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Creative Ways to Market Your Campground

Empty sites on your campground mean money out of your pocket.

If you’ve ever looked out on unoccupied lots and wondered if you could have done more, if somewhere out there a camper needed a spot just like yours, you are not alone–and you are probably right. 

In 2021, 57 million households in the US and Canada went camping–an increase of 36% since 2019. And the industry shows no slowing down. In fact, early booking for campgrounds is increasing. 

If you struggle to book your sites, it’s likely because you aren’t reaching the campers looking for places to camp. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to market your park that are proven to increase visitors. The more diverse and creative your strategy, the better. 

Here we take a look at the thought behind your marketing efforts and some creative ways to reach more campers. 

What do you want your marketing to do?

Be clear about what you want to achieve before you let the creative wheels spin and you create plans to reach a bigger audience. If you’re going to garner attention, make sure you know what to do with it. 

Be specific about what you want.

Create a tangible list of target results–or KPIs. Be specific. Scattergun marketing will produce results, but they won’t all be the strategic results you’re after. Think of the customer’s journey and how each step will occur. What do you want the customer to do? Some questions to consider asking yourself:

  • Are you developing interest for this season or next season? 
  • What are short-term and long-term goals? 
  • Do you simply want to build awareness about your campground’s brand? 
  • How will success be measured? 
  • Is the goal to drive traffic to your website or to call and book?
  • If a customer is interested, where do they learn more or sign up? 

Determine what’s unique about your campground.

We will cover the different ways you can communicate your message, but identify a few key factors that make your campground unique, interesting, or that most people don’t know. Whether you include these details in your marketing efforts or not, it helps that you and your team have these characteristics in the back of your head. A few questions to ask yourself: 

  • What’s the story of your campground? 
  • What features or amenities make it unique?
  • How did you (or the owners) become campground owners? 
  • Do you do anything different than your campground competitors?
  • What’s the #1 way you consistently help campers? 

Measure the results. 

How will you know if you are successful? If you try something new and invest time and energy into a new outreach, how will you measure the results to know if it was worth it? To measure the results, you need to identify the factors you will measure. Again, be specific: 

  • Does success mean increased booking? 
  • Will you collect email addresses from a promotional? 
  • Will success mean more traffic to your website? 
  • Does creating relationships with the community count as a win? 

So now that you have the overall structure built, you’re off to the races, and it’s time to explore the creative ways you can market your campground. But don’t let this list be your end-all, be-all. The best way to market your campground will be to highlight its uniqueness–and only you know your campground well enough to brainstorm those strategies. 

Partnerships

Partnerships help validate your business, and they help market your campground to an entirely new audience. Identify businesses, groups, and related industries in your area to partner with, and both parties could benefit. 

  • Is there a local RV dealership you could partner with, referring guests there when they have RV needs? 
  • Do you know of a local outdoor retail shop? Even national outdoor stores may be interested in learning more. Incentivize campers with discounts at the store or campground.
  • Could you reach out to state and local parks to recommend your campground when they reach capacity and visa versa? 

Here’s where you can get creative and think of unique businesses in your area to connect with. 

Sponsorships

Along the same lines of partnerships, sponsorships can connect your campground to other businesses, campers, and potential leads. Some sponsorships are really affordable, and sponsoring an event puts you in front of a whole new group of people–even those who wouldn’t typically camp. 

  • Local Little League and sports clubs
  • 4H sponsorships
  • Cultural events and charities/non-profits.

There’s a lot of freedom for your to choose which event or group to sponsor, and the added benefit is that you decide the type of audience you’d like to align and connect with. Look for interactive sponsorships where you can meet people, create unique experiences, and coordinate something people will remember you for. 

Social Media

There are just so many possibilities to connect with campers everywhere through social media. From posting videos and photos to creating weekly series, hosting social account take-overs, and posting camping hacks, this is an inexhaustible resource. To get started, we suggest growing your followers.

  • Incorporate your handles and socia. links to any media or print for your campground.
  • Interact with other campgrounds online and follow camper-themed profiles.
  • Incentivize your campground guests to follow your social platforms for giveaways and discounts. 

Remember to keep it fun. Social outreach can become dicey if your platform turns negative for any reason. 

Campground Associations

Marketing is just one of the many benefits you receive when you join a campground association. You become a valued member and can connect with campgrounds across the country, effectively including you in a community that can help put your campground on the map. 

Campground associations form partnerships with outside organizations, and this becomes another way you can reach new customers. Join an association that meets annually, and use this as an opportunity to network and brainstorm with other camping-related organizations and campground owners. 

Branded Apparel & Gear

The purpose of branded hats, t-shirts, and koozies isn’t just to generate extra revenue. And it isn’t necessarily to create the walking billboard effect, either. 

When you sell branded gear, it invites some easily earned brand loyalty from visitors. With a simple shirt, you increase the likelihood of visitors talking about your campground, referencing the trip, and associating your campground with a memorable experience. And when it comes to marketing, that authentic connection is about as good as it gets. 

The only issue? Marketing tactics like this aren’t easily measurable. So don’t break the bank on merch, but it’s a good, simple strategy to gain traction.

Alternative Media

When you start to think of marketing as a fun way to connect with potential guests, you open yourself to a world of creative outlets. You have an opportunity to promote your campground on any media platform you use. 

  • Podcasts – Create your own or network to be included in one. Or consider sponsoring an episode, which can expose you to a different audience. 
  • Blogs – Build out a blog on your campground’s website, which can boost your SEO and help you promote specific events. 
  • Youtube Channel – Explore different media options. Between Youtube and Tiktok, you can build a solid level of content with how-to videos and park tours.

As you create content in alternative media spaces to market your campground, try to learn ways to track the success you may see from those marketing strategies. Talk to visitors and don’t shy away from asking how they learned about your campground. 

Advertisements

Advertising is still a surefire method to market your park to new visitors. And though your presence online might priority, traditional methods still prove to be effective. 

  • Online ads
  • Flyers, brochures, and pamphlets
  • Direct mail
  • Billboards
  • Online directories

Reviews

Encourage your guests to leave reviews, and make sure they know where your campground is listed. Word of mouth, perhaps, this the most important attribute to building your audience, and reviews are the currency campers use. Make reviewing your campground easy with QR codes posted in public places around your location. 

Don’t shy away from reading reviews, either. Inevitably, some guests will have a bad experience at your campground. Reviews help you identify any issues you can control. Don’t sweat what you can’t control. 

Host incentivized, promotional events

What’s a more direct way to engage people in your community than inviting them to a campground open house?

There’s no need to reinvent every wheel when marketing your campground. Physical events like open houses, holiday parties, and fundraisers are especially helpful if you as an owner build relationships better in person. 

  • Incentivize attendance with prizes, raffles, discounts, and games.
  • Collect emails for your newsletter and other promotionals.
  • Distribute flyers and other promotional literature that include coupons for campsites. 

Email newsletters

You likely receive newsletters that you actually read. You also likely receive newsletters you delete, unopened. Think about why, and tailor your campgrounds newsletter to entertain and inform your subscribers. 

Newsletters are a great way for businesses to connect with their customers and for you to market your campground. For campgrounds, newsletters are an authentic way to connect with previous guests and potential new guests. Make sure you promote your newsletter on your website. Even if web visitors haven’t been to your campground, an interesting website can lead them to subscribe, and that’s the very next step to getting them to book a stay at your campground. 

Rethink your website

Speaking of engaging websites, what does yours look like? And when was the last time you made any updates? Your website is one of the easiest and most crucial ways to market your campground.

Your website is the equivalent of campers driving by, deciding if your campground is a place they’d be interested in staying. Not only should it provide the necessary information to book, including an automated reservation system, but they should get an idea of what it’s like to stay at your campground. 

  • Include flattering photos of your campsites and amenities
  • Consider developing a “campground tour” video. 
  • Develop a blog where content is updated monthly if not weekly.
  • List amenities and features on the front page, to answer questions quickly. 


Keep in mind these ideas to market your campground are only starting points. You’ll find that visitors respond to marketing that’s authentic to your campground’s personality, and it may take some trial and error to dial in which strategy works for you. But if you continue to offer a great location where guests are treated well, the messaging will connect. 

SEO Tips & Strategies for Your Campground

There’s an unlimited potential to connect with more campers when you grow your online presence. More travelers now research and book online, which either puts you ahead of the game or behind it.

When campers search online for a campground along their route, will your campground show at the top of the search results?  

Over 25% of people click on the first option of their search results. In our case, that means the first website that pops up when someone searches “campgrounds near me” is most likely to get the attention. So there’s a huge growth opportunity if your campground appears in the first few positions of search results, and that’s an incentive to improve your SEO ranking. 

And if you think that the top spot is reserved only for the largest campground in your region, think again. It’s about SEO strategy. And we’re here to provide tips and strategies to help your campground increase its exposure. 

Reach more prospective campers with a greater online presence.

SEO Basics

Improving your SEO increases the number of visitors to your site, which means more business and revenue. And, unlike typical advertising, SEO ranking isn’t something you can pay for–it’s earned.

By knowing and influencing the key factors that determine your ranking, you can make changes to your website that put you ahead of your competitors. 

Often, campgrounds will hire a third-party provider to create content and develop SEO strategy to improve their ranking. But many campgrounds shoulder this responsibility themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors of SEO.

Traffic

When we say “traffic,” we’re talking about the number of people who visit your website. And when it comes to booking each season, the more traffic the better. Organic traffic is a good measure to know if your SEO strategy is working.

You can measure your traffic through Google Analytics and other online SEO platforms. Once you track your traffic, you’ll see increases during peak season, when campers are searching for locations. You can also annotate the changes made to your website and then see the SEO effects, to see what works. 

Keywords

Keywords are the link between the information users seek on a search engine and the information your website provides. They are the search terms used when campers are searching for a campground. You can rank for different keywords, meaning your website will populate first when you rank high for a keyword like “WIFI campground,” for example. 

You can easily develop a list of targeted keywords for your campground. In fact, your website likely already ranks for many keywords campers use to discover where to camp. The goal is to identify which keywords you can easily rank for and then create content around them. 

Content

Content on your website tells visitors about your campground. And it’s also how Google evaluates your website. What keywords you target, the length of your posts, what you rank for, title tags, meta descriptions, videos– the SEO game is about creating content Google recognizes and values. But that doesn’t mean you should create content for a robot. 

Keep in mind Google’s algorithms are shaped to human user experience: Google is attempting to promote content that’s helpful to humans. So, yes, content is about creating content Google recognizes–but that should mean creating content that’s useful to your audience. 

So what does it look like to approach these concepts with your campground’s SEO strategy?

Monitoring traffic gives you a bird’s eye view of your online footprint.

Find Your Niche 

To earn the attention of potential campers, it’s important you find your niche. You’ve already identified what this looks like for your campground: amenities, location, price, customer service. You know what separates you from your competitors. Now, what stands out for you with SEO?

Other campgrounds will target similar keywords and will have similar offerings. So it’s important to distinguish yourself in SEO. You can find your niche by targeting keywords and topics that others aren’t covering or that are unique to your campground. Here are three easy steps to find your niche. 

1. Read competitors’ websites.

Identify how competitor websites are positioning themselves. What features or amenities do they promote on the homepage? Do you recognize any repeat keywords? More importantly, what’s missing? If your competitors aren’t focusing on a key amenity or feature on their website, it could be a gap you fill. 

2. Identify your campground’s strengths.

Discover what makes your campground unique in order to improve your SEO strategy. Create a concept map of your campground’s key features and offerings and use these to develop a keyword list. Evaluate your campground’s website in the same way you evaluate competitors–what’s missing? 

3. Find the gaps.

Equipped with an SEO keyword list, it’s a matter of finding which keywords have a high search volume and low SEO difficulty (how competitive it is). Compare this to keywords your competitors use to identify gaps. Imagine, you could have a higher reach simply by targeting “RV park” instead of “campground”.

Determine marketable attributes of your park to develop an SEO strategy.

Developing Content

It’s hard to have an SEO strategy without content. This is the legwork portion of growing your online presence. Often, businesses develop a blog on their website to post strategically-minded content. Not only can this information be helpful to visitors, but it can be the sowing fields for keyword strategy.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks to develop blogs that can improve your SEO. These are some of the qualities of an effective blog. 

1. Write like a human.  

It’s easy to get caught up in SEO, algorithms, and keywords and forget you are a human writing to another human. As you learn more about SEO strategy, let all lessons be marked with asterisks: *Always write like a human. Think about your audience and what is useful and accessible to them. 

2. Length and frequency?

Google’s algorithm pays attention to the length of content on a website, and that can influence your ranking. The same goes for the frequency and consistency–how often you post new content. Build your content base with diligence. 

In general, posts should live in the 350-900 word-count zone. Increase your word count based on the information that’s practical and important to share, but consider an additional blog post if you begin to run long. Always cut the fluff. 

In terms of frequency, a post every week or two is a good rhythm, but the real key is to make sure you’re consistent: If it’s one post a week, it needs to always be one post a week. Your audience (and Google) should know when to expect new content.

3. Choose practical topics.

When determining the subject matter of your blog post, write what you know. Consider what your audience will value, and remember the content should be serving them in some way–teaching them something new, saving them money, or providing valuable perspective. 

SEO strategy can increase online booking.

Common Mistakes

We’ve had a fair amount of experience when it comes to developing SEO strategy. The good news is you can always improve upon your practices, and no bad habits have to stick around. But to save you the time and energy of the trial-and-error approach, let’s look at common SEO mistakes. 

1. Bad writing.

Spelling mistakes, typos, and confusing sentences are red flags for readers and Google alike. You won’t get penalized for a hanging preposition, but frequent and blatant mistakes are the manifestations of bad writing. It’s nothing an extra read-through can’t fix. 

2. Impatience.

The SEO game is a marathon, not a sprint. Changes you make to your web pages likely won’t have an overnight influence, and your value will come from consistent, quality content over an extended period of time. 

3. Chasing fads. 

As you research other websites and see content coming from competitor pages, restrict the impulse the mimic what might be working for others. Once you settle into a content strategy of your own, don’t make the classic mistake of chasing fads. 

Your campground’s online presence will continue to grow in importance. SEO can be a tool to grow your business and not an extra, overwhelming to-do item on your list. It helps to start with the basics–starting small, and then steadily improving. But don’t hesitate to consider third-party help if, for your campground, it’s better left to the experts. 

If you’d like to learn more, check out the Campground U podcast and the SEO Best Practices episode with Wayne Lin, SEO Manager at Camping World.

Managing Unexpected Guest Experiences

We all know the best-laid plans aren’t always executed without a hitch. As a campground owner, you’ve probably dealt with managing unexpected guest experiences a time or two. Let’s be honest: it’s never fun, but it’s essential to delivering the best guest experience possible for all your campers. 

Stuff happens, but when it does, your ability to smooth things over and keep your guests happy is vital to your campground’s reputation. The impacts of a negative review can reverberate far and wide online, so it’s in your best interest to remedy issues before they cause a camper to post a scathing review about your property. 

Managing unexpected guest experiences is as much about prevention as it is about how you handle confrontations with frustrated guests. So we’ve taken a list of some of the most common camper complaints and compiled some tips for preventing those complaints. 

But we’ve also provided some quick tips on handling upset guests when their stay isn’t going as they planned. 

Let’s get comfortable with the sometimes uncomfortable side of owning a campground.

Your staff’s attitude is important. 

One of the major complaints expressed by unsatisfied campers is poor attitudes from campground staff. This one seems easily correctable, but many companies struggle to create a positive workplace culture. 

Creating an engaging environment for your staff will spill over to how they interact with campers. Here are a few ideas for improving employee morale:

  • Connect your staff to your campground’s purpose. Why did you decide to open a campground in the first place?
  • Create opportunities for employee recognition. Maybe it’s an “Employee of the Month” award or a weekly call-out for a staff member that went above and beyond.
  • Be transparent with your communication. Employees will engage more consistently when they know the Why underscoring many of your decisions.  
  • Give staff members autonomy. Invest time in employee training and empower staff to excel in their roles without micro-management. 
  • Check in with staff regularly. One-on-one meetings monthly will help you address staff concerns.
     

Maintain a clean campground.

Other camper complaints include dirty restrooms, unkempt common areas, and, believe it or not, too much mud, sand, and dirt in the campground. While the latter is part of the camping experience, the first two are definitely within your control. 

To reduce unexpected guest experiences in the form of disappointment about your campground’s appearance, here are a few tips: 

  • Set a maintenance schedule. Break down tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly categories to stay organized. 
  • Communicate with your maintenance crew. Create an easy way for your maintenance staff to communicate the need for significant repairs or supply renewal so they can be addressed promptly. 
  • Consider camper behavior. Identify hours when campers are least likely to use restrooms and common areas to close those facilities for cleaning and maintenance. 
  • Pay attention to water drainage. Making sure water doesn’t collect in campsites or common areas will reduce mud and can also deter bugs from your campground–another common camper complaint. 

Budget for resurfacing. Consider setting money aside to add gravel or concrete surfaces to areas of your campground that are particularly muddy or dirty.

Ensure well-kept utilities.

Bad electrical hookups, dirty city water, and unlevel sites are three more of the top 10 most common camper complaints. And these are some of the basic necessities of a good campground: campers pay for quality services and a safe place to park their RV overnight. 

So you can imagine why poor water quality, unreliable electricity, and a site that leaves you sleeping with your head downhill can lead to negative and unexpected guest experiences. Here are some tips for ensuring well-kept campground utilities: 

  • Test your water frequently. This is more important and achievable if your campground pulls water from a well. The quality of city water will somewhat be out of your control.
  • Practice tree management. Ask your landscaping and maintenance staff to regularly inspect the growth of trees in your campground to ensure they are compromising the health and integrity of your power lines. 
  • Test power pedestals regularly. This could be an annual or biannual inspection, but you should make sure your power pedestals aren’t going to cause electrical issues for your guests. 
  • Keep an inventory of utility-related RV supplies: Stock your camp store with inline water filters, surge protectors, sewer hoses, leveling blocks, and other RV essentials that will help guests enjoy clean water, safe power, sanitary dumping, and a comfortable place to rest. 

Enforce campground rules.

Good campground management goes beyond checking guests in with a smile. You and your staff should maintain a physical presence throughout your campground to ensure campers follow campground rules and, generally speaking, respect their neighbors. 

This requires a balance. Many campers go camping to escape their regular routine and let loose a little. Your task is to create a space where campers can do that while honoring the different schedules and agendas of the other campers they’re sharing a space with. 

Here are some tips to help you accomplish this: 

  • Drive your campground twice a day. Breakfast and dinner hours are great times to make your presence known throughout your campground. It also provides opportunities for value-added interactions with guests by recommending hikes, restaurants, breweries, and attractions in your area. 
  • Post quiet hours clearly. Display your quiet hours clearly on a sign near your campground entrance station and in campground literature/brochures provided to guests upon check-in. 
  • Have night staff sweep the campground at the commencement of evening quiet hours. Staff sweeps 30 minutes before, at, and 30 minutes after quiet hours can help alleviate complaints about noisy campground neighbors. 

Create a safe environment.

Campers also want to feel safe when they pull into their campsite. While your surrounding area may be out of your control, you can take a few precautions within the campground property to increase safety.

  • Install an entrance gate. A gate with a code that’s only given out to campers is a good way to make guests feel safer during their stay. 
  • Plant natural fences/barriers. Using trees or planting hedges along the borders of your campground can be a great way to offer campers more privacy and a better sense of safety within your park. 
  • Keep your campground well-lit. This can be a delicate subject because many campers want to sit outside and stargaze at night without city lights hindering their view. But if guests feel unsafe walking to your restroom facilities after dark, additional lighting could be a practical solution. 

If things go wrong?

Diligent preparation will reduce the likelihood of unexpected guest experiences, but it may not eliminate them. So here are some tips for handling unexpected guests experiences when they do arise: 

  • Show compassion and patience. No matter how many times you’ve heard a particular complaint, show each guest that their issue is valid and their voice is heard.
  • Offer realistic discounts for bad experiences. Discounts on future stays or refunds for a single night of a multi-night stay might not damage your bottom line and can inspire unsatisfied guests to give your campground another chance. 
  • Express a willingness to improve. Sometimes your best course of action is to thank a camper for bringing an issue to your attention and demonstrate action to resolve the issue swiftly and decisively. 

Managing unexpected guest experiences requires patience and dedication to providing the best camping experience possible. We hope these tips provide some new strategies or management practices to consider for your campground.