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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

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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!

Zoning an RV Park

Best Practices for Zoning an RV Park

From designing the park, setting up the internet, and all of the costs associated, park operators have plenty going on. The last thing an owner wants to deal with are zoning regulations slowing down your park’s build.

So, how do you go about properly zoning an RV park? What resources are there for zoning a campground?  How do you get approval for your campground?

To get a better idea, we sat down with a few RV park owners and regional association members in order to put together a helpful list of best practices for zoning an RV park.

How to know if you have zoning laws.

There’s a chance your property could fall outside of any zoning laws, but it’s still best to be sure as there are many cases where businesses operating out of a physical location are required to have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) confirming any building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations.

Here are a couple of ways to know what’s required for zoning an RV park in your area.

1. Join a campground association.

In general, it’s a good first step for new RV park owners to join their local campground association.

There are over 40 campground associations in the US and Canada, offering park owners:

  • Advocacy at local and national levels.
  • Industry expertise and discounts.
  • Marketing tools and resources.
  • Networking and support from other park owners.

Your local association has a good idea of what’s required for making sure your park is properly zoned.

2. Call your city or county office.

Laws for zoning a campground will vary from city to city. Calling the city zoning office is the simplest way to check on what’s required.

It’s also worth noting that coastal cities like San Francisco and San Diego have stringent laws. Midwestern and southern states will likely offer more flexibility.

Pulaski County in Kentucky, for example, has no zoning laws. A citizen can apply for a variance through the local planning commission to build outside the existing codes, though the IRC and local zoning regulations are in place.

If there’s a zoning commissioner in your county, they will know if there are any environmental concerns, land restrictions, or what municipal services are available. Not to mention, they’re going to get involved in your project regardless, so it’s a good idea to consult them early on and gain them as an advocate.

How to get approval for zoning verification.

More often than not, zoning an RV park is a pretty straight forward process. One of our campground owners shared that it was as “simple as submitting an online form.”

In most cases requiring verification, you can submit a request to a building inspector or zoning board, and they’ll approve or deny based on whether or not your property meets local requirements. Also, conducting a land survey and inspections on your own is a good way to hedge your bets on getting approved.

Should you be denied, you can still appeal the decision with your local zoning board. This will serve as a court of sorts, and they will deliberate as to whether or not the zoning laws are too stringent in your particular situation. In this case, neighbors and local businesses will often be asked to weigh in and help give the board a better understanding as to whether or not this will benefit the local environment and economic climate.

For more granular examples, take a look at specific zoning requirements for states including:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Texas

How to change zoning.

In some cases, park owners can change zoning for a campground.

Zoning an RV Park

Changes can be approved if you can show substantial proof that your land has physiological, environmental, or geological conditions that qualify for zoning classification (assuming it benefits the local city or county).

In this situation, you would likely need to pay for an application, as well as be able to show a deed, plot plan, tax information, and proof of a land survey. From here, your request would go before a zoning board (similar to an appeal), and they would likely call upon neighbors and local businesses.

You can see a similar process for reference from Logan County, in Colorado.

Zoning your campground.

While regulations differ across state and city lines, zoning doesn’t have to be a complicated process. To make zoning your RV park easier, make sure that you:

  1. Join a local campground association.
  2. Connect with your local city or county office.
  3. Conducted surveys and inspections.
  4. Submit an approval request with a local zoning board early on.
  5. Keep all necessary documents handy (taxes, plot plan, deed, etc).

Following these steps will save you headaches and countless hours, and allow you to get back to focusing on building out your RV park.

All zoned and ready for the next step?

Need help getting your RV park off the ground or taking reservations? Good Sam Campground Solutions has you covered. Request a demo today!

How to start a campground business

How to start a campground business (in 4 steps).

If you’ve ever found yourself toying with the idea of starting a campground, the cards are in your favor.

As of late 2020, the campground industry reached $8.73 billion, making it one of the few industries that grew in spite of the pandemic. For RV park operators, it’s shown to be a sound investment, with campgrounds like Cypress Trail RV Resort quoting returns between 15 percent and 20 percent.

However, even though it’s a lucrative industry, knowing where to start can feel daunting. How do you design a campground? How much does it cost to operate an RV park? What are the best resources for campground owners?

Fortunately, there are a lot of places to turn for aspiring park operators, and setting yourself up for success is easier than not. So to consolidate your search, here’s how to start a campground business in four steps.

1. Research and design your campground.

Whether you’re buying an established park or building one from scratch, a well-designed campground could be an investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure you start off on the right foot with a clear plan and a reliable team to get your park off the ground.

Visit other parks.

Take it upon yourself to visit other parks and get a sense for what they’re doing well. Jot down a few notes, take pictures, and consider their design. Think through the layout and spacing of their sites, the location of their office, or the ratio of RV slips to tent spots.

Try and build upon what you think they’re doing well, and leave space for improvements. If nothing else, ask questions of other operators and get an idea of what to anticipate.

Find your niche.

At the risk of sounding cliche, every park is unique; and since there’s no “one size fits all” formula, it’s important to identify what type of campground you want to be, and who you want to cater towards.

Are you going to focus on seasonal business, or will you cater to weekenders? Do you want to draw in more families, or would you rather not deal with kids? Should you include glamping and tenting options, or will you only cater to full-hookups?

Knowing your market will only help in knowing your design.

Make the right hires.

From idea to execution, surround yourself with the right team of people to give your park the best chance at success.

You’ll need a vetted design group in order to provide a clear path to your vision (as well as prevent costly setbacks), a reliable contractor to serve as a project manager, and a staff that can accommodate your guests and day-to-day operations.

Consider additional variables.

No matter how detailed and thoughtful your plan is, there’s almost always something that pops up along the way. Whether it’s zoning, drainage, or environmental concerns, you’ll need to get as granular as possible and have resources you can count on.

Generally a good contractor will help navigate most hiccups, but it never hurts to have more support. For additional resources, consider joining a local campground association or developing a positive relationship with your zoning board early on in the process.

2. Anticipate costs and procure funding.

Again, owning a campground can be a great investment…so long as you’ve done your homework. Here are a few considerations to ensure the biggest bang for your buck.

Costs to consider.

The cost of running an RV park can vary depending on size, location, construction, or whether or not you’re starting from scratch. That being said, there are usually a few things you can expect.

For example, buying an established park ranges between $100,000 and $2 million, startup costs will run somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000, and cap rates will fall between 8 percent and 11 percent.

To get a ballpark of how much you can anticipate spending, add up your land costs, costs per site (factoring in the number of sites), building costs, and internet installation. From there you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need, but we also have a more comprehensive list of campground expenses to consider just in case.

Understanding financials.

Michael Elliott, aka the Campground CPA, says that a lot of new owners tend to drop the ball when it comes to properly understanding the financials behind a campground business. To give your park the best shot at success, be sure to study up on the following:

  • Capital expenditure budgets – to give you accurate numbers for future developments and expenses.
  • EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) – to find the industry-standard value of your campground.
  • Owner financing – a loan between the previous owner and the buyer of the campground.
  • Biggest expenditures for campgrounds – repairs/maintenance, and wages/salaries.
  • Profit and loss statements (P&L) – to see a campground’s cost and revenue during a fiscal year.
  • Expense ratios – total percentage of funds used for staff, marketing, and other related expenses.

Check out our conversation with Michael for more financial tips for campground owners.

Reporting and accounting.

Michael also mentioned that a lot of campgrounds fail to adequately record and track how their business is performing, and that “there are a lot of parks with no finances.”

For better forecasting, make sure you invest in a service like Quickbooks as well as a software that can tell you current occupancy, future occupancy, and prepaid deposits.

3. Create a unique campground experience.

The data is out, and 63 percent of consumers seek out experiences that they can’t find anywhere else. That same study listed “inspiration” and “meaning” as two of the most sought-out qualities a business could offer.

With that, here are a few ways your campground could go the extra mile in creating experiences not easily replicable elsewhere.

Invest in WiFi and amenities that guests want.

Before you build that new pool or add a playground, take some time to research what guests want out of their experience. We recently surveyed over 700 RVers asking them to tell us what amenities were most important to them.

Overwhelmingly, WiFi was considered “essential” (with quite a few RVers saying they’ll even pass on campgrounds that don’t provide adequate internet access), while trees, fire pits, and clean showers also made the top of the list.

The good news (based on our data), is that the most desirable amenities are generally pretty cost-effective, so you shouldn’t have to shell out too much to create a memorable experience for guests.

Provide unique accommodations.

Twenty-five percent of guests factor in a campground’s atmosphere in their decision to stay or return. Adding to that, a study found that “30 percent of North American travelers have glamped in the past two years,” and “59 percent of glampers go with their children, likely because glamping gives families the fun of the outdoors without the stress and hassle of traditional camping.”

Adding to that, it’s estimated a US market for glamping worth as much as $4.8 billion by 2025. This means that yurts, tiny homes, treehouses, or restored vintage campers could all be profitable ways to add a little pizazz to your campers’ stay.

For more inspiration and ideas, check out these 16 options for adding glamping to your campground.

Offer more than just camping.

More and more, owners are finding creative ways to utilize their property beyond just offering RV slips and or tent sites.

From breweries and distilleries like Devils Backbone and Shelter Point, wedding venues like The Hitchin’ Post, to even animal rescues like Discovery Wildlife Park (complete with bears, lions, wolves, and much more), there are a lot of ways to reimagine the use of your property.

Partner with local organizations.

In addition to joining a regional campground association, make it a point to identify local organizations and businesses in your community to bring your park more visibility.

Set up a booth at a festival, partner with a local business or non-profit, attend a trade show, facilitate local Scouts groups, or host community events (like outdoor movie nights or sports leagues).

It goes without saying, but the more your campground engages with the community, the more the community will engage with your campground.

Stay in touch.

Something as simple as collecting emails and reaching out could be one of the most profitable parts of your business.

A recent study that found email marketing is worth an average return of 4,300 percent, and that every $1 spent generates a little more than $44.

Make it a habit of creating mailing lists and collecting guest contacts whenever they book. Send them a thank you for staying, announcements for upcoming events, future discounts, and notes that let you know you’re thinking about them. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and spam them.

Give them the option to stay another day.

If you have extra spots, or the flexibility to move things around, consider giving your guests the option to stay an extra day. According to ​​GuestReady.com, there are a lot of folks “who want to spend a week or two in a city and would prefer not to hop from Airbnb to Airbnb” or campground to campground. Maybe you could even make it a game and comp an extra night if they leave you a review or book in advance for next year.

Set a launch date.

Make the start of your campground a celebration! Just having a launch date can create a boost of revenue right out of the gate.

This past year, Athabasca County was able to take 150 reservations within the first hour, and more than 300 by day’s end. Their manager, Warren Vowel told us that “last year, it would have taken [them] more than 2 weeks and 3 staff members to call back and confirm all of the reservations that came in today.”

It’s not just them, as campgrounds like Lakeview Park are able to book most of their reservations for the year within the first 24 hours of making sites available.

4. Advertise your campground.

While there are a number of ways to market your park well, there are a few easy steps you can take to see results almost immediately.

Invest in quality photos.

We live in a digital age and we live in a visual age.

Websites and articles with quality and relevant photos bring in 94 percent more traffic than those without, yet somehow only 39 percent of online businesses have photos that don’t “disappoint customers.”.

The reason? Well, there’s a few. Quality photos create trust, they make your park standout, and they tell a story.

Fifty-one percent of customers respond better to images of actual people “because they’re more authentic and trustworthy than brand-owned creative.” Guests want to be able to imagine what it’s like to stay at your campground before they actually do, so adding a few eye-catching images could go a long way.

Consider hiring professional photographers, as well as sourcing photos from guests to showcase your parks’ best qualities, and then take time to share them on your website and social channels.

Take online bookings.

If you want to grow your business and audience quickly, taking reservations online is the easiest and most effective strategy.

Phone calls and emails add up but, thanks to online reservations, our campgrounds save an average of 300 hours a year in administrative tasks, while bringing in an added 25 percent in yearly bookings.

Plus, membership programs like Good Sam grant access to features like trip planners, targeted searches, and can even account for more than half of some parks annual reservations.

Run paid ads on Google and Facebook.

The reality is that most of your (potential) guests are searching for RV parks online. Forbes says that “97 percent of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.” This means that campgrounds investing in pay-per-click advertising (PPC ads) will likely have better success than campgrounds who don’t.

Specifically, our campgrounds have gotten the most bang for their buck running ads through Google and Facebook. For context, Moz’s Brian Carter, says that, on average, it costs between $20 and $32 to reach 1,000 people in print ads, Google AdWords and Facebook can do the same for about $3.

Furthermore, there are currently at least 246 million unique Google users in the States alone, and targeted ads allow you to tailor to specific audiences to ensure the highest return possible.

Respond to reviews.

For better or worse, reviews matter.

Currently, about 92 percent of consumers read online reviews and make their decisions to stay accordingly. To give this some more teeth, a study found that campgrounds with 1 to 1.5 stars bring in 19 percent less revenue than other parks.

Now, it’s certainly worth stating that even great campgrounds receive unfavorable reviews, and to some extent that’s unavoidable. However, you can still mitigate damage and turn negative comments into positive interactions by making it a point to respond and (thoughtfully) engage with disgruntled guests.

By promptly connecting, empathizing, and doing what you can to make things right, 95 percent of unhappy guests will return to your campground. Even responding to happy guests has a direct impact on the bottom line, considering parks benefit from 4.6 percent more reservations for every 50 positive reviews your campground receives.

As you grow your campground be sure to keep an eye on these review sites, and make a genuine effort to kindly connect with guests regardless of their experience.

It’s a good time to start a campground.

There’s never been a better time to operate an RV park. The outdoor industry is growing faster than ever, and people are ready to create memorable experiences.

To ensure your campground’s success, be sure to take time to:

  1. Research and design your campground.
  2. Anticipate expenses and understand your park’s finances.
  3. Create unique experiences for guests.
  4. Advertise your campground.

Looking to get started?

Taking online reservations is an easy way to offload administrative work and allow you to focus on the things that make your park unique. If you’re ready to make the jump, Good Sam Campground Solutions can help. Request a demo today!

Campground Management Companies

3 Questions to Consider When Hiring Campground Management Companies

With more people camping than ever before, running a campground could be a lucrative investment worth more than $273K a year.

However, running a park can feel like a tall order. From managing reservations and staffing to maintenance and compliance, there are a lot of variables in this business. That being said, there are a number of campground management companies and services that can help; but how do you know whether they’re the best fit for your park?

What services do campground management companies provide? How much will it cost? What percentage of your business will you be giving up? How much control do you relinquish?

Whether you’re looking to grow your business or just take a little off of your plate, here are five questions to consider when hiring campground management companies.

1. What are your campgrounds’ goals?

Before you hire out to any other company or service, identify the goals and philosophy of your campground. From the design of your park to the type of guest experience you want to facilitate, it’s important to have a clear vision for your business.

How hands-on do you want to be with your property? Are you someone that wants to roll up your sleeves, or would you rather invest and manage from afar? Are you a mom-and-pop looking to make reservations easier on your staff, or are you a growing campground trying to keep a personable feel? Do you just want to maintain the size of your park and get out of the office a little more?

The benefit of campground management companies is that they’ll provide an all-in-one service for operating, marketing, and growing your park; and maybe bringing on an outside team would align perfectly with what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want someone else to tackle the day-to-day and bring in business, they can be a great middleman, handling everything from staffing, training, to keeping your park compliant. Plus, if you’re eyeing retirement, a lot of management companies will even offer buyouts or gradual investment of shares, creating a natural off-ramp. However, this means fewer local hires and the risk of your park being managed by someone who doesn’t understand the culture you’re trying to create.

You might find that you only need a couple of services, or an extra hire to reach your goals. You know your business better than anyone else, and just because a full-service management company can “do it all” doesn’t mean it’s in your campground’s best interest.

2. How much are you willing to budget?

While it can be financially beneficial to operate an RV park, hiring out to a campground management company will eat into your profits.

On average, campground management companies cost around $30,000 a year (depending on the size of your park) and can take up to 30 percent of your revenue. Comparatively, campground management software, like what’s available from Good Sam, is only about $1,200 a year[1]  (for non-members) and doesn’t eat into your profits.

The question really comes down to how much outsourcing your operation is worth, as bringing in a management company can still make financial sense for larger campgrounds looking to free up their plate.

3. What are the alternative solutions?

All of that being said, there are plenty of folks who successfully manage their own campgrounds. Whether you’re looking for softwares you can run in-house or teams to partner with, there are several à la carte options for park owners.

Reservations.

Reservation systems like Good Sam’s Campground Solutions take the heavy lifting out of running your park, allowing you to spend more time building out your business and connecting with your guests; from user-friendly tools and integrations for reporting and dynamic pricing to a drag-and-drop reservation grid that makes it easy to manage bookings and check-in campers.

This past year, 97 percent of Borden Bridge and Klahanie’s bookings came from online reservations, altogether eliminating the busy work of answering phone calls and emails; not to mention lowering cost considering Good Sam parks can get started for free (with guests only paying $1 per reservation).

Marketing.

There are a number of affordable ways to market your campground without having to break the bank. Consider joining a local campground association, leverage paid ads through Google and Facebook, or even teaming up with local RV dealerships.

If you really want to extend your reach, Good Sam provides marketing and advertising services for over 2,100 parks through the use of social channels, newsletters, and a network of over 2 million Good Sam club members.

Web design.

Statistically speaking, most guests are looking for your park online to decide whether or not they’ll stay. 

Eighty-one percent of consumers research a business online before making a purchase. Adding a strong website could even grow your campground’s business by 15 to 50 percent, and quality photos could literally double your reservations.

The average cost of building a website is around $200, but there are plenty of free templates for you to build your own if you’re on a budget. If you’re looking for someone who understands the industry, RV Geeks and CIPR Communications have a lot of experience with park owners.

Finances.

When it comes to handling the finances of your park, Quickbooks is a great resource for small-to-medium campgrounds. With cloud-based packages for accounting, billing, and payroll, they can match your business needs; plus they have simple pricing plans ranging from $25 to $180 a month depending on the size of your park.

That being said, if you want to outsource accounting to a firm that deeply understands the RV industry, the team at Camp and Park Accounting provides focused services such as business consulting, cash flow analysis, and financial benchmarking. They’ve been in the industry for a while and can meet the needs of park owners in ways that traditional firms can’t. Understandably, their pricing structure is a bit more nuanced, however, they have customizable and affordable options based on the size of your business.

Making the right choice for your campground.

Full-scale campground management companies are able to provide the lion share of needs for campground owners, but they also come at a steeper cost. The question to ask is how much do you want to be hands-off, and how much of your profits are you willing to give up?

While handpicking individual services to help you run your campground requires more involvement, it also means more autonomy and fewer expenses. This will generally be a more attractive option for smaller and more mom-and-pop RV parks, but can also scale to larger organizations.

Regardless of where you land, make sure you have a clear understanding of your campground’s goals, how much you can afford, and what the alternatives are.

Want to get started?

As mentioned, Good Sam provides a number of services to give campground owners the tools they need to run their business without headaches. 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.


Setup Wi-Fi at an RV Park

How to Setup Wi-Fi at an RV Park (and Why You Need It)

You need Wi-Fi at your RV park.

Due to the pandemic, nearly 42 percent of the American workforce is currently working remotely. And by 2025, an estimated 22 percent of Americans will work remotely for good.

When it comes to camping, there has been a huge spike in popularity as a result of the pandemic. Some camping and glamping booking services were 400 percent busier than the same time last year.

With the rise in remote work, Americans are camping more often and staying longer—if they have decent Wi-Fi.

Which means if you don’t offer workable internet at your campground, you’re missing out on business.

The value of having campground internet.

According to outdoor internet expert Doug Rafferty, “Wi-Fi at an RV park is a MUST.”

Doug and his wife are full-time RVers and he’s been providing campgrounds like Charlie Brown with internet for years. According to him, successful campgrounds must have decent Wi-Fi and parks won’t continue to survive without it.

When it comes to bandwidth at an RV park, Doug says “the average campground just doesn’t have it right,” and that “Campgrounds will go out and spend $20k-$30k to build out a campground” but they often fail to invest in internet, and have terrible bandwidth as a result.

Our data validates Doug’s point.

In a survey of our own, 71 percent of RVers said that decent Wi-Fi was essential, and one of the most important amenities a campground could provide. We even had a few participants say that a lack of decent Wi-Fi was a dealbreaker, and reason enough for them to stay elsewhere.

Quality internet at your park is one of the most important investments you can make.

Before you decide to set up Wi-Fi.

Setting up the internet at an RV park can be daunting. Doug answered a few of our big questions on what to consider before setting up an internet provider.

How much will decent Wi-Fi at an RV park cost?

On average, you can find a high-speed provider with decent download speeds at around $250 a month. Depending on how rural your campground is, and the level of access to towers in the area, at the most you shouldn’t be paying more than $500 a month.

Should I charge for Wi-Fi at an RV park?

Doug says yes, and that “people are more open to it than before.”

A 2018 poll showed that 66 percent of guests would be willing to pay a daily rate for quality internet. There will be people who want to opt out, but as more and more millennials become full-time RVers, it is likely that paying extra for premium service will be expected.

It’s important to note that if you are charging extra for Wi-Fi that it should be high-speed access.

What if we’re a 100 percent leisure park? Do we still need good internet?

According to our survey, campers expect Wi-Fi that works at their campsite. They don’t expect blazing fast internet speeds, but they do want to be able to check email, load webpages, and share files.

Can I just offer Wi-Fi in the clubhouse instead of throughout the campground?

While working professionals would take advantage of an ethernet connection from the office, Doug found that “on average, a family will have two to three devices operating at the same time (per site).” Best practices suggest you should still have a signal strong enough to accommodate anyone throughout the park.

Best practices for Wi-Fi at an RV park.

Map out your campground.

Having a clear layout of your park will enable you to find all of the potential obstructions to a quality signal (trees, concrete, metal buildings, etc.) as well as the best and most central location for your router. A clear visual of the park will show you what to prioritize.

Invest in a quality wireless router.

When it comes to purchasing a wireless router, you’ll likely want to start with one labeled as Dual-Band, since Single-Band will be competing with bluetooth and cell phones, causing a greater amount of interference to your signal (and more campers complaining that the internet isn’t working).

If at all possible, put your wireless router or access point wherever it can have the widest and most unobstructed reach from buildings and trees, as these can all tamper with your signal.

Generally speaking, the center of your campground is probably the best place, pending any concrete or metal from nearby buildings.

When it comes to bandwidth, Doug says that campers don’t expect anything blazing fast, but that you should still have an average download speed of 5-10 mbps per site.

Doug said that even for his larger parks (100+ sites) this has been the perfect range, as there’s never a time where everyone will be online at once. A router that lists 802.11ac technology should serve you just fine. This will accommodate guests whether they need to work remotely or just stream Netflix.

To make your decision easier, PC Magazine also has a list of the best wireless routers to buy in 2021.

Strategically add a Wi-Fi range extenders throughout your park.

As mentioned earlier, even if you have a strong connection in your clubhouse or office, guests still want flexibility. One of the participants in our survey mentioned that “when [they’re] working, Wi-Fi and a place to sit down away from the rig is very important.”

Wi-Fi extenders (or repeaters) will boost your internet signal and allow it to reach more of your park. Once you’ve mapped out your park, pay attention to potential dead zones caused by obstructions and place repeaters accordingly to ensure more wireless autonomy for campers.

PC Magazine also has a list of the best range extenders to fit any budget.

Wi-Fi resources.

Business.org came out with a list of the best high-speed providers for small businesses. But if you’re looking to get started with a company that uniquely understands the campground industry, here are recommendations based on who our parks use:

Making a connection

If you’re looking to add value to your campground, adding quality wireless internet is the best place to start. Even if your hope is for guests to disconnect, as more and more working professionals become full or part-time RVers they’ll still need access to Wi-Fi, and won’t stay at your campground if you don’t provide it.

A better online solution.

Looking for a campground reservation software, advertising, and more to go with your park’s Wi-Fi? Good Sam can help. Request a demo today!