Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a story authored by Jeff Crider for Woodall’s Campground Management examining the demand for Wi-Fi service by modern-day campers. To read the entire article click here.
Just over a decade ago, when private parks first began to invest in Wi-Fi systems, wireless Internet service was widely considered to be more of a luxury than a necessity.
After all, there weren’t that many RVers traveling with laptop computers, and if parks offered Wi-Fi service in the campground office or an open computer with a dialup modem that guests could use, that was sufficient for most campers.
Of course, that state of affairs didn’t last long.
While in the old days it was hard to imagine a single laptop computer inside every RV, today’s RVing couples and families are not only likely to have a laptop for every family member, but an assortment of iPhones, blackberries and other handheld electronic devices as well.
All of these devices have dramatically increased the need for park operators to offer Wi-Fi service, and have made Wi-Fi service one of the most critical amenities parks can provide.
“It’s absolutely an expected amenity,” said Jim Ganley, co-owner of CheckBox Systems LLC in Gray, Maine. “For some folks, it ranks higher (in importance) than a swimming pool or restrooms.”
In fact, people have become so accustomed to using Wi-Fi at home that they expect to have the same kind of Wi-Fi experience when they travel. And they increasingly want to be able to use their electronic devices in the comfort of their RV. It’s no longer acceptable or convenient to go to the front office to use a computer.
To read the entire article click here.
When Ray Aljets built the campground that later became the Sioux Falls, S.D., Jellystone Park Camp-Resort 23 years ago, most of his business was east-west traffic, particularly families from Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis who traveled westward to visit the Black Hills.
Today, however, 65% to 70% of the Jellystone Park’s business is families who live within 100 miles of the park, according to a press release.
“We still get the east-west traffic,” said Aljets’ son, Bruce, who now runs the park with his wife, Donna, and their children, Ray and Christina. “But now most of our business is local.”
Business is strong, too. Last year, for example, the park surpassed its 2010 revenues by 11%, and this year looks to be just as strong as last year, if not stronger, Bruce Aljets said, adding that his park opens for the camping season on April 1.
But the dynamics are different. Fuel costs are higher than they used to be, which encourages people to visit campgrounds that are closer to home. Today’s families also have a harder time getting away for extended periods of time.
The good news, Bruce Aljets said, is that camping is as popular as ever, with one caveat. “People don’t want to rough it,” he said. “They want the comforts of home when they camp. Even tent campers want Wi-Fi so they can watch Netflix movies.”
As a result, Aljets provides his guests with cabins with house-like amenities, including cable TV and Wi-Fi service and hot showers. The campground also has a jumping pillow, pedal cart rentals, a heated swimming pool and spa, an indoor theatre and a miniature golf course. And for those who don’t have a tent or RV, the park provides a dozen rental cabins.
Aljets’ Jellystone Park also has an activities director and provides organized family activities from May through the end of October that are designed to appeal to all ages, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekend events; Mardi Gras and Christmas in July celebrations; and Bruce’s favorite, the “Messy Weekend” July 27-30, which includes a chocolate pudding Slip N Slide, bobbing for worms and other messy activities. Late summer and fall activities include a corn maze and Halloween-themed weekend events, including costume and campsite decorating contests.