A panel of RVers and social media influencers, assembled for the 2020 Back to Camping Virtual Summit, used Zoom technology to inform campground owners and industry suppliers on “What Campers Are Saying About Their Plans for Camping.”
Sponsored by Roverpass and presented and produced by Mark Koep, owner and operator of CampgroundViews.com,, the Back to Camping Summit was designed to offer actionable strategies for RV parks, campgrounds, and glamping destinations to get their businesses “back to business.” In addition to a virtual trade show, the Summit featured 15 speakers and an expected 1,000 attendees. The event concluded yesterday, although the recorded seminars are available to be viewed through May 31 at www.btcamping.com/sessions.
The virtual panel of RV influencers and online content creators, who are read by and speak to over 100,000 campers each month about their full-time camping travels, included Mike and Jen Wendland of RV Lifestyle, Marc and Julie Bennett of RVLove, and Kyle Brady from Drivin’n and Vibin’. Each influencer polled their online followers in preparation for the panel discussion.
Surprisingly, high on the list of camper concerns, according to Wendland, was, “Campground websites that work.” He stated that campers need to know whether a particular campground is open, what precautions are in place and anything they should be aware of, as well as include the ability to research and make a reservation without any question or concern. Photos should be updated with any COVID concerns highlighted, he added
The second point Wendland stressed is that, now more than ever, campers want real people answering the phone. “I just want to talk to a real person,” was a common request among the campers with whom he spoke. Third on Wendland’s list was the need for clean bathroom facilities. Campers want to know there is a cleaning schedule, and whether they are closed, and for how long. “Some are even expecting that every hour the baths should be cleaned,” he warned owners. The fourth concern is the additional room between campsites during this period of time. And a fifth concern was that they want a flat site that is clean and well kept.
Marc and Julie Bennett shared an online survey just 24 hours old with 800 respondents to five questions. The good news was that 34% of campers wanted to get out and go camping as usual, with only 1.5% saying they will not be camping this year. A solid 28% were not yet sure, choosing a wait-and-see attitude, with 21% still traveling but staying closer to home (within 300 miles). A full 15% said they were planning a big trip to travel far and wide — perhaps fed up with isolation. The vast majority will still be camping and all of those said they will be staying in a campground, resort, state or national park. Less than 5% were planning a boondock-only adventure.
Some notable questions on the minds of campers included “Will we be welcomed by the local community with my out-of-state plates?” and “Is it really ethical to travel at this time?”
Brady chimed in with a robust 96% of campers responding to his poll saying they were going to hit the road this year but will be staying closer to home. He suggested that campgrounds should make marketing decisions as well as incentivize local audiences to accommodate the nearby camper. In terms of health concerns, Brady’s audience rated campgrounds as third on their list, but he noted over 30% would pay a little more for a more isolated site.
It also was notable that the full-timer community championed private parks during this time because they remained open when many state and national parks were closed or limited.
The Bennetts, who are Class-A full-timers, stated that “All the little things that campgrounds and resorts can do to just show they care is really important at this time,” said Julie. “People can feel the love. And they will feel it if you are communicating it through all your communication channels.”