b'BY BEN QUIGGLEARVC Study Shows Sector is Expanding, Cabins PopularA new report by the National Association of RV ing for the customers to come to them. They are re-Parks and Campgrounds(ARVC) continues to drive alizing that their parks have value and if people arehome the fact that the RV park and campground paying for that value then they are creating profit.sectors are growing, and that even more growth is 78% of campgrounds are individually/inde-expected in the years to come. pendently operated small businesses, while onlyARVCs 2019 Industry Trends and Insights Re- 14% are corporate-owned and fewer (7%) are at-portreleased on Jan. 27shows that 79% of tached to a franchise brand. Weve alwayscampground owners improved their parks infra- looked at about 75% of our membership being pri-structure over the past five years. vately held entrepreneurs, with the other 25%Just under half (46%) added amenities and/or being corporate, explained Bambei. I think thatadded sites/units (44%) in that timeframe, the re- number is shifting in favor of the corporate-ownedport states. operations. The corporations have the financialPaul Bambei, ARVCs president and CEO, told assets to just go out and build a campground or aWoodalls Campground Management (WCM) that resort from scratch, and there has been plenty ofextrapolations from the re- examples of that over the last couple of years.port show more than 75,000 Boomers/seniors are the most common pri-campsites have been added mary guest demographic (60%), followed by Genover the past five years, with X (46%) and families with children (39%).Whilemore than 50,000 sites to be Boomers are still the primary guests that ownersadded in the next 12 months are attracting, said Bambei. Gen-X is in quickthrough existing park expan- pursuit,andtheywillprobablytakeoverthePaul Bambei sions and new park builds. Boomers within the next three to five years.The report indicates that 92% of campgrounds have full hookup camp-nearly half (46%) of park owners expect to expand ing sites, with 65% having at least one type of ac-their parks in the next year, with 5% planning to commodation available for rent in addition toopen a new park. camping sites.The number of full hookup sites isWe had heard over the last couple of years why we must fight to ensure that GFCI breakers arethat our industry had stagnated in terms of having not required on 30- and 50-amp pedestal hookups,inventory available for consumers, said Bambei. Bambei noted. When 92% of our members haveAnd we intuitively felt that was wrong, but we some form of full hookup, and we know that we canhad no data to back it up. Now we do. save a member $400 on each electric pedestal byThe report, which ARVC plans to release on an winning that challenge with the National Electricannual basis moving forward, was completed by Code, those numbers add up to huge multimillion-research firm Readex Research, and included dollar totals.both ARVC and non-ARVC members. Surveys from Cabins continue to be a popular accommoda-614 park owners and operators from across the tion unit, as 33% of respondents surveyed indi-country were used to create the report. The own- cated that they had modern cabins or cottages,ers and operators were asked questions on ex- 28% had rustic cabins and 21% offered parkpansion trends and plans, along with campground model RVs.The demographics that are growingprofiles, guest demographics, amenities, sites, and the fastest, the Gen-Xers and Millennials, theyaccommodations and rates. want to stay in those types of units, said Basler.David Basler, ARVCs vice president of mem- From cabins to tents and yurts, those are all unitsbership and marketing, said the report is designed that make their camping trip more of an experi-to be a powerful tool not ence, and that is what they are connecting with.only for its members, but the Perhaps one of the more surprising data pointsRV park and campground to come out of the study was a figure that showedsectors at large. The report 47% of respondents had indicated that they hadbreaks down individual data not changed their weekly rates compared with thepoints by region, park size, year before, which means that they are losing outand in some cases, owner- on even more revenue, according to Bambei.David Basler ship structure, so owners The demand is there, and we have seen somecan find the trends in the park owners shift to dynamic pricing, he ex-specific areas in which they operate.plained. The ones that are moving in that directionFor example, owners who may want to put in are happy. The ones that havent quite done it yeta park model RV can look at this report and see should be paying attention because you can go towhat the average nightly rate for a park model RV any industry and see that demand pricing is prof-in their region is, Basler told WCM. It gives them itable. You show up at the last minute, in my citythe tools they need to do the calculations neces- right now, and youre going to pay a higher pricesary to figure out whether adding a specific unit is for a movie ticket than if you ordered it the day be-the right move. fore. Its the way of the world. And why wouldnt aAccording to Bambei, these findings are espe- campground do it? Its been tested, and it just addscially important when compared with other indus- profit to your operation.try surveys, including the 2019 North American Basler said perhaps another shock was that 12%Camping Report, which is published annually by of respondents had indicated they dont have a web-Kampgrounds of America Inc.(KOA), and includes site for their park, with 88% reporting they do.additional information showing the growth and That number was pretty much a shocker be-changes in camper demographics.cause, as weve talked about with things like dy-For example, if an owner is looking to target namic pricing and online booking, there are sothe emerging market of Millennial campers, they many companies out there in our space that cancan cross-reference this data with KOAs data helpcampgroundownersexpandintothoseshowingthatMillennialcamperspreferpark areas, he told WCM. If you dont have a websitemodel RVs over standard spaces, said Bambei. and you create a website, youre going to attractIt removes some of the guesswork and helps an more people. If you have a website and you dontowner make a sound business decision based on have online booking or utilize dynamic pricing andhard numbers.you institute one or both of those things, youreOther key numbers coming out of the report: going to attract more people and youre going to59% of respondents anticipated their parks make more money. Its a fact of life.profits to move up in 2019 compared with 2018. As a benefit of membership, the report is avail-Our research shows that 90% of owners saw a able at no cost to ARVC members, by visitingprofit increase at their parks, said Bambei. Own- arvc.org/industry-reports.Non-memberscaners are not just sitting back on their heels and wait- download the report for $299. WCM16 -March 2020 Woodalls Campground Management'