Knowing how to stand out and find success in a $2.56 billion industry is certainly a challenge. Throw in a global pandemic, and ever-changing legislation, and it can feel overwhelming.
But did you know that there are campground associations that exist to support you?
Whether it’s lobbying for RV parks, providing marketing assistance, or connecting you with other owners in your region, campground associations have one sole purpose: serve campground owners.
When asked about the benefits of joining an RV park association, Horizon Outdoor Hospitality President, Scott Foos summed it up with “advocacy, music, and movie licensing, marketing services, legal hotline, member discounts, and watchful eye over everything affecting the outdoor hospitality industry”.
No matter where you need assistance with your campground, the campground association is looking out for you. Whether you’ve been running your park for years, or are just getting started in the industry, joining an association is a great resource for any park owner.
Here are four reasons why you should join a campground association, plus a list of 40 associations in Canada and the United States.
Last year more than 30 states closed campgrounds or delayed their openings to correspond with new guidelines on social gatherings.
Especially in this on-going pandemic, legislative changes have affected business owners substantially. And when your local legislature enacts travel restrictions, or a 21-day order to close campgrounds, who goes to bat for you?
Campground associations do.
Organizations like TACO or CampCalNow communicate recommendations between lobbyists and campground owners as well as make donations to campaigns for candidates and legislators reflecting the interests of association members.
Whether it’s supporting a local bill to limit increases in commercial property taxes or urging national legislators to deem campgrounds as an essential business in the midst of heightened restrictions, association leaders take the initiative on connecting with elected officials in order to effect change that’s directly based on the feedback of park owners.
So, should you join a local association, a national association, or both? Well, many of our campgrounds are connected with both because, especially in a pandemic, there are unique challenges at either level. National organizations like ARVC and CCRVC have more resources and work directly at the federal level to advocate for campgrounds as an industry (i.e. deeming them essential businesses), whereas state and provincial associations have more focus on individual campgrounds and play a bigger hand in local policy (i.e. property taxes).
At the end of the day, it’s important that you start somewhere to give your campground a louder voice. Even if it’s just in your own backyard.
From hosting annual conferences and trade shows, regular training and webinars, or providing scholarships for campgrounds, associations focus on setting their members up for success. Some organizations will even provide training for aspiring campground managers and owners.
Myrtle Beach Travel Park operator, Tim Deputy, says “As a business operator, the learning opportunities are phenomenal. You’re actually meeting a lot of the leaders in the industry, so the knowledge that you gain is so invaluable. It’s like hiring a consultant without paying a consultant.”
There’s also often an incentive to join associations just for the perk of discounted rates from industry vendors and partners. In some cases, like with ARVC, they can literally calculate how much money a membership can save your campground. And while yearly dues vary between campground associations, larger organizations like ARVC charge around $150 a year and offer between 10 – 45 percent discounts on propane, commercial licensing (music and movies), campground supplies, and property insurance.
As you can imagine the savings add up quickly. Or as Bert Davis of Dells Camping Resort puts it, “by taking advantage of ARVC’s [Loyalty Program], we have saved more than $3,200, which when we look at it, adds up to 11 years of ARVC membership dues paid for.”
Another benefit for members, and quite possibly the biggest impact on increasing your reservations, is what campground associations do for marketing your park.
From listings in local publications, articles featuring campgrounds, or strategic partnerships with organizations like GoRVing Canada, associations are constantly working to keep their parks front-of-mind for campers.
Some organizations bring in an additional 80,000 reservations for all of their campgrounds through these strategic partnerships.
Not to mention some campground associations have partnerships that drive more traffic to your campground’s website. Our campgrounds receive an additional two million visitors thanks to partnerships with associations like the CCRVC and Travel BC.
With yearly meetups and digital forums, state and provincial campground associations provide opportunities for you to connect with other campground owners and managers for industry support.
According to Johan Feddema of Riverbend Campground in Alberta, “Being a Member of the Canadian Camping and RV Council provides my Campground with the opportunity to connect with my peers in an Association with a sole purpose to make my business more efficient and profitable.”
And on the off chance friction with another campground arises, association leaders like, Joss Penny of Travel BC, have shared with us how they are quick to jump in and mediate an amicable resolution between campgrounds.
Joining a campground association means more support and less conflict.
Having a campground association in your corner means you have an advocate, a marketer, and a wide network of park owners on your side.
Whether you need help bringing in more reservations, navigating legislative changes, or keeping up with where the outdoor industry is going, joining an association is an easy place to start. And if you’re ready to join an association, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a list of 40 associations in the US and Canada to get you started.
In addition to joining an association, are you looking to take more reservations this year? Good Sam Campground Solutions can help. Request a demo today!