RVers Actively Seek RV-friendly Locations
A research study conducted at the University of Northern British Columbia and Texas A&M University finds that RV-friendliness is key to attracting RV travelers.
The research was conducted in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, one of the major destinations for tourists from Canada and the U.S. More than 900 RVers were surveyed and interviewed through the summer of 2006 and provided new insights into their demographics, habitats, needs and preferences, according to a press release. Among the findings:
• RVers will go out of their way to patronize RV-friendly businesses and destinations and are keen to avoid those which do not cater to their needs.
• RV-friendliness is defined by understanding RVers’ motivations and catering to their specific needs. These include accessibility for RVs, ample parking, cheap overnight parking in case plans are changed on the spur, the availability of full-service campgrounds which have wide and level sites with enough privacy but at the same time opportunities to socialize, big signs which give plenty of time to switch lanes, attractions of interest to RVers, facilities like trails to support outdoor activities and services for pets which often accompany RVers.
• RVers want businesses to talk to them. They want to be specifically targeted and do not mind marketing communication and materials if they deliver RV-relevant information and feature pictures of RVers.
• Information about RV-friendly spots spreads quickly through RVers’ extended social networks which are often supported through technologies such as e-mail, online communities and blogs. Word-of-mouth, visitor information centers, RV magazines, RV-related websites and RV clubs are the most important information sources for RVers when planning a trip.
• Freedom, flexibility and fellowship define the RV experience. RVing is also seen as a self-rewarding lifestyle. Destinations and businesses should use these themes in their communication to attract the RV audience.
• The majority (63.1%) of RVers start their travel careers as tent campers. This means that tent campers are an important audience for the RV industry.
• RVers are an attractive market. They are well educated and have incomes in the mid- and high ranges. They are not influenced by rising gas prices (only 15.2% indicate that gas prices influence them much or very much). Most importantly, RVers are open to marketing messages because their travel plans are very flexible and they constantly look for new experiences.
• Sub-groups exist within the RV market. RVers mostly differ in terms of their affinity for organized social events such as rallies and the extent to which they engage in RVing as their exclusive style of travel.
• RVers feel misunderstood by other travelers and underserved by businesses and communities.
The research has been supported by the University of Northern British Columbia, Texas A&M University, the BC Real Estate Foundation, Elkhart (Ind.) County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tourism BC, the Northern BC Tourism Association, the Northern Rockies Alaska Highway Tourism Association, Tourism Dawson Creek, and the Texas Association of Campground Owners.