We recently released an article based upon our analysis and findings regarding the state of the RV park industry. (you can read it here) The response to this post has been overwhelming and essentially started a bonfire of discussion and engagement. The responses completely supported everything laid out in the article and told us we were right over target. We have grouped the responses in to two articles, this one and the guest response article (click here)
The original articles were directed at park owners and in this Part 2 we have transcribed and analyzed the feedback from your peers for your review.
Park Operator Response
The feedback was very vocal from the camping community in regard to this article. It hit a nerve because it hits the pocket. The early results support everything we argued and also highlighted that raising rates is a hot button issue that needs to be fully analyzed when making changes. In addition to consumer feedback we also received a lot of feedback from other park operators. Like you they are dealing with this issue day in and day out. Some of the main topics included.
1. HOW DO I COMPETE AGAINST PUBLIC PARKS?
A great question came in from a private park located near a Corp of Engineers park and how they can possibly compete against a public agency operating without a profit motive. The answer is simply… you can’t compete. A private park can not compete head to head with a public park. You can not provide the same low pricing, facilities, and location. In addition your guests, on average, are different. The people who stay in public parks generally avoid private parks and vice-versa… so how do you compete?
The answer is not really about competing head to head. Instead I recommend considering how you can grow the camping pie? Are there ways for you to piggyback off the public parks, or even work directly with them, to bring in more campers to the region? Can you promote a fishing derby? Can you provide a boat cleaning area and safe storage lot not offered by the public park? Can you in some way bolster the regional offering to draw in not only the campers who will stay at the public park but the others who will stay at private parks? Instead of viewing public parks as a competitor we suggest viewing them as a potential partner.
2. BEING SMART WITH DISCOUNTS WORKS
A great comment was posted regarding the use of discounts: “5 years ago when we bought our park it was a Good Sam park. After the first year I couldn’t justify paying $6000+ to give discounts. We did it ourselves and tiered it to second, third, fourth, etc visits in the same year. We had 6 families come more than 7 times last year. 3 became seasonal guests. 2 more are thinking about it. The $6,000 per year now goes into the facilities and playground, -extremely nice bathhouse, new jump pad, pirate ship, revolutionary spinner.” This comment directly supports the recommendations found in part 2 of the series (click here to read).
3. SOME PARKS RAISE RATES CONSTANTLY
To be upfront even I was unaware of this one (testament that they are doing it right). A few park owners let us know that they do and have been regularly increasing their rates slowly over time for a while. They use a system of measuring demand, occupancy and competitive prices to ensure it is right. One park owner also is conscientious of long term guests by offering them lower rates or delaying rate increases as a thank you for the continued support and to show goodwill. Their rate increase are never huge, a few percent at most, allowing them to maintain and improve the facilities. This is the type of cycle most parks want to find themselves within. Growing demand, growing rates, growing amenities, repeat.
The most shocking thing about this article was how widely shared and engaged it became. For park operators the ability to grow your park is directly related to your income and the question of how to increase your income without, for lack of a better word, pissing off your guests is a tough challenge. Judging by the feedback received our advise was perfectly in line with what others would consider and have done to get in to a cycle of improving everything. Want to know what guests thought of the articles? Click here
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