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The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) provided educational sessions on marketing, customer service, pricing, propane and front desk management software on Thursday (April 25), the third and final day of the association’s annual spring meeting, according to a press release.

Michael Moore, who serves as general manager of Texas Advertising, discussed the various methods of marketing a park through print and online platforms, the importance of tracking results, and the need to sustain marketing and advertising efforts to both build and maintain a park’s customer base.

Larry Brownfield, director of franchise development for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) talked about customer service, focusing on the differences between “high tech” and “high touch” ways to enhance the guest experience.

The reality, of course, is that park operators need to provide both high-tech and high-touch customer service to their guests.

“To maintain a good high tech-high touch relationship is going to cost money,” Brownfield said, citing the need to provide Wi-Fi service as an example. “Wi-Fi is just as important to people as water, sewer and electric.”

Brownfield also encouraged park operators to view Wi-Fi not as an amenity, but as an essential service, noting “it’s a utility, not an amenity.”

Private parks, however, still have a long way to go to improve the quality of their Wi-Fi service. “Four in 10 campers have a negative opinion of the quality of Wi-Fi at a campground,” he said.

There are rewards for parks that make the necessary investments to provide high quality Wi-Fi service, however.

“If you provide better Wi-Fi, people stay three more days,” Brownfield said, citing KOA statistics. “You’re going to have to spend (money) to get it.”

Brownfield also cautioned park operators to provide a “high touch” response whenever they experience a “high tech slam” in the form of a negative online review.

“When you read a (negative) review, wait at least two hours before you respond online,” he said. “Write your response offline. Read it. Then let a somewhat neutral party read it next, and then submit it. You’re always looking for the ability to cultivate a relationship.”

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