FRVCA Conference

The FRVCA conference is hosting a record-breaking number of attendees at its conference. Credit: Jeff Crider

It’s not enough for private operators to simply provide a clean, quiet place to stay, according to Scott Bahr, president of Cairn Consulting Group, which conducts research for Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) 2023 North American Camping & Outdoor Hospitality Report and other campground industry research.

Speaking Wednesday (May 10) to roughly 400 current and aspiring park operators and investors attending the Florida and Alabama RV Park and Campground Associations in Daytona, Bahr said: “Campground atmosphere is now the number one consideration for guests when staying at a campground.”

What does this mean?

“It means more than peace and quiet,” Bahr explained. “It’s more than providing accommodations.”

“Campground atmosphere,” he said, includes “the friendliness of the guests (and) the interactions with other guests and how that contributes to the atmosphere (at your park). … It’s how people feel about the stay at your park that drives them to come back, their loyalty.”

In other words, if park operators provide “the atmosphere guests feel comfortable in,” their guests will come back and become loyal customers.

Of course, the “atmosphere” at a park involves more than guest interactions with each other. It also involves guest interactions with park staff as well as the guest experience with every aspect of customer service in direct interactions with park staff.

“Service is what you do. Hospitality is the emotion tied to the experience. That is the most important thing to manage as you move forward,” Bahr said.

It’s, therefore, important to ensure that park staff go out of their way to ensure that guests feel welcome and have a positive connection with them throughout their stay.

“(Positively handling) guest interactions with you and your staff is one of the most important things you can do,” Bahr said, adding that it’s important for park operators to listen to their guests and be responsive to their needs and the things they would like to enhance their stay.

Bahr said it’s also incumbent upon park operators to ensure that their marketing is spot on in terms of setting proper guest expectations for their park.

“It’s important for you to set guest expectations … so that guests don’t arrive expecting things that you do not provide,” Bahr said, noting, “The worst thing you can do is provide unrealistic expectations. Guests need to know what to expect.”

Park operators can set expectations not only with the descriptive words they use on their websites, advertisements and other marketing materials but with their photography.

“Do high-quality photography,” he said because it provides guests with a first impression of your park, which can help prompt them to take the next step, which is to make a reservation.

Today’s conference sessions include a group discussion breakfast on a variety of park management topics ranging from issues involving mail and package delivery and distribution to staffing challenges, pet policies and guest ejections. A general session focusing on Florida RV park rules and statutes was also scheduled for the afternoon.

The tradeshow was expected to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.