> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

Campers in North America are, unsurprisingly, placing more and more importance on technology, though they also have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the effect of “being connected” has on camping trips.

But from a business standpoint, the overriding factor regarding technology is that, for U.S. campers, access to technology is allowing a substantial bloc of campers to spend more time outside, according to the 2017 North American Camper Report released Wednesday (March 15).

The report, conducted by Scott Bahr of Cairn Consulting Group was commissioned by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), looks at a cross-section of all U.S. and Canadian campers, not just KOA guests.

“Among all U.S. campers, 37% — including at least 43% of Millennials — say their access to technology allows them to spend more time camping,” the report notes. “Specifically, access to technology is freeing up more time among younger campers who, in all likelihood, are able to check work e-mails and check in with work when needed.

“What’s more,” it continues, “campers who say that technology allows them to spend more time camping take an average of almost two additional vacation days for camping.”

While most teens bring smartphones with them when camping — like their adult counterparts — an overwhelming majority, 71%, say they would still want to camp without the ability to stay in touch with others by using their phones or computers.

Still, 20% of all campers list free Wi-Fi as one of the top offerings they value in a campground.

Nearly all campers, 95%, bring technology with them when camping, though only 36% of Millennials say it enhances the experience nwhile 38% say it detracts from camping. Still, Millennials and Generation X campers are as likely as teens to go online while camping.

Millennial campers, especially, have grown up with technology, and they’re using it to share their camping experiences via social media.

They’re also using technology to find campgrounds — but fewer are actually using Google, the study found. “People are using a lot of other online sources,” O’Rourke noted. “They’re going to places like KOA.com, they’re finding places using social media and online recommendations. They’re looking at websites for a certain geographic area and then finding campgrounds. Google was still the highest in terms of how people access information, but we did see a decrease there.”

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family remain the largest drivers of camping, she pointed out. “They like to camp because they can spend time with friends and family, and they find campgrounds on the recommendation of friends and family.”

At the campground, access to technology helps drive longer stays. “A high percentage of campers, 60%, said that was an important consideration when selecting a campground, because they felt the use of technology allowed them to camp longer,” O’Rourke said — though Canadians are far less reliant on technology when camping.

In fact, more than a quarter of Canadians don’t go online while camping compared to only 18% in the U.S., according to the report. Canadians are also significantly less likely to expect free Wi-Fi at a campground or to be influenced by the presence of Wi-Fi, and are much more likely to say technology detracts from camping, with 50% of Canadians displeased with tech’s effect on their camping trips.

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/