18 - July 2019 Woodall’s Campground Management • Real Rustic Log Cabins • Turn-Key! • Durable and Appealing • Highly Profitable • Pays Off Within 1-3 Years Real Log Park Model Cabins 717-445-5522 • www.LancasterLogCabins.com Park Model Cabins Starting at $26,900 Located in Lancaster, PA • Make sure you have enough room for their meetings and special events: If you don’t have enough meeting rooms, you or the rally group will need to rent a tent or tents to provide suffi- cient space for what the rally group wants to do. “I had a rally group this past April and their representatives were out here three or four times in advance of the event asking about scheduling rooms and what they could do at the park,”Weinell said. Austin mentioned it’s also important for campground owners to be “on the same page” when it comes to hosting rally groups and knowing what they are willing to do to secure this business. “Wehadanissueinvolving our Hangouts director, who was trying to book an event at a park run by a couple, where one person was more open to hosting the event than the other,” she said. Tony Nichols, national sales man- ager for Blue Water Development, which owns, operates and develops campgrounds and RV resorts in the easternU.S.,saidtheparksofthefuture shouldbedesignedwithralliesinmind. Before parks are even built, he said, there should be a section of the park’s business plan that spells out the devel- oper’sstrategicvisionintermsofrallies. “Once you get to a certain number (of rally participants), you have to have space,” he said, adding that such space not only involves RV sites, but meeting rooms. “Right now,” Nichols said, “I don’t know of many campgrounds that can host a rally of 400 rigs, plus have all of the meeting space that’s necessary.” But developers that build camp- ground and RV park facilities with rallies in mind can also use the same facilities for weddings and corporate events and other group functions, further diversifying and strengthening the park’s business base, Nichols said. Rally group organizers, for their part, have words of wisdom to share with park operators who would like to get into the rally business. Among them: • Send letters to RV clubs and organ- izations stating your interest in hosting rally groups. • Include references in your park’s printed and online advertising indicat- ing that your park is “chapter friendly” or “group friendly.” Words like, “We welcome FMCA chapters,” will get noticed, according to Mallory. • Be reasonable with pricing. “The price point needs to be reasonable enough to fold into a total event cost for attendees,” said Austin. “For example, one of our Hangouts directors specified that the maximum he’ll consider per nightis$45perperson.Anythinghigher becomes cost-prohibitive once the lengthoftheeventandothereventcosts are factored into that total.” Austin added that the Escapees grav- itates toward parks that offer discounts based on the number of event atten- dees. “If we can guarantee a minimum number of bookings, it’s appreciated when the campground owner or manager works with us on the price per site,” she elaborated. • Campgrounds with no hookups or limited utilities are attractive to some rally groups. Austin said her club tends to look for campgrounds that offer both full-hookups and dry camping options. “For some, it’s about budget. For others, they rarely camp in campgrounds, so dry camping is preferable due to their setup,” she said. “If a campground in- cludes sites that do not have sewer con- nections,itispreferredthattheydohave on-site dumping facilities. If it’s free or includedintheprice,that’sevenbetter.” • There is a lot of flexibility with amenities needed for rallies. “For most of our events,” said Austin, “access to a covered or enclosed gathering area big enough for our group is important in times of inclement weather. That may mean the campground already offers this perk, or maybe we work with the campground management to have a portabletentsetupfortheevent.Laun- dry facilities, on-site pools or hot tubs, playgrounds and dog parks are nice to have, but they aren’t deal breakers. Many of our events keep attendees busy enough that they aren’t looking for a resort like experience from the campground.” • Private parks are especially attrac- tive if they are close to a vari- ety of attractions. “Just to go toarallyandsitthereandnot do anything is really boring,” said Cross. “We like to go out and investigate things.” Austin said her club also seeks campgrounds that are close to a variety of activities. “Our Convergences and Hangouts involve outdoor excursions such as hiking, rafting, and kayaking,” she said. “For Convergences, it is particularly helpful if those kinds of ac- tivities are nearby, since the event par- ticipantsonlyfreetimeisintheevenings and on weekends.” • Have knowledgeable staff ready to help organizers. “Regardless of the events or number of attendees, we look for campground owners or managers who are welcoming to groups,” said Austin. “It’s much easier to work with someone who is either familiar with hosting events or is willing to learn as we go. It is also very helpful if staff is familiar with the area’s businesses and can help facilitate conversations between our staff and theirs in case we want to book excursions, rent equip- ment, or enjoy the local sights.We want oureventtobeasuccessforbothusand the campground and having managers whowantthesamemakestheentireex- perience more enjoyable for all.” WCM Park owners can expect a site visit from organizers to en- sure that the park is a good fit for the group’s members. Rally hosts also need to plan activities for kids.