b'They told camp operators that their reaction ourdifferentparksandalleviateahuge merchandise a lot. Well change colors, well items as prizes for the various activities sheto the situation is vital to ensuring they flip a issue, he explained.change styles, because if we have the same does at the park. negative situation into a positive one.Gast told attendees that the above sce- thing every year, guess what? They only buy When its free and its a prize, campersIjustwanttore- nario is a good example of how fast things it year one, and then they dont buy it again. think it is awesome, she explained. mind you that anytime move in todays digitally fueled world.Winship said attendees who cater to a lotyou have a conflict on It used to be that it was a letter that went of seasonal campers probably need to keep Delivering More Funyour campground, any- to corporate if they had a complaint that less inventory.Bud Styer, owner of Bud Styers & Asso-time theres a difficult wasnt being handled on the campground, Youre going to get that one-time sale at ciates, a consulting firm, and a park owner,camper, youve got to Gast said. Then it was an email, maybe a the beginning of the season, and then theyre told attendees during his session titled Howrealize they are bring- phone call. Now, weve got two or three peo- probably not going to come into your store to Choose the Best New Amenity for Youringtheirstufftothe ple that are in our home office that just mon- again, she explained. Larry Brownfield issue, Brownfield said. itor social media because thats usually the CampgroundownersalsoThere could be stuff first time we hear about a situation. want to consider if they arethat has been building up for years and years, Mason said that it also is important for going to operate their store outand it could be as simple as the camper had owners to understand the intention of their of a standalone building or inan RV tire blowout on the way to the park. words and how they write things when re- the same building as their frontThat all puts stress on the situation.sponding to complaints on social media.office. On top of that, you may be bringing stuff The inflections and the communication For us, we have a stand-to the situation as well, he added. You can be skewed really fast, she said. You alone building, which, as youcould be having a rough day, and this is the havetomakesurethatyouparseyour can imagine, has its pluses andlast thing you wanted to deal with. The issue words, because they dont hear your inflec- minuses,sheexplained.Itmeans that theres no long linesat check-in if you want to goand buy firewood, but it alsomeans in the less busy monthsthat I have a whole person thatI have to pay to run the store, Bud Styer focused his session on how to create memorable moments. even when its not that busy.Whereas if you have your store in your of- Park at ARVCs OHCE that owners need tofice, you can utilize one person to do both determine who their park is attracting beforewhen youre not as busy, which can, de- deciding what types of amenities are goingpending on what state youre in and where to work. your minimum wage is, mean big savings. A park in Florida looks way different thanWinship said they have tenters at the park a park in Wisconsin, he said. and that selling blocks of ice has worked out Styer told attendees that surveys havewell for them.shown the public will change who they doTenters will buy a lot of groceries and business with for a place that offers more fun. camping items because they dont want to How much fun is it to stay at your place,pack and haul everything, she explained. or is the fun, Hey, Im going to have a fire,Think about the things that you can carry to asked Styer. How many people have gonemake their lives easier. Like fire starters, to a park where the kids at 10 a.m. on Satur-Most sessions involved a Q&A session.blocks of ice, simple grocery items like eggs, day say, Im bored. When can we leave?milk and orange juice, things that people just They just got there Friday night. Thats not aforget or dont want the hassle of bringing good sign.is somebody at this point has to be the smart tionandthingscouldbemisconstrued with them. He told attendees that sometimes geo-one, and it needs to be you. Because guess quickly. Papoose Pond Family Campground and graphic and topographic issues will deter-what? Its your business, your reputation and Cabins is focused on attracting families and mine what you can do with a piece of land.the brands reputation. Operating a Successful Store young people, which means the park carries Styer said that if an owner has a hill or ridge,A panel of campground operators includ- Keeping good records and understanding a lot of toys and branded merchandise, noted maybe putting a cabin on that site wouldingGwynWathen,marketingdirectorat your customer is important when it comes to Winship. She said that the park has a moose work best versus an RV site. Recreational Adventures Company(RAC), a operating a successful park store, according as a logo, which is then used to brand t- You can get a cabin there somehow, heSouth Dakota-based company that owns to Kitty Winship, co-owner of Papoose Pond shirts, cups and other items.explained. If you have to get a crane, so bemultiple KOAs; Jennifer Mason, owner of the Family Campground and Cabins in Water- Winship also has a small corner in her it. But you have to make use of that valuablePoint South/I-95/Yemassee KOA Holiday in ford, Maine.parks store dedicated to camping and RV real estate, and one things for sure, if you putYemassee,S.C.;andBambiHanawalt, Her session titled Merchandising Best gear.a cabin up in the air its called elevation. Doowner of Sunbury/Columbus North KOA Hol- Practices: Running a Successful Park Store It doesnt have to take up a lot of room, people pay for elevation? Yeah, they do.idayin Sunbury, Ohio, also gave practical ad- at ARVCs OHCE dived into a variety of topics but have a little corner in your store where Styer said that owners want to find waysvice to attendees.and gave attendees fresh ideas that might youhavethingslikeelectricswitches, to delight campers, not just satisfy them. Wathen told of an incident at one of RACs work to attract more sales at their camp screen door replacement handles, tarps and When you rent a cabin and its 90 de-parks that involved a Girl Scouts troop utiliz- stores.hoses, because any of you who have been grees out, have you turned the air condition-ing a day-use pavilion at a park.One of the first keys to operating a store campingor have had a customer come in ing on in that cabin before the camper gotWhen they came in, they went straight is understanding the type of campers who the officeknow those things break, she there? Probably not, he explained. Yourto the pavilion instead of checking in at the are coming in to buy products. said. If you can carry a very minor selection customer walks in, its 110 degrees in there.front desk, he said. What our staff didnt That is going to dictate a lot of what you of fuses, you can make a campers day by They turn the air conditioning on and nowknow was that they were going to gather the sell and what you offer in the store, she being able to give them what they need so they have to wait for it to chill down. number of people that were with the group, said. Do you have seasonal campers, or do they dont have to go and find an RV repair Think ahead, Styer added. You couldand come up and pay all at once, rather than shop to get it fixed. Think about have sent people around at noon that day toeveryonestoppingandpaying.Ourfront those little conveniences that turn on the AC unit and when that camperdesk staff wasnt made aware that they were you can carry that means you checks in, they are going to be pretty happy. just going straight down. They were under get the sale instead of some- Styer also told attendees that while it isthe assumption that they were not going to body else. okay to be nervous about implementing cer-pay at all. Our staff went down there and im- Winship said she uses his- tain activities due to a fear of a camper get-mediately were in the wrong, I will admit torical data and listens to her ting hurt, there are ways to ensure everyonethat. They kicked them off the park, and that vendors when deciding on what has a safe and enjoyable time. did not go over too well. Verbal exchanges merchandise to carry.For example, Styer said that he offerswere made back and forth to the point to We know that if its a bright pudding wrestling at his park. He takes an in-where our staff was into it heavily with them. colored shirt, if it has glitter on it, flatable pool and fills it with pudding, andThen before you know it, as the argument is things like that, then were going then allows campers to wrestle in it. going on, the moms are whipping out their to skew more towards smaller Rule No. 1 is making sure they are al-phones and filming this whole incident. sizes,sheexplained.Ifits waysontheirkneesandthenwehaveWathen said that some of the moms sent somethinginadarkercolor, enough staff at the event to ensure everyonea video of the incident to KOAs corporate of- Kitty Winship told attendees that understanding the types of campers they more universal, then we tend to is following the rules and that the event doesfice and that is how the officials at RAC found attract is key when it comes to ordering products for their camp stores.skewmoreevenacrossthe not get out of hand, he explained.out about the incident.board. And then we try to al- He encouraged attendees to come upFortunately for us, we have four parks in they own their lots? Do you have a lot of re- ways pick a few items that are very univer- with creative activities at their parks that notthat area, and with the help of KOA and our peat customers? We have a lot of repeat sally flattering and skew to larger sizes. only offer a chance for campers to haveRegional Vice President Eric Johnson, we customers, so we cant have the same thing What if you get stuck with something that more fun, but also may provide another rev-were able to move them that day to one of every single year. We have to switch up our wont sell? Winship said that she uses those enue source.WCMWOODALLSCM.com February 2020-31'