We were at the RV Show in Louisville, Kentucky last month, and it was heartening to see the crowd and the sheer excitement of the manufacturers and dealers. Why all the smiling faces? Could it be because the sales of RVs are up about 10% in 2012, and 2013 is poised to be the third straight year of sales increases? The reason for this is simple: baby boomers. There are approximately 10,000 baby boomers per day retiring in the U.S. right now – and that’s a huge segment of who is going to buy RVs. These hard-working folks are looking for ways to spend their retirement years, and RVs are a centerpiece in many of their plans. Considering the fact that the baby boom lasted from 1951 to 1964, this giant demographic trend will continue for over another decade. Could this be the start of the greatest RV era in American history? It might.
Memo From Frank & Dave
How To Turn An RV Park Into A Destination Instead Of An Overnight Stay
With the price of gasoline and diesel fuel approaching $5 per gallon, many RV park owners are getting very concerned about how many guests will pull into their RV park this year. Although RV users are not as susceptible to fuel prices as the average American, due to higher disposable income and more willingness to spend it on their RV trips, it still makes sense to make the guests that come into your RV park stay for more nights. Remember that one RV that stays for four days is the same cash flow as having four different RVs stay overnight. Indeed, one of the best ways to hedge your revenue risk is to have guests stay more nights before moving on. So how do you do it?
The first step is to realistically assess what your area has to offer the average RV customer. If your park is a scenic area near a national park, then the key benefit is nature and nature-based activities. If you are in a big city, it may be museums or shopping. Whatever the benefits are, you need to sit down and make a list of things that people would want to experience in your area. And be brutally honest with yourself. You do not want to over promise customers all kinds of fun stuff, only to have them find it to be a lie and never come back again. Don’t put anything on your list that you would not proudly invite a friend or family member to do with you.
Once you have perfected this, you need to break these activities into bite-sized units of three to four hours duration. For example, if you are in a nature area and the hike around Sampson Springs takes four hours, then that would be one unit. You will want to offer your guests several units of fun things to do, but let them design their own day. Some people will have physical handicaps that will preclude some of the activities, and others just won’t have any interest in all the activities. However, they will greatly appreciate your “menu” of items to choose from, and may stay an extra day or two to sample your ideas. In fact, I have seen cases where, given a list of activities, the overnight guest stays for a couple weeks! A lot of RV park owners do not bother with this ridiculously simple exercise, so customers really appreciate it when they find someone who cares.
Once you have your “menu”, gather all the brochures and information you can on these things. The key concept is to entice the guest to stay longer by showing them photos and maps of all the fun things to do. Most of these brochures are available at no charge from the activity itself. Some RV parks in New Mexico have guests who stay for weeks just to fulfill all of the fun flyers that the RV parks offer. Be sure to have a wide array of activities for people of all ages. Include family activities for kids, as well as some senior oriented fare. The bigger your “menu”, the longer the average guest will stay.
Some RV parks have taken even greater steps to make the guests stay, by creating their own menu of activities. There are RV parks that offer live entertainment on weekends, and some that have miniature golf and other activities year round. Having some on-site activities will help guests remember their stay with you, and make sure that they come back year after year. It is also possible to work with the activity to sponsor some special benefits to guests, such as having a shuttle that comes directly to the RV Park. An example of this would be river float trips that the RV guest simply has to board to shuttle at the park and take off.
Of course, even if you have all of the amenities in the world, you still must offer a decent housing option to your guests. Your RV park must be clean and slightly, and the staff cheerful and helpful. Remember that many guests are paying more this year to stop by, due to fuel prices, so be sure and go the extra mile. The important point here is the “golden rule” – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Never allow your RV park to offer a product or service that you, yourself, would not want to buy into. If the pool is a little shaggy, clean it up. See that litter? Pick it up. Guests really appreciate the extra effort, and it’s free most of the time for the owner.
So if you want to keep your revenue climbing despite fewer guests, no problem – just extend their stays. And the best news is that guests who enjoy themselves will tell all of their friends and come back year after year. And that’s a pretty big dividend for not that much work or investment. Make yourself a destination, and your park’s value will grow, despite $5 fuel.
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The Shady Dell Makes Reminisce Magazine And Shows The Growing Popularity Of RV Travel In The American Culture
A recent issue of Reminisce magazine featured a story on The Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona, which is an RV-themed lodging concept about 95 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Shady Dell features nine vintage aluminum trailers, including the 1949 Airstream shown in the photo. All of the RVs are decorated in a 1950’s theme. Shady Dell demonstrates that RV travel is a part of American culture, and businesses like this can only serve to ignite interest in purchasing and travelling around in RVs for those who book a night there.
RV’s Are Becoming Chic With Young People
The RV industry is not only seeing a sales increase from the 10,000 baby boomers per day that are retiring. It is also being aided by the fact that younger people are finding the retro culture of the RV “chic”. This photo was pulled from Alive magazine in St. Louis, which caters to trendy young people in that city of 3 million. The article was about a woman who is travelling in her retro RV and selling boutique items from the 1950s and 1960s as she goes. For any business to succeed, it must continue to groom demand among younger customers, and it looks like the RV industry is succeeding in that regard. In fact, over the past several years, there have been RVs featured in everything from the Neiman Marcus catalogue, to Brides magazine.