b'SMART OPERATIONSProfit Points or Pressure Points? I have been advocating for all-inclusive pricing in the outdoor hospitality industry for quitePetersome time now, but many park owners legitimately want to know where to draw the linePellandwhen it comes to what to include and what should be considered a fee-based option.When I was a child in the 1950s andwhich most reasonable people wouldas possible into the first (free) category,miniature golf course that is open to the 60s, before the microwave oven be- expect to pay extra, often come down towhereas moving too many of these intopublic, maybe you could include one came a staple in almost every kitchenbasic common sense or putting yourselfthe second (fee-based) category willfreeroundforeverymemberofa (remember the Amana Radarange, theinto the shoes of your customers.nickel and dime people into findingcamping family, then charge a fee. On firstmicrowaveovenintendedforThree Categoriesanother place to camp. The challenge isthe other hand, if you have a weather-home use, introduced in 1967?), myIliketothinkthatcampgroundto honestly determine which of thesebeaten mini golf course that was built mother cooked almost everything in aamenities fall into one of three categories:amenitiesincuractualoperational25 years ago, and you are not paying an Presto pressure cooker. It cooked foodAlways included in the basic fee.costs, as opposed to investments thatattendanttobeon-duty,useofthis quickly, but there were risks involved. Nobody in their right mind would everhavelongagobeenwrittenoffandcourse should never incur a fee. The After turning on the stoves heating el- expect to have to pay a fee for their chil- incur little or no current costs. There issame goes with tennis courts, which are ement, you had to wait for the air to es- dren to use your playground, nor wouldadifferencebetweenanewfleetofnot as popular as they were years ago. cape, then install a valve (known as athey expect to pay extra to use basickayaks and beat up old rowboats. AskIf your courts have broken pavement, jiggler) on top of the steam release vent.campsite features such as a picnic tableyourself if you would be happy payingtorn nets and a growth of weeds, you This monitored the internal pressureor fire ring. They would also never ex- $25 to rent a creaky old rowboat for anare better off either converting them to and warned you to lower the heat. If youpect to have to pay to use your rest- hour. Wherever possible, try to expandnew pickleball courts or removing them failed to do so, there was also an emer- rooms. Other amenities that clearly fallyour base of free amenities, buildingfrom your list of amenities. gency relief valve that would shoot yourinto this category include the use ofthem into your basic site fees.Utilities: You may already be well meal onto the ceiling rather than havingyour swimming pool, hot tubs, recre- The Gray AreaawarethatWi-Fiisthenewutility. the cooker explode under pressure. De- ational fields, basketball or volleyballLets spend more time looking intoCharging a fee for this service or access spite the risks of microwave radiation,courts, horseshoe pits and shuffleboardthis gray area to determine what trulyto cable TV channels, particularly if the most people decided that microwavecourts. In most instances, planned ac- belongs in the free category.services are limited, is an invitation to ovens were safer and easier to use.tivities also fall into this category.Recreational amenities: Beyond thecustomer dissatisfaction. Your campers I have been advocating for all-inclu- Always expected to be fee-based.basic recreational amenities that alwaysshould also not have to pay to use your sive pricing in the outdoor hospitalityThis includes propane fills, EV charging,fall into the first category, some parksdump station, and despite water con-industry for quite some time now, butthe washers and dryers in your laundry,offerattractionssuchaswaterslides,servation arguments in drought areas, many park owners legitimately want tostoremerchandise,visitorfees,pre- spray parks, go-kart tracks, personal wa- nobody wants to feed quarters into a know where to draw the line (or when tomium food events (such as a pig roast ortercraftrentals,lasertag,paintballshower meter. Metered electricity, on reduce the heat) when it comes to whatlobster roast) and concerts that involvecourses, miniature golf, disc golf, fishingthe other hand, might increasingly be-to include and what should be consid- ticket sales to the general public. Someand dog parks. Some parks deal with thiscome a necessity in order to discourage ered a fee-based option. Like that jiggler,campgrounds might also offer rentals ofcategory of amenities by selling recre- wasteful excess usage. your customers will often provide thegolf carts, motorboats, scooters or elec- ational wristbands, which help to softenStore: Your campground store (along necessary feedback (perhaps on socialtric bicycles. Generally speaking, thesethe blow and are somewhat all-inclusive.withasnackbarandvideoarcade) media and review websites and apps). Ifallinvolveconsumables,dedicatedWristbands also help to make the elderlyclearly represents an opportunity for you go too far, that emergency reliefstaff, significant maintenance costs orcouple on site 87, who will never use anyadd-on purchases and added income. valvewillessentiallysendyourcus- higher insurance premiums.of these amenities, not feel like they areYour campers expect to pay for ice, fire-tomers, not to the ceiling, but to anotherThe gray area in between. This is thesubsidizing the younger crowd. wood,preparedfoodandgroceries. campground down the road. Beyondbroad category of diverse amenities,In each instance, you need to be ob- That said, sometimes it makes sense to customer feedback, the decisions re- many recreation-based, where discre- jective in determining which featuresthink outside the box. For example, free gardingwhattoincludeinyourfreetion is necessary. The all-inclusive con- might be moved into the free category.coffeebetweencertainhourseach amenitiesversusadd-onservicesforcept involves moving as many of theseFor example, if you have a spectacularmorning will draw customers into your store, where they may purchase addi-tional itemsincluding a one-pound bag of that special coffee blend. If there are items gathering dust on the shelves (everyone makes an occasional buying mistake), put them in a bargain bin so youcanmakeroomforin-demand merchandisethatwillsellatfull markup. Most campgrounds limit out-of-state firewood in order to curtail in-sect pest infestations; however, if you have a pile of firewood that is the result of cleanup from storm damage, offer it to your campers at no charge rather than letting it rot on the ground. They will appreciate little extras like that! In summary, adjust your rates and any add-on fees to reflect your opera-tional costs and necessary profits, but try your best to package your services in a manner that offers you an edge over your competition and represents true value in the eyes of your campers.PeterPellandistheCEOof Pelland Advertising, a company that he founded in 1980 that has been serving the family camping industry for over 40 years. His company specializes in build-ing fully responsive websites, along with producingafullrangeoffour-color process print advertising, for clients from coast to coast. Learn more about Pel-land Advertising at https://pelland.com or see their ad in this issue. WCM8 May 2023Woodalls Campground Magazine'