The future is bright for campground and RV park owners. Thanks to a rebound in recreational vehicle sales, an increasing baby boomer population, a new enthusiasm for the outdoors from millennials, and rising levels of disposable income, the sector has experienced steady growth over the last five years.
It’s a trend that’s expected to continue. As oil prices remain low and the economy rebounds, revenues are expected to rise. To help you capitalize on these market trends, here are four tips for growing your RV or campground business.
1. Target Experience-Craving Millennials
Every year since 2014, a million new additional households have joined those already around America’s campfires. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s millennials who are driving this growth. According to a 2017 North American Camping Report, millennials account for 38% of the 75 million active camper households in the U.S., up a staggering 34% since 2016. These numbers suggest that millennials are seeking to escape the daily grind, improve their emotional and physical well-being, and enjoy the outdoors. RV manufacturers have taken note, and are actively targeting millennials who they expect to push sales to record highs.
RV and campground owners can seek to capture a share of the millennial market by placing less emphasis on the campground as a destination, but as a stepping-off point to great experiences. Whether it’s hiking, cultural events, mountain biking, or kayaking, think about what brings guests to your location and what they do when they get there. Then, weave this info into your social, email, and online marketing efforts.
Furthermore, one of the key reasons why millennials camp is to spend more time with friends and family. Think of ways to appeal to this sentiment. Perhaps offer a discount for large groups, or “buy one camp spot, get the second at half price.
2. Be Different From Your Competition
There are many ways to stand out and sell more other than renting out campground space. Look to differentiate your campground and appeal to a broader market by providing welcome add-ons.
Tech-savvy millennials and even boomers want to stay in touch and share their campsite memories on Instagram and Facebook. You can cater to their technology preferences while bolstering your business by providing money-making add-ons such as Wi-Fi, full-amp hookups, and vehicle charging stations. Offer online booking (90% of campers make their reservations online) and loyalty programs to keep campers coming back.
You can also differentiate yourself by providing a dedicated event space, a more robust general store (think coffee stations, cell phone and smart device accessories, popular outdoor clothing brands – not just camping gear for the serious camper, etc.). Other add-ons include recreational areas for pets and cabins with amenities.
3. Offer Enticing Activities
Whether your market is snowbirds or campers who are just passing through, add appeal to your RV park or campground by organizing regular events and activities. The secret here is to know your market and come up with a plan that strikes a balance for all. Bingo and beer nights may be appealing to some, while others may prefer nature talks or guided walks. If you attract families, think of ways to appeal and entertain kids and adults alike.
4. Invest in Online Branding
In addition to offering online booking, make your online presence a priority. Ensure your website is professional and up-to-date, has imagery and content that appeal to your target market, and offers social-sharing features.
Have a plan to digitally interact with your customers year-round. Use social media, blogs, and email marketing to define your online identity and connect with customers. Encourage interaction and feedback, and share news, updates, employee profiles, and so on.
Keep an eye on your online reviews of your business. Sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor let you claim your business page and interact with reviewers. But also look out for feedback on sites like HipCamp and The Dyrt. Use this insight to acknowledge customer feedback, and apply any lessons learned to constantly improve how you do business.
No matter what your vision is for growing your business, back it up with a plan. Ask yourself some questions:
- “Who’s our customer?”
- “Why are we different?”
- “What makes us better than the competition?”
- “Are we financially stable enough to grow the business?”
- “Do we need capital to fund growth?”
- “Are we operationally prepared to grow?”
Don’t push your business too soon—be sure you have what it takes to survive a growth strategy. If you can confidently say “yes, we can,” then you’re well on the way to a successful and growing RV or campground business.
Capital to Grow
At First Bank SBA, we think differently from the traditional lending programs other banks offer. We work with independent business owners and entrepreneurs every day, helping them turn vision into reality. We know that increased cash flow often comes after the investment, which is why we help secure favorable lending terms. With an SBA Loan from the Small Business Administration, business owners like you are often approved for larger amounts at better rates because the loans are government backed.
Let one of our small business lending experts work with you to secure the funding you need to grow.