Looking to amp up the activity level at your park?
One solution, according to Ron Romens, president of Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS), Verona, Wis., is to make better use of your waterfront assets.
“Where they have existing lakes or waterfront features,” Romens told WCM, “they’re starting to leverage those assets. Waterfront is more expensive – and more valuable – than any other part of the property. They’re using their natural resources.”
On the other hand, those lacking natural water assets are installing swimming ponds, typically ranging in size from three-quarters of an acre to two acres. By digging a pond and hauling in sand to make a beach area for use with inflatables, Romens says, an owner can “add a lot of play value to a facility.” Such features not only attract campground guests, they can help attract families of fee-paying day users and party rental income.
“The campgrounds that do this are the ones that are family style, that cater to kids,” Romens says. “They put in some shade structures and create a whole activity zone around that pond.” Some install water slides and other recreation features and add cabins or yurts nearby.
Romens says constructing a swimming pond can be much more economical than installing a pool. “In Wisconsin, a three-quarter to 1.25-acre pond is going to cost $50,000 to $80,000 to dig and install,” he says. “A swimming pool the size they need might be $100,000 to $250,000.”
Some campground owners are turning to dry-land activities to draw guests, including recreational tricycles, pedal-powered go-karts and miniature golf.
Derek Lother, vice president of sales for Prime Karts, Pensacola, Fla., summarized the benefits of the single- and two-seater karts the company makes. “The two best things they provide campgrounds are the rental income they generate by renting them out; and because of the uniqueness of the product, they tend to keep people in the park. It’s more of a profit center and a new fun activity for their guests to do.”
Campgrounds also are a big market for Trailmate of Sarasota, Fla., which manufactures recreational tricycles. Older adults enjoy being able to pedal around a campground and appreciate the stability of the three-wheelers, and children see them as fun, says Trailmate President Wendy Shim. “Kids may bring their regular bikes with them,” she says, “but when they see these it’s an opportunity to try something different.”
Miniature golf courses are popular draws in campgrounds, says Joseph Buckshon, co-owner of Mini-Golf Inc., headquartered in Jessup, Pa. The company specializes in portable courses, which Buckshon says are less expensive than permanent courses and can be moved easily when necessary.
Mini-Golf’s products include 100 types of holes to choose from for a course, including windmills, wishing wells and paddle wheels. Buckshon says an area as small as 3,000 square feet can accommodate an 18-hole course.
Adventure Golf Services of Traverse City, Mich., makes both permanent and portable courses, according to Kreg Krupa, account executive. Krupa says its modular, portable offerings are particularly well-suited for campground owners looking for an economical course and are among the company’s best-selling products.