b'COVID-19 Crisis BY BEN QUIGGLESurviving COVID-19 Crisis Key as CampgroundOwners Look Forward to a Busy Summer SeasonFor campground and RV park own- parks still preparing to open for the sea-ers/operators across the U.S., the coro- Parks are practicing social distancing by keeping most park facilities closed, restricting inter- son, Hershenson said Jellystone Parksnavirus(COVID-19)crisishasledto actions between guests, and following the 6-foot rule.that are open have been seeing fewersome very challenging times.reservationsandmaybesomemoreFor some, the crisis has led to a dip in cancellations, but that is based on thereservations or an increase in cancella- location of the park.tions, while others have seen some can- If you are near a destination areacellations, but a flurry of inquiries from andeverythingisshutdown,thentraveling snowbirds or full-time RVers. campersareprobablynotgoingtoPark owners have also faced a shortage those areas right now, he explained.of cleaning supplies and other necessi- We do have some parks that are seeingties, including toilet paper.someshort-termincreasesbecauseNormDavidson,fromLibbys schools are out and people are wantingOceanside Campin York, Maine, noted to escape the cities, where, theoretically,in a call for impact stories from theNa- you may have more of a chance to gettionalAssociationofRVParksand infected.Campgrounds (ARVC) that reservation They want to go to campgroundsrequests have dropped since the outset where they can be outdoors and haveof the virus.space, Hershenson added. If they haveWe are very concerned about what an RV, they feel they can control thatthis season will hold for us financially as spacebecauseitistheirhouseonwe wait to see if we will be able to open wheels and it has a private bathroomMay 15, he explained. We wait to see and their own bed.if folks will come out of this willing and AtMemphis,financially able to travel this summer. Tenn.-basedRVCIn Myrtle Beach, S.C., park owners Ocean Lakes is trying to coordinate has noticed that new reservations have Outdoors,LloydT.were told to shut down by local officials communications with the Myrtle Beach slowed.Lauland,Jr.,presi-neartheendofMarchandBarb Family Campground Owners Associa- Normally, at a lot of our parks, the dent, said the com-Krumm,directorofmarketingand tion and the Carolinas Association of phonewouldbe pany is experiencingpublic relations for Ocean Lakes Family RV Parks and Campgrounds(CARVC). ringing off the hook, somecancellations, Lloyd T. Lauland Jr.Campground,toldWoodallsCamp- At this point, it goes beyond the abil- especially with peo- but people are optingground Management ity to do business, Krumm explained. ple booking now for to keep a credit on their account to be(WCM)inanemail Publicopinionisinablindfrenzy July, Trent Hershen- used at a point in the future. that the impact has thanks to the media and various gov- son, Leisure System We had some short-term fall-off inbeen substantial.ernment officials and their sound bites. Inc.s(LSI) vice presi- March that we were able to rebook fairlyWehad350ar- Even if we were allowed to take reserva- dentofmarketing, Trent Hershenson quickly. April has taken a little bit of arivalssetforthis tions and welcome guests, it would then told WCM. Our park hit, now that we are nearing the begin-weekendaloneand be a public relations battle. Although owners, for the most part, havent been ning of the month. he explained. Barb Krumm werehavingtocall the majority of our guests support is getting hit with a ton of cancellations Lauland is also keeping an eye on thearriving guests, she positive, we have received hate emails though. first major holiday of the season, Me-noted. Plus, Horry County officials had and social media comments from local LSI franchises more than 75 Jelly- morial Day. a discrepancy in their ordinance dates residents for operating our business. stone Parks throughout North America.Memorial Day seems to be holding(as they rushed the ordinance) causing For Susan Novotny, from the Yogi on when comparing our pace to wheremajor confusion. Bears Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in we were this time last year, he noted.She said her campground is in the SouthHaven,Mich.,theyearhad June through December seem to be onprocess of canceling thousands of reser- started out great, but quickly turned pace as well.vations through April 30. sour in March.Lauland said he is concerned aboutWith 2,569 annual lease sites, we do We had an 11% increase in reserva- virus-related issues extending into thehave residents that live here year-round tions in January, up from 2019, she ex- summer, and that he is keeping an eyeand seasonal guests, all trying to under- plained. There was a 24% increase in on how later school release dates couldstand the ordinance and looking to us February, too. So far, there is a 58% de- impact RVCs parks. for answers, Krumm added. crease from March 1-17, which is down Mammoth Cave Each city and state have taken dif-She told WCMthat with hundreds of from 2019. We also normally get 10 J-1 ferent approaches to school closings,employees, the park must now figure workers from overseas, but we were no- Some parks, based on their locations, he explained. While some school dis-out the human resource implications of tified that they will not be coming at all. areclosingvoluntarilyorarebeing tricts are fortunate enough to have on-these shutdowns. The Jellystone Park system as a whole closed due to government mandates. line courses, many do not. If studentsThe Mammoth Cave Yogi Bears Jelly- are required to make up lost time overOcean Lakes Family Campground has had to reach out to thousands of campers to cancel stone Park Camp-Resort in Cave City, the summer months, it will be interest-reservations and is working to also manage its employees. Ky., voluntarily closed in late March to ing to see how school closures impactkeep campers and the community safe, family travel during the summer.noted Hershenson. GwynWathen,He explained that park owners sys- marketingdirectortem-wide have scaled down their oper- for Recreational Ad-ations, closing many of the amenities venturesCompanyand water features that the Jellystone (RAC), told WCM thePark system is known for. development group,Our park owners are finding creative which currently op-waystostillofferactivitiestothe erates13Kamp- Gwyn Wathencampers who are staying at their parks, grounds of AmericaHershenson said. Some parks still have Inc. (KOA)parks,remainsoptimisticthe Yogi Bear character walking around that their parks will rebound in a bigthe park, but campers cant run up to way. him or hug him. He can be in photos as We have had some cancellations,long as he is 6 feet back. Owners are also but it is still too early to tell what impactfindingwaystodelivercraftbagsto they will have, he explained. We stillcampers so that they have things to do have high hopes for summer business,at their sites. and I think we have the rationale thatWithmorethantwo-thirdsofits Surviving COVID-19continued on page 24WOODALLSCM.com May 2020-21'