Campground and RV Park Management Tip of the Month - Southern Campgrounds
Tip of the Month: December
As your park begins to fill up with campers for another winter it is time to review your calendar of activities and make sure you are organized for the rest of the season. One of the best ways I’ve seen a campground organize these activities is to use a three ring notebook and start a sheet for each activity. List the activity, the materials needed for the activity, any deadlines such as the date you have to provide a guarantee to the bus company for that trip to Mexico, or the restaurant for that special New Years Eve function. Note how and when you will “sell” the activity to the campers, as well as who is responsible for each phase. If all of this is written down in advance, there is less chance of a major slip up when the time comes for the event.
Tip of the Month: January
Your campground is full and you don’t think you have any extra time but now is when you need to do your research for next year’s marketing program. Talk to your present customers find out why they selected your park. Ask if they have friends who might like to come to your park next year. Prepare a kit that this year’s customers can take home to their friends selling the benefits of staying in your park. Remember that the bulk of the automobile industries advertising is designed to make people who just purchased a new car feel good about their decision. These kits can also make your current customers feel good about their decision to stay with you.
Tip of the month: February
Now that you are in the peak of your snowbird business, it is even more important to keep everyone interested in the activities on your park. This is a good time to talk to your customers and try to determine what activities are the most popular and the see if you can clone the best ones with new activities with the same appeal.
Tip of the Month: March
This is the month that many of your seasonal customers begin to think about going home. Many of them will leave towards the end of the month. Now is the time to begin to promote your park for next winter. Ask if you can make a reservation for them. Offer a discount for booking now for next winter. When they get ready to leave, be sure to give them a few of the kits you put together last month to give to their friends back home asking them to come down next winter. You might even want to give your regulars a coupon that they can give to their friends that is good for some type of discount for any of their friends who are new customers.
Tip of the Month: April
Most southern campgrounds will now switch over from the majority of their customers being monthlies to a summer with a few transient campers each night. Now is a good time to get ready for these new customers. What changes do you need to make in your store merchandise? How are your directional signs looking? Do they convey a good impression for these campers who have never been to your park before? Do you need to change some of your rules and policies now for these new customers?
Tip of the month: May
There is a real temptation to take it easy this month. The snowbirds have all headed north and it is too early for any summer vacation business. This month however, is an ideal time to take stock of your campground or RV Park. Take a clipboard and several sheets of paper and walk through the park. Make a note of everything that is broken or in need of repairs. What needs a new coat of paint? What looks worn? Now take this list and develop a comprehensive maintenance list. A three-ring notebook works well. List each project on a page, what needs to be done, what materials are needed, who will do it, and then set a date to make the repairs.
Tip of the month: June
Last month I suggested that you pull together a complete plan to handle all of the necessary repairs and maintenance items. This month is a good time to take a look at your longer term needs. What new capital improvements would enhance your park and improve its competitive position against the other RV parks in your market? This is especially true of snowbird parks. Your customers come back year after year as long as they feel they are getting good value for their money. How often have you had a customer come back in the fall and the first thing he asks is, “what’s new this year?” It is important to make at least an improvement or two each year even if it is a minor one.
Tip of the month: July
While you probably have some campers at your park this time of year, things have settled down since the hectic winter season. Now is a great time to pull out last year’s marketing plans and see how effective they were. Did you increase camper nights? How about total revenue? Are there any changes in the type of customer you are attracting, or do you plan to try to reach a new market this year? Once you have reviewed the results from last year, it is now time to write your marketing plan for the next twelve months.
Tip of the month: August
Last month you reviewed your past business and redid your marketing plans for next year. This month is a good time to reach out to your past customers and invite them to spend the winter with you again. How about a Christmas Letter in August? Tell them what’s happening in your town. Is there a new post office, a new shopping mall, is Wal-Mart expanding? What’s new in your park? Have you added new laundry equipment, repaved the roads, planted some new trees, or added a new pool table? Have you heard any news from some of the regulars for example, do Joe and Sally have a new grandson, or do the Smiths have a new dog? Write the letter in a style that makes they feel like they are part of the family and let them know you want them back. Ask them to let you know what’s new with them and save these responses for another letter around the first of October.
Tip of the month: September
While the northern campgrounds are in the process of shutting down, now is the time for you to take a real close look at your park to make sure it is ready for the onslaught of snowbirds. Take that clipboard in hand again and make a thorough inspection of the park, noting anything that looks shabby. How are the site markers? Do they need a fresh coat of paint? How about the garbage receptacles? Are they clean and neat? Is the dog run clean and groomed? Have you gone over the clubroom to make sure all of the summer’s dust has been cleaned up? Take a tester out with you and make sure all of the electrical, phone, TV and water hookups are in good working order. It’s a lot easier to make sure everything is up to snuff now in place of having to panic when the snowbirds show up and tell you something isn’t working.
Tip of the month: October
One of the places that tourists get their best information about where to go camping is from the people working at service stations, chamber of commerce offices and welcome stations. This month is a good time to take a supply of your rack cards and call on all of the service people in your area and make sure they are familiar with your property. If you have some real good locations that talk to a lot of new visitors to the area you might even want to take them some of your tee shirts, caps or even a pizza.
Tip of the month: November
It makes no difference whether your campground or RV Park is in the North or South. This month you need to plan to attend the various meetings of your campground associations. At these meetings you will have the opportunity to learn how the other parks in your area are doing and plan common marketing programs to grow the industry. During November many of the state campground owner’s associations will hold a planning meeting. This is also usually the month for meetings of Kampgrounds of America Franchisees, The Jellystone Symposium, and the ARVC convention. One of the best places to learn more about these meetings is at the web site of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
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