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glamping

16 Unique Options for Adding Glamping to Your Campground

There’s no getting around it: glamping is more popular than ever.

A couple of years ago, the US market for glamping was projected to reach $4.8 billion in revenue by 2025.

Furthermore, a 2019 study from the KOA found that 67 percent of campers are booking glamping sites for the sake of creating a unique experience. These are guests who want to camp but want to keep a few of the comforts of home while they do it.

So, exactly what accommodations are parks using to attract glampers?

Here’s a list of 16 potential glamping options for campground owners looking to create a unique experience for their guests.

Glamping options.

1. Canvas tents

Canvas tents are some of the more malleable options a campground can offer, considering almost everything is optional (electricity, furniture, A/C, etc.). Plus, they’re incredibly durable, lasting 20 to 30 years, and can scale up or down to match the level of elegance you’re going for.

If you’re looking for an economical way to add value to your campground’s accommodations, they can start as low as $350 and range up to $1,000 or so.

2. Vintage campers

Vintage campers are a huge draw for guests seeking both novelty and nostalgia. Also, they’re profitable: flipping a used camper could earn you $6,000 on average.

glamping

That said, you’ll have the overhead of renovating a vintage camper.

Renovating an old Airstream will run you between $10,000 to $70,000, and restoring a vintage RV of any kind will cost between $1,000 and $10,000.

If you do decide to go the route of converting an older RV, be sure to consider the following:

  • Electrical systems (i.e., interior and exterior lights, signals, tail lights, etc.)
  • Plumbing systems (i.e., drains and traps, kitchen sink, toilet, shower, water)
  • Exterior (i.e., locks, doors, hardware and seals, windows, vents, dents)
  • Interior (i.e., cabinets, latches, counters, upholstery, floors)
  • Kitchen appliances (i.e., water heater, furnace, oven, refrigerator)
  • LP System (i.e., gas lines, regulators, hoses, pressure adjustment)

Here’s how one couple converted an ’87 Airstream motorhome into a luxury experience for guests.

3. Yurts

More and more campers seek out yurt accommodations to break away from the cookie-cutter hotel room experience.

While yurts aren’t exactly cheap (somewhere between $11,500 and $44,000), they are still profitable. According to Pacific Yurts Inc., you can make $1,500 a month from just yurt reservations alone. So your investment should pay for itself in a couple of years.

4. Cabins

Cabins and cottages can rent for $1,000 to $2,000 a week and attract a broad audience.

The demand for cabins and tents is expected to grow 2.5 times over the next five years. It’s certainly worth investing in at least a few units for your park. However, building a cabin would require a permit because it is a permanent structure.

5. A-frames

An architectural design with a quaint interior, A-frames are a modern and imaginative approach to traditional cabins.

But even beyond aesthetics, A-frames are affordable, simple to design, and better at snow management due to their steep-roofed design. They also allow for more natural light, making for an enjoyable stay.

6. Park model RVs

Park models are similar to traditional RVs in that they are mobile and need to be hooked up to sewer, water, and electricity. However, they are distinctly larger and more “homey” in design. Park models come in various design aesthetics, making it easy to find a park model to fit your park brand.

You can expect to pay between $20,000 and $200,000 per unit.

7. Treehouses

Treehouses are certainly one of the more exotic and upscale options for lodging, and they’re not terribly expensive. The average 12′ by 12′ build for a treehouse will cost between $9,000 and $17,000. Treehouses are most commonly built around trees but can refer to any camping accommodation at tree height as well.

For further context, check out these incredible glamping treehouses

8. Tipis

Costing between $130 and $1,000, tipis are one of the cheapest and simplest glamping accommodations on this list.

Tipis are weather-resistant, easy to assemble, and have optimal temperature regulation. That said, they aren’t as spacious as other glamping options and might not be as easily accessible to everyone.

To see examples of campgrounds implementing tipis, check out the top 25 tipis from around the world.

9. Motels

LOGE finds closed down or abandoned motels near interesting towns or trails and refurbishes them to cater towards a more outdoor-focused experience, often adding camping options to the property.

Not to be confused with traditional motel updates, new owners are taking the bones of existing lodgings and transforming them into upscale campgrounds. You can even sleep in a hammock in your motel room:

10. Covered wagons

If you’re looking to add novelty to your campground, covered wagons are a playful and often climate-controlled option. They’re glorified tents with a western motif and create great photo ops.

11. Domes.

Unconventional yet environmentally conscious, geodesic domes are more than just aesthetic. Their spherical structure makes them one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for lodging because “air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction.” You can even place them in exotic locations with extreme wind turbulence, as the architectural design lessens any winds contributing to heat loss.

Furthermore, they install quickly–1 to 3 days–and cost only $9 to $15 per square foot.

12. Glamping pods

Glamping pods are eco-friendly and stylish. While usually built from recycled material, they’re energy-efficient and retain heat, effectively protecting guests from the elements.

Essentially, they function as a tiny house with a modern design, making them one of the more expensive (upwards of $10,000) and more glamorous options on this list.

Check out some of these great examples

13. Caboose

Easily one of the most unique forms of accommodation, converted cabooses and boxcars provide a very “Americana” experience for guests looking for something different.

Here’s a list of campgrounds offering trains for lodgings for inspiration.

14. Floating homes

Still connected to water and sewer, a floating home is like having a condo on the water. Unlike a houseboat, floating homes are stationary and generally more expensive.

Also, you’ll need a diver to inspect the home properly from top to bottom.

15. Tiny homes

Smaller than a cabin and moveable by a trailer, tiny homes have become an affordable option for Millenials and Baby Boomers alike.

The tiny home market is projected to be worth more than $5.8 billion in a few years. That same study indicated 63 percent of Millenials are interested in buying a tiny home, and 40 percent of tiny homeowners are Baby Boomers—ensuring that renting a tiny house at your campground will appeal to all clientele.

16. Container homes

Container homes are durable, recyclable, quick to build, and mobile. They also have a resale value of upwards of 100 percent, making them a reasonably affordable and safe investment.

Smaller and more basic homes will cost between $10,000 and $35,000, while larger homes will run between $100,000 and $175,000.

Homesteading has a list of 17 container homes that show just how creative you can get with accommodations.

Glamping Campgrounds

Many of our campgrounds have found success bringing in more business to their park by adding a few glamping options. If you’re looking for a few easy and affordable ways to start implementing glamping options, consider adding:

  • Luxury canvas tents or yurts.
  • Cabins, tiny homes, or glamping pods.
  • Converting vintage campers.

Get more glamping reservations.

Taking online reservations is an easy way to help you grow your glamping audience. Request a demo of Good Sam Campground Solutions!

12 Creative Ways to Make Extra Money at Your Campground

With over 40 million people RVing regularly, campgrounds can be incredibly profitable.

The best way to increase revenue is by boosting occupancy. But what are some alternative ways to make money at your campground?

We connected with several campgrounds and found twelve creative ways to diversify your income and make more money at your RV park.

Earn a little extra money at your RV park

1. Vending Machines

On average, a single vending machine earns $76 a week, or over $300 a month. With that, a vending machine is about a $2,000 investment, so it pays for itself within a year.

It’s a reasonably easy income stream to add to your park, especially if strategically placed–-near a pool, for example. 

2. Laundry

One campground owner reported he profited more on laundry than he did from his campsites! He was the only laundromat nearby and offered multiple machines for guests and local residents to use.

After multiple calls to repairmen, he learned how to fix the units himself, making even more profit from this expected RV park amenity.

Creating a pleasant experience around laundry could be a small but simple way to add value to a guests’ experience. Consider adding another set of machines or offering a small table or countertop for folding clothes. Since most campgrounds charge between $1 to $2.50 per load, you’ll earn back your investment relatively quickly.

3. Pool pass

creative ways to make money

Have a pool? Consider offsetting some of your property costs by opening it up to the local community or friends visiting campers. For example, Jackson Lake Lodge lets guests swim for free and sells community passes for $5 a day–or $50 a season.

Earn a little more money at your RV park

4. Restaurants and food trucks

Restaurants or concession stands add local flair to your park. Not only can they be an added element of hospitality for guests, but they could be an additional marketing tool for your park when opened to the community. 

More and more parks are adopting new options when it comes to dining. Foodtruckoperator.com says that even the federal government “is looking to modernize campgrounds at national parks, and is considering allowing the private sector to run the parks to free up park staff for other tasks.”

Remember, though, that running a restaurant in conjunction with your campground is extra work. If you’re looking for a more straightforward starting point, food trucks have relatively simple permits and can be an easy way to partner with a local vendor to split profits.

5. A good camp store

Retired camping and outdoor industry expert Gary Forster says, “There are many reasons to have a [camp] store. The first is that people expect it.”

Keeping a few essentials on hand goes a long way, whether it’s a quick bite, laundry detergent, firewood, or even RV parts like water or sewer hoses.

We’ve also received feedback from RV parks claiming a fair amount of success selling branded materials and products from local artists or businesses that reflect the local community. Specifically, T-shirts and camping mugs are a couple of the top sellers. You may even offer produce, pictured above, as part of a small farmer’s market.

6. Events

Campgrounds can still offer plenty of low-cost and profitable events for campers. 

Consider:

  • Grilling or cook-off competitions (where people pay to enter and taste the food)
  • Outdoor movie nights (with proper licensing, which you can find help with by joining a campground association)
  • Fall festival complete with a carnival and hayrides
  • Tournaments for youth sports
  • Crafts (especially for kids)
  • A trail of lights during the holiday season

Plenty of potential guests unfamiliar with camping might be willing to try it out if you provide the right incentives to connect with your park. 

For more ideas, RVShare has a list of over 80 activities campgrounds can offer.

7. Wi-Fi

If you’re looking to add immediate value to your campground, start with quality wireless internet. Even if guests want to unplug and experience nature, many will still expect access to Wi-Fi.

Millennials are 73 percent more likely to find themselves taking a trip and, subsequently, working from an RV this year.

While providing decent Wi-Fi is a must, offering a high-speed connection could be a source of profit. A 2018 poll revealed 66 percent of guests would be willing to pay a daily rate for faster internet. And, likely, this number will only go up as more millennials become full-time RVers. Paying extra for premium service will be expected.

Make passive and profitable returns at your RV park

8. Rentals

While rentals generally come with high startup costs, they can also bring high margins. Consider implementing any of these items:

  • Jeeps
  • Dune buggies
  • Four-wheelers
  • Snowmobiles
  • Mountain bikes
  • Kayaks/canoes
  • Grills
  • Pool items (floaties, toys, life jackets, etc.)

The most significant considerations with rentals are your insurance policy and repairs, which can add to your park’s expenses.

9. Experiences

Campgrounds can offer more than just camping.

Here are a few creative ways campgrounds have used their space:

Campgrounds that succeed in repurposing their space take advantage of features unique to their property: lakes and rivers, scenic overlooks, flat or hilly landscapes. What does yours offer? 

10. Partner with local tourism companies and restaurants

Partnering with local businesses is a great way to make commissions and passive income for your campground. See if any local tourist attractions will give your campers discounts for visiting or if they will give you a referral credit for sending campers their way.

11. Event rentals

Especially during shoulder seasons, find imaginative ways to take advantage of potential event space. Consider renting out your clubhouse, pavilions, etc. for:

  • Reunions and get-togethers
  • Corporate retreats
  • Weddings
  • Kids camps and field trips
  • Conventions and conference
  • Concerts

12. Yield management

One of the resources that Good Sam Campground Solutions provides its parks is yield management (or dynamic pricing).

This allows campgrounds to accommodate guests during both peak and shoulder seasons. A camper can go online, get a quote, and make a reservation without you having to get involved.

Yield management allows you to charge more or less based on demand, like charging $70/night on holiday weekends and $50/night in the shoulder season.

On average, our campgrounds have saved 300 hours of administrative work annually through dynamic pricing and online reservations.

Putting it together

Finding creative ways to make money at your RV park doesn’t have to be an overwhelming effort. Consider your campground and what you could realistically implement without draining your resources.

Then, 

  1. Make a little money by adding vending machines, laundry services, and pool passes.
  2. Make a little more money by offering restaurants or food trucks, a well-stocked camp store, interactive events, and quality Wi-Fi.
  3. Make passive and profitable income by offering rentals, unique experiences (weddings, wildlife, breweries, etc.), partnering with local businesses, event rentals, and yield management.

The simplest way to increase revenue

Online reservations are one of the easiest ways to bring income to your campground. Good Sam Campground Solutions brings RV parks a 25 percent annual increase in reservation volume. Request a demo today!

campground photo

Better Campground Photos = More Reservations (+4 Tips for Getting Great Photos)

campground photo

Having quality photos will bring more business to your campground.

Websites and articles with relevant and quality photos garner 94 percent more views than those without. In fact, some campgrounds have doubled their yearly reservations just by adding better pictures.

Now, while you would think more parks would invest in quality photos, only 39 percent of online businesses have photos that don’t disappoint customers.

So why are quality campground photos so important? And why are customers more responsive to high-resolution images?

1. Campground photos create trust.

A picture is worth a thousand-word review.

When it comes to making a reservation online, 78 percent of people make their decision based on photos alone. They also found that online customers trusted photos even more than other customer reviews.

The main reason guests trust photos? It humanizes their online experience.

Sixty percent of consumers who use online search say they prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image, because they know there’s a real person on the other side.

2. Campground photos make your park stand out.

Are your campground’s photos helping or hurting you?

Overall, at least 50 percent of consumers prefer visual information over text. It’s easier for campers to quickly see photos than to read a few paragraphs describing your park.

Out of focus, pixelated, or unattractive photos will deter campers. Twenty-two percent of returns or cancellations happen when a product (or campsite) looks different in person.

What images are campers seeing when they search?

Do a quick Google search of your park and click on “Images.” Review what’s pulling up. Does it give guests an accurate idea of what they can expect when they visit? Is your park standing out or getting lost in the shuffle?

3. Campground photos tell your story.

Create a Better Booking Experience

Campgrounds are a common gathering place. Which means guests want to know the people running an RV park. They want to know you.

Fifty-one percent of customers respond better to images of actual people because they’re more authentic and trustworthy than brand-owned creative. 

Campers also want to be able to see themselves staying at your park before they actually stay at your park.

Is your park catered toward families? Retirees? Use photos of people enjoying your park to attract more campers like them.

4. Campground photos lead to more reservations.

Quality campground photos could double your reservations.

Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said travel images posted by a real person are the most influential endorsement,” and that almost half of the survey respondents reported purchasing a product after interacting with an image or watching a brand video.

Asking campers to leave a review or creating experiences that prompt campers to take a photo at their campsite can increase your photos on review sites, establishing your online reputation and encouraging future campers to book.

4 tips for taking better campground photos. 

Elevating the quality of images might feel like an expensive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to. Without having to break the bank or sink too much time into creating more content, here are a few things to consider:

1. Hire a professional.

Bringing in a professional photographer is the easiest way to get images of your campground that you can use for years to come. Typically it’ll run between $100 to $250 an hour for the shoot itself.

Many campgrounds will barter photography services for a free week-long stay or hire workampers with photography skills to avoid the expense of hiring.

2. Take higher quality photos on your own.

On a budget? No problem. You can still take great photos on your phone. iPhone photos can still go a long way and are way better than not having photos at all.

To take the best photos on your phone, go out at golden hour—the hour before sunset or after sunrise—so your campground is in the best light. Take photos on a sunny day and if possible, when the campground is semi-full so you can get plenty of lifestyle photos of campers enjoying your property.

3. Curate quality social content.

Everyone travels with a camera in their pocket these days, which means it’s easy for campers to take and share photos of their camping trip.

Consider using a specific hashtag or creating an Instagram account for your campground. Ask guests to tag you so you can easily find and share their photos.

Basecamp 550 in Colorado encourages campers to tag #basecamp550. These are some of their social photos taken by guests.

You can also find a list of ways to leverage social media for more reservations from Inspired Camping.

4. Incentivize campers to take photos.

Perhaps the easiest and most practical way to capture what camping at your park is like is to have guests capture it themselves. Consider offering discounted nights in exchange for quality photos taken from campers or run a photo competition and giveaway to the winning photo.

Improve Your Campgrounds Photos

Campgrounds can double their online bookings by simply adding high-quality photos. Review your websites and reviews today and make a checklist for getting your campground photos updated before camping season kicks off.

More photos and more reservations.

In addition to increasing reservations online, Good Sam Campground Solutions has helped parks improve their branding and curate better photos. If you’re in the market for growing your online reach, request a demo today!

Hidden Costs of Owning a Campground

What are some Hidden Costs of Owning a Campground?

If you’re in the market to buy a campground, the timing has never been better.

A recent study from Condor discovered that, in the States alone, over 40 million Americans go RVing regularly. Additionally, there are about 16,000 campgrounds in the US.

If we evenly distributed every RVer in America, and they only stayed at one campground for one night at an average price of $30, the average campground would make at least $75,000 a year.

But it still raises an important question:

How much does it cost to start a campground?

To answer that, we’ve interviewed several park owners and operators using our Campground Booking software and put together a comprehensive list of financial considerations before starting a campground.

The reality is whether you’ve been running a campground for years like Joy Guyot (Golden Municipal in Golden, BC), or you’re a new owner like Scott and Kate-lynn Boesveld (Ray’s Place in Minden, ON), operating a campground includes many hidden costs. 

cost to start a campground

We’ll cover financial considerations for both buying an existing RV park and building a campground of your own.

Buying an RV Park

Initial Costs

How much would it cost to start a campground that already exists?

An existing campground with infrastructure already built out will run you between $100,000 to $2 million+ (TRUiC), and generally speaking, you can assume a fair amount of additional renovation will be necessary.

If you’re buying an established campground, “the upfront costs might be higher, but your revenue might be higher as well.” Generally speaking, a “campground business can cost around $10,000 to $50,000 to start, and that doesn’t include the cost of the [property].”

Various factors impact the cost of the land, including location, infrastructure, and acres available.

However, TRUiC says the cost of land will “range from $1,000 an acre if it has a lot of ‘unusable’ land to upwards of $10,000 an acre if most of the land is flat, it’s on a lake or river, or it has outstanding views.”

Cap Rates

A cap rate formula tells you how long it will take to break even and recoup your money on real estate investment. It’s found by calculating the net operating income (NOI) and dividing it by the property value.

For example, let’s say you have a property worth $2 million and an NOI of $150k, you would divide $150,000 by $2,000,000, and your cap rate would be 7.5%.

This number is significant to note because it can inform you before purchasing a campground if you can expect a decent return on investment. (If the cap rate is publicly viewable on a listing, you can calculate this number yourself with a copy of the RV park’s P&L.)

RVParkStore says that “The range of cap rates on the market today fall in the 5% to 15% range with most parks falling into the 8% to 11% range.”

According to outdoor hospitality expert Heath Padgett, the good news for aspiring owners is that many campground owners “aren’t valuing their property based on capitalization rates.” This means that “if you come in and slightly improve processes, you can ultimately have a decent return on investment.”

Now, keep in mind that cap rates vary depending on location. An 8% cap rate for a campground right outside of Seattle will be substantially different than 8% in Seguin, Texas. When comparing cap rates, consider campgrounds in your area or similar regions.

Insurance

Your local campground association will have more information, but according to TRUiC, “the average campground in America spends between $450-$1,500 per year for $1 million in general liability coverage.”

Renovations

While the cost of renovations can vary widely depending on the park, budget for updating infrastructure as well as branding around your new park. Outdoor Command recommends $10,000-$50,000, but this number can easily be higher if you need to bring electric up to code or fix major systems in the park.

To estimate this number before purchasing a park, hire an inspector or a contractor to examine the existing infrastructure.

If you’re ready to check out RV parks for sale in your area, here are a few good places to start.

cost to start a campgroundRiverview Campground in Rocky Mountain House, AB

Costs to Build a Campground (from scratch)

Land

Before you build a campground, you need land. Land costs vary widely across the country, but the national average in the States is around $3,000 per acre.

Licensing and Permits

With any new construction, you will incur permit and licensing costs. These vary by state and may require regular renewal.

With building a campground, consider zoning. You may need to pay to change your land to the proper zoning for opening a campground. Local campground associations will be helpful resources, especially when navigating state and provincial requirements.

Cost per Site

One campground owner informed us that the average construction cost per site ran them around $15,000 for full-hookups, gravel roads, and pads.

Home is Where You Make It suggested that site costs “range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 per site depending upon the amenities you plan to install.”

cost to start a campground

But $15,000-$50,000 is a guesstimate based on including a few different features.

Electric

Many of our campgrounds offer 15-amp, 30-amp, and 50-amp outlets, and some for 110/120 volts. This will cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per site.

Water

According to HomeAdvisor, on average, drilling a 150-foot well costs around $5,500, but it can cost as much as $12,000. Also, anticipate up to $25 per foot of piping.

To build our own campground, said Heath Padgett, “we were quoted around $1,200 per site for city water hookups.”

Septic system

A site-by-site septic system requiring a tank and leach field plus piping to campsites can cost upwards of $40,000 altogether.

Home is Where You Make It advises that, instead, you should install a dump station for guests because it will cut your costs down by as much as 75%. However, you can charge more per night if you offer full hookups.

Other costs for site development

Gravel, asphalt, or concrete to pave designated campsites are another big-ticket item to consider when estimating pricing. You will also likely need to pay for ground leveling, paving roads, and landscaping as well.

Number of Sites

Camper Smarts says that “a general rule of thumb is to have ten sites per acre” and to make sure you give plenty of thought towards the number of fifth wheels and larger motorhomes you’d like to include.

To get a rough estimate of how much it costs to build a campground, multiply the number of acres you own by ten and then multiply by $15,000.

(If you’re looking to expand an existing park, $15,000 per site is an effective way to calculate those costs, too.)

Buildings and Additional Infrastructure on Site

Most campgrounds offer more than just a campsite with hookups. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to build a few buildings as well.

Restrooms

According to our survey results, guests indicated that a quality public restroom (with good water pressure) was a must. Generally speaking, this will cost around $20,000.

Outdoor industry expert Gary Forster has a helpful PDF on designs and materials for camp bathrooms.

cost to start a campgroundThe front office of Golden Municipal Campground in Golden, BC

Office

There are a lot of variables here, but HomeAdvisor says office costs can range “between $15,000 and $80,000 or $100 to $550 per square foot.”

Along with your office, you’ll want a solid connection to the internet to handle reservations and communicate with guests.

Industry trends show that 42% of professionals currently work remotely (Upwork), meaning that doubling your office as a co-working space with a strong internet connection will attract more people to your campground year-round.

cost to start a campgroundCampground Booking can save campgrounds 300+ hours a year in office administrative work by managing online reservations for your park.

High-speed internet

On average, you can find a high-speed provider with decent download speeds at around $250 a month. Depending on your campground’s proximity to towers in the area, you shouldn’t pay more than $500 a month at the most. 

Estimate around $3,000 for the initial internet set up (ethernet, Wi-Fi repeaters, routers) at your park. 

It’s a worthwhile investment, though.

Our data found that 71% of RVers consider Wi-Fi to be “essential.” A few participants even said that a lack of Wi-Fi meant they wouldn’t even stay at a campground.

This article shares best practices for setting up Wi-Fi at your campground.

Calculating Total Costs

To get a better idea of how much it might cost to start a campground, add together your land costs, costs per site (factoring how many sites you want to build), costs for any buildings you’re adding, and the cost to install internet in your park.

ray's placeNew campground owner, Scott Boesveld, put work into restoring Ray’s Place in Minden, Ontario.

Expenses you can skip for now

There are a lot of great features your campground may want to offer, but you don’t need to offer them right away (i.e., fire pits, dog parks, benches, playground, pool, hot tub, etc.).

Our top 10 amenities list (according to RVers) offers plenty of suggestions and tips for saving money. When you’re ready to add additional value to your new campground, these are great places to start.

Is it worth it to buy a campground?

The cost to run an RV park depends on whether you’re buying an established park or building one from scratch. But no matter which way you go, there’s a demand.

So, is it profitable to run a campground?

Our campground owners say it is.

READY TO BUY A CAMPGROUND?

If you’re in the market for a campground, Good Sam provides several campground services to give owners the tools they need to get their business off the ground. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, online reservations, or access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam makes managing a park as easy as possible. If you’re ready to get started, we can help! Request a demo today.

How to Respond to Bad Campground Reviews

How to Respond to Bad Campground Reviews

Even good campgrounds can receive negative reviews.

It doesn’t matter how consistently you deliver a quality guest experience or go above and beyond, missteps will still happen.

As frustrating as it is, you need to respond to bad campground reviews. While they may not be representative of your campground, if you ignore them, they can still come back to haunt you.

Imagine your RV park gets flooded with rain over a holiday weekend. If half of your guests complain about muddy sites in online reviews, that can severely tank your park’s reputation—and it wasn’t even your fault!

Knowing how to respond to bad campground reviews is critical.

bad review

Bad reviews can destroy your campground’s business.

Last year, the Montrose Press reported a story about how RV influencer and YouTuber, Jason Epperson (RV Miles) and his family were evicted from an RV park after receiving a FedEx package, violating the park’s policy by using their address to receive mail.

Epperson was frustrated. The policy stated long term guests couldn’t accept mail, not overnight guests, yet he was escorted off the property by the sheriff for a simple FedEx package. He aired his grievance on his YouTube channel to over 100,000 views.

In response to his video, RVers immediately took to the campground’s page on Yelp, and posted negative review after negative review, dropping the park’s rating to 1 star out of 5.

The Montrose Press also quoted research from Womply, stating that campgrounds or businesses with 1 to 1.5 stars receive 19% less total revenue on average.

(The RV park in question has sold to new owners since the incident.)

Adding to that point, Vendasta found that “92% of consumers now read online reviews.” So for every 10 people looking at your campground, 9 of them will make their decision to stay there based on other people’s experiences.

Reviews matter. Even the bad ones.

How to get rid of and respond to bad campground reviews 

As intimidating as negative reviews can be, they’re easier to get rid of than you might think, but it does take a thoughtful and tactful approach. Here are 5 steps for how to respond to bad campground reviews, and creating better camper experiences.

bad campground review

1. Evaluate the situation.

When you get a poor review, no matter how unfair it might be, the first thing you need to do is take a beat and assess what’s going on. Yes, you should respond promptly, but don’t rush it and escalate a negative situation.

And definitely don’t respond emotionally.

HubSpot quoted marketer Geoff Toff saying “if [a guest is] angry enough (however unfairly) and cares enough about getting the reaction they want from you (however petty that might be), they can spread negativity all over your reputation online, and people will probably believe it until they see a reason to think otherwise.”

Calmly and logically evaluate the situation and come up with a plan to solve the problem.

2. Respond to the negative review.

Respond publicly first.

More often than not, the customer simply wants to know that you hear them. And even if the complaint feels unreasonable, other customers reading the reviews also want to know that you hear them.

By responding publicly, you show everyone that you pay attention to detail, and work to fix problems as they pop up.

Black Canyon receives mostly positive reviews (as evidenced by a 4.9 rating), but they do a good job of responding to every review.

Move to a 1-on-1 conversation.

If an issue can’t be easily resolved with a public comment, take the conversation private.

The point here is not to “silence” the frustrated customer, or remove them from the public eye, so much as it is to guarantee a more focused guest experience.

Moving the conversation to a direct message or email exchange can allow the guest to feel more important and heard. It also helps enable the guest to see that there is another human being responding to their complaint, which allows them to lower their guard and be a little more patient.

3. Fix the problem quickly and transparently.

According to Vendasta, when campgrounds resolve issues quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy guests will return.

Which means simply reply to bad reviews can be a boost for business.

Be honest about mistakes.

Nobody expects a campground to be perfect, but they do expect you to be trustworthy. The way you handle bad reviews as a campground can be an opportunity for more reservations.

Accept responsibility.

Some negative reviews won’t be your fault.

Another guest’s dog was barking too loudly. Another guest’s kids were running around their campsite. It rained all weekend. A bigger rig blocked their view.

Even when negative reviews don’t reflect on your actions as a campground operator, accept responsibility and fault for the issue.

With Black Canyon in Wimberley, they didn’t reply and say “I’m sorry the wifi is slow, we are in the country! Of course it’s slow!”

Instead they detailed how they were stepping up and addressing the issue.

empathizing with guests

Ask questions and empathize.

The easiest way to make a guest feel heard is to ask thoughtful questions. It’s important that you establish that you’re on their side, and trying to make sure they feel understood and taken care of.

Don’t assume the intent of the guest, and don’t belittle their issue. Try and parrot back their problem in your own words to let them know you’re listening, and relate to how frustrating that problem would be if you were in their shoes.

Provide solutions and incentives.

At Chick-fil-A, they have a philosophy of customer service called Second-Mile Service.

As one employee puts it, “Second Mile Service is about going the extra mile—when someone expects a certain level of service, you work to go beyond that and take them the whole second mile.”

If a customer has a problem, every employee from the top-down has been empowered up to $10 per situation to do whatever it takes to make things right.

For example, if someone orders grilled nuggets, but receives fried nuggets, they’ll eat the cost and tell the customer to keep the nuggets they have, while they quickly work to bring out the correct order. No questions asked.

What does this look like at a campground?

Think through ways your campground can provide a quality customer experience. Do you comp one night of a stay? Do you give complimentary firewood? Upgrade them to a nicer campsite? Think of what ways you can realistically provide solutions without hurting your bottom line.

Will people take advantage of this? Some might, but overall you will increase the number of loyal customers tenfold (especially among those that initially submitted a negative review).

Follow up with the guest.

Once you’ve corrected the situation, if you find that the guest is pleased with your response, ask them to update their old review.

Guests with previously negative experiences will often feel endeared by the level of initiative and effort campgrounds show them, and make for great evangelists.

how to respond of bad reviews

There are few testimonials as powerful as a previously disgruntled camper becoming an advocate of your park.

4. Remove fake or inappropriate reviews.

If you suspect a review is fraudulent, or not reflective of the actual quality of service your campground provides, you don’t have to blindly allow it. Here are some quick tips for handling fake reviews.

Politely respond.

While it may feel weird, it’s important to thoughtfully respond to every review, whether they’re real or not.

Blue Corona says that “even if you know the bad review was fake, you need to respond,” because “you’re not only pacifying the reviewer, you’re showing prospects how you respond to customer dissatisfaction.”

Report or flag the review.

After you respond, make sure you place the fake review on the radar of the review site, so that they can better monitor and police fraudulent activity.

reporting fake reviewsHow to report a fake review on Google.

Here are links on how to flag fake or inappropriate reviews for other review sites:

Call support and follow up on the reported review.

Another alternative (or additional option) is to directly connect with support for the review site. In some cases, this might lead to a quicker response from the review site and therefore get the negative review down faster.

Consult a legal professional.

This is obviously a last resort, but should a review be slanderous, you may have grounds for litigation. That being said, be sure to consult a legal representative before pursuing this option.

Here you’ll find Google’s request form for legal removal.

Remember to only follow these steps if you’re sure a review is fake or fraudulent, not bad reviews from guests.

5. Focus on getting more positive reviews.

Borden Bridge Campground in Langham, Saskatchewan.

The best defense is a good offense.

HelpScout reported that “positive reviews make potential customers almost 70% more likely to trust a local business,” and as a result, stay at your park.

Additionally, every 50 positive reviews your campground receives averages a 4.6% increase in reservations (Vendasta). So make it a habit to collect customer reviews. Offer discounts or coupons in exchange for leaving a review.

Wondering which review sites you should be reading? Here are the top 7 review sites for campground owners to watch.

how to respond to bad reviews

Respond to positive reviews.

In a TechRepublic interview with Nimble, Inc. community engagement manager, Michaela Prouzova, said “We make sure that our team responds to every single review—positive or negative,” because it “builds trust and humanizes our brand.”

Furthering that point, Business.com says it’s important to “let the world know you care about every [guest], not just the ones that complain.”

Responding to positive reviews shows that, again, there’s a human being on the other side, and makes guests feel even more validated in their decision to stay at your campground.

good campground reviews

Turning bad reviews into good reviews.

Unfortunately, bad reviews are unavoidable, even for the best campgrounds. But they don’t have to stay on your record. When negative reviews come up:

  • Evaluate and calmly approach the situation.
  • Respond publicly and tactfully.
  • Empathize and fix the problem quickly and honestly.
  • Report fake or fraudulent reviews.
  • Focus on getting and responding to positive reviews.

If you do all of these things, you will create loyal guests and increase reservations more than ever before. 

Ready to improve your reviews and grow your campground?

Good Sam Campground Solutions provides several services to give campground owners like yourself the tools needed to run your business on your terms. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, online reservations, or access to consulting on how to improve a guest experience at your park. If you’re ready to get started we can help! Request a demo today.

Campground Management Companies

Campground Software Reviews: What Campground Solution Should You Use?

As a park operator, you already have enough on your plate without having to worry if your management software is up to snuff. There are more options than ever, and finding the right campground solution can feel like an arduous task.

How does each campground software compare? What are other customers saying about different management systems? What campground solution is best for your park?

To help you sort through the myriad of options here’s is a comparison of campground software reviews, as well as what campground solution you should use for your park.

campground solution

Campground Software Comparisons

There are a handful of reservation software solutions out there, and most of them provide online booking at a free or relatively inexpensive rate. That said, most systems are either lacking in features offered, pricing plans, or their reach of customers.

Checkfront 

Price: $39 a month

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

ResNexus 

Price: $3 – $16 a month (per room)

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

RoverPass 

Price:$2 per booking

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: Yes

Marketing and Advertising: No

Firefly 

Price:$2 per booking

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

Bonfire 

Price: $2 per booking (long-term) or $14.50+ (per month)

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

Campspot 

Price: $2 per booking

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

CampLife 

Price: Starts at $99 a month + $3.50 per booking

Online Booking: Yes

Web Design: No

Marketing and Advertising: No

The Best Choice: Good Sam Campground Solutions

Good Sam Campground Solutions is ahead of the pack when it comes to a complete campground software comparison. 

With an integrated marketing strategy and booking software tailor-made for park operators, Good Sam drives more customers to your park than anyone else. While other software are limited in their offerings, Campground Solutions features a comprehensive list of services to accommodate any campground.

Pricing

Good Sam Campground Solutions is FREE for members and only charges guests a $1 booking fee. For non-members, it’s still only $99 a month, with guests paying a $3 booking fee.

Marketing and Advertising

When it comes to reach, Good Sam connects with more campers than anyone else, including:

  • 2 Million+ Good Sam Members
  • 5 Million+ Active Customers
  • 180+ Retail Locations
  • 47 Million+ Social Media Engagements
  • 120 Million Unique Annual Visitors

​​

Plus, when your partner with Good Sam, you’re also partnering with Camping World, Gander, Overton’sRV.com, and Electic World–effectively expanding your campground’s presence and influence with guests.

While Good Sam boasts the most extensive network in the industry, they’re also the most pragmatic solution around. When you sign up your campground with Good Sam, you access an array of resources.

Here are a few of the services you can expect.

Social Media Campaigns

Customized ad campaigns on social media newsfeeds drive brand awareness and increase clicks to your park website.

Featured Ad on Camping World Websites

Appear on Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors dealer pages where new and experienced RV customers search for their next RV.

Google Keyword Search

Good Sam bids on relevant keywords to improve your park’s ranking on Google search results pages.

RV.com Ad Feature

Showcase your campground on RV.com, the go-to digital destination for active RV and outdoor enthusiasts with a digital package that includes RV Magazine’s eNewsletter.

Dedicated Email for Good Sam Parks

Improve your off-season. Send a dedicated email to select consumers in our database with an exclusive offer to Good Sam Members to help fill sites when you need it most.

Print Publications Actual Reach

With an annual publication reach of over 8 million, you reach Good Sam members, new RV owners, and outdoor enthusiasts looking for resorts and campgrounds to visit.

Reservation System

Having the right software solution means having the right reservation system. Fortunately, Good Sam Campground Solutions offers a top-of-the-line booking system with all the features needed to manage reservations. 

Do-It-All Dashboard

Easily manage guest reservations with the drag and drop dashboard. Check-in campers, issue refunds, print parking passes, extend reservations, and add notes onto upcoming bookings—all from one grid.

campground solution

Mobile-Responsive Booking Pages

More than 60% of guests will book a site from their mobile devices. We make sure they can easily book no matter what screen they access.

Interactive Site Map

We create an interactive site map of your campground using a satellite view of your property. When a guest books online, they’ll be able to see your entire park, photos, and amenities at each campsite.

Dynamic Pricing

Increase revenue on popular weekends or create booking minimums during peak season. Dynamic pricing maximizes the revenue of your park.

Flexible Booking Rules

Software solutions include customizable check-in and check-out times, the number of nights available online, and guest options for choosing their site.

Parking Passes

For every reservation, Good Sam creates an automatic parking pass you can print for guests checking into your park.

Create Add-Ons for Online Bookings

Make campsite items like firewood or rentals available for purchase in the online booking process.

Availability Calendar

When a guest can’t book their preferred reservation, an availability calendar allows you to offer them the next best option. This scroll-based calendar enables guests to find the next open date.

Integrated Reporting

With over 20 customizable reports for managers and real-time reports for camp hosts, Good Sam provides a deeper level of business insight.

Dedicated Business Support

Good Sam offers support across standard business hours for parks and weekend support when needed. We recognize that many campgrounds may need assistance on busy weekends, so we constantly monitor email and chat. We also are in the process of implementing dedicated phone support, which will be live in early 2022.

Good Sam Reviews and Testimonials

“Being a Good Sam park definitely helps people find us…We’ve seen more repeat visitors because of the sales of GS memberships.” – Larry J, Orangeland RV Park

“Last year, it would have taken us more than two weeks and three staff members to call back and confirm all of the reservations that came in today.” – Warren V, Athabasca County

“Since we became a Good Sam park, it has almost tripled our revenue. We have waiting lists now.” – Coral Sands Campground

Finding the Right Campground Solution

While plenty of campground software are currently available on the market, none of them come with as many features, support, or reach as Good Sam Campground Solutions. 

From full-channel marketing and advertising offerings to a user-friendly online reservation system, Good Sam helps more parks connect with more guests than anyone else.

Want to get started?

Good Sam Campground Solutions provides several services to give campground owners like yourself the tools needed to run your business on your terms. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, online reservations, or access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam makes managing a park as easy as possible. If you’re ready to get started, we can help. Request a demo today!

Create a Better Booking Experience

8 Ways to Create a Better Booking Experience for Guests

If you’re a campground operator looking to maximize your business, just fielding reservations might feel like a challenge.

How do you maximize occupancy? Where is the best place to focus your energy? How do you create a better booking experience?

If you want to elevate the online reservation experience for guests, you can take some meaningful, practical steps. Here are eight ways to create a better booking experience for guests.

1. Run ads on Google and Facebook.

First and foremost, you may find that the biggest bang for your buck will likely come from running ads on Google and Facebook.

The average cost to reach 1,000 people in magazine and newspaper ads is between $20 and $32, whereas the same reach by Google AdWords and Facebook will only run you $2.75 and $0.25, respectively.

To give this some more perspective, on average, 28.6 million U.S. citizens read a newspaper; however, there are currently over 100 million Americans on Facebook and at least 246 million unique Google users in the U.S.

Not to mention, you can target the specific audience and region for your ads.

For industry proof, here’s a helpful read about how Camping World had a very successful Facebook ad campaign last year in which they were able to achieve 84 percent more leads.

2. Take online reservations.

Nothing beats online reservations.

Create a Better Booking Experience

Before the pandemic, people made over 148.3 million travel reservations (across multiple industries) annually online. Since then, the online travel industry has grown to nearly $600 billion.

Campgrounds with online reservation systems have had a lot to do with those numbers. Parks like Golden Municipal took 100 percent of their bookings online last year and will continue to do the same in 2021.

The reason? It’s just easier.

For starters, online reservation systems can arrange reservations to maximize your campground, ensuring you don’t end up with awkward one-night openings in your calendar.

You can easily do this yourself by dragging a reservation to a different campsite, like this:

Additionally, interactive calendars, like the one below, allow guests to choose sites based on availability. With remote work allowing everyone’s travel dates to be a little more flexible, this optimizes your calendar by showing available camping dates.

Couple all of this with the fact that online systems lower staffing costs, increase revenue, provide clear reporting, and save you time, and it’s definitely the number one way to boost occupancy at your campground.

3. Have a mobile-friendly website.

Our data shows that mobile users account for 60 percent of our bookings.

Internet use has grown to nearly 300 million users, and at least 69 percent of those users are logging in via a smartphone or mobile device. Also, 75 percent of consumers use their mobile devices to search and visit a nearby business within a day.

Adding to that, 34 percent of consumers will exit a website entirely if a landing page’s content doesn’t load properly on their mobile device. As a result, campgrounds that do not have an easy-to-navigate mobile website will ultimately lose out on many reservations.

If you’re in the market for website design, Good Sam Campground Solutions can add a lot of value to your customer experience almost overnight.

4. Make your pricing clear.

Going hand-in-hand with a great website is clear pricing (or at least precise pricing estimates). Our campgrounds constantly tell us how tedious it is to field phone calls and emails from campers looking for a quote (especially after hours).

Additionally, having an online system with clear pricing and yield management (also known as dynamic pricing) allows you to accommodate peak and shoulder seasons alike. Guests can easily get a quote and make reservations while you’re sleeping.

5. Take good photos of your campground.

Websites and articles with relevant and quality photos lead to 94 percent more views than those without. In fact, 44 percent of potential guests won’t even engage with a site if the content images are grainy or don’t load.

campground photo

We recently sent a Campground Solutions affiliate to take photos of Klahanie Campground in Squamish, BC, and Ephrata RV Park in Central Washington. After the campground owners added the images to their online reservation system, they informed us that the simple addition led to a “massive” conversion of campers booking online.

Even if you’re on a budget or all you have access to is a smartphone, you can still take quality pictures that will increase online engagement. Here’s a list of tips for taking great iPhone photos from iMore.

6. Get lots of reviews.

The reality is that people choose campgrounds based on good reviews.

Ninety-seven percent of consumers use the internet to find local businesses – meaning that what people are saying online carries a lot of weight. So odds are that almost everyone booking a campsite at your park has seen your Google reviews by searching for your business online.

Paying attention to Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor for reviews is certainly worth your time. But to make a bigger splash, park owners should primarily focus on campground review sites like Campendium, Campground Reviews, and The Dyrt.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our article on the review sites campground owners need to watch.

7. Connect with guests.

If you want to create the best booking experience for guests, nothing beats connecting with them directly!

The reality is that email marketing can see a 4300% return on investment (ROI) for your campground, and every dollar spent on email marketing can bring in nearly $45.

When guests book or arrive, get their email and send them announcements for upcoming events, discounts for future stays, or periodic reminders to book their next stay with you. Just make sure you don’t spam them with emails!

8. Give the option to “Stay one more day.” 

There are a number of travelers who are willing to spend a couple of weeks in your neck of the woods under the pretense that they don’t have to hop from campground to campground.

If you have the flexibility or empty sites, why not encourage your overnight guests to stay longer? When campers arrive, let them know that they are welcome to extend their stay an extra night if they’re enjoying their time. Just check their campsite in your reservation system to make sure their same campsite is available first!

Creating a better booking experience.

If you’re a park operator looking to grow your campground, creating an easier and more thoughtful reservation experience will increase occupancy. 

Create a Better Booking Experience
  1. Try out targeted ads through Facebook and Google.
  2. Offer online reservations.
  3. Create a mobile-friendly experience.
  4. Have clearly-listed pricing.
  5. Take photos of your campground.
  6. Collect reviews.
  7. Start building an email list.
  8. Allow guests to extend their stay.

While there’s plenty of trial and error, your park will start seeing substantial growth quickly with the right resources and the right plan.

Want some help managing your campground?

Taking online reservations is the easiest way to offload day-to-day tasks, allowing you to focus on the things that make your park unique. If you’re looking for an easier solution to managing your campground, Good Sam can help. Request a demo today!

managing a campground

7 Tips for Managing a Campground

Whether it’s hiring the right staff, managing guests’ expectations, or using the right tools to handle reservations, there are a lot of moving pieces to managing a campground.

How do you find good talent? How do you create a great experience for customers? What reservation system should you use?

For park owners looking to make life a little easier, here are 7 tips for managing a campground.

1. Build the right team.

It’s easy for owners to fall into the trap of thinking they have to do everything. The reality is you just need to put the right people around you. Take time to invest and hire a staff that will care about your campground and guests as much as you do.

  • Start with an on-site manager.
  • Factor in seasonal employees or work-campers to help with peak seasons.
  • Automate the tasks that can be automated (see Tip #4 for more on this).

The friendly staff at Ponderosa Pines in Lower Cape, NB.

Beyond that, take care of your staff and incentivize their success in creating a quality guest experience. When you take care of employees, they take care of your business.

If you’re in the market for good talent, here are 6 tips for hiring the right employee.

managing a campground

2. Manage guest expectations.

Most negative reviews stem from unmet expectations. When a guest can’t find information or photos of your park, they’ll likely imagine something other than what your campground offers.

Here are a few tips to avoid ambiguity and make sure you’re meeting campers’ expectations.

Market to the right audience.

Half of the battle in setting expectations is just knowing whose expectations you’re trying to set. By no means does this mean you need to reinvent your campground. Just identify the audience you have or the audience you’re trying to reach.

A few questions to consider:

  • Does your campground cater to seasonal, long-term, or overnight stays?
  • Is your campground designed for families, retirees, or remote workers?
  • Are you a glampground or luxury campground?
  • Are you part of a campground association?
  • Is your park close to a major city or attraction?

Talladega Pit Stop in Lincoln, Alabama is just minutes away from Talladega Superspeedway and they do a great job of marketing to racing fans.

Having a clear picture of who you’re trying to accommodate will help you better manage your park and how you market it.

Design a “trustworthy” website.

A few years ago a study revealed that, when it comes to trustworthy companies and organizations, nothing beats word of mouth. However, researchers found that 70 percent of those they surveyed said they trusted branded (or well-designed) websites.

Furthering that point, an additional study in 2019 found that 148.3 million travel reservations (across multiple industries) were made entirely online, accounting for a nearly $600 billion industry.

Your park’s online presence matters and is essential in keeping your campground competitive.

Fortunately, designing a website has never been easier. However, if you’d rather pay someone else to come in and do the heavy lifting, The RV Geeks and CIPR Communications are both great resources.

Take quality photos.

Seventy-five percent of guests rely on online photos before making a purchase (or reservation), and 22 percent of returns or cancellations occur when the advertised product looks different in person.

Hiring a professional photographer can go a long way in adding credibility to your campground, and it’s certainly worth budgeting for. You can typically expect to be charged $100 to $250 an hour for the shoot itself, and $25 to $100 per final image.

Even if you’re on a budget, having photos is still better than having no photos, and you can still take decent pictures on your phone. The important thing is that you’re showing guests what they can expect upon arrival.

Feature desired amenities.

Do you know what amenities your guests are looking for?

We’ve heard a lot of stories from our campgrounds about how they’ll invest money and time into a new pool or fitness center, and it will go largely unused.

We’ve heard stories from campers about how they’ll rule out parks in the future if they didn’t have decent WiFi or trees.

Knowing what amenities your campers are looking for is a great way to hedge your bets and keep them coming back. Make it a priority to get feedback from your guests to see what they value, and how you can better facilitate their experience.

For some more tips and ideas, we recently surveyed over 600 campers and ranked the 10 amenities they value most in a campground.

3. Establish a solid foundation.

There’s only so much that you can do with poor infrastructure at your campground. Especially for new owners, it’s imperative that you invest in the foundation of your park. Know the costs of building or restoring a campground to give yourself an appropriate budget and set your park up for success.

Whether you’re purchasing a new campground or restoring an existing one, be sure to prioritize basics like electricity, water, and septic.

4. Use an online reservation system.

Less work for more reservations.

Using an online reservation system like Good Sam has been proven to bring parks 25 percent more bookings and save as much as 300 hours in administrative work annually. Last year, Klahanie and Borden Bridge took 97 percent of their reservations completely online and cut down their busy work almost completely overnight.

Not to mention, online reservations are a better experience for guests, allowing them to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Channel partners.

Additionally, parks that use Campground Booking also have access to our channel partners, including GoRVing Canada, Travel BC, and the CCRVC.

This alone means that our parks are also bookable on any of our partner websites. On average, this brings campgrounds an additional 2 million views annually.

Channel partners like GoRVing Canada feature our campgrounds and bring in more reservations.

Automate day-to-day tasks.

Managing a campground involved lots of day-to-day tasks. Using software to manage your campground can automate repetitive tasks and allow you to easily view and update reservations.

You can also get email alerts for new reservations, reports for your business, dynamic rates for pricing on weekends and holidays, and an integration with Quickbooks to manage taxes and financials.

5. Routinely walk the park.

Depending on the size of your park it might not be feasible to walk the entire perimeter each day. That being said, it’s worth investing in the time (or golf carts) to regularly survey the property. At least twice a week (before and after a weekend), take a look around the campground and see what needs to be touched up or addressed.

Plus, this is a great way to connect with seasonal guests and build rapport as you walk around the park.

6. Interact with campers.

Even with an online system or automatic check-ins, owning a campground is an interpersonal business, and it’s still important to take time to interact with guests. Make it a priority to connect with campers during their stay.

  • Ask them what they liked about their stay, or how you could improve their experience.
  • Get an idea of what amenities they value.
  • Ask them to leave a review as they leave.

If you’re an offsite owner, you can still follow up through email or social media. Extra effort to connect with guests will always be noticed and goes a long way to add value to your campground.

7. Check-in guests.

Tying in directly with Tip #6, make checking-in your guests a personable experience. This gives campers a face and humanizes their experience. Start off on a positive note and have a thoughtful process in place for when guests arrive.

  • Who checks in your guests at arrival?
  • Who leads them to their campsite?
  • Can you help them park?
  • Can you throw in any courtesy add-ons like firewood or WiFi as a thank you?

Little touches go a long way. How can you improve their stay and ensure that they return?

Putting it all together.

Even though there’s a lot that goes into running a campground, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take the right steps to manage your park by:

  1. Building the right team.
  2. Managing guest expectations.
  3. Establishing a solid foundation.
  4. Using an online reservation software.
  5. Routinely walking around the park.
  6. Interacting with campers.
  7. Checking-in guests in person.

Want some help managing your campground?

Taking online reservations is the easiest way to offload day-to-day tasks, allowing you to focus on the things that make your park unique. If you’re looking for an easier solution to managing your campground, Good Sam can help. Request a demo today!

campground reservation software

Are There Any Free Campground Reservation Software Systems Available?

While owning a campground could be a very profitable endeavor (worth at least $273k a year), it can certainly come with its own share of expenses.

On average, a campground will run you between $10k and $50k (not including the cost of land); meaning that paying for an expensive booking software isn’t ideal for park owners.

But are there any free campground reservation systems? Well, the short answer is yes – there are a handful of free and relatively inexpensive reservation software solutions out there. But to give some context, here’s a list of options you can find online.

Inexpensive Campground Reservation Software

There are a handful of reservation software solutions out there, and most of them provide online booking at a free or relatively inexpensive rate.

  • Checkfront – $39 a month.
  • ResNexus – Starts at $3 – $16 a month (per room).
  • RoverPass – $2 per booking.
  • Firefly – $2 per booking.
  • Bonfire – $2 per booking (long-term) or $14.50+ (per month)
  • Campspot – $2 per booking.
  • CampLife – Starts at $99 a month + $3.50 per booking.

That being said, most systems are either lacking in features offered, pricing plans, or their reach of customers.

Good Sam Campground Solutions

If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, Good Sam Campground Solutions offers everything park owners need to run their business in-house, at a cheaper rate with more features than anyone else.

Pricing

Pure and simple, Good Sam Campground Solutions is FREE for members and only charges guests a $1 booking fee. For non-members, it’s still only $99 a month, with guests paying a $3 booking fee.

Features Offered

Availability Calendars

When a guest can’t find their preferred reservation due to availability, we offer them the next best option. This scroll calendar allows them to easily find the next open date.

Booking Notes

Add customized notes to each camper reservation and account, easily accessible from the dashboard.

Camp Host Reports

See real-time reports that show who is currently checked into the park and who is leaving.

Cloud-Based

Accessible from anywhere, 24/7, with the ability for your guests to book and for you to earn money while you aren’t physically working.

Create Add-Ons for Online Bookings

Make campsite items like firewood or rentals available for purchase in the online booking process.

Drag-and-Drop Dashboard

Easily manage guest reservations with the drag and drop dashboard. Check-in campers, issue refunds, print parking passes, extend reservations, and add notes onto upcoming bookings—all from one grid.

Dedicated Support

Good Sam offers support across standard business hours for parks as well as weekend support when needed. We recognize that many campgrounds may need us on busy weekends so we constantly monitor email and chat. We also are in the process of implementing dedicated phone support, which will be live by September of 2021.

Dynamic Pricing

Increase revenue on popular weekends or create booking minimums during peak season. Our dynamic pricing allows you to tweak your pricing to maximize the revenue of your park.

Flexible Booking Rules

We built a platform that can handle the many nuances that define your campground. Software solutions include customizable check-in and check-out times, the number of nights that can be booked online, and guest options for choosing their site.

Interactive Site Map

You can create an interactive site map of your campground using a satellite view of your property. When a guest books online, they’ll be able to see your entire park, photos, and amenities at each campsite.

Management Reports

Over 20 customizable reports that help you track daily, weekly, and monthly revenue.

Marketing Packages

All inclusive access to our active Good Sam members assisting your Campground to reach more users more efficiently.

Mobile-responsive Booking

More than 60 percent of guests will book a site from their mobile devices. We make sure they can easily book no matter what screen they access from.

Online Reservations

Our reservation software will help you every step of the way from reservation to check-in.

Parking Passes

For every reservation, we create an automatic parking pass that you can print when your guests are checking into your park.

Point of Sale (POS)

Point of Sale (POS) system where a customer can pay for reservations online and receipts will be generated in print or electronically.

Quickbooks Integration

For campgrounds using Quickbooks Online, we have an automatic integration to sync your data in real time – making bookkeeping for your park far easier.

Web Builder

Create a professional website with our website builder. Choose a customizable template and add the features you need.

Good Sam Network

For the last 55 years, Good Sam has partnered with campground owners to grow their business through our integrated marketing strategies.

Whether it’s our circulation of 26 million annual publications, our 40 million social media engagements, or our 120 million unique online visitors, we’ll give your campground the traffic it needs to thrive.

Plus, with over 7 million active customers and Good Sam members, Campground Solutions will connect your park with more RVers than anyone else.

Finding the Right Software at the Best Price

While most online reservation systems come with decent reviews, at the end of the day, Good Sam Campground Solution is a free campground reservation system with more features and guaranteed reservations for park operators.

Want to get started?

Good Sam Campground Solutions provides several services to give campground owners like yourself the tools needed to run your business on your terms. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, online reservations, or access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam makes managing a park as easy as possible. If you’re ready to get started we can help! Request a demo today.

RV Park Reservation Software

Finding the Right RV Park Reservation Software for Your Campground

Your campground needs an online reservation software.

Over 148.3 million online travel reservations were made in 2019 alone. By the end of 2020 the online travel industry was estimated to be worth over $800 billion; and with more people camping as a result of the pandemic, this number is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.

With so many people traveling, there are plenty of online reservation softwares for campground owners; but it can also be a challenge finding the right one for your business.

What features does your campground need out of a reservation software? What should you expect to pay for an online booking system? How much support will a campground software provide?

To help navigate what’s out there, here are three considerations for finding the right RV park reservation software for your campground.

Features.

Obviously, every campground is different, and not every park requires the same tools.

Maybe your campground has specific requirements for pricing around holidays and peak seasons. Maybe you need a service that can bundle your accounting and point of sale. Maybe you just need a user-friendly system without a learning curve for your employees.

Regardless of what your campground needs, here are a few features to consider.

Online reservations.

Online booking systems just make life easier, for you and your guests.

Services like Good Sam’s Campground Solutions can automate and handle all of your reservations, giving you back (literally) weeks of your year spent on fielding phone calls and emails. Not to mention, they’ll market your campground for you, bringing in even more online traffic, and guaranteeing higher occupancy.

Furthermore, online reservations allow for last-minute reservations (as in the day or week-of) which has brought in an additional 5 percent to 7 percent annually for some of our campgrounds; and in some cases, could even add up to 44 percent of a park’s business.

Drag and drop dashboard.

A drag and drop dashboard gives you the ability to easily move guests around on a reservation grid. You can check in campers, print parking passes, issue refunds, and add individualized notes to camper profiles.

A fully interactive system can cut down on the time it takes to train employees and work campers, while making it easier to navigate your reservations week to week.

Dynamic pricing.

A flexible pricing system allows you to create booking minimums during peak seasons, as well as increase revenue on popular weekends. Dynamic pricing gives you the autonomy to adjust pricing based on your park’s business model, and ensures maximum profit.

Reporting and integrations.

Ideally, a good reservation system will be a one-stop-shop for everything you need to run your business – including reporting and integrations.

Whether it’s check-ins, cancellations, inventory, or any other feature of your business, you need daily reporting to show you how your park is performing over time. Plus, life is much simpler when your system integrates directly with other tools like Quickbooks, or third party channel partners like Go RVing Canada.

Point of sale (POS).

If you have a camp store or online inventory, having a POS will make things easier on you and your customer.

A cloud-based POS system can run off of an iPad or smart tablet device, and integrates directly with your accounting and reporting, keeping all of your financials in one place.

For a decent POS, you can expect to pay between $79 and $150 a month.

Pricing.

Similar to feature offerings, campground booking softwares can offer a number of different pricing models; so it’s important to think through what makes the most sense for your business.

Do you want a free system that charges guests a convenience fee? Do you want a system that takes a commission out of your bookings? Do you want a hybrid pricing plan with both?

To give you a better idea of what to expect, here are three different pricing models you’ll come across when looking for a system for RV park reservations.

Booking-based model.

Like most online storefronts, reservation softwares generally make a large chunk of their money off of online booking (or convenience) fees. You’ll also find some negotiation in pricing between booking fees and monthly (or yearly) rates.

At the end of the day, these models tend to work in the park operator’s favor, allowing them to pocket most of the revenue. For instance, Good Sam parks can get started for free (with guests only paying $1 per reservation), and non-members can use the platform for $99 a month (with guests paying $3 per reservation).

The advantage of this model is complete autonomy and control for park owners who just want a  little help running their business.

Agency model.

Some reservation systems will, however, operate more like an online travel agency (OTA).

In this model they’ll give you their platform for next-to-nothing as a “dangling carrot,” but then they’ll outrank your campground’s listing on Google to control where the reservations are coming from.

This means that even though you could make your own bookings and claim most (if not all) of the profit, they’ll likely still bring in most of your reservations and charge a commission on anything they send your way.

Now, this can be beneficial for campgrounds looking to outsource the headache of maximizing their reservations; however, it will likely cost you 10-30 percent of your annual reservations.

Merchant model.

A merchant model is almost an agency model in reverse, where the OTA receives inventory (sites) from your campground at a discounted rate, and then books guests at a marked-up rate.

With a merchant model, the OTA will charge guests on the front end, and then give you the discounted rate, while they pocket the difference. They will also foot the bill on credit card fees, and show up on a statement (instead of your park).

Again, this offloads a lot of the heavy lifting for collecting reservations, but it will definitely cut into your profits.

Support.

A good reservation software should also come with a competent support staff that can manage any training and troubleshooting your park needs.

When you’re looking for a team to work with at your campground, be sure to ask the right questions.

  • Do they provide hands-on support?
  • Does their team work alongside yours to create maps, add sites, or walk you through your user accounts?
  • How quickly do they work to get your park setup with a launch date?
  • Can they get your park up and running in a week?
  • How long does it take them to jump on a problem to troubleshoot a bug in the system?
  • Do they provide 24/7 assistance?
  • Are they friendly and easy to work with?

Finding the right RV park reservation software.

With more people booking online, and with more reservation services than ever, there’s certainly one that will work for your campground.

RV Park Reservation Software

As you consider the best option, make it a point to think through:

  1. What features do they offer?
  2. What does their pricing model entail?
  3. How much support do they provide?

Still looking for a reservation system?

Good Sam has you covered! Providing campgrounds with marketing and advertising, online reservations, personal support, and access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam takes the heavy lifting out of managing your park. Request a demo today!