Minority campers featured in 2009 RV promotion sponsored by Go RVing.

Park operators aren’t doing enough to attract a diverse business base that reflects America’s changing demographics, said Larry Brownfield, a senior business development consultant for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

Larry Brownfield

“Do we want to survive?” Brownfield asked Tuesday (May 3) during an educational workshop at the spring meeting of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). “We’ve got to be aggressively targeting ethnic diversity.”

According to a news release, Brownfield shared a KOA handout that included 2010 Census data showing that white Caucasians account for only 66% of the U.S. population, while African Americans and Hispanics make up 17% and 12% of the population, respectively. Five percent of the U.S. population is Asian.

White Caucasians represent 87% of American campers, however, according to a 2009 Outdoor Foundation survey, while Hispanics, African Americans and Asians represent a mere 6%, 3% and 4%, respectively.

And if you fast forward to 2050, the U.S. Census estimates that white Caucasians will account for only 46% of the population, while Hispanics, African Americans and Asians will account for 30%, 15% and 9%, respectively. “It’s a wakeup call for us,” Brownfield said.

Addressing other topics, Brownfield noted that today’s consumers are increasingly demanding and more informed than ever, thanks in part to the Internet. We are living in an “experience economy” and park operators need to pay attention to the type and quality of experiences they offer their guests. “It’s the value that the experience holds for the individual that determines the worth of the offering,” he said.

Brownfield added that KOA owners or managers who meet with their guests receive much higher guest satisfaction scores than those who do not, according to KOA’s Kamper Satisfaction Surveys.

Park operators also need to pay attention to their pet friendliness. Brownfield noted that families account for 26% of KOA’s Texas campers, while campers traveling with pets account for 41%. Nationally, families account for 34% of KOA’s guests, while people traveling with pets represent 35%.

Brownfield was one of several campground industry experts who gave educational presentations at TACO’s Spring Convention Tuesday at Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville.

In addition to providing a keynote address, Lori Severson of Severson & Associates and the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners led a class on maximizing employee potential, while Casey Erick of McKamie Krueger LLP held a session titled, “Facing Legal Challenges.”

Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group talked about strategies park operators can use to provide recharge services for travelers with electric cars and Bob MacKinnon provided updates on the GuestReviews online survey program as well as a session on how to deal with a negative review. Michael Moore and Matt Taylor from Texas Advertising also led a marketing session titled “Playing the Google Game.”