Are You Prepared to Take Advantage of Growth?
Tourism stakeholders at all levels – CEOs, ad agencies, restaurants, the local mobile repair guy, etc., are constantly evolving; often relying strictly on numbers to make business decisions. For some, it’s out of necessity, as they aren’t on-site to know just how effective their product/service is (more on that in a minute.) Others depend on numbers because they think they need to know EVERYTHING before making any meaningful decisions.
Luckily for our industry, the numbers all these stakeholders seek are available and pointing up despite the rough year we just had. The numbers of first-time RVers, RV rentals, and sales are all through the roof as the pandemic has worn on. COVID-19 forced people to think about a different and safer way to travel. Enter the RV and campground industry.
As more industry numbers on travel in the first year of the COVID-19 epidemic are reported, the foreseeable future for the outdoor hospitality industry continues to trend upwards. The good data points below should reassure you that the industry has a brighter future than many others. (Info courtesy of the US Travel Association (USTravel.org) and Kampgrounds of America Inc.)
- 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months.
- Domestic trips have increased in length this past year—averaging around four nights.
- Road trips dominated, with three-quarters of travelers preferring to travel by highway. Short-term rentals gained share over traditional lodging accommodations.
- 47% of leisure travelers are replacing canceled or postponed trips with camping trips. Additionally, 60% of travelers feel it’s more important than ever that kids spend time outdoors; and 40% of campers are interested in becoming full-time RVers after COVID-19.
- Americans’ travel state of mind remained stable, with 57% in a ready-to-travel state of mind.
- In addition, nearly 80% have at least tentative trip plans for sometime in the next year, although over a third are eyeing May 2021 or later.
- The sale of 507,200 new RV units projected for 2021 would represent the best annual total on record for the RV industry, eclipsing the 504,600 units shipped in 2017. The projected 424,400 units in 2020 would be the fourth-best annual total on record.
All of this data also points to growing occupancy numbers. Are you prepared to take full advantage of these circumstances? If more people are hitting the road and especially more first-timers, what are you doing to get ahead of your competition? Are you emailing your current customers and offering a referral discount or frequency bonus? Are you connecting with the local RV dealer about specials? Are you spending appropriately on print and digital marketing?
Remember that if you capture a new customer, (and treat them right), they have the potential to become your customer for life. So, that money spent on advertising this year doesn’t reap the benefit just for now, but for years to come.
And how can you, as a member of the campground industry, best utilize these optimistic numbers? Remember that you are a vital part of your community, providing a place to stay as out-of-town folks visit for leisure, or even for business. But you’re also an ambassador for the camping industry. Many in your community aren’t nearly as wired in to tourism numbers (like those cited above) as you are. But, they should be, so that they know who you are and they take you seriously.
Why is all this so important? Because the campers are coming, and they will be going out in the community to see attractions, or eat in restaurants, or get their dogs groomed. You are just as important a piece of your town as any other hospitality venue, and it’s time to tell your story — if not you, who will? Plus, you want your customers to have a good time so that they come back.
I’ll say it again; the number one source of anyone’s business, in any industry (especially ours), is repeat and referral business. We have a good story to tell — let’s all tell it together.