Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) recently launched a new discount camping club, providing members with half-off rates for overnight stays at premier resort parks and campgrounds throughout the U.S.
“Right now we have around 300 campgrounds,” said Bruce Hoster, vice president/executive director of Camp Club USA. “Members can just call ahead and receive 50% off of the nightly rates. We have a printed directory and also a website that members can reference to find participating campgrounds.
“The website is kept up to date when new campgrounds are added to the program. I anticipate we’ll be printing a supplemental directory as the number of parks grows.”
Hoster said AGI affiliate Camping World has been instrumental in the preliminary marketing for Camp Club USA. “In many ways it’s also a Camping World program,” Hoster said. “They will do the majority of the sales and promotion through their network of retail stores. They will also market through their Presidents Club, which offers a pretty good starting point for building membership.
“In addition, we launched a significant marketing campaign and are advertising in the AGI consumer books along with (Camping World’s) RV View.”
According to Hoster, Camp Club USA operates similarly to AGI’s Golf Card, a program founded in 1974 that supplies members with discounts at golf course across the country.
“Golf Card members plan their trips around our participating courses,” said Hoster, who also oversees the golf program. “We’re hoping Camp Club members will do the same thing.”
Hoster emphasized that one of the key features carrying over from the golf program is ensuring high standards among the network of campgrounds, which will be required to have a Woodall’s 3-diamond rating or equivalent.
“We really police the Golf Card program, checking on every complaint,” he said. “We will do the same with Camp Club USA. We want to make sure that our members have an enjoyable experience when they use the card. I think the quality of our campgrounds will be the thing that separates us from other discount cards.”
The incentive for campgrounds is added exposure and increased traffic. “Basically our pitch is that they will boost their business,” Hoster said. “We also encourage them to use it as a yield management tool to help them fill empty campsites either seasonally or on off days of the week. They can place stipulations on when the card can be used so they aren’t having to sell sites half-off during holidays or other peak periods.”
Hoster said Camp Club USA has already approached the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and envisions talks with the larger campground chains and group ownership businesses.
On the consumer side, he said the goal is to rapidly increase membership, noting “within a couple of years we want to be the largest and the best quality program in the country.”
AGI is parent to RV Business and RVBUSINESS.com.