Park Operators: Should I Continue Marketing in the Off-Season?

At we work with hundreds of park operators to help them drive new and repeat guests into their destinations. Our clients are located all over the United States so we have lots of conversations with operations in varied seasonal peaks. Northern parks are busy during the summer but shut down in the winter, Southern parks are busy in the winter and less so in the summer, while middle area parks may get by all year long.

One of the big questions we get is can or should I reduce or stop my advertising in the off-season or slow season? The source of the question is blatantly obvious from two points: 1. if I am not making money why should I be spending it? 2. If it is the slow season is it even worth advertising? The answer to this question is a bit more complex than a yes or no to these questions.

To fully understand the answer to “Should I Continue Marketing in the Off-Season?” is to first understand your guests. Who are your guests? What do they look for in a campground? And, most importantly, when do they look for a campground?

Here is an interesting statistic on travel decision makers to help drive some thoughts on the topic… the average traveler begins planning their trip 56 days in advance of their travel, visiting 28 different websites over 76 different sessions. So if you want guests to stay the moment you open on April 1 that means you better be advertising and reaching them as early as Feb 1.

Yet this concept ignores the group of people who plan their summer trips during the winter when they are locked in from snow and dreaming about warm summer days. These guests are looking to book their big summer vacation. They will be staying for 3,4 and maybe 10 days… think about the additional revenue that will bring in. Add in the kicker that once they book that trip… they will not be looking again for a park to camp suddenly the reason to continue marketing becomes clear. When you start your ads in February you already missed them.

Marketing and advertising for your park should not be turned off during the off-season. As a professional business operator you need to budget and plan to market even when income is not coming in the door. You can, and should be offsetting this output of capital by collecting monetary deposits upfront (they can be refunded if needed in the future) and using a variable pricing model to increase your overall annual income.

Just because your park is closed for the season does not mean your guests are not already planning and booking for next season. Keep your advertising and marketing going year round to increase your overall occupancy at your park.

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