Creating Expereinces. Thanks to a new generation of travelers, those two words should be imprinted in your mind as the strategy of 2018. Your job as a campground manager/owner is no longer as simple as “Welcome to your camp site. Enjoy your weekend.” Campers, quite simply, want more. What lies behind the “more” is something called the experience economy, driven by people's growing interest in spending money on experiences rather than on material goods. These are the guests who want to show off their surroundings, and share every detail of their vacation - typically on social media. Of course, it will come as no surprise that Millenials, the nation's biggest generation by the numbers, are at the forefront of this trend. And it's their vacation expectations (and their smartphones!) that are shifting hotel strategy. And your job is to ensure your campsite has the moment-making goods.
Here are a few ideas that can help you make it happen.
Make It Personal
The most direct path to creating an experience for your campers is through knowledge. Learn about them and then personalize their stay based on that information. Here are two ways to make that happen.
1. Attach a Questionnaire to Booking Confirmation Emails After providing the requisite reservation details, ask campers to answer a few simple questions to get an overview of the camping party and their vacation goals. Sample questions may be:
Who are you camping with? A) My friends B) My family C) My dogs D) I'm camping solo
What are your vacation goals? A) Getting active B) Relaxing at the campsite C) Exploring the local sights D) Trying a new adventure
Once you have those answers, you can send a follow-up email with activity suggestions for the active or adventurous; a quieter campsite location suggestion for those wanting relaxation; dog-friendly features for campers traveling with pets; and more.
2. Personalize their arrival experience Create an experience for campers from the moment they arrive at your campground—it adds a personal touch and creates share-worthy moments. How do you start? Here are a couple of ideas.
OFFER WELCOME KITS- Based on the answers you receive from the email questionnaire, you can customize welcome kits to fit each campsite party (if you don’t have time, make generic boxes for everyone). For example, you can fill welcome kits with a trail map, snack packs of pretzels or trail mix, and bottled water. Or for families with kids, pack the box with hot chocolate packets, plus graham crackers, a chocolate bar and marshmallows for a first-night’s s’more treat.
MAKE CAMPSITE WELCOME SIGNS- Create personalized signs that are the first thing campers see when they arrive at their site. Simple chalkboard easels are a great way to write a customized welcome message that will instantly give campers a smile (and probably a reason to snap an Insta-shot). Plus, you can erase and reuse as often as you like!
Make Local Connections
Knowing the area around your campground and having local connections can produce some of the most amazing experiences for campers. Make sure you’re aware of the best attractions and have relationships with the managers/owners so you can safely recommend their goods and services. Connections with kayak and canoe tours, kite sailing lessons, zipline adventures, and other outdoor-oriented businesses are key to delivering the memorable moments your campers crave.
Offer Unique Accommodations
Tents and RVs are classic camp accommodations, and for a lot of travelers, that works just fine.
But if you offer some unique rental opportunities like teepees, safari tents or yurts, you’re elevating the camping experience to a whole new level. If you want to up the ante even more, you can step into the glamping arena and outfit accommodations with luxuries like spacious beds, comfortable linens, a wood stove to keep nighttime temperatures comfortable and even private decks.
Add On-Site Campground Amenities
Make your property a true experience-destination by adding unique and cool amenities that appeal to campers of all ages. Have a zipline professionally installed on-site, erect a stationary climbing wall, or invest in a solar-heated swimming pool at locations where lakes aren’t conveniently nearby. You can also hire an on-site coordinator to set up fun events like scavenger hunts, a mini escape room experience or outdoor movie nights under the stars.
Just remember, when a trip ends, it's the memories that the campers will treasure - and the experiences your property inspires is at the forefront of those memories. Make the most of it.
Does your campground/RV park deliver memorable experiences for guests? What kinds of changes would make sense for your property? Let us know!