b'Ourphonesareringingconstantly, of RV Parks and Camp- of uncertainties involving the pandemic. Right now, we are down about 10% toHarpaz said, noting that any cancellations are grounds and Alabama The unknown, I suspect, is to blame, she 20% because of COVID-19 related cancela-quickly replaced with new bookings. We will AssociationofRV said. However, if things continue as at pres- tions, said Scott Roberts, CEO of Roberts Re-be full by the end of December. ParksandCamp- ent, our arrivals and occupancy will continue, sorts&Communities,whichownsandFrom what Im hearing from our board grounds. just with last minute reservations. Regarding operates 17 RV resorts and manufacturedand other park operators in Florida and Ala- We are very fortu- those that visit us yearly, most are still plan- home communities with 6,368 sites in Arizona,bama, any snowbird losses or cancellations nate in Florida and Ala- ning travel to the south. Some are already California, Colorado, Texas and Alabama.are being picked up by other campers, many bamatohave here, and others have promised to call soon Dyana Kelley, president and CEO of theof whom are new to RVing and working out pro-businessgover- with more definite dates of arrival. In San An- CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Al-of their RVs, said Bobby Cornwell, executive norswhorealizethe Bobby Cornwel tonio, we are also seeing lots of jobs, with liance, said snowbird parks in California aredirector and CEO of the Florida Association importance of keeping businesses open and Boeing, a Toyota factory, traveling nurses and seeing what she callsthe economy going, and from all reports, the the military being the source of our longer- COVIDCrowsthisparks are looking forward to a good winter term guests from one to six months. We have winter. Theyre not re-season. been happily surprised by how these guests allysnowbirds,sheWinter business is booming at private have integrated and are getting along with said. They are a newparks in Texas, too, some of which are seeing our traveling and full-time RVers. camper than hasnt re-more visitors from states with more stringent Across the Sunbelt, park operators are ally come around be-COVID-19 procedures. also seeing growing numbers of people who fore.Texas is seeing quite the surge in new have their own businesses and work from Examplesofwhatpopulation from states that have gone nuts their RV, such Jennifer and G. Dean Oswald KelleycallsCOVID Dyana Kelleylately with personal restrictions, unfriendly to of Oregon. Crows include families with children, suchbusiness and general safety questionslike Four years ago, the Oswalds retired from as those staying at Springs at Borrego, whoCalifornia and Illinois, said Brian Schaeffer, theirpreviousjobsandadoptedanew normally dont travel to make weekend tripsexecutive director and lifestyle, spending five months at their cabin in the winter months, certainly not to resortsCEO of the Texas Asso- near Mount St. Helens and the rest of the time that typically accommodate snowbirds.ciation of Campground in their 25-foot Airstream. Different regions of California were placedOwners(TACO). Since But the Oswalds have not stopped work- under more restrictions due to a COVID-19housing is a big issue ing. Dean works as a cinematographer, de- outbreak that did force parks to close to es-right now in Texas, both veloping promotional lifestyle videos for RV sential travelers only at the beginning of De-thelackofitandit parks, while Jennifer makes jewelry, sun cember, but the jury is still out on how thisbeing very expensive, catchers and other crafts that she sells at RV might impact snowbird travel patterns mov-RVs and RV parks are resorts and gift shops during their travels. ing forward. enjoying quite the bump Brian Schaeffer They have also worked as camp hosts at But while parks are reporting differentup for this segment of business while folks Sea Perch RV Resortin Yachats, Ore., which kinds of travelers than traditional snowbirds,figure out their permanent housing. has beautiful RV sites overlooking the Pacific winter business levels remain strong at mostOur current occupancy is actually above Ocean. parks contacted by WCM.lastyearinbothourextendedstayand But this winter, the Oswalds are tryingovernightandweekly something new. They are trying out the snow-travel areas, in spite of bird lifestyle at various RV resorts in Arizona,thebigdecreasesin while they continue to work and enjoy theMarch, April and May, Sunbelt sun.saidTeriBlaschke, WoodallsCampgroundManagementwho co-owns and op- caught up with the Oswalds while they wereeratesHiddenValley staying at Verde Ranch RV Resort in CampRV Park in Von Ormy, Verde, which is about 30 minutes south of Se-outside San Antonio. dona. KOA is reporting that snowbirds are waitingWe, of course, re- Mark & Teri Blaschke This year we thought, Lets try the Sun- until the last minute to book reservations. gret that we wont have our Canadian friends belt and see if we like it, said 57-year-oldthis winter, but weve served lots of travelers Dean Oswald, noting that the Arizona sun- Billings,Mont.-basedKampgroundsofworking on the road remotely that have more shine sure beats the cold, cloudy days up America Inc. (KOA), for its part, is seeingthan made up for the loss of our across the North at this time of year. healthy business levels at its Sunbelt parks.border guests. But while the Sunbelt remains compelling We are seeing some snowbird businessBlaschke also noted that many travelers as a winter destination, some parks are re- typically booked by Canadians replaced byaremakingtheirreservationsatthelast porting a downturn in their winter business other American snowbirds this year, ac-minute instead of weeks or months in ad- due to the loss of Canadian travels and other cording to Saskia Boogman, KOAs directorvance as they normally do, largely because problems associated with the pandemic. of public relations. Our reservations as ofnow for long-term business in the Sunbeltlookshealthyfortheupcomingwintermonths. From where we are pacing today, weare seeing a slight decrease to January busi-ness in the Southeast and Southcentral re-gions in January, but up over last year quitesubstantially in February. In looking at twokey snowbird states, Florida and Arizona,both are ahead of last year in bookings forboth January and February.As other park operators have noted, KOAis also seeing more consumers book theirreservations at the last minute, rather thanweeks or months in advance.Through weekly tracking, we have seenour booking windows shorten since the pan-demic began and weve seen more peoplewaiting to book their trips until closer to theirstay, noted Boogman. We believe this trendis similar for long term business as well. Aswe progress through December, we antici-pate having more clarity on snowbird busi-ness.But Boogman said KOA is anticipating astrong snowbird season. According to ourresearch we fielded in September, 30% ofU.S. campers said they were more likely tosnowbird this year, and while 22% said theywere less likely, the data suggests we willhave more Americans looking to go south thisyear across age demographics, she said.WCM36 -February 2021 Woodalls Campground Management'