RVers can expect to pay higher campground fees to help pay for improvements and amenities they want to have available, according to campground business consultant Bob MacKinnon of Murrieta, Calif.
A recent survey by a unit of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) found that $35,000 a year is the median amount that campground operators are investing in improvements.
But campground rates remain low when compared with other lodging options, MacKinnon said.
The survey found the median campground fees were $19 to $25.50 per night for two adults or $20 to $27.50 for two adults and two children under 18. But MacKinnon believes increases are needed for operators to pay for needed improvements.
“I think that we could expect to see more aggressive and significant increases in rates over the next few years because (campground operators) are putting money into their businesses and they’re going to justify some more aggressive rate increases to help them raise profits and to fund more improvements,” he said. “What I think is important is not the amount that’s spent, but that the industry is realizing that there is a tremendous need for them to react to the changing demands of their customers.
“We need to add amenities, reconfigure sites and add more power,” MacKinnon continued. “And each park will spend differently, depending on who their target market is. But if I’m not offering a better value to my customers, I don’t have justification to raise my rates.”
Some campground operators are getting out of the business because they either can’t afford to make the improvements or because they don’t want to take on significant debt just prior to their retirement, said Ron Beard a campground business consultant from Austin, Tex. “Some people are selling to get out because they fear having to make the improvements to compete.”
Beard added that he was hired recently by several campground operators to develop exit strategies for them.