Editor’s Note: This column was written as part of a partnership between the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and WOODALLSCM.com.
As private RV park and campground owners, having public recreation lands such as national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges located near your park is good for business. These protected areas give guests even more reasons to stay with you and more places to explore when they get there.
Now there’s an easy way for you to learn about existing public land conservation projects as well as those that are in the planning stage.
For more than 55 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has served as America’s premiere land conservation and outdoor recreation access program, benefitting Americans in every state. For years, the LWCF has wanted to create a user-friendly, “one-stop” map and database of the projects it has invested in over the years and now that project is a reality. LWCF has now created two maps — one for past projects and another for future projects that have been proposed.
Creating a searchable map of this magnitude required a major collaborative effort from the staffs of the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service. Invaluable assistance was also provided by many non-profit partners: Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Land Trust Alliance, National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers, National Recreation and Park Association, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, Western Rivers Conservancy and the Wilderness Land Trust.
How to Use the Maps:
To learn about existing LWCF projects in your area, go to https://lwcf.tplgis.org/mappast/ and enter your location. This will bring up a map with color-coded icons representing projects completed for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Legacy Program, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Click on any project to learn more details.
LWCF has also created an interactive “Future Projects” map at https://lwcf.tplgis.org/mapfuture/ that shows projects submitted by federal agencies to Congress as part of the annual budget and appropriations process, as well as projects identified by state, local and non-profit partners. Also searchable by location, the map includes colored icons that identify projects proposed for battlefields and historical sites, outdoor recreation access, water quality and supply, wildlife habitat, working lands and state and local parks.
A large number of these potential project needs were identified through a public survey conducted by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations, of which the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is a member, in partnership with Oregon State University.
The LWCF is our nation’s most important source of funding for conservation and outdoor recreation for all. The organization’s mission is to protect the places that matter to you, which, of course, also means they matter to your guests.
Keep Your Guests Updated on Projects Near Your Park
Now, with the help of the LWCF maps, it will be easier for you to learn more about past and future projects relating to the conservation of public recreation lands near your park. Add this information and links to these improvements to your GoCampingAmerica.com profile to share with potential guests.
Driving business to your park using your GoCampingAmerica.com profile is easy and it can literally put you in front of the millions of campers who use the site each year to find their next adventure.
Your park’s listing on GoCampingAmerica.com and the new GoCampingAmerica.com mobile app, is just one of the many benefits of ARVC membership. With more than 25 million Americans saying they will hit the road on a camping trip at some point this summer, this is the ideal time to take a look at your listing to make sure it’s as informative as it can be so you can draw more campers to your park.
A great place to start is to go to GoCampingAmerica.com and enter your city or area so you can see your listing from a consumer’s perspective, as well as the other campgrounds that will appear in their search results. How does your listing compare to the others?
Here are some elements you should consider including in your listing if they’re not already there:
*NEW*Add Phone Number — Add your phone number to your account and allow users on mobile devices to click to call your park. Make it easy for potential guests, especially those on the road, to call your park to book a site or get answers to their questions.
*NEW*Add Videos to Your Profile — You can post videos to your profile that interested campers can view while looking at your profile. Link to a YouTube video of your park and give users another way to see your park and learn why they should stay.
Updated photos — There’s a lot of truth in the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Do your photos do the best job they can of showcasing your park? You can upload as many pictures as you want but make sure you have at least two high-resolution photos to help your park stand out. BONUS TIP: Refresh your chosen images every few months to keep your park’s profile fresh and at the top of the search page.
Location — Your listing will automatically include a Google map with your location, but you can also include any special driving directions campers might need.
Description — An overview of what makes your park unique.
Season — The dates you’re open or if you’re open year-round.
Park Features — Site options, recreation opportunities, amenities, services and lifestyle (family-friendly, 55 and over, pet-friendly, etc.)
Rates — You may want to include a range of rates or just list a “starting at” number.
Clubs and Affiliations — Good Sam, military discounts…etc.
Links to Your Website, Social Media and Reservations System — This will make it as easy as possible for campers to learn more about your park and book their reservations.
Nearby Attractions — List any natural wonders, hiking trails, tours, theme parks or other attractions campers would enjoy. As we discussed previously, these attractions are what is going to lead campers to your door, so the more you tout your close proximity to these areas the better.
“The GoCampingAmerica website has undergone many changes since it was first introduced,” said Deb Carter, executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC) and CEO of ARVC-member park Buttonwood Beach RV Resort in Earleville, Md. “It’s developed into a valuable asset and ARVC member benefit for our Maryland campgrounds. It has widened our customer base by being available to current campers and prospective ones, 24/7. The introduction of the new mobile website (via a free app) is a wonderful addition, one that makes our information even easier to access. Even if our businesses aren’t open, GoCampingAmerica.com is! So much in our hectic world revolves around the need for better communication. GoCampingAmerica.com provides a great opportunity to get our messages across on a national and even international basis. The advertising opportunities on GoCampingAmerica.com when coupled with the social media and marketing that ARVC provides, are first class.”
Once you decide what changes you’d like to make to your listing, just go to GoCampingAmerica.com, click on “Park Owner Login” at the top of the page and log in to your ARVC member account to update it.
While you’re there, you can also review the engagement data for your park, including total page views, unique visitors and website and reservation link clicks you’ve received through the GCA website and mobile app.