Year-to-date occupancies and revenues at campgrounds, RV parks and resorts through Labor Day weekend were generally consistent with last year’s figures, according to a news release from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
“Private park operators are generally pleased with their performance this year,” said Linda Profaizer, ARVC president and CEO.
She added that parks that have invested in rental accommodations, such as park model cabins and cottages, have done particularly well.
The biggest exception, however, were parks along the Gulf Coast, many of which lost considerable summer business as a result of the BP oil spill and related media coverage.
Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with roughly 475 parks, said its year-to-date occupancies through Labor Day weekend were down 0.7%, while revenues rose 2.7%, according to Mike Gast, KOA’s vice president of communications.
The slight occupancy decline was largely due to weaker business levels last winter, while summer occupancies actually outpaced last summer’s figures by 2.5%, Gast said. He added that revenues for the company’s park model cabins and cottages, which KOA markets as “Kamping Lodges,” were up 27% over last year’s figures, which reflects both rising consumer demand for rental accommodations in campgrounds as well as a larger rental inventory.
Indeed, KOA and other campground chains have increasingly invested in park model cabins and other rental accommodations in recent years.
Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, saw its year-to-date occupancies through August increase by 4%, while revenues grew by 3%, said company Vice President Dean Crawford. Demand for cabins and park models, however, grew by 13%, also reflecting increased demand and an increased inventory of units, he said.
Meanwhile, Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), a Chicago-based Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) whose holdings include RV parks and resorts, said occupancies and revenues for its core RV properties were up 2.3% and 3.1%, respectively, through July, according to Ellen Kelleher, ELS’s executive vice president of property management.
Kelleher added that while occupancies for transient or traveling RVers fell by 3.3% during the period, revenues were up 3.3%. ELS also reported gains in seasonal and annual customers, up 15.3% and 2.1%, respectively, while revenues increased by 3.9% and 4.9%. The annual figures include occupancies and revenues from consumers who own park models at ELS parks, Kelleher said.
ELS also reported an 8.5% decline in park model rental occupancies through July, but this was because the company wound up selling many of its units to consumers who wanted to stay for extended periods of time at ELS resorts.
Across the country, several park operators and industry officials reported an exceptional summer camping season.
“We are showing an increase of 6% in business for 2010. This is our actual increase in site nights after subtracting for our annual rate increases,” said David L. Berg, who owns Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, in addition to serving as ARVC chairman.
Berg, whose park is affiliated with the Best Parks in America network, attributed much of the increase at his park to an unusually hot and dry summer in Maine. Berg also said many campers are taking more frequent trips, but for shorter periods of time. “I find folks making reservations at the last minute, or trying to get in when we often are sold out. Also they are not staying for week-long stays, but rather doing three- and four-day mini vacations and are getting away more often.”
Berg also said he has seen a large influx of tent campers this year, which he attributes to the economy. “I feel this is a win-win situation for all,” Berg said. “Customers get a reasonable priced vacation and we as an industry get new customers, who if they get the experience they are looking for, they will upgrade in time to a popup or RV of some sort down the road. This is an example of finding the silver lining in the tough times we are all in economically.”
But tent camping is also influenced by weather patterns.
KOA, for example, saw tent camping decline by 1.3% at its parks nationwide, Gast said. “Weather nationwide is probably the primary driver of that,” he said. “Inventory (tent sites) has been relatively stable for years.”
Other parks also saw significant business gains this year, including Misty River Cabins & RV Resort LLC, a Best Parks in America affiliate in Walland, Tenn., which saw its year-to-date business grow by 17%, according to park owner Jimmy Felton.
Castaways RV Resort and Campground in Berlin, Md. also saw double-digit growth during the summer season, with a 4% increase in business year-to-date, according to Kathleen Morris, the park’s general manager. Morris attributed the increased business in part to the warm dry summer on the East Coast.
Meanwhile, Crossroads RV Park in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, saw a 19% increase in year-to-date occupancies, said park owner Jeff Krug, who also serves as president of the Iowa Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Krug attributed the increase in part to the relative newness of his three-year-old overnight park, which more and more campers are discovering.
In California, Ron and Sheryl Culp of Green Acres RV Park in Redding said their year-to-date business was down 2.7% from last year, although their summer business was up 4.3% from a year ago.
Editor’s Note: The following story was provided by Evanne Schmarder, veteran campground writer.
Over 10,000 members representing every sector of the RV industry have a presence on LinkedIn, the powerful professional social network, extending their reach and influence. As opposed to the inter-personal chit-chat of Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn functions as a best practices roundtable and prides itself on a B2B model “connecting” users representing over 150 industries, including executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies.
A number of individuals in the RV park and campground business are among those exchanging views through LinkedIn in what amounts to an ongoing virtual, Internet-age “crackerbarrel” session for industry professionals.
LinkedIn’s premise is that relationships matter and users are encouraged to connect with “trusted contacts.” Once connected to an individual, you may invite a connection within their network, thus growing your circle of influence. For instance, David Gorin, a consultant, park operator and president of Best Parks in America, finds his LinkedIn connections a substantive resource. On occasion, as a client question arises, Gorin seeks out experts in his network for answers and insight. “My support network is greatly enhanced with LinkedIn,” he reports. “I’m also fascinated by how the system works – suggesting connections – similar to the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept, but in reality it’s much less than six,” he added.
One of LinkedIn’s most commanding tools is the wide-reaching collection of “groups.” By starting or joining a group you can follow industry or topic leaders, share your professional news, partake in discussions – even connect to your college’s alumni association. A search of the keyword “RV” under the group directory returned 75 search results including RV Park Biz, RV Dealers International Convention/Expo and RV Rental Dealers Group. Industry players may be interested in joining Outdoor Recreation and Travel Industry Marketing Network or other groups focusing on branding, social media marketing, customer satisfaction or even green business practices.
RVDA’s active RV Dealers International Convention/Expo <http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1941545&trk=anetsrch_name&goback=%2Egdr_1282506991533_2> group provides a venue for engaging back and forth exchanges. In addition to the Convention/Expo, the group is a touch point for the RV Learning Center and RVDA legislative issues. Phil Ingrassia, RVDA communications vice president, noted that the group is yet another tool — not a replacement — to reach out to industry members via social networking. “The entry cost is low, simply a matter of the personnel cost of posting and maintaining the network, and the participants are highly motivated to contribute and exchange ideas,” said Ingrassia. “We use Facebook for the same purpose and have had success there. However, LinkedIn has a greater long form functionality allowing for in-depth dialogue as opposed to ‘sound bites’ via our Facebook page.”
Randall Hendrickson, president of Horizon RV Resorts, started the RV park business group in 2009. “The wonderful thing about LinkedIn is the diverse groups of people from various backgrounds, each with his/her own take on a particular topic,” he remarked. “I really don’t know of another venue that allows for such an exchange of expertise; I always come away with a perspective I didn’t have previously. Discussions posted by group members introduce me to several great views of a subject from colleagues that have analyzed the issue from well-informed perspectives.” This group, like most, boasts an extensive membership of business consultants, technology leaders, management gurus, financial experts – thought leaders in an assortment of fields.
Today’s social networking possibilities offer a smorgasbord of opportunities. With a limited amount of available time in each day the decision on where to place attention can be a challenging one. Deb Kohls, a vice president of Leisure Interactive Inc. and owner of the Outdoor Recreation and Travel Industry Marketing Network, advises that it’s important to have clear goals in social networking, and LinkedIn participation offers an incredibly high payoff. “I often observe our industry striving to connect with consumers, and that’s valid,” Kohls noted. “But there’s so much to be gained by connecting to others with similar marketing needs and business experiences in the B2B realm. I recommend setting aside one hour a week to network with peers, support and learn from one another.”
“It requires a commitment to regularly log in and view the running dialogue in the various groups,” Hendrickson added. “But, once done, there is inevitably a great conversation about topics that matter to my business.”
While you may belong to an unlimited number of groups, choose your groups judiciously or you could be inundated by too much information to process, rendering the benefits of shared knowledge null and void at the click of the delete button. Instead, seek out LinkedIn groups that will provide specific wisdom to help you and your company thrive and you will be on your way to building your own circle of experts and developing a strong personal brand.
Learn more about LinkedIn and join the network of global professionals by visiting www.LinkedIn.com <http://www.LinkedIn.com> . Connect with author Evanne Schmarder at http://www.linkedin.com/in/evanneschmarder <http://www.linkedin.com/in/evanneschmarder> .
Best Parks in America, McLean, Va., announced today (May 12) its affiliate-park network had grown significantly during the first five months of 2010 and now numbers 61 locations in 24 states and Quebec.
“We are thrilled to see so much interest in the ‘Best Parks in America’ brand as a high-end RV resort and campground marketing group,” said David Gorin, president of Best Parks, in a release. “With this phenomenal growth we are able to offer discriminating camping consumers an exclusive resource to locate the very best RV and camping options in some of the most desired resort locations in the U.S.”
In addition to each affiliated park’s comprehensive online listing, Best Parks in America will offer a complimentary Best Parks in America directory available at each Best Park resort location, at major RVing and camping shows and by camper request. The first edition of the new RVing & Camping @ the Best Parks in America directory will be released in late May.
The newest Best Parks in America affiliates include:
• Desert Valley RV Resort, Eloy
• Hidden Shores Village, Yuma
• Anaheim Resort RV Park, Anaheim
• Cross Creek RV Resort, Arcadia
• Belle Parc RV Resort, Brooksville
• Emerald Beach RV Park, Navarre
• Vacation Inn Resort of the Palm Beaches, W. Palm Beach
• High Plains Camping, Oakley
• Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport
• Pine Acres Family Camping Resort, Oakham
• Asheville Bear Creek RV Park, Asheville
• Cross Creek Camping Resort, Delaware
• Lock 30 Woodlands RV Resort Campground, Lisbon
• Portland-Woodburn RV Park, Woodburn
• Mountain Creek Campground, Gardners
• Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort, Waymart
• Great Smoky Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Cosby
• Misty River Cabins & RV Resort, Walland
• Mill Creek Ranch RV & Cottage, Canton
• Stoney Creek RV Resort, Osseo
• Camping Du village Bromont, Bromont
Best Parks in America provides a national branding presence and marketing home for independent highly rated RV parks and campgrounds. For more information, go to www.BestParksinAmerica.com. To learn more about becoming a Best Parks in America affiliate, go to www.BestParks.net or call (703) 448-6863.
Best Parks in America welcomed four industry powerhouse suppliers to their Strategic Partner Program.
Utility Supply Group, Texas Advertising, Suburban Propane and TengoInternet have joined forces with Best Parks to offer affiliate resorts product/service programs and other partnership benefits designed specifically for the Best Parks network, according to a news release.
“Much like the high standards used for park/resort affiliation, our Strategic Partners have proven themselves to be outstanding in their areas of expertise. We are pleased to partner with these four notable companies and look forward to their contribution to the Best Parks in America brand,” said David Gorin, president and CEO Best Parks in America.
Strategic Partners are nominated by current affiliated parks and companies must have at least a five-year track record of doing business in the park industry. Strategic Partner nominees meeting the nomination criteria have an opportunity to develop an ongoing, mutually supportive relationship and association with Best Parks in America and the affiliated parks. Developed in response to contacts from a number of companies that have reached out to Best Parks inquiring about a relationship with this new park brand, the Strategic Partner Program provides unique possibilities for all parties involved.
For more information on becoming a Strategic Partner or to learn more about Best Parks in America affiliation visit www.BestParks.net or contact Gorin by phone at (703) 448-6863 or e-mail at David@BestParksinAmerica.com.
Best Parks in America, a collection of distinguished, independent RV resorts and campgrounds throughout America, continues to grow with the addition of 21 new affiliate parks all across the United States, according to a news release.
Each park has earned the “Best Parks in America” designation through top ratings and recognition from within the industry as well as from visitors to the resorts.
“As our park affiliates expand, Best Parks in America continues to be the definitive group of first class RV resorts. Each resort brings its unique style and substance to discriminating campers across the United States,” said David Gorin, president of Best Parks in America.
Best Parks in America provides a national branding presence and marketing home for independent highly-rated RV parks and campgrounds. As Best Parks continues to grow, consumers are increasingly recognizing the Best Parks brand and actively seeking out Best Parks as the places they can count on for outstanding RV and camping experiences.
Best Parks and its 40 affiliated resorts in 19 states welcome the most recent Best Parks in America into the network:
- Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley.
- Pueblo El Mirage, El Mirage.
- Sunrise RV Resort, Apache Junction.
- Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park, Nathrop.
- Montrose RV Resort, Montrose.
- Whisper Creek RV Resort, La Belle.
- Quail Run RV Park, Wesley Chapel.
- Emerald Cove RV Beach Resort, Panama City Beach.
- Scales Pointe Campground, North Liberty.
- Hidden Ridge RV Resort, Hopkins.
- Kiesler’s Campground and RV Resort, Waseca.
- Mountain Lake, Lancaster.
- Lake Norman Motor Coach Resort, Sherrills Ford.
- Kozy Rest Kampground, Harrisville.
- Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg.
- Pioneer Campground, Muncy Valley.
- Beaver Lake Campground, Custer.
- The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine.
- Advanced RV Resort, Houston.
- Northshore Resort on Lake Livingston, Onalaska.
- Evergreen Campsites & Resort, Wild Rose.
Best Parks in America (BPA), a six-year-old network of 23 premium level RV resorts in 11 states, recently announced a program overhaul that will put the Best Parks in America brand within reach of hundreds of top-rated RV parks across the country.
The new Best Parks in America direction will expand on offering camping consumers the best in RVing and camping, helping them quickly locate the best RV park and campground locations in the areas they most want to visit via the park industry’s only “niche” national Internet and print directories, according to a news release.
To be included in the directories and participate in the Best Parks in America marketing programs a park must hold a total minimum score of ‘9’ in Woodall’s North American Campground Directory or a ‘25.5’ total Trailer Life rating or an ‘A’ or ‘A-’ Guest Reviews rating as scored by RVers and campers. Membership, condominium, timeshare or public parks not rated by any of the established national rating services may qualify based on an inspection by Best Parks in America management.
Special limited-time park enrollment in the new BPA program will be available immediately at www.BestParks.net. The introductory enrollment will run through Jan. 31, 2010, and will offer exclusive inaugural participation fees and exceptional incentives for qualifying parks to become a Best Parks in America affiliate.
Benefits of Best Parks in America affiliation include:
- A full page listing on www.BestParksinAmerica.com and www.BestParks.com. The listing includes the park’s logo, up to nine photos, live links to email and the park’s website, online reservation links, a park description, amenities listing, special promotions and park news, and directions to the park. The online directory can be viewed at either of the above web addresses.
- A listing in RVing & Camping at the Best Parks in America print directory debuting in late 2010. Each listing will include a park description, a price symbol (one to five dollar signs ($) depending on pricing), contact information, directions, amenities and special events. The directory will be distributed at all BPA affiliated parks and at RV and camping shows throughout the country.
- In-park distribution of Best Guests in America RVing & Camping News, a complimentary newsletter with articles of interest to RVers and campers who fall into the demographic of those visiting the nation’s best RV parks and campgrounds. An electronic version of the newsletter will be distributed to our growing list of Best Guest members.
- Affiliated parks will have access to the Best Guests in America complimentary camping club for marketing programs and promotions.
- Affiliated parks may use the Best Parks in America logo in their own advertising and marketing during the life of their participation in BPA.
Many additional special marketing and promotional opportunities will be introduced in the coming months including a special “Featured Park” website home page presence, participation in a unique marketing program with Best Parks and Coast to Coast and a variety of Internet and print advertising opportunities to bring additional recognition and attention to BPA resorts and campgrounds.
Introductory affiliation fees for enrollments through Jan. 31, 2010, start at just $300 a year. Multiple year enrollments are also offered during this special introductory period. Parks that enroll in Best Parks in America by Nov. 15, 2009, will receive a one-month complimentary online button ad during their peak season in 2010.
To review the consumer Best Parks in America website visit www.BestParksinAmerica.com. To learn more about becoming a best Parks in America affiliate visit the industry website at www.BestParks.net.
Federal tax issues are taking the forefront for small businesses, including campgrounds and RV resorts, according to consultant David Gorin, former CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
“The last few years, you can imagine most of the activity here in Washington has been centered around defense, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism,” Gorin told state campground leaders attending ARVC’s 2009 National Issues Conference last week in Washington, D.C. “While all that continues … tax issues are becoming more and more important, and they affect small business in a lot of ways.”
Gorin said the IRS, in particular, is attempting to close what is known as the “tax gap” — the amount of taxes the IRS expects to receive each year versus what is taxpayers actually send to the government.
“(The IRS) claims a good part of that gap is directly related to small businessmen … who under-report income and over-report their expenses,” said Gorin, who operates David Gorin and Associates and oversees the Best Parks in America marketing group.
“As you deal with large deficits and the need to generate more and more revenue to cover all the initiatives that are on the table now being paid by stimulus money going forward, how do we raise tax revenue? One of the ways, of course, is to increase taxes. The other way is to reduce the tax gap, and make sure there is increased compliance with tax laws.”
Besides increasing the tax burden, IRS efforts to close the tax gap will result in more paperwork, he said.
“There are some very scary discussions about what they are planning on doing to track down the tax-gap individuals, Gorin said. “It has to do with huge amounts of paperwork for small businesses, particularly.
“Instead of giving (IRS form) 1099s just for people who work for you, you will have to give 1099s to everyone that you make payments to, no matter who it is. Having, for example, FedEx send to you a 1099 for every nickel you spend with them, they are then going to report that to the government so there are ways to match expenses to reports.
“There are a lot of things going on in that area. We really have to be careful.”