b"WCMsOwner/ManagerSurveyHighlights the Major Needs, Trends for Park Operators nBY BEN QUIGGLEThe outdoor hospitality industry con-tinues to fire on all cylinders, according to a Campground Owner & Manager Sur-veyconductedbyWoodallsCamp-ground Magazine (WCM) and sponsored by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).Looking ahead to 2023, about 7-in-10 park owners are planning some type of site, accommodation and/or amenity improvement to their parks, notes one of the key findings of the survey. Thesurveyalsonotedthatmore campsite development is needed as de-mand continues to outpace what the mar-ket has to offer. Nearly 500 surveys were returned and park owners from 41 states participated. Some of the results from this inaugu-ral survey were predictable, noted Ben Quiggle, WCMs editor. The industry has been hearing about the lack of campsites for years now. But I think some of the op-erational issues identified in the survey areinteresting.Includingthefactthat parks need help with marketing and better access to financing. The survey was conducted by ScottWhilenewcampershavebeenaany changes at their parks, states thedren and a split of small- and mid-sized Bahr,presidentofCairnConsultingboon for park owners, they also havesurvey. And the look ahead for 2023groups. Group, and Billie McNamara, a researchbrought on unique challenges, explainedsuggeststhatthemid-sizedcamp- CampgroundMarketingChannels: consultant at the firm and manager ofQuiggle. Many park owners enjoy havinggrounds are more likely to add on-siteSocialmedia(79%);Wordofmouth Loons Haven Family Campground innew faces at their parks but hiring issuesrecreation, full RV hook-ups or cabins.(63%);PrintAdvertising(40%);Bill-Naples, Maine. WCM plans to conductandthefactthatmanynewcampersFull hook-up RV sites continue to beboards (26%); Email Campaigns (21%)the survey on an annual basis. need extra assistance when pulling in forthe bread and butter of the industry, withHow Far Out are Campers Booking: It noted that one-third of parks overall,the first time have definitely put moreparks adding 11 each on average over theLess than a month (38%); One to Three including about half of smaller parks, saywork on the laps of park owners. past year. Months(26%);ThreetoSixMonths that having the capital for improvementsLooking at the resources park ownersAsglampingcontinuestobecome(10%); and More Than Six Months (26%) is the primary resource they need forwish they had over the past year, moremore popular, we continue to see moreAre Major Changes Coming: Camp-2023. Other operational needs includestaffing was at the top. Like most indus- park owners investing in unique accom- ground owners/managers are generally emergency preparedness resources, texttries, the outdoor hospitality industry hasmodationunitsthatappealtonewer,unlikely to seek major changes in the messaging services for guests, employeehad to deal with a large shortfall in em- younger campers, said Quiggle. Still,coming year, whether its opening a new training and marketing help. ployees,leavingmanyparkownersRVs arent going anywhere, and you canpark, selling their current park or acquir-The survey also looks at the impactshorthanded during the busiest times oftell park owners are trying hard to bal- ing a new park. Still, about a third of the that new campers have had on the in- the year. ance new trends in accommodation unitsowners surveyed are either open to or un-dustry, with more than three-quarters ofOther needs: with the continued sky-high demand forcertain about whether they would sell parks noting that new campers have More amenities and infrastructureRV sites. their campground. hadapositiveimpactontheirbusi- improvements.Other Key Stats from the SurveyI think overall the survey shows that nesses, the industry in general and on Camper education.Barriers to growth: Staffing (37%);park owners/managers face many chal-their local economies.Campground management advice/funding (34%); time to work on growthlenges as they look ahead to 2023, but Among the few who mention the neg- consulting.(29%); not enough space (26%); local or- the industry is in a prime position to still ative impact of new campers, the most Advice on working with or address- dinances/regulations(24%);guestde- thrive in the new year as many park own-likely comments include that the set ofing local ordinances.mands (14%) and more. ers look forward to adding more ameni-new campers has a sense of entitle-Help with managing reservations.Length of Stay: When asked abouttiesandaccommodationunits, ment. They dont know the rules or wantAs park owners began to look aheadlengthofstay,almosttwo-thirdsofexplained Quiggle. It is great to see the more amenities without having to pay forto the 2023 season, many identified im- campgroundowners/managerswouldoptimism that many park owners share them. provements they worked on this year andprefer a four-to-seven-night stay, whichand the investments that they are ready One survey respondent commented:projects they are looking forward to iniswellabovetheirtypicalguestwhoto make in their businesses.These new campers came with an enti- 2023. stays only two to three nights.Methodology: Respondents were en-tlement. They had no camping experi- On-site recreation was much moreDesired Campers: In general, camp- couraged to give their thoughts in numer-ence, didn't respect the other guests orlikely to have been added at larger camp- grounds appear to be attracting the typesous areas, from areas they felt they were the park, felt they could make their owngrounds, while smaller campgrounds, inof guests they prefer, which includes alackingin,tostrengthsintheirbusi-rules and didn't have to follow ours.general, were less likely to have madehigher percentage of couples with chil- nesses, trends and more.WCM12 January 2023Woodalls Campground Magazine"