Ninety-nine percent of consumers who bought recreational park trailers in 2003 are satisfied with their purchases and are recommending the concept of vacationing in recreational park trailers to their friends and neighbors, according to national survey response forms collected by the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).
About 447 recreational park trailer buyers, or roughly 6.5% of the 7,074 consumers who purchased 400-square-foot park trailer units last year, took the time to fill out RPTIA’s annual owner survey, which measures customer satisfaction levels while collecting detailed data on the buyer demographics as well as information on how they use their units.
“These numbers are statistically significant,” said William Garpow, RPTIA’s executive director.
“Not only is the sample large enough to give us a representative sample of park trailer owner opinion, but the results are consistent with the very high customer satisfaction levels the recreational park trailer industry has achieved during the past six years.
“In fact, since 1998, the lowest level of customer satisfaction we’ve seen is 98%,” Garpow said. “This means that consumers continue to be very happy with their purchases and with the concept of using recreational park trailers as weekend getaway cottages or seasonal retreats in scenic areas across the United States and Canada. This certainly bodes well for the continuing strength of the recreational park trailer industry.”
Another encouraging survey finding: recreational park trailer owners are becoming younger and more affluent. In 2003, the typical recreational park trailer buyer was 58.1 years old, with an annual income of $61,766. In 1998, the average buyer was 60.3 years with a family income of $50,103.
The 2003 survey found that 45% of park trailer owners work full time while 15% still have children living at home. In 1998, by contrast, 32% of park trailer owners worked full time and only 9% had children living at home.
“Our surveys increasingly tell us that recreational park trailers are no longer the exclusive domain of retirees,” Garpow said. “More and more young families in their 30s and 40s are getting into the recreational park trailer lifestyle and people are simply retiring younger, so these factors are combining to gradually change the demographic profile of the nation’s recreational park trailer owners.”
Garpow added that many consumers are attracted by the industry’s increasingly innovative designs. Unlike manufactured homes, which are a form of low-cost, permanent housing, recreational park trailers or “park models” are moveable resort cottages that are designed exclusively for part-time recreational use. Typically upscale in appearance, they often include bay windows and lofts as well as walnut, oak or maple cabinetry.
Park models also feature higher ceilings and more windows than travel trailers or fifth-wheels, which must adhere to different construction guidelines for highway use. Most states allow park models to be built up to 400 square feet in size, with the exception of Florida, which allows 500-square-foot units.
Typically costing less than $50,000, with an average price in the $33,000 range, park trailers are becoming increasingly competitive with condos and site-built vacation cottages in resort locations, which can easily cost $200.000 to $300,000 or more. As a result, demand for park trailers is increasing in many areas across the Midwest and Northeast, Garpow said.
Forty-five percent of recreational park trailer owners set up their units near a lake in 2003, while 24% opted for an ocean setting. Eleven percent opted to use their trailers in the desert.
The 1998 figures were relatively consistent with the exception of the desert areas, which attracted 24% of park trailer owners. Many parks in Arizona, in particular, are currently filled with as many recreational park trailers as they can accommodate.