b'Q&A Conversationsfrom page 20 they are charging is meant to reach adifferent audience. Its not campers. Itsbut what I think we are seeing is a sec- people who want to try something dif-ond wave of Baby Boomers that have fi- ferent than a five-star hotel. nally retired, and they are hitting the When you talk about smaller parks,road in RVs. They dont have a percep- they dont have the staff, training or abil-tionthatRVsitesneedtobe$30-a- ity to offer the high-end glamping expe-night. Their perception of an overnight rience. Im not saying they cant do it,accommodationcomesfromhotels but as an operation I dont think theyreand their price point is higher, and a lot mentally prepared to do it. But whatof the high-end resort operators have theyre able to do is install park modelreally capitalized on this. Theyre pro- RVs, cabins, or RVs that are set up on aviding super high-end amenities and site, and then rent those out. They arecharging a premium price point. used to doing that and so were seeingAnother big trend weve seen is the more and more of that because it cre-amount of money chasing the camp- ates a high-dollar income. It also allowsground industry. For owners, especially people who dont own RVs, and whothose who operate smaller parks and dont want to tent camp, to come intoare thinking about eventually selling the resorts and experience that and itstheir parks to retire on, theres honestly kind of a gateway into getting them intonever been a better time to sell a park the RV lifestyle.than right now. There are so many in- I just know the folks who are most Mark Koep hosts regular Facebook Live chats with industry experts to help keep owners up tovestment groups interested in owning successful right now in the glamping date on products and trends.and operating parks and that trend is space, its not so much that they have aplaying out when you walk the floors of glamping resort, its that they provide an long-term. If prices keep moving up its just going to hire some kid to run the of-industry conferences. There are tons of amazing experience. going to change the way people RV. So fice. Well, guess what, nobody is goingpeople looking to enter the market at WCM: What are you noticing when it honestly, the biggest trend Im watching to stay at that park, so then theyre goingthose shows. comestomorelargerdevelopment on the manufacturer side is the push to tohavetohirearealmanagerandWCM: Glamping is everywhere today. firms entering the space? How are they solar-powered and self-sustaining units. theyre going to have to drop their ratesAre you seeing investments from camp- impacting the market? We are almost at a point now with the and improve their amenities. You areground owners seeking to provide more Koep: There are companies that have lithium batteries and the solar setups going to see that and what Ive not seenglamping experiences? identified the market that makes the on RVs where they do not need an elec- yet is where somebody builds a park,Koep: That is a hard one to answer be- most sense for them and they are in- trical hookup anymore. overprices it and under performs.causethereisnotruedefinitionof vestingsignificantcapitalbackinto If you think about that as an overall Usually the investment groups areglamping.Glampinginmymindis parksandamenities,andtheyare experience, if you eventually remove the savvy enough to identify that early onhigh-end camping where owners pro- charging premium prices.need for an RV to have utility hookups, and theyll hire an onsite manager orvide all the amenities. The price point Now there is a catch there if we look what does an RV park or campground general manager, who runs the parkprovide? Thats a big question because if well. There are actually a few examplespart of the sell is, we provide full hookups outtherewheretheseinvestmentand all these other amenities; well you groups have come in, stumbled for ajust lost the biggest thing youre selling. few months, and immediately identi-Now suddenly, youve got to install fied what they needed to fix. Then theyamenities and people arent going to be are willing to put the investment into it,willingtoparkunhookedfor$90-a- because the reality is the returns arenight unless the amenities are worth it. there right now. As long as you provideI think long term that is something that that good experience, and your num-needs to be considered. bers make sense, youre going to be fine.WCM: Do we start to lose the feel of WCM: You are a full-time RVer andwhat camping is as more of the larger you have owned a number of RVs. Ob-development companies move into the viously, it is no secret that quality is-space?sueshavebatteredtheRVindustryKoep: These investment groups come over the past few years. They are work-in for a profit, but in the end, its going ing hard to find solutions to repair is-to come down to the consumers. They sues. Are you worried this impacts theCampgroundViews.com focuses primarily on marketing parks through video tours. could buy a park and say, Hey, were future of camping, as far as people get-going to charge $100-a-night and were ting burned out and not wanting toown an RV?Koep: I dont think it impacts peoplesdesire to go camping. People are goingto camp anyway, but theyre going tostartlookingatalternativeroutesofdoing so. I have been shocked to hearhowmanypeoplearebuildingtheirown units or refurbishing older units. Ihavent really seen that in the past andits one of those things where people arelooking at the cost of owning an RV anddeciding they could build one cheaperand design it the way they want it. Its not so much the quality of theunits as it is the after-the-sale attentionthese consumers are getting. RVs gener-ally are built to be used for weekendsand vacations, but after your first vaca-tion, if you buy a new RV and somethingbreaks, you should be able to easily callsomebody and have it fixed quickly. Thatisnt happening. If youre doing that tothousands of people around the coun-try, what are they going to say to otherswho are thinking about buying RVs?I still think the campground sector asa whole has a lot of growth left in it, evenif the RV industry continues to trenddownwards. There is so much diversityin the industry right now, and the pricepoints out there are attracting new con-sumers.WCM26 -March 2020 Woodalls Campground Management'