Editor’s Note: This story was written by Terri Hughes-Lazzell
Online learning isn’t a new concept, but a focused weeklong virtual session for RV park and campground owners on reservation software is a little unique. The online event was free to park operators and accessible on the “Spotlight on Software for Outdoor Destinations” Facebook Group.
The weeklong session that ran from March 27-April 3, conducted by CampgroundViews.com, saw 100 people representing 90 campgrounds tune in to start. Before the end of the week, another 60 people from 55 parks jumped in. Add the 30 vendors that took part and the numbers peaked near 200.
It all started a year-and-a-half ago after Mark Koep, founder and CEO of CampgroundViews.com, quietly took part in building a group of RV park and campground owners and operators in a closed Facebook group. Conversation in the group focused on marketing and operations of outdoor recreation businesses.
The goal: continue the conversations and interactions throughout the year that occur at tradeshows, Koep noted to WOODALLSCM.com.
That large community of park operators in the exclusive Facebook Group includes almost 800 people from more than 400 parks discussing the various operational, marketing and business decisions that impact their organizations.
From those interactions came the awareness that there was a lack of information and knowledge about available software solutions.
“Trying to wrap one’s head around the options and even knowing what those options are was more than most could do,” Koep noted.
So, when he asked the group members if they wanted to learn more, the answer was a resounding yes.
The online format was the best option to get everyone together, Koep explained.
A subgroup of the first Facebook group was formed with about 50 parks joining immediately.
“It was imperative that we act to fulfill their needs,” Koep said.
So, he asked the next question: Who did the operators want information from? A list of about 30 software providers came from those conversations. Nine of those companies agreed to test the online forum.
“The nine that jumped on board represent the major players in the space and we were all greatly humbled by their willingness to jump in and test out this online channel,” Koep said.
Those software companies were:
• Campground Automation/ Sunrise
• Reserve America/ Astra
• RDP (Resort Data Processing)
• RMS North America
Koep said the “bold experiment” called for a “purposeful lack of structure” for the online event. Instead, he said they worked on defining the needs of the various audiences and empowering them with tools and content to help address those needs.
Topics covered during the week looked at processes and procedures, as well as what to look for in reservation software. The software companies presented session that included:
• Dynamic Pricing & Yield Management
• Five Things to Look for in Reservation Software
• Email Marketing
The software companies also posted articles and content, and in turn, the park operators could post questions and comments. Koep said the feedback was good, noting that owners said there was a lot of information to sort through.
That’s exactly what Koep said he wanted from this event.
Moving forward the subgroup is going to continue on. CampgroundViews.com will continue facilitating the group, and the online sessions will be open for a month for further comments.
What happens in the future isn’t certain. Another session will depend on what the park operators want, according to Koep. With summer around the corner, the focus is now on operating parks.
“Maybe we will throw something new at them,” noted Koep. “It is about helping them run their parks better.
“In the end, our goal is to make camping amazing and we believe that can only happen when operators are best meeting camper needs,” he added. “We help them accomplish this through the ongoing education and engagement.”