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Schmarder talks at the LeadingCampings autumn meeting in France..

Schmarder talks at the LeadingCampings autumn meeting in France..

When Evanne Schmarder went to Europe last month to address members of the LeadingCampings network of five-star outdoor resorts, she found things were very similar to what she found in Australia earlier in the year — and much the same as she finds in North America.

“It’s fascinating. The park owners over there want the same thing the park owners want here: They want to provide a wonderful experience that keeps the guests coming back again and again. It’s universal,” said Schmarder, principal of Roadabode Productions, “Rollin’ On TV” collaborator and Woodall’s Campground Management columnist.

“They all struggle with Wi-Fi, they all struggle with site fees — are they high enough, low enough — how to market, what to market. They’re all so kind like they are here, like they were in Australia. There didn’t seem to be lots of secrets among the group,” Schmarder said.

She went in early October for the fall meeting of LeadingCampings in southern France. “This particular gathering was their annual autumn meeting. They had a good representation of parks throughout western Europe. The purpose was to talk about the group, talk about business, talk about the upcoming year, talk about the budget and learn something as well,” she said.

Eicke Schueuermann, executive director of LeadingCampings, invited Schmarder to talk about her inaugural Digital Marketing Benchmark Study for Outdoor Hospitality. During her 45-minute presentation, Schmarder talked to representatives of parks from Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium.

“My role was to discuss the digital marketing benchmark study and share some of what we learned here in the U.S. and talk bout how the findings do or do not apply in the European market,” Schmarder said. “I expect they’ll be conducting a study over there.

Evanne Schmarder

Evanne Schmarder

“I spoke for about 30-45 minutes and covered some best practices and some of the more social media and e-mail marketing points. They had some questions, talked about demographics, and everybody took something away from the talk. Some were really interested in Pinterest, some were really interested in e-mail,” Schmarder said.

She also said she plans to work more with Schueuermann and Terry Goodall of Australia’s PathFinder OutDoor Destinations to keep each other up to date on global trends in interests and issues in the outdoor hospitality and recreation space. “We believe that people from other continents are interested, especially the RVing demographic, in exploring other parts of the world, perhaps at their own pace. RVing is perfect for that on all three of our continents,” Schmarder said from experience.

With Goodall’s help, Schmarder and her husband, Ray, spent three months in Australia earlier this year.

That global perspective on camping and RVing showed that some things are true around the world. “Just like park owners, consumers want the same thing over here, in Australia and in Europe. We want to recreate in beautiful, outdoor settings and bond with our families,” Schmarder said.