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Creating a Guest Experience Campers Actually Want

By Josh Schukman July 7, 2022

Creating a great guest experience is one of the most impactful things you can do as a campground owner. 

Stellar guest experiences lead to solid reviews, repeat customers, and smoother operations for your campground. But how do you create a guest experience that campers actually want? 

Memorable guest experiences don’t just happen—they are made through a carefully crafted set of actions you undertake at your campground. Let’s chat about ways to build a campground that caters to your guests.

Creating A Great Guest Experience Before Your Campers Arrive

It helps to put yourself in your guests’ shoes: try to capture their attention before they arrive by broadcasting the experience you will offer. Here are the things you’ll want to consider:

1. An easy-to-navigate website

An online presence is a must for any campground. You also want to be sure that folks can easily check availability, see pricing, and read up on the amenities you offer.

We know websites can be intimidating, so that’s why we created Good Sam Campground Solutions—your one-stop shop to create a smooth website that has the features that today’s campers want.

2. Photos, photos, and more photos

Campground shoppers are visual people. They want to see your campsites, amenities, images of guests having fun, and more.

Be sure to take lots of great photos with plenty of lighting that show off your campground and the people in it. Load those photos on your website so prospective guests can get a picture of where they’ll be camping. Check out this article for more info on taking great photos.

3. Online booking option

Today’s traveler wants the option to book every bit of their trip online. The same is true for campground-goers. You’ll set yourself above the fold by offering a way for your customers to book and pay online.

4. Set expectations

Your website should paint an accurate picture of what it’s like to stay with you. While you should highlight what makes you great, you should also be open about any restrictions like rig size, cell service, or other factors that might surprise an unexpecting guest.

The goal here is to share what makes your campground awesome while also ensuring that guests know what to expect when they arrive.

5. Communication

Be sure that guests promptly receive a receipt with a note letting them know how excited you are to have them. It’s also a solid practice to follow up with guests a few days ahead of their arrival with important details for their stay.

6. Offer additional camping options

RV and tent sites are the lifeblood of what we do as campground owners, but experiences like yurts, glamping, cabins, and more are quickly becoming an important addition to what we do. Guests love these experiences, and these stays can also provide significant extra revenue.

Here are 16 ways to add unique camping options to your campground offerings.

Creating A Great Guest Experience When Your Guests Arrive

Once your guests arrive, the real fun can begin. This is where you put the wheels in motion to help your campers build lasting memories with their families. Here are the pieces to have in place for a great during-trip guest experience.

1. Friendly faces

Even if you offer a self-check-in process, it’s important that you have a crew in place who loves people and is ready to help with things like parking RVs, selling s’more kits, and starting campfires.

And before you think you can’t afford to hire great talent, think again. Campgrounds are uniquely positioned to offer employees benefits far beyond money. For example, many campgrounds can offer staff advantages like free RV sites, autonomy, flexible scheduling, and proximity to fun excursions.

Here are a few other tips for nurturing a team with a smiling attitude.

2. Offer a self-check-in/self-locate option

While many campers will want to connect with a friendly face upon arrival, another ingredient for a great guest experience is to have a self-serve option where campers are able to arrive and navigate to their campsite on their own.

Campground booking software will allow you to set this up and provide step-by-step communication to guide your guests in. 

3. Good Wi-Fi (or no Wi-Fi at all)

With the rise in remote work, campers are demanding solid Wi-Fi more than ever before. You need to have good Wi-Fi at your campground if you expect to provide a guest experience that campers want.

The exception would be if you are a campground that markets yourself as a place of solitude and disconnection for people. In that case, it could actually be part of your brand that people would stay with you because they want to disconnect from the usual hustle and bustle of their lives.

But that’s an either/or situation. Either you have good Wi-Fi or you’re a boutique spot marketing an unplugged experience. Because nothing upsets the guest experience more than expecting good Wi-Fi to find it’s less than.

4. Expectations set. Expectations exceeded

The “before” experience you offered your guests showed them what to expect at your campground. Now it’s time to go above and beyond that.

Think of WOW factors you can offer to level up your guest experience. For example, you could provide complimentary firewood and a s’more kit for your guest’s first night, host a bonfire, or create a deal with a local restaurant for a discount for your guests.

5. Communal hangout zones

Campers generally love connecting and sharing stories. Create spaces at your campground like outdoor grilling areas, reading rooms, communal fire pits, and more that encourage people to mingle and connect.

Doing this will create lasting friendships that guests will fondly associate with your campground.

6. Highlight unique amenities in your area

It’s common practice for campgrounds to share a list of area restaurants at check-in. While this is a good practice, creating an excellent guest experience demands extra creativity.

What cool things to do in your area that only locals know about?

Is there a weekly farmer’s market in your area that’s fun to go to?

Could you partner with local outfitters to offer excursions specifically for your guests?

Travelers love getting the inside scoop on the areas they visit. By offering that to your guests, you’ll set yourself apart.

7. Regular communication

One of the best ways to keep your campers up to date about events happening during their stay is to incorporate text-based messaging into your guest experience.

Texts currently have a much higher read and response rate than email, so they are a great way to let your guests know you’re thinking of them. Some campground management software will have this built-in to make it very easy to text your guests about that bonfire you’re hosting, a concert in your area, or any other fun thing you want them to know about.

And guests often like to communicate via text anyway, so having an option for them to text your team is a valuable amenity to offer.

8. Don’t forget the fundamentals

While all of the above are important ingredients in the guest experience stew, it won’t all flow together if you don’t have the basics in place. These include things like:

Creating A Great Guest Experience After Your Guests Leave

A great guest experience doesn’t end when someone leaves your campground. Here are the best practices to keep up with guests after they go:

1. Ask for a review

Most guests won’t proactively leave a review unless they get a little nudge. That’s why you should have a follow-up process that asks for guests’ feedback and then encourages positive respondents to leave a review.

Generally speaking, the best way to do this is via a short follow-up text sent on the day of departure asking your guest to comment on their stay. If they loved it, shoot them a link to your Google review profile so they can share it with the world!

2. Offer specials to past guests

If guests loved staying with you, encourage them to come back. You could offer them things like an early booking window for your peak season, special rates, or free/discounted amenities during their next stay.

3. Implement feedback

If you’re consistently getting the same request from multiple guests at your campground, be proactive about adding the things guests are asking for.

Unfortunately, far too many campgrounds are stacked with reviews mentioning the same negative guest experience over and over again. One of the best ways to create a great guest experience is simply by listening for consistency in guest feedback and promptly acting on that feedback.

With more campers than ever, it’s an exciting time to be a campground owner. It’s also a terrific opportunity we all have to level up our guest experience so that our customers are delighted by their camping experience. The tips above will help you build a game plan for a campground that guests rave about and return to.