Linda Profaizer

Linda Profaizer, a Colorado resident and immediate past-president of ARVC, can be contacted at [email protected] Having stepped away from her association duties at the end of 2010, she welcomes input on topics of importance to campground owners for upcoming columns. She wrote the following column for the June issue of Woodall’s Campground Management now going out to subscribers across the U.S. and Canada.

I know that many of you have just recently opened your parks, or maybe with the unusually great weather, you have even opened a bit early. This issue of WCM is about park trailers, which continue to be an important part of many campgrounds and RV parks and popular with the non-RV owning public. The subject prompted me to do some research on the Internet. I came across some really different accommodations – some maybe a bit “out there,” but what I like about doing this type of research is that it often provides the spark for some ideas about things that you might like to add to your park.

Rentals in RV parks and campgrounds are still hot and park models are a large part of that market. One neat concept I came across is at a park in Wyoming, Jackson Hole Campground (Fireside Resort) in Jackson Hole. They recently added 20 luxury cabins, each equipped with a fireplace, private outdoor campfire surrounded by rocking chairs, two fully furnished decks, two flat screen HDTVs, full kitchen, gas grill and luxury bedding including goose down pillows. The design of the park models is rustic, yet contemporary, very simple, but very inviting. Take a look at www.firesideresort.com. While there, check out the glamping tents they recently added.

The rentals at Jackson Hole point out another important factor to consider – after you purchase your park trailers, it is equally important to consider how they will be decorated. You don’t want to do anything that will not fit your clientele. Consider comfortable mattresses, pillows, and bathroom towels. What would you expect if you were staying in the units?

Also, Fireside Resort permits pets in the cabins. Many park owners do not permit pets because of possible damage. The resort charges $35 per night for a pet. They will “even set up a doggie bed by the fire” to provide an additional comfort of home.

Different types of rental accommodations in your parks are appealing to potential guests. If you have a lake or pond setting, why not consider a floating accommodation? There are a few park trailer manufacturers who will adapt a park model to sit on the water. Pinnacle Park Homes has floating park models and Cavco has Echo Cottages that float on the water. These are just two of the manufacturers who can provide floating park models. Breckenridge and Athens Park Homes offer their FloLodge.

It seems like anything is possible regarding park models (except exceeding 400 square feet in size). There are so many options when it comes to floorplans and finishes. You might want to purchase eco-friendly units. Many manufacturers are offering “green” park models. Cavco’s Eco-Cottages can be built to RV standards; Athens Park Homes are NTA Inc. (NTA evaluates and certifies products for the residential and commercial building industry) “certified green,” which means that the unit is built as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Many are offering solar panels and tankless water heaters.

One of the upscale park models at Jackson Hole Campground in Wyoming.

Here are some points to consider when purchasing any rental accommodations:

  • Consider the ROI. Since your park models will generate revenue, you want to consider your potential customers, and look for the models that will create the greatest return on your investment. Consider offering several options to a potential customer to enable you to meet both their budget needs, as well as their space requirements.
  • Know your market – what type of rentals will best service your clientele. Determine whether you will be marketing to families, seniors or some other type consumer. Once you determine your customer profile, you can then add some simple things that can really set you apart from the competition. According to most surveys, overall, consumers seem to prefer rental units with a bathroom, water and kitchen.
  • What park model design is going to fit in best with your park and your future plans? Take a look at Sedona Pines Resort in Sedona, Ariz., at www.SedonaPines.com. They purchased Silver Crest park models and chose a stucco (looking like adobe) siding, which fits in with their geographic location. Choose a design that is in keeping with the rest of your park.
  • If you are looking for mainly overnight and weekend rentals, you would not need as much storage space in the kitchen. If your guests will be staying for weeks at a time, make sure that you choose a model with ample storage, especially in the kitchen.
  • Do you also want to become a park model dealer?
  • Where are you going to put the units in your park?

Making the purchase decision is only part of the process. Once you’ve determined to purchase or have purchased your rental accommodation, consider:

  • Decorating – if located in the mountains, maybe a pine cone theme or animals. If located near the ocean, maybe a seaside theme.
  • Appliances – What will you include in the kitchen? How many cups, glasses, plates, silverware and serving utensils?
  • Bedding – does your market support upscale – like goose down pillows and duvets?
  • Landscaping around the unit – I’m sure you’ve seen them – a unit totally without landscaping. Those are very unappealing sites visually to your guests. Include something – even if it is just a pot of flowers on the porch.
  • Grill and picnic table – what type will you provide?
  • Seating – Are you going to provide some type outside?
  • Rules and regs – How many people in a unit? Will you require a security deposit? What fee will charge if you allow pets? Will you draw up a rental agreement?
  • Linen service and housekeeping – will you provide either?
  • Advertising – How and where are you going to promote your units? Depending on the extent of your rentals, maybe a separate website is appropriate. At the very least, have a separate area on your website for rentals. Make sure you are included on other websites promoting rentals like Woodall’s and Go Camping America. Many states also offer a special rental area on their sites.

These are only some of the decisions that need to be made when considering the type of rental accommodations you want to add to your park. There are lots of options out there from RV trailers to luxury tents to park models and accommodations of your own creation. While everyone might not agree on the type of unit to put in their park, what everyone does agree on is that the rental market will continue to grow and generate revenues to your bottom line.