Across the North American camping market, tenting still reigns supreme, with roughly 60% of all campers using tents to enjoy the great outdoors and Millennials being the age group most likely to camp in a tent. But as the camping market grows younger and more racially and ethnically diverse, so too grows the popularity of other accommodations, according to the 2017 North American Camping Report, released today (March 15).
The report, commissioned by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and put together by Scott Bahr of Cairn Consulting Group, states, “These changes in demographics are going to impact traditional camping, as it appears younger campers are more aggressively seeking different types of accommodations.
“While Millennials and GenXers are most likely to camp in tents, they are experimenting with different types of accommodations and say they want to try something new,” the report continues, “In 2017, Millennials and GenXers each express a desire to try out at least two different types of accommodations, which are likely to include a full-service cabin with a bathroom, or a smaller RV.”
In fact, while 60% of all campers use tents and 22% use RVs, the numbers are very different for last year’s new campers. Only 43% of new campers in 2016 tried tents, with 26% starting out in RVs and 27% starting out in a cabin-type rental, including park model RVs, the report found.
Two thirds of nonwhite campers tried new accommodations last year, compared to only half of white campers. Of those nonwhite campers, 38% tried tents, while 26% tried RVing and 20% tried staying in a cabin for the first time.
Looking at this year, nearly half of all nonwhite campers said they want to try an RV in 2017, including 51% of African American campers.
“To look at just the new people who started camping last year, a quarter of them camped in an RV, and with that being their first exposure into this activity, it’s likely they’ll keep RVing,” said KOA Chief Franchise Operations Officer Toby O’Rourke. “Their likelihood to purchase RVs becomes higher. I think there’s strong healthy growth there not only for campgrounds, but for the RV industry. We saw growth in diversity coming to RVs in African Americans and Asian Americans in particular.
“If we just look at the RV base, a lot of Millennials are RVing now — 33% of RVers were Millennials,” she continued. “Traditionally we’ve looked at that RV market as more of an older, white habit. Now we’re seeing younger, more diverse people giving it a try.”
The other interesting RV-specific trend O’Rourke pointed to was that about one in four RVers rented their RV last year. That’s a mix of RVs owned by campground operators, rental units from places like Cruise America or CanaDream, and even Airbnb-type sharing services like Outdoorsy.
“That’s really healthy for the rental market of our industry, because that’s the trial. Renting is important to get people to try an RV and then try camping. If they enjoy the activity and want to do more, they may invest,” she noted.
In fact, looking ahead, 78% of Millennials and 77% of Generation X campers said they would be willing to rent an RV.
KOA Vice President of Communications Mike Gast noted that the Outdoorsy type of business model is one to watch. “They’re becoming the middle man between the RV owner who may feel like they have open days or weekends that they can put into a pool. It’s a small thing at this point, but when you’ve got that kind of robust growth and interest in the lifestyle, we’re probably going to see some more of those popping up along the way.”
For a look at some of the other findings in the report, click here. The report itself is available by clicking http://koa.uberflip.com/i/794160-2017-north-american-camping-report/