The president of the National Association of of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) believes tough economic times are the worst time for campground operators to reduce their marketing budgets.
In her monthly column appearing in the February issue of Wooodall’s Campground Management, ARVC President Linda Profaizer wrote, “It is important, in my opinion, not to cut your marketing efforts in a down economy; research shows it is more advisable to increase your promotional efforts in tougher times.
“Our sector of the travel industry is also experiencing changing travel patterns with our customers staying closer to home, spending less on their travels and making plans more spontaneously,” Profaizer continued. “In fact, some Sunbelt areas apparently experienced delayed travel plans. Parks that would normally be full in December didn’t fill up until January. And some still haven’t returned to previous occupancy levels.”
The Travel Industry Association (TIA) recently conducted a survey of its 2,300 member organizations, which showed that three-fourths of TIA members are seeing people traveling closer to home and doing more last-minute traveling, she said. Nearly as many reported fewer international visitors and lower travel expenditures. Yet, a third of those surveyed increased marketing and advertising budgets in 2002 and 2003. Only 9% plan to cut their budgets in 2003.
Campground operators’ marketing efforts should include efforts “to encourage people to spend more time at your park or to stimulate them to make their travel plans a little earlier,” Profaizer said.
Focusing a greater portion of promotional efforts on markets in your region or state and/or offering new discounted rates and packages are among the other strategies that appear to be wise at this time.
“Park operators often package their overnight rates with golf outings, winery tours, picnic lunches and scenic drives, rafting trips, restaurants – you name it and a package can be put together,” Profaizer said. “Some parks have even networked in a region and assembled packages involving overnight stays in several parks, plus tours, etc.
“At the same time, we are seeing greater demand for seasonal sites, and some park owners have added to their pool of seasonal sites, but at the risk of taking them out of their inventory of overnight sites.”
Woodall’s Campground Management is published by TL Enterprises Inc., the subsidiary of Affinity Group Inc. that also publishes RV Business and RVBUSINESS.COM.