b'HowDoHighGasPricesImpactCamping? Experts: It Depends on Your Business Modeln BY BEN QUIGGLE that his family was a little nervous when If you drive a vehicle, no doubt yougasoline tipped over $4 keep track of gas prices, and this pasta gallon in 2008. spring most motorists probably noticedWe were in a com-an uptick in prices.plete panic thinking that News headlines that noted jumps inthere was no way peo-gas prices were common in May, Juneple are going to travel and July as demand crept up and priceswhengaswasthat did, too. According to the American Au- high, Quigley remem-tomobile Association (AAA), by the endbers.But,infact,itGary Quigleyof July gas prices had bumped up 13was the complete oppo-cents since Memorial Daya full 98site. Typically, we draw most of our peo-cents higher than at the same time inple from within a two-hour radius and 2020, but of course, COVID impactedthat shrunk to about a 30-minute radius. demand.We surveyed our customers and spoke The last time the national average forwith them about why they came to the a gallon of gasoline was above $3/gallonpark to help us understand the trends. before 2021 was in 2014, so motoristsWe found that a lot of the people who wereobviouslyalittlenervousthatwere staying with us were new to the prices may continue to jumpmaybepark because they were more local and even reaching the $4 mark that drew theconsidered us too close for a vacation ire of many during the Great Recessionbefore. of 2008.Not only that, but the people who Those fears have been alleviated towere planning larger vacations to places some degree as crude oil prices dropped(WCM) wondered the same thing andsight into the issue.like Myrtle Beach or Disney canceled neartheendofAugust,accordingtowanted to learn more about how highDavidGorin,formerpresidentandthosevacationsandinsteadstayed AAA.gasoline prices could impact the outdoorCEO of the National Association of RVlonger with us, he continued. Now we What does any of this have to do withhospitalityindustry,sowecaughtupParks and Campgrounds (ARVC) fromhad people staying 3-7 days. These peo-operating your business?with a few longtime park owners and in- 1987-2001 and executive director of theple also began to see that their kids were WoodallsCampgroundMagazinedustry veterans who provided us with in- Virginia Campground Association fromhavingamoreenjoyabletimeatthe 2002-2011,alongwithbeingtheco- campground versus the other vacations founderofGorin+CohenConsultingthey typically took, and they kept coming Group, told WCM that back in the 1970s,back. We were able to see several posi-during the oil embargo,tive things out of the whole experience. theRVindustryandQuigley did note that his park is a des-travel, in general, weretination park, with nothing much else for definitely impacted.campers to do in the area it is located in. IthinkifpeopleHe said the impact of higher gas prices went back and lookedmay be felt more by parks that sit by the attheRVsalesnum- highwaysandcatermoretopeople bersfromthelatepassing through. 1960s into the 1970s,It obviously could have a more neg-theymightbeprettyDavid Gorin ative impact for those parks than a park shocked.Theywereprettygood,helike ours, he said. mentioned. Then of course the oil em- Al Johnson, the immediate past chair bargo and oil shortages of 1973 began,of ARVC and executive vice president of and the RV industry saw its high num- development and public bers move significantly down. Anotheraffairs for Recreational oil shortage in the 1980s had a similarAdventures Co., which impact.owns numerous Kamp-WhatcameoutofbothofthosegroundsofAmerica shortages was a recognition by the in- Inc.parksthroughout dustry, particularly among the RV man- the United States, noted ufacturers and campgrounds, that thethatgaspriceshave government needed to take another lookhistorically had an im-atrecreationasanessentialpartofpact on the kind of sea- Al JohnsonAmerican life, Gorin added. Every timeson the companys parks would have. the gas prices went up, you couldnt justIt was more important than weather, say, Okay, no sales of gas to RVs orpolitical activities or anything else overall boats or for recreational purposes. Werein the determination of what kind of sea-not going to sell gas to you guys. Youreson to expect, he explained. This sum-out of luck. That led to the creation ofmer gas prices have moved up, but the theAmericanRecreationCoalition,impact has been different. Usually, with which was the predecessor to the Out- the increase in prices we have seen this door Recreation Roundtable (ORR).year I would have expected it to impact During the Great Recession (2008- our business somewhat, but that hasnt 2009),Gorinnotedthatcampersstillhappened. I think part of the reason is wantedtogetout,buttheycutbackbecause campers feel more confident in some on travel and on how far they weretheir financial position and so higher gas willing to go.prices arent having the same type of im-It really led to the growth in seasonalpact they would have had in years past. campinginalotofplacesbecauseJohnson agreed with Quigley that the campers wanted to find a site that theytype of park an owner operates will de-could park their unit on and leave it theretermine how gas prices affect business. during the summer months, he said.Transient parks generally rely on peo-Gary Quigley, the owner of the Yogiple traveling to a national park or other Bears Jellystone Park Camp-Resort atdestination and if people stay closer to Kozy Rest in Harrisville, Pa., mentionedhome, then parks closer to urban areas 32 October 2021Woodalls Campground Magazine'