WOODALLSCM.com November 2017 - 17 groundowner’sforte,collaboratingwithlocal organizations and communities to plan events can be a good place to start. Each year the Williston Crossings RV Resort in Williston, Fla., hosts dozens of events for governmentofficialsaswellasprofessionals. “The mayors of the state have an event each year. We host three events a year for all the veterinarians in the state and the police chiefs have their big event here,” said Williston Crossings RV Resort Owner Alan Wallace. Lettingtheoutsideorganizationhandlethe planningandjustbeingtheparkhostonsome events works well for Amana RV Park, as well. “We have a local art guild who helps put on the woodworking festival, or the ‘Woods Fest’ as it has come to be called,” said Woods.“It’sbecomeawayforlocalartiststo really show their work and come up with a way to get exposure for their products, as well as sharing their skills and knowledge.” ReachingouttoRVrallygroupsisanother way to fill campsites — with the bonus of possiblybecomingpartoftheirannualsched- ule, since many rally clubs visit the same parks each year. Depending on the needs of the group and the campground’s capabilities, the camp- ground has the option of being more hands- on or hands-off. Some campgrounds merely provide a beautiful park and a meeting area, whether that is an outdoor pavilion or clubhouse. “Wehaveseveraldifferentcampingclubs that come here every year,” explained Fair. “They put us on their list of places to come when they’re doing their yearly schedules. If they’ve never been here before, they’ll send their wagon-master — their head person — to come and scout it out, talk to us and see what it’s like and see everything we have to offer.Ifthey’vebeenherebefore,theycalland we reserve however many sites they need. “They set up and stay for a week or a weekend,” he continued. “If it’s a camping club we don’t charge them to use our facility. We give them the key and they have full use of it the whole time they’re here. We just let them in the building and they’ve planned out everything.Wedon’tprovidefoodoranything like that.” This type of arrangement is easier on a campground owner and doesn’t require a lot of extra staffing, planning or organization. It’s essentially a “turn-key” event. The Good Sam mini rally has been going toCoushatteRecreationRanchforaslongas Neliuscanremember.Hesaidhekeepsthem coming back by leaving them alone. “They ask what we have to do out here and I say,’ relax’,” he said. “We don’t do any- thingtoentertainthem.Wejusthaveapeace- ful, quiet place to hold an event or camp.” While some campgrounds have a hands- said Woods. “It was originally built for the World Ag Expo back in 1988 and we didn’t start focusing on camping until the ’90s. Around 2006, we had the Farm Progress Show here for the last time and we really wanted to start focusing more on camping and rally groups as well as things more unique to this particular area.” Although some campground owners may feel deterred from hosting events if they do not have event-specific space, lack of pavil- ions isn’t a deal-breaker. The most important requirement when hosting events is merely having a large enough space to accommo- datethegroup’sneeds,accordingtoPoppen- hagen.BlueBearMountainCampground,for example,doesn’thaveanyoftheonsitefacil- itiestypicalofcampgroundsthathostevents. “The most important thing is space,” said Poppenhagen. “We’ve got a lot of space. We’ve also got kind of a natural bowl, which makes it nice for the music festival and weddings, too. We don’t have an indoor space. We tent everything.” Hosting an event is one thing, but hosting a successful event is another. Whether it’s a campground-organizedevent,acollaborative effort with a local organization or simply a daylong,hands-offprogram,thereareimpor- tant factors that determine how successful it is and whether the campground will see return customers. According to park opera- tors WCM spoke with, the three main factors that determine a successful event are event support, event marketing and, perhaps most importantly, cleanliness. “Work hard, do anything and everything within your capabilities. Offer catering if you can, just do everything they want as far as you are able to,” said Nelius. “I would say that the best thing you can do is have a good relationship with people who can cater,” said Duran. “That’s the key thing right there — if you can provide that service to a small or big rally. If you have that type of relationship with a caterer who can bring the food in, has good pricing, I think that’s really important. These people come in and want to have a good time, they don’t want to cook and clean up.” Although marketing an outside organiza- tion’s event may seem beyond the realm of campground responsibility, it too can have a hugeimpactonwhethertheorganizationand campers return for future events. “It’s wonderful, especially initially, to be abletosupportthegroupasmuchaspossible togettheeventofftheground—thatsuccess willcomebackincamping,”saidWoods.“We became more successful when we started reaching out to other local organizations and saying ‘Hey, we would love to have you come here. We would love to help support your show. You have a lot of campers and people coming from out of town, let’s talk.’” The sky’s the limit when it comes to host- ingevents.Frommusicfestivalstocarshows and everything in between, there are myriad of events to challenge and inspire campground owners across the country. “We have Smoke on the Falls,” said Fair. “It’s a big BBQ cookoff sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. We have a charity pig roast where a big group of people raise money for kids for Christmas. We have a big tractor show in November. We’ve also set up all kinds of trails at the campground andwehaveseveraldifferentrunningevents and biking events. There’s always something going on.” Onceacampgroundisreadytostarthost- ing events, they need a way of getting the word out. Many campground owners and managers choose to rely on word-of-mouth and annual rally groups to spread the word, but some have a more active strategy. Attending a trade show with information regarding the campground and types of facilitiesavailableisonewaytoreachorgan- izations who need an event venue. Route 66 RV Resort is a relatively new park, so a trade show provided the platform to reach their niche market. “We have been looking at possibly partic- ipating in some of the RV trade shows to get the word out there and show off our facility,” explained Duran. Wallace also offered another possibility. “Hire a consultant, instead of just going out there blind,” said Wallace. “There are all kinds of companies out there who can help.” — Ron Barger WCM WillistonCrossingsRVResortprovidesaspaceforeventsandletsorganizersworryaboutthedetails. A banquet hall, like the one pictured here at Williston Crossings RV Resort in Williston, Fla., can offer groups additional space to host gatherings. off approach, on the opposite end are camp- grounds and RV resorts that offer the whole nine yards. “The main reason groups want to have rallies here is that we have the facilities, like theclubhouseformeetings,therallybarn,the large resort-style pool and a banquet room that holds up to 400 people,” said Carlos Duran, manager of Route 66 RV Resort in Albuquerque, N.M. “They can bring in entertainment and set up a dance floor. It helps that we have a food and beverage department, too. “We go in and clean everything up, we serve the food, we pick up the plates and when everyone is done we clean up,” he continued. “We do everything. We have the ability to do that. That’s one of the big advantages about doing a rally here.” One of the biggest components of an event is the space where the event or rally will take place. On-site facilities can range from outdoor pavilions to the oddly specific, like wedding chapels. Noccalula Falls and Route 66 RV Resort have all this and more, whichallowsthemtohostavarietyofevents. “As far as the campground we have two outdoor pavilions, we have an indoor facility, like a meeting hall with kitchens and bath- rooms,” said Fair. “Usually there’s a lot going on all the time, whether it be weddings at our weddingchapel,weddingreceptionsorfam- ily reunions. We also have a camping pavil- ion, so a lot of times when we have large groups that are camping together we just allow them to use our campground pavilion.” Campground owners should also take advantage of their campground’s history. Amana RV Park and Events Center has the unique benefit of being designed specifically for events. “We started out as an event grounds,” Events,likethecarshowpicturedhereatArmanaRVCampground,can also offer a chance for the local community to see your campground.