b"GUEST VIEWSo, We Built a Campground Erin and Meeting Your Guests Expectations Dan ThiemWe know that our campers want to feel a part of something special. Whether its knowing theyre staying at a family-owned campground or being a part of our small community, even if its only for a weekend, our guests want a unique story to tell about their camping trip.Our job as campground ownersmunity, even if its only for a week- ofthiscolumncanrelatebutinwere loud? How many have heard is to help create a sense of excitingend, our guests want a unique storyyourownways.Afterall,yourthatlinebefore?Ofcourse,that anticipationforourcustomers,to tell about their camping trip.campground will have its strengthsgroup hasnt rented all the sites, or while also setting realistic expecta- Oneofthegreatpartsofthethat help you create a unique cus- even half for that matter. For the tions for their upcoming campingcampgroundindustryiseverytomer experience for your area.otherhalfofcamp,thatgroup's trips. To that end, one of the chal- property and location is different.Underpinning that experience isloudbehaviorisannoying.Our lenges we have faced in decades ofOur job as owners is to highlightknowledgeaboutyourcustomerguests want a peaceful experience. hospitalityisunderstandingthethosedifferencesandembracebase. Sure, we all host campers, butThey know our quiet time policy changing expectations of our cus- them.Forexample,ourcamp- camping on the East Coast is quiteand if we make an exception for the tomers and continuing to provide aground is set in a forest on an olddifferentfromtheWestCoast;group, it devalues everyone elses unique guest experience that meetsgold-mine property. Its full of his- NorthernCaliforniaisdifferentexperience.those expectations. tory and is naturally very beautiful,from SoCal. In our part of Califor- Many campground owners will Whatmakeseachtripunique?so we highlight those features.nia,itssunnyandwarmforfiverecognize that repeat customers are Why do customers return year afterWere also a small, family-ownedmonths of the year; we have vastoften the bread and butter of their year? How can we sell our experi- business. In a part of the countryamounts of public lands for recre- business, so ensuring the guest ex-ence in an authentic and realisticwhere Google, Facebook and otheration (and camping competition!).periencematchesguestexpecta-way? All these questions are validmassive companies dominate, cus- So, we know that our campgroundtions is essential. Sometimes guests and require an ongoing team efforttomerslikeknowingthattheyreexperiencemustmatchorbeatwant us to deviate from our policies to answer. supporting the little guy. They likesomethingourguestscanget15infavorofsomeexceptionthey We know that our campers wantseeingusworkingatcampandminutesdowntheroadin Tahoewant. However, weve found over to feel a part of something special.stopping to talk. For guests, we tryNational Forest.the years that making exceptions Whether its knowing theyre stay- to make it feel like a weekend awayThere needs to be trees for shade,foronecamperinvariablydisad-ing at a family-owned campgroundwithextendedfamilywithouta definite sense of nature, access tovantages others. or being a part of our small com- the drama. Were sure many readersrecreation,butalsosomethingWhen a camper calls at the last campers cant get in the state parkminute to cancel their reservation or national forest. We have a pool,(for a fill-in-the-blank reason), they campstore,outdoormoviesandget upset when we dont make an on-site staff. These things help usexception for their situation. What achieve our mission of providingaboutallthecamperswhodont camping experiences in a state parkcall? They accepted the cancelation setting with the amenities and serv- policy and decided not to come. Is iceofahotelormotel.Thatisit fair to those campers who dont unique in our area and somethingask for an exception when you give we strive to continue to remind ouronetothosethatdoask?Some-campers about. timestreatingcampersequitably Ourmissionisclear,andthemeans they dont get exactly what propertyandproximitytotownthey want but they can be confi-help us achieve it. However, we alsodentthattheyweretreatedthe wanttobetruetoouroperationsame as others. and what we can realistically offerAs our business has grown and individual guests from a customermatured,so,too,haveourcus-service perspective. This is impor- tomers. We set a clear set of policies tant when setting clear expectationsandcommunicatethemtoour aboutwhatkindofexperienceguests. We market our campground guests will have when they visit. Yes,realistically, highlighting in an au-we have a great forest and beautifulthenticwayouruniquefeatures tent sites, but we are also in town and what campers can expect when even our name gives it away. We dothey visit. We regularly revisit and not promise eternal solitude or ab- tweakourserviceofferingsand solute quiet; we cant provide thosepolicies. Over time, the guests who things, so we dont promise them.dont like our policies, our location, We focus on the things we can pro- our sitesor even usget weeded vide and do so well.out.However,thosewhodolike One of the ways we do this is bythosethingsaremuchmore establishing clear policies and en- alignedwithourvisionforthe forcingthemconsistentlyandcampground, and us with them. fairly.ThisistrueforeverythingNowwehaveasolidgroupof from cancellations to noise com- our people who regularly camp at plaints. Although we have a beauti- Inn Town Campground, forming a ful park-like setting, if the customersolidfoundationforrepeatbusi-service experience doesn't matchness. The key is looking at the guest guestexpectations,theywontexperience in a holistic way so their come back. If we promise an earlyexperience matches their expecta-quiet time and people are blastingtions. music until midnight, weve failed. This doesnt mean that guests wontErin and Dan Thiem are the own-want an exception. Weve renteders of the Inn Town Campground inall the sites, why does it matter ifNevada City, Calif. WCM12 April 2023 Woodalls Campground Magazine"