With a focus on improving sales and ultimately the bottom line, Ocean City, Md.-based Real Hospitality Group is now setting its sights on the campground industry with the official launch of Camp Anytime Management.
Applying a sophisticated business model that yielded a successful seven-year run in the hospitality industry, Camp Anytime provides campground operators with a suite of management services including day-to-day operations, marketing and sales, human resources and comprehensive fiscal management.
CEO Ben Seidel told Woodall’s Campground Management that the move represented a logical path for Real Hospitality Group. “I’m an avid RVer, so I am familiar with the challenges operators face in trying to consistently turn a profit,” he said. “We are using a similar strategy as the hospitality industry. Essentially, we want to assume the back-end responsibilities and let the owners concentrate on what they do best, which is interacting with their guests and making sure they have a good experience. We take over the responsibility of being the manager.”
Seidell said the company, which is a member of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), has been testing the water in the campground sector for the past year working with Blue Water Development to improve efficiencies for the three campground properties the company acquired.
“We brought Camp Anytime on board to manage our three campground resorts, and they’ve helped to increase our properties’ revenues by 40% and our bottom lines by over 25%,” said Blue Water Development owner Todd Burbage, whose company owns Chincoteague Island KOA in Chincoteague, Va., Sunset Beach Resort in Cape Charles, Va., and the Resort at Massey’s Landing in Millsboro, Del. “They bring a business mindset and discipline that’s desperately needed in the campground and RV park industry.”
Seidel reported that in addition to Blue Water Development’s interests, Camp Anytime currently has five more campgrounds in the works. “We really see this as a good fit. We understand that each campground is a unique entity,” he said. “The way our model is set up they can take bits and parts of what we offer.”
A key driver for Camp Anytime is that it rides on the backing of Real Hospitality Group’s “$2 1/2 billion in assets,” according to Jarratt Watkins, managing director for Camp Anytime.
“Basically, the campgrounds are doing the best they can with what they have,” he said. “They just don’t have time, or the resources, to do everything like accounting, recruiting, training, handling infrastructure or even bringing in a core group of HR specialists. Those are all things we can provide.”
Seidel added, “We can allocate operating costs of just north of $8 million. If you throw $8 million at as ‘mom and pop’ operation, good things are going to happen.”
An area that is high on the priority list is changing the traditional format for reservations.
“The way it has always been is that the campgrounds send out a rate card the year before, which locks them into pricing for the following year,” Seidel related. “We are employing a system used in the hospitality sector where the campgrounds can instantly price sites based on supply and demand. It involves establishing a variable rate structure based on stay patterns, occupancy, and pricing for different RV types and also special incentives to fill need periods.”
Watkins noted, “Another big change is that we take the campground from paper to virtual where we can put the entire inventory online. We are able to track reservation information, like peak arrival times, so we can be proactive — making sure the camp store is stocked when people get there and tailoring the types of activities to match the guests. Just as importantly we increase the campground’s social media presence to improve our marketing efforts as well as direct communications with potential and current guests.”
Along with internal upgrades, Camp Anytime brings “customer-facing enhancements” to the campground sector, including a Camp Anytime Rewards program offering points earned for stays; member-only food/beverage promotions; discounts for on-site activities; convenient multi-destination package savings; early booking opportunities; and a Camp Anytime Kids program that professionally supervised schedules of games, crafts, hiking, and sports activities for children.
“Our goal is to not only build revenue for the parks and campgrounds, but also increase the overall customer experience,” Seidel said. “There’s no doubt the campground business is very different from hotels, but our end game is the same. It’s true revenue management and its applicable to the 600-site mega-campgrounds as well as the 100-site boutique facilities.
“It really comes down to this. We want owners to make more money with us than without us. If that doesn’t happen, then we’re gone.”