Cruise Inn Campground Network Set to Roll Out

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November 1, 2013 by   4 Comments

Cruise Inn

A group led primarily by hospitality industry veterans is establishing the Cruise Inn campground network, a membership organization the goal of which is to sign up 120 campgrounds within the next three years in an effort to become ”the largest brand in the outdoor facility space.”

”We are being very conservative,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Cruise Inn RV Parks LLC. ”If we do all the things we expect to do, we think we will grow faster than that. Where the outdoor hospitality industry is today is where hotels were in the 1970s.”

Cruise Inn will roll out at the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) 2013 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo Nov. 4-8 in Knoxville, Tenn., where the company has a booth and will sponsor a cracker barrel session.

Anderson, named Cruise Inn CEO in September, formerly was president of Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, and Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga., and served as managing director of games services for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and as general chairman of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistler Straights in Kohler, Wisc.

”I’m brand new to the industry,” Anderson said. ”I don’t want people to think that we think we have all the answers. I’m going to ARVC to learn more than I am going there to talk.”

Corporate logistics — accounting, technology, marketing, purchasing and group sales — will be handled by Vantage Hospitality, Coral Springs, Fla., which already has about 1,000 independent hotels as members operating under the Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington brands.

”I couldn’t have possibly gotten this thing launched as quickly without having that support and infrastructure,” said Anderson. ”The basic premise is simple; the implementation is not.”

Scott Anderson

The company is privately owned by seven investors, including Anderson; Ian Steyn, owner of Jellystone Camp-Resort in Larkspur, Colo.; Vantage Hospitality CEO Roger Bloss and COO Bernie Moyle; Alan Benjamin, CEO of Benjamin West, a furniture and equipment supplier to the hotel industry; Alan Tallis, a 30-year hotel veteran formerly with La Quinta hotels; and Adam Frisch, a retired Wall Street foreign currency specialist.

Campgrounds will bear the Cruise Inn name and be members of the organization, not franchisees, and they will be asked to pay a flat fee based on the number of their sites. ”As they grow, our fees won’t increase,” Anderson said, noting that fees will be based on a sliding scale.

Vantage also will establish a reservation system for Cruise Inn that is included in the fee.

As of late October, criteria to become a Cruise Inn member had not been finalized, but Anderson listed several general guidelines. ”Maintenance is absolutely critical,” he said. ”While a facility can be rustic in nature, it must be well maintained. And there must be some sort of water element — a pool, lake, river or ocean. Also, there must be good signage and graphics so that people will be able to find their sites at night.

”One of the things we found in talking to RV park users is they really don’t know what they are going to get when they arrive at a campground. It’s like opening a Christmas present — sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re disappointed. Our goal is to have the same level of consistency among our members without requiring a park to be a cookie cutter. They can have their own attributes and amenities, but they must have certain standards to be a Cruise Inn member.”

Requiring parks to be renamed Cruise Inn is critical to the success of the organization, Anderson said. ”That’s the best way to communicate to a consumer that those standards are there,” he said. ”One of the things I love about the campground industry is the independence of the parks. Changing the name will be the easy part. The concept of their being part of a group will be the most difficult. If we can prove the business proposition, I don’t think changing their name will be a hindrance.”

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4 Responses to “Cruise Inn Campground Network Set to Roll Out”

  1. DAvid Strait on November 1st, 2013 2:12 pm

    Quoting: “”One of the things I love about the campground industry is the independence of the parks. Changing the name will be the easy part. The concept of their being part of a group will be the most difficult. If we can prove the business proposition, I don’t think changing their name will be a hindrance.”

    My response: This can not possibly work.
    Coming from the hotel business to try this will be like the proverbial ‘hearding cats’. As it says, the park owners are independent. But the greatest flaw in this concept is based on the misconception that one RV park is like the other, just in a different place. Hotels and hotel rooms are very similar. Each room is like the next (in it’s class). Consumers don’t care which room they get upon check in, and don’t know the difference. RV consumers drive past all the other vacant sites, each a little different. RVers can see each space and want to move to the best space.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of brand value they can bring to a broad spectrum of different properties in different locations, all based on the ‘coolness’ of the new brand name. ‘Cruise Inn’ I’m available for consulting if you have money to burn.

  2. Durward Blanks on November 2nd, 2013 3:21 pm

    David S. not sure of your background, but I disagree with you. I believe it will work and an astute group of hospitality savvy leaders could make an impact. What is missing in the campground business is consistency. Even in the largest franchise group, KOA there is too much uncertainty. If Cruise Inn holds to a high standard for the members and they operate at a reasonable price, campers will know what to expect within reason. Every hotel room is not the same, and every location is different, but when I make a reservation at a Baymont, I have a general idea of the facility.
    Not so with a campground, even koa. And, to go another step, even koa corporate owned properties have a broad range of standards.
    I’ve researched properties and the pics look great! On arrival, it’s disappointing.
    If this startup sets standards and maintains them, I will gladly support them.
    I’d even welcome a camper membership program for discounts at member properties.
    I wish them enormous success.

  3. Carol Taylor Clay on November 4th, 2013 2:34 pm

    If Scott and his team can establish and uphold a quality standard among member parks, I think this is a great idea. This is the very reason I have a timeshare in the Starwood network. I know I can expect the same level of standard across the country and throughout the world. No surprises. I think this will be a real benefit to the RVing community. For those parks that would like the benefit of a marketing arm and a reservation system that they may not be able to invest in independently, this could be a great package. I look forward to seeing the roll-out!

  4. Scott Anderson on November 4th, 2013 3:42 pm

    David, thanks for your observations, while I dasagree with you I appreicate your having enough interest to post a comment. Hope you are not offended but based on your comments I don’t think it is in the cards for us to hire you to consult. Our goal at ARVC this year is to listen and learn, we think many of the stratagies that have worked in the indoor hospitality industry will transulate to the outdoor hospitality space. Other areas will not but perhaps bringing a different perspective to the industry will at least create some new thoughts and approaches.

    Scott Anderson-President and CEO Cruise Inn