Editor’s Note: The following story by Kristopher Bunker appears in the June issue of Woodall’s Campground Management.
While park models retain their stronghold on the destination-camping market, some OEM destination trailers continue to make noise.
Ambiguously referred to as everything from park models to “extended-stay trailers” — and, now, augmented by a new wave of “destination”-style hybrid towables generated by an array of North American recreational vehicle manufacturers — the growing trend among outdoor enthusiasts to own a unit that can be left at a campsite all season or all year may be the newest wrinkle in camping, but the units themselves are not for the most part altogether new in general concept.
Park models have, in fact, long been a reliable source of income for campground owners. More or less permanently located at a campsite, park models are a good way for campgrounds to not only cater to RV owners looking for a more residential-type camping experience, but also to draw in the non-RVing crowd to stimulate their bottom line with overnight fees that tend to dwarf those of average sites.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) have reported that demand for park models has risen dramatically over the past year, with registration revenues climbing to around 20% in both cases for 2012.
Given the scope of the market, it’s not surprising then that manufacturers of more “traditional” RVs have definitely taken notice, with a number of them beefing up existing models — or creating entirely new ones — in order to join the fray.
Coined “destination trailers,” these towables are generally larger and heavier than their conventional counterparts, and also include residential touches like bay windows, patio doors and larger refrigerators.
But should they be considered true park models, or do they even want to be?
A park model is defined by the ANSI A119.5 standard as “A vehicular-type unit primarily designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use, which either has its own motive power or is drawn by another vehicle.” NEC Article 552 goes on to add that to be considered a park model, a unit must meet the following criteria: “Built on a single chassis mounted on wheels, and having a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet in the set-up mode.” We’re no doubt accus- tomed to seeing the 12-foot-wide park models at campgrounds, whether they’re bungalow-type units, casitas or even yurts (to some extent), but it may be difficult to discern one of the “new breed” of park models, especially considering they’re built on 8- or 8 1/2-foot wide footprints.
This new breed of destination trailer, however, does offer a distinct advantage.
“One of the major advantages an 8 1/2- foot-wide trailer like the Bay Point Destination Park Trailer has over a 12-wide park model is the ability to affordably move or transport the trailer yourself or have any small truck transport company move the unit for you,” said Terry Hiser, sales and marketing director for Recreation by Design RV. “The 12-wide park models require a large commercial transport truck and a CDL-licensed driver at significantly higher freight costs.”
To read the full article on WCM click here.