinations because domestic travel remains a more cost-effective alternative to international travel.

The most promising case for long-term growth in RV sales is the aging Baby Boomer generation. The Baby Boomer population, consisting of people born from 1946 to 1964, numbers about 78.0 million people. This generation is expected to be wealthier and to live longer than any prior generation, making them prime targets for an RV lifestyle. Additionally, Boomers grew up during the height of the Boy Scouts’ popularity, resulting in an appreciation for the outdoors. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), one-tenth of vehicle owners in this age group also own an RV.

Future trends

The industry is expected to resume expansion as the economy improves. Demand for on-site rentals of RVs and for the storage of RVs will rise. However, sales of used RVs are expected to accelerate over the initial part of the next five years until the arrival of more robust economic growth. Moreover, as revenue grows, industry profit margins are also expected to creep up slowly, making the industry more appealing for potential entrants. Over the five years to 2017, the number of enterprises is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 0.7% per year to 13,431. Employment is also expected to increase at an average annual rate of 1.6% to 47,140, though the industry will continue to use temporary employees during peak guest periods.

The progressive aging of the population, particularly of people aged 55 to 75, will continue to positively influence demand and industry revenue growth as the economic situation improves. Continuing strong growth in RV shipments will support this increase. There will also be an increasing trend toward the franchising of campgrounds, with operators being associated with chains and benefiting from joint promotional activities and access to online information and reservation systems for guests. Significant increases in direct online bookings by guests are expected.

Overall, increasing investment in improving facilities and amenities for guests will remain important, even in low growth periods. Such amenities include the provision of wireless Internet access and access to health and fitness centers. These will need to be supported by continuing industrywide and national promotional campaigns promoting the benefits of RV and camping activities.

 

 

 

County RV Park Tax Would Help Bail Out State Parks

March 30, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Nanci Sikes, executive director for the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau in Northern California, expects a busy spring for both locals and tourists.

One of the great kickoffs of spring in the Mother Lode region is this weekend’s opening of Railtown 1897 in Jamestown. Every Tuolumne and Calaveras resident with identification gets to ride the rails for free this weekend only, mymotherlodge.com reported.

Railtown is one of the 70 state parks slated for closure this July.

Sikes insists that the community will find a way to keep Railtown open.

“If the state doesn’t save it, I think the residents of Tuolumne County will through citizen fundraisers, business support and Measure C,” she said.

Measure C is a proposal that will be on the June 5 ballot. It would expand the transient occupant tax (TOT) in Tuolumne County to include campgrounds, houseboats and RV parks. That extra money would be used by the county to help “fund and save” both Railtown 1897 and the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.

Additionally, Sikes is looking forward to and is already aggressively marketing the large events coming up this May.

“We have a fun marketing campaign that is targeting the Motherlode Round-Up, the Amgen Tour and the nearby Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee. It’s called ROPE, RIDE and RIBBIT,” said Sikes.

Fisher Publishes Guide for Park Owners/Operators

February 20, 2012 by · Comments Off on Fisher Publishes Guide for Park Owners/Operators 

New book just out on RV parks and campgrounds.

Gary Fisher, a veteran fulltime RVer and RV park manager, recently published a book for RV parks and campgrounds titled “Sorry, We’re Full! How to Fill An RV Park And Keep It Full, Year After Year!”

The Ohio native writes from his experience as a full-time RVer, manager of two of the highest rated RV parks in the U.S. and over 30 years of recruiting, sales and marketing. He also was a successful basketball and soccer coach at several small colleges in Ohio.

The book is a series of articles about how he worked to fill the sites at the parks he managed.

He writes from success. While he managed a 460-site park in Arizona, it was named Arizona Park of the Year. The 230-site Pennsylvania park he managed was also recognized as one of the top in the state.

Fisher earned his Certified Park Operator (CPO) designation in 2011 from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

The 197-page book is priced at $15 plus shipping. To order a copy visit www.fillthepark.com. Fisher can be reached at info@fillthepark.com.

Sales Effort Begins for 2013 Good Sam Directory

February 15, 2012 by · Comments Off on Sales Effort Begins for 2013 Good Sam Directory 

Invigorated by a new set of marching orders, sales rep teams from the newly merged Trailer Life  and Woodall’s campground directories are beginning to fan out over North America to gather  data for the 2013 “Good Sam Travel Guide & Campground Directory.”

This new, hybrid campground directory under the Good Sam brand is emerging from the best of  both Woodall’s and Trailer Life directories, representing nearly 130 years of combined industry service and campground expertise.

This new directory will offer higher circulation and even more online and mobile application marketing opportunities to campgrounds and parks. This combined directory will utilize the Trailer Life 10/10*/10 rating system, with some enhancements borrowed from the Woodall’s rating system.

The ratings as always will be based on personal visits by the directory representatives. The 41 rep teams (40 couples and one individual) met Jan. 22-27 at the Flamingo Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., to review plans for the directory.

“We have some great enhancements for our advertising partners planned for our 2013 directory,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of the new combined directory. “Not only will we have more exciting marketing tools for parks to connect with avid RVers and campers, we will also expand our number of field teams to permit them to spend more time working with individual parks on their marketing programs.”

Unlike past years, RV parks and campgrounds will be visited by just one sales team to collect data and offer sales opportunities for the directory.

The advertising closing date for the 2013 directory is Aug. 27. The directory will be printed in early December and distribution will begin shortly thereafter.

The Details

Based on comments from Emerson, here are some of what are expected to be the most popular offerings for 2013.

In the Printed Directory

  • City and State Spotlights – Included in the front of each state and province, this special editorial section will inspire travel to specific geographical regions by detailing popular things to see and do in that region. Parks can choose to be included in this special section by taking an ad for the same price as the listing section of the Directory.
  • One-Tank Trips for 2013 – Printed on glossy stock and included in every single copy of the 2013 edition, this special magazine-like section features Good Sam suggested One-Tank Trip routes for RVers. Campgrounds and RV Parks on or near the route can sponsor the route, and have their park information included everywhere the Route is featured, in print and online.

Online at Both www.Woodalls.com

and www.TrailerLifeDirectory.com

Making things simple online was a priority for 2013. Now advertisers can simply choose the package that suits their needs, be it good, better or best.

  • Package 1 – Modeled after Trailer Life Directory’s popular Classic Package, this “Classic Bundle” features the basics that a campground should have to connect directly with Woodall’s and Trailer Life’s 2.5 million unique visitors annually. Some of the popular products included are the Digital Web Ad (the parks’ print ad repeated online), a website link to the park’s website, a logo link and three photos.
  • Package 2 – A step up from the “Classic Bundle,” the “Deluxe Bundle” includes all the items in the “Classic Bundle” plus five more great products including “Front of the Line” which allows campground operators to take the No. 1 spot in the search results for a city of their choice, and a Virtual Tour of their park which includes 14 photos set to music.
  • Package 3 – For top-notch parks, the “Premier Bundle” is the best a park can buy on www.Woodalls.com and www.TrailerLifeDirectory.com. Six additional products have been added to this bundle above the “Deluxe Bundle,” including a slide show on the Home Page of both sites, a special destination article about the advertiser’s city with their sponsorship and a Rich Media Banner on the Search Results pages – the most popular pages on both websites.

Online at www.GoodSamClub.com

  • As a Good Sam Park exclusive, Good Sam Parks only can purchase any of the three bundles mentioned above to be repeated on the www.GoodSamClub.com website, where one in four page views by campers and RVers is on a Campground Search page – that comes out to 8.2 million pages viewed in the campground search section of www.GoodSamClub.com in 2011.

Mobile Apps

  • Perhaps the most exciting addition in the 2013 ad product lineup is the inclusion of several ad products on the Woodall’s/Trailer Life Mobile App. Depending on which bundle is purchased online, the park will get several additional ad products on the mobile app for free. These mobile apps are receiving acclaim in the app world today – with almost 80,000 downloads and 4.5 star ratings out of 5 during the first 6 months alone.

An ‘Everything RV Guide’

On announcing the merger late last fall, Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Good Sam Enterprises LLC, said, “The consolidation of the two directories into one ‘Super Directory’ will provide our customers with a single source for their RVing and camping travel planning. The coming together of these two brands enables us to serve as more than a directory, and will represent an ‘everything RV guide’ for the consumer to be inspired to fully explore the RV lifestyle across North America.”

(Good Sam Enterprises is also the parent company of Woodall’s Campground Management and www.WoodallsCM.com.)

“This merger will also allow us to drive more business to our RV park and campground advertisers and to our network of Good Sam parks,” continued Lemonis. “We know that our success is predicated on the success of our customers, and combining the strength of the industry’s two leading directory brands is just one way in which we can ensure we are serving the needs of our campground, RV park and resort customers. Advertisers have asked us to consider a unified directory so that they can focus their marketing spend in one powerful vehicle. Thus we made this decision with our park and campground partners very much in mind, to provide them one ‘super directory’ which will be the ultimate marketing showcase for them.”

Other Improvements

Other improvements to the 2013 combined directory will include state and provincial points of interest, the RVers “Bucket List” for 2013, tips to improve campers’ RV and camping lifestyle, 10-Minute Tech Tips, RV maintenance advice, how to buy or sell an RV, dealers and service station locations, games, puzzles, recipes, coupons and much more.

The directory will also spotlight the Good Sam RV park and resort network, the largest affiliated park network in North America, featuring more than 1,700 RV parks and resorts where Good Sam members can save 10 percent on nightly camping fees.

Sales reps are beginning to visit parks in the Sunbelt states. Visits to the balance of the continent will begin in the spring.

Legacy Brands to Continue

Both the Trailer Life and Woodall’s brands will continue into 2013 and beyond. Woodall’s regional directory editions will continue to be published in 2013, in an exclusive partnership with AAA. Trailer Life magazine, one of the leading RV enthusiast magazines in the industry, will continue to be published on a monthly basis. Likewise, websites, online directory search and mobile applications will continue to exist for both brands.

The 2013 combined directory will take advantage of the previously separate circulation strategies for each brand. The Woodall’s directory has been distributed through bookstores, mass merchant chains, Camping World stores, RV dealers and campgrounds, while the Trailer Life directory has been primarily distributed to the Good Sam Club members and through Internet sales.

The combined directory in 2013 will utilize both these distribution strategies to reach all the active, affluent RVers and campers that each of these brands reached separately in the past. Campground search tools for the combined directory will also be available at www.TrailerLifeDirectory.com, www.Woodalls.com and www.GoodSamClub.com websites, as well as on campground search mobile applications for both iPhone and Android.

Modern Marketing: 20 Trade Show Tech Tips

January 20, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Evanne Schmarder

Editor’s Note: Evanne Schmarder is a columnist for Woodall’s Campground Management. She is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – www.DigitalMarketingWorkshop.info. She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions – outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in digital marketing strategy, social media program development, seminar facilitation, educational presentations, business writing services and the producer and host of the RV Cooking Show. Contact Evanne at evanne@roadabode.com or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site, www.roadabode.com, or her B2C site, www.RVCookingShow.com.

With the summer camping season just around the corner, educating the public about enjoying the great outdoors in general and inviting them to your park is the name of the game. Each fall and spring there are consumer RV shows going on somewhere in the U.S. almost every weekend.

These RV shows are a way that you can connect with current and prospective customers. A win-win event, they provide opportunities for “wanna-be” as well as experienced campers and RVers to get excited about an outdoor vacation, learn what’s new and discover new places to get away from it all – your campground specifically.

There are a number of trade show best practices – including the look and feel of your booth, educated, expert booth staff, and printed collateral with trackable promotion codes – but technology can assist in your show’s success as well. Consider these 20 trade show technology tips to help you get cutting-edge attention and make the most out of your RV show investment.

Pre-Show Promotion

  • Determine specials, prizes and promotional items to be used at your RV show booth. These might include special coupons or even scratch-off tickets for firewood, ice, soft serve cone, branded items such as a beverage cozy, hat or T-shirt, camp store discounts or items etc.
  • Build an RV show landing page on your website. Write keyword-rich SEO content for the page, create a QR code directed to that page and use it on printed show promotion, provide an offer coupon redeemable only at your booth, promote all your planned “at show” marketing hooks.
  • Launch an e-mail blast with an invitation to visit your booth. Link to your RV show landing page.
  • Blog about the details of your booth and any behind-the-scenes scoop.
  • Spread the word on Facebook. Link to your landing page, blog postings, post photos of the prep, invite comments, discuss specials and/or promotions you’ll have at the booth.
  • Establish an RV show hashtag (#) on Twitter. Look for other complimentary businesses that will be at the show and co-promote using their hashtags and yours.

During the Show

  • Create a Foursquare event location and offer a special to those that check in.
  • Do a daily drawing and announce the winner on your Facebook page. If they’ve “liked” your page, give them an extra goodie.
  • Send out a call to action to your social networks offering something special to the “next 25 people” that visit your booth and say, “I love camping!”
  • Offer a photo opp with a fun, famous or wacky cardboard cutout. Snap your own photos of folks having fun taking their picture for use on your social networks.
  • Show short, looping how-to videos at your booth. How-to’s might include setting up a tent, building a campfire, making s’mores, hiking tips and local trails, swimming and/or sun safety etc.
  • Hide a cache at your booth, add it to the Geocaching.com directory, and promote it across your social networks.
  • Host an RV show photo scavenger hunt. Players receive the scavenger hunt list at your booth, take photos of each item/location found, and upload photos to your Facebook page or Flickr account in exchange for a coupon, goodie etc.
  • Create a QR code that “likes” your Facebook page, “follows” your Twitter profile or subscribes to your e-newsletter and post it around your booth.
  • Hold a MeetUp or TweetUp at your booth at a designated time bringing your online friends together in person.
  • Upload video highlights of the day to your YouTube channel and promote it on your social networks.

Post-Show Follow-Ups

  • Launch an e-mail blast with an overview of the show. Link to all of your social networks that had show news.
  • Thank those that visited your booth and list contest winners on your social networks.
  • Add show news and follow-up to your website.
  • Keep the communication flowing, engage with your fans and followers. Ask how they enjoyed the show, what new, neat things they saw, how they enjoyed your booth, ideas for next year etc.

RV shows are a place to meet your customers, make new friends, explore what’s new in the industry, create industry connections and bring in business. Use every tool in your arsenal and make it fun. After all, that’s what our business is all about, right?

Are you doing anything techy at your RV show booth that I didn’t mention here? I’d love to hear about it – please drop me a line and we’ll trade notes.

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