Mark Koep

Mark Koep, CEO of CampgroundViews.com, talked about the importance of mobile-friendly websites during his presentation Wednesday, the final day of the California Outdoor Hospitality Association’s Summit in Roseville, Calif.

Mark Koep, CEO of CampgroundViews.com, raised some interesting questions for park operators Wednesday (March 29) during his digital marketing session at the California Outdoor Hospitality Association’s Summit in Roseville, Calif.

Close to 70% of consumers visit private park websites using their mobile devices, but most bookings take place on desktop or laptop computers.

Why? Koep said it could be because they’re having a bad mobile experience. Many park websites look great on a desktop or laptop computer but aren’t designed to work well on mobile devices, which is a problem because most people do their campground research using mobile devices.

“The world has changed. The way we market our businesses has changed,” Koep said.

In fact, starting off his presentation, Koep asked park operators to pull out their mobile devices and to try to navigate their own websites with them.

“People use mobile phones as their primary navigation device,” he said, but they also use tablets and computers. “You want your website to look good on all of these different devices.”

Koep said websites need to have five essential sections: a homepage, a page for rates, a page for amenities, a “Contact Us/Directions” section and a “Book Now” button.

“On your homepage, you want what they’re searching for,” he said, adding that parks should at least have a great photo or photos and, ideally, videos, too. “Seventy-three percent of affluent travelers will book immediately upon seeing a video (they like).

“The rates page is the second most visited page,” he added.

But a rates page shouldn’t only list prices. It should also include content designed to “sell” campers on staying at the park.

The amenities page is also important because that’s where park operators can showcase their swimming pools, spas and other attractions that can serve as powerful enticements to bring people to their park.

“Is this the right park for me? This is where your amenities pages come in. Some people worry their amenities are not good enough. Give them a reason to say ‘yes!'” Koep explained

He said some park operators are leery of having a lot of photos on their website because they worry that their park isn’t attractive enough. He encouraged park operators to hire a local photographer to come to take photos of their park “as it is.” It’s a worthwhile exercise, Koep said, because park operators can then review the photos and decide by looking at these images what they need to change in their parks. Once the flaws are fixed, they can then invite the photographer to come back and take another round of photos.

Koep told park operators they are taking risks by not sharing photos of their parks. “They’re not going to come if they can’t see the park,” he said.

Parks also must have online booking capability on their website. He recommended park operators choose an online reservations company with experience managing campground reservations.

Koep also recommended that park operators hire a professional to analyze their website traffic. High traffic volume isn’t necessarily a good thing, he said, if most of those website visitors are only staying on the website for a very short period of time and then leaving.

“A decent time on a site is at least one-and-a-half minutes. If you are below that number, there is a problem going on,” he said.

Campground websites are powerful marketing tools in today’s digital age. But park operators need to pay attention to their website content and they need to have an online booking capability, Koep said.

“Get them interested. Get them to book. Get them to show up,” he said.