The 2017 North American Camping Report became public this morning (March 15), and it’s got a lot of good news for the camping and RVing sector, both in the short-term and over the long haul.
Today’s report is the third edition of the North American Camping Report, and while each has been commissioned by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the report goes far beyond KOA guests to survey Americans and Canadians about their thoughts on camping and to quiz campers about their desires and habits.
“There’s a good growth story here,” said KOA Chief Franchise Operations Officer Toby O’Rourke, discussing the report with Woodall’s Campground Management ahead of its release. “We’ve seen about a million new households come into camping each year since we started measuring data. That gives us 3.4 million new camping households since 2014.”
Much of that growth is coming from Generation X campers and Millennials, and even teens have a great outlook toward the future. The growth over the past several years in the camping market also reflects a diversity of racial and ethnic groups that has the camping public starting to more closely resemble the general public, according to the report, which is put together by researcher Scott Bahr of Cairn Consulting Group.
“To me, the big stories in growth are younger, more diverse campers and more families. There’s a huge increase in the numbers of people camping with children,” Cairn noted.
Campers are also staying longer, the report revealed, largely due to the growth of Gen X campers — but also driven in part by technology.
Millennial campers, especially, have grown up with technology, and they’re using it 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,” she said.
O’Rourke noted that access to technology also 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.
New campers continue to largely start in tents, but growth in cabin/park model RV stays is coupled with growth with RV stays.
“When we looked at the new campers, 26% of them camped in an RV. Overall, about 22% of all campers camp in RVs. We also saw growth in diversity coming to RVs,” O’Rourke continued, “in African Americans and Asian Americans in particular. And if we look at the RV base, 33% of RVers were Millennials. Traditionaly we looked at that RV market as more of an older, white group, but now we’re seeing younger, more diverse people giving it a try.”
In fact, 78% of Millennial campers and 77% of Generation X campers would be willing o rent an RV, the study showed.
In all, O’Rourke said, “I think this report reflects a lot of long-term foundations for growth in our business with people coming to camping and keeping camping. Something like 49% of people plan to camp more nights this year.
“Campgrounds in general, from what we see in this report, over the long term I don’t think this is going to slow down. There are people coming in and resonating with it. They’re camping more. They’re getting their kids involved. There’s a lot of positive outlook.”
The report is available by clicking http://koa.uberflip.com/i/794160-2017-north-american-camping-report/