ARVC Launching ‘Content Marketing’ Initiative
A public relations initiative and consumer research project by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is making customer connections and compiling consumer information for member parks.
“We’re very excited about new opportunities that will help us communicate better and change what channels we use, or more effectively use the channels we have, to reach both consumers and potentials and bring them to the marketplace,” reported Jennifer Schwartz, ARVC vice president of marketing.
Woodall’s Campground Management reported that the PR program was launched in May and consists mostly of camping lifestyle articles which are posted on ARVC’s consumer website, GoCampingAmerica. com, and pitched to assorted media out- lets. “What we’re spending time doing is networking and sharing story content,” Schwartz said. “We’ve had real good luck. Media outlets all over the country are reaching out to listen to our stories,” adding that the content purposely aligns with editorial calendars and “driving interests in the media.”
For example, a story titled “How To Camp Comfortably Without Breaking the Bank” was posted by a consumer finance blog, and an article about various parks’ fitness equipment and programs was picked up not just by a health publication but also a fitness-focused issue of a women’s magazine.
“We’re seeing a lot of good traction in sharing articles about commonalities” between the camping industry and the readerships those publications serve,” she said. “We’re really reaching across audiences that we don’t typically address di- rectly in the traditional camping environment.”
That’s where the deeper value lies in this outreach, Schwartz told WCM. While targeted content is intended to increase park visits among existing campers, it’s also designed to introduce the “active leisure traveler” to the modern camping experience. “There’s a broader segment we want to appeal to,” she noted. “We want to get in front of those outdoor-activity people who maybe have some assumptions that exist in their minds and don’t realize what kinds of services, amenities and luxury accommodations RV parks and campgrounds have to offer.”
While the PR plan is distributing information, the consumer research project is gathering it, with its lens focused on potential customers among a surprising segment: Campers. Some people love the outdoors but may not consider staying in campgrounds, and that’s part of what the research will explore. But some are indeed already camping, just not at members’ parks — and ARVC wants to know why.
The reasons behind campers’ decisions to stay in privately-owned parks versus state or national parks and wilderness environments, she said, is information that’s needed to supplement existing quantitative data.
“We already know the average spend and distance traveled and how many nights they stay. This study is not about the behaviors, but what motivates them,” Schwartz told WCM. “When we know that, we might then better customize our messaging, or possibly suggest operational changes to campgrounds to try to attract folks into privately-owned parks and better serve them. They’re already camping, so why wouldn’t they? Again, they may just not have a full breadth of knowledge of what’s offered in those parks.”
The research is currently in the field and results will be brought to ARVC’s marketing team for use in designing strategies and messages, and an executive summary for members will be rolled out at the annual convention in December.