Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) CEO Marguerite Nader and CFO Paul Seavey offered an optimistic outlook for the company during a talk with investors and analysts Tuesday morning (April 18), a day after ELS released its quarterly financial report.
“We see strong demand for our product and property,” Nader said of the real-estate investment trust, which owns a national network of RV and manufactured housing parks.
“With respect to the RV portfolio, our teams are focused on delivering a great customer experience. Each year in the spring guests at our Florida, Arizona and South Texas properties are given an opportunity to book for next winter before the general public,” she continued. “The strength of the bookings from existing customers willing to commit in advance provides the foundation for the next season. This year we found increase in the pay commitment in each market.”
The company is now focused on opening its summer RV parks and marketing the facilities, she said. “Our customers are interested in exploring the outdoors and unique accommodations including yurts, cabins and tiny homes. Our customers are increasingly using technology to enhance their interactions with us. We’ve redesigned our websites and have seen an increase in traffic and revenue.”
Seavey noted that first-quarter resort rental income from annual guests was up 4.6% over the same period of 2016, while transient growth was more moderate.
Membership dues for the company’s Thousand Trails camping club was higher than expected, with a 14.8% growth in camping pass sales and a 19% increase in upgrades compared to last year, Seavey reported. During the quarter, more than a third of visitors to the company’s online RV park sites used a mobile phone to access them.
“We expect solid performance as we transition from our winter season to our summer season and we’ve projected growth rates of 5.4% for annuals, 3% for seasonals and 7.5% for transients,” Seavey said. “Our second-quarter reservations show we are currently 88% reserved for our expected seasonal revenues and 57% reserved for our expected transient revenues, ahead of this time last year.”
The company expects growth of 5.2% in RV-related revenue for the rest of the year, Seavey said.
Nader noted that the company didn’t make any acquisitions during the quarter, but she said the company’s acquisition pipeline remains active.
She also said the company is expanding its marketing of its “tiny home” rentals. “For the location that we have in Portland (Ore.), for the full year we saw a 35% increase in revenue at the property in total. Certainly the five tiny homes that we had, we filled — that was an easy thing to do — and it really generated a lot of ‘halo effect’ kind of revenue across the property.”
“We’ve partnered with Ford to bring tiny homes to the New York Auto Show this week, and there has been a great deal of interest at the show. The hook there is to discuss our properties and the unique accommodations that we have,” she said.