In today’s electronic environment, it’s easy for negative criticism of an RV park or campground to find its way quickly onto the Internet.
That’s a good reason why park operators should avail themselves of the new GuestReviews program sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), Debbie Carter, executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC), told her members during their Fall Meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 28).
Carter conceded that MAC members are underutilizing the free program offer through ARVC and urged her members to become participants.
“The opportunity for guests to vent their concerns privately is worth examining,” Carter told the 32 MAC members in attendance at the Queen Anne’s County Tourism Center in Chester, Md.
On the marketing front, the association will be distributing some 3,500 state brochures in cooperation with the Northeast Campground Association (NCA) at the Tampa RV Show in January, she reported.
On political issues, the MAC remains “split down the middle” on the slot machine referendum that goes before the public at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4, she said. If approved, a maximum of 15,000 slot machines would go in at sites in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Worcester County, Cecil County and Allegheny County.
Carter, who manages the Buttonwood Beach resort in Earleville, broached the topic of camping rates. She suggested to her constituency that they consider raising prices now for 2009 if their cash flow needs warrant it. She suggested that park operators who think they may need to raise prices do so now and inform their seasonals and others via their websites so that they are prepared for it before the 2009 season starts. And if prices are raised, don’t do it more than once during a season, she advised.
“If you don’t have cash flow problems, don’t do it,” she said.
She estimated that Maryland campgrounds overall saw between an 8% and 10% decline in business this year. Seasonal business was good but campgrounds relying on overnight traffic saw the biggest declines. In general, spring was slow, July and August were good but business dropped off in the fall, she said.
“With this crazy economy, we’re doing OK,” she said.
The association will hold its spring meeting Feb. 24 at Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Md.