|This issue of the RVParkStore.com Newsletter includes:
15 Ideas to Increase Camping Web Site Usability
by Kim Krause Berg
It’s that time of year when families who own recreational vehicles (RV’s) and camping equipment begin to book their camping trips for the summer. Holiday camping has to be done well in advance. Before the snow has melted in most parts of the USA, families are dreaming of lakes and fishing, hiking, fairs, camping on the beach and nights by the fire, staring at the stars in the night time sky.
The Internet has made searching for and contacting campgrounds easy, with some campgrounds even experimenting with online booking. The Internet experience for web site users wanting to book a campground is similar to booking hotel rooms. Prospective guests are excited and hoping for a pleasant stay. Any information a web site offers to help them make choices and imagine themselves snuggled in sleeping bags increases the likelihood that they’ll call.
Thoughtful Design Pays Off
Online booking applications should work flawlessly. Poorly functioning site search or booking systems lead to web site abandonment. Photos should accurately portray the size of living space and what comes with it. In the case of a campground, that includes pull-through spots, fire pit and picnic table. Guests want to know what the camp store and swimming pool look like and whether or not they’re well maintained and staffed.
Many camp grounds are family run and privately owned. A budget for their web site may not exist. Some campground web sites are little more than print brochures adapted to the web with little understanding that a web site requires a new approach because it’s used differently. Try to invest in someone with experience in web design and travel oriented web sites.
The network of KOA (Kampgrounds of America) campgrounds use the same yellow and black color scheme and share resources such as maps, directories and booking applications. The similarity between KOA camping sites is helpful for KOA members who only book with these campgrounds because they get a discount.
Sadly, some of the worst web sites in the travel industry come from campgrounds. This includes state parks that have camping facilities. However, there are exceptions. Some campground businesses invest heavily in photos of their grounds and some offer videos of events they hold or on-site attractions.
Usability can’t be underestimated for campground web sites because their demographics are quite wide in scope. For example, there are retirees who travel from campground to campground. Some of them have cognitive (memory) issues with varying degrees of severity. Complicated navigation is aggravating when the navigation moves around from page to page or suddenly disappears altogether. Their hands may not be as steady, making some drop down navigation menus difficult for them to use. Eye sight problems for them include requiring reading glasses. If your web page font sizes can’t be increased in their browser, they will be frustrated. If they can increase the font size and your layout changes as a result, they may not be able to use the site.
Will these retired folks be using the Internet? You bet! Many of them stay in touch with their families and grand kids via email and cell phones and use the latest GPS gadgets, Google maps and the latest gizmos in their big rigs such as automatic levelers.
Families who book campgrounds will have interests that may surprise you. Their kids have iPods and video games. Some family members will want to bring their laptop. Most will have cell phones. If you’ve ever looked inside a family motor home of a tech bunch, it’s a mass of dangling cell phone chargers and cables. Campgrounds that offer wireless access, TV cable hookup and electric may want to promote this information on their homepage as a value proposition right away rather than tucking it inside an “Amenities” page.
Campgrounds that put their tent people away from noisier motor home guests may wish to note this on their web site.
To make your campground web site user friendly, try adding the following:
1. Make sure your site shows the area site map, with all the buildings, roads, camp sites, showers, etc. Offer a choice in how to access it online by letting visitors download it as a PDF or printing an image or sketch.
2. For campers who can not see, can’t download PDF’s or have images turned off because they’re on dialup, an audio description of the grounds would be helpful.
3. Be consistent with your colors, page layout and navigation.
4. Put your phone number at the top and bottom of every page and make it large enough to find quickly.
5. Watch your contrasts. Many camping sites have colored backgrounds with colored text, which make them hard to read. Text that’s all in boldface is difficult to read online.
6. Keep your copyright year up to date. Otherwise it may appear as though you’re no longer in business.
7. Communicate anything and everything that’s customer service oriented. Sometimes what you offer is the difference between someone booking your campground or the one nearby.
8. Make it easy for out of towners to make arrangements by posting links and/or phone numbers to car rental offices, vets, pet boarding facilities, beach tourist information such as beach passes, discount retail shops, camping supply stores, service stations that can handle RV’s (must have lifts for them), organic food and health centers.
9. Put testimonials on your camping site from previous guests.
10. Describe a typical day at your campground. This gives site visitors an idea of the environment, which helps them make educated choices.
11. Place all “call to action” prompts in highly visible spots like above the page fold and make them stand out. For example, a button for “Book Here” or “Reserve Now” and underlined embedded links within text that reads, “Stop by our calendar of events.” Avoid animation and blinking text.
12. Promote extra touches like your dog walk area, handicapped accessible camp store, locally made gifts, bait and tackle shop and dumping station on the premises.
13. Offer a way to stay in touch such as an email list or newsletter for regulars. Include coupons for return visitors to use, such as one free child admission or free pile of wood.
14. Place any sales or limited specials on the homepage. While your rates will likely not change much, there may be incentives to offer such as lower gas prices in the area, biodiesel, merchandise specials from the camp store, and fireworks for sale.
15. Display photos of staff and owners, a welcome message from the owners and office hours for reservations. Make sure emergency contact numbers are easy to find for guests who may run into trouble on their way there and need to alert you of any delays in their arrival time.
A user friendly, descriptive, customer experience oriented, persuasive web site will increase camping reservations. They’re a tool that many potential guests rely on, but they may not answer every possible question someone may have.
Once I booked a trip for my family looking for a peaceful weekend getaway and I chose a new campground based on their web site and its ease of use. However, we later learned that this particular campground has speakers set up all around the camping area and the owners made very loud announcements every few hours, starting at 8am in the morning. One day everyone in the campground was scolded for not putting their trash out properly.
There are some things even a web site can’t help us with.
By Kim Krause Berg
Dramatically Increase your RV Park or Campground Online Bookings With These Simple Tips
by Perry Burget of RVParkStore.com
There are some simple and easy ways to improve your RV Park of Campground website, which will in turn improve your booking rate from your website.
Ease of use is essential
Your website should have a consistent, easy to read and understand layout. Avoid animations, flashing text and hard to read fonts and backgrounds with colored fonts that are hard to read.
Make your site easy to navigate. Provide links on every page in the same place with clear meanings. Make sure your links work and navigate to the proper page.
Provide contact information on every page and ask for a booking on every page. A simple text link or button on the top and bottom of every page is best. The easier it is for your visitors to find the rates and other amenities you have, book online or contact you to make a reservation, the more they will.
Customer service, Amenities and other added value features.
Give your visitors a reason to book with you! Make sure your customer service policies and practices are clearly detailed. Get testimonials from campers to use on the site. This alone could make the difference between a visitor booking at your campground or the one down the road.
List all of your amenities. Use pictures to highlight the campground. Remember that pictures slow down the loading of your pages so use them sparingly. Provide a map of the property and make sure it is printer friendly. Make sure your map shows all your roads, buildings and amenities are clearly marked on the map.
A list of phone numbers and websites for local attractions and commonly used services is a must. Provide your visitors with a one stop informational experience about your area. Give them links to weather forecasts and local weather information.
Make sure you set your RV Park or Campground apart from the others in the area. Also, ask for email addresses from visitors. You can do this with a sign up for our newsletter or get coupons offer.
Make sure your rates are easy to find and that you ask for a booking. Provide a link to any specials you run on the home page. Your office hours, phone numbers and after hours phone numbers should be easy to find as well. Give visitors directions to the campground and make sure they are easy to understand and follow.
Help potential visitors find you.
If you own an RV Park or Campground in Tempe, AZ you want to make sure as many people as possible searching for that find your site. Use some of the free keyword tools from Google to help you find your best keywords. Consider using keywords for local attractions and neighboring cities and towns as well.
Make sure you are listed in online RV Park and Campground directory services. The more content you have about your area and attractions the more likely it is someone will find you. Try to update your content often, as search engines like new content.
MONTHLY VS. DAILY IN RV TENANT OCCUPANCY
by Frank Rolfe
When first buy an RV park, you assume that everyone will check in for a night or two, and then be on their way. However, you soon find out that customers’ needs are anything but that simple. Many RV owners intend to stay in one spot for an extended period The reasons include:
Although daily rates of $20 or more look attractive to you in these instances, they don’t look that great to the customer. Especially is you are in a market where a monthly lot rent in a mobile home park goes for $150. As a result, it’s important to have a special rate package just for this unusual but common subset of customers.
If you have mobile homes in your park that are permanent and paying you lot rent, then the fair thing to do is to offer this same rent to the RVs, provided that they will agree to stay for at least a month and set up and pay their own utilities – just like a mobile home customer.
If you do not have any mobile homes in your park, then you are going to have to do some research to find out a fair rent. Call all of the mobile home and RV parks in your market to see what they charge “by the month”. You will have to remain, to stay competitive, in this price range. However, if you have some real additional benefit, such as lake frontage, you can probably go higher according to how desirable your park is. Be sure and ask what utilities are included in the monthly rent – you need to compare apples to apples.
When suggesting that the RV customer move into a “by the month” lot, be sure to use the price as the big driver in your sale. If daily is $20, and monthly is $200, then the RV customer will save $400 per month (minus electricity) by changing over to a monthly situation. This is compelling to almost everyone!
Of course, it is important to leave your most desirable “overnight” lots available, if possible. These lots are what attract new customers. Tell the monthly RV customer that those lots are reserved for true overnighters. Don’t tie up these choice lots on a monthly basis – you will actually lose customers as a result.
What are the benefits of “monthly” RV customers over “daily” to you as park owner?
There is no better feeling than knowing that you have enough RV park revenues in just the “by the month” customers to pay your bills and note payment. The daily RV side of the business can be the gravy.
So be sure to convert your customer to the appropriate monthly opportunity – before someone else does!
RV Park & Campground Investment Series
We have completed the series on RV Park and Campground Investing.
Over 20 hours of audio (on CD) with Frank Rolfe and I, taking you through the process of:
Is 2008 the year that you will make that leap and buy an RV Park? If so, then this series will help assure you that you don’t make common and not-so-common mistakes that can ruin your life savings. We want you to succeed and by investing in this new series, you will have the tools to do just that… Succeed and Profit with your RV Park / Campground Investments!
Included with the audio is a hard cover copy of Dave’s book on How to Buy, Sell, and Operate an RV Park.
We currently have over 475 RV Parks for sale and the list is growing daily.
If you are looking to sell your RV Park or Campground you can do so Risk FREE. Find out more about Selling your RV Park.
|3-18-08Thank You for your help !!!! R V World Campground is now under contract. Thanks Again Dale
| Featured Listings
RV Park for Sale in Idaho
Location: 9589 E. Maughan Rd. Lava Hot Springs, ID 83246
Type: RV Campground, Home and more
Gorgeous campground, Family Reunion Park, Fishing Ponds, Store Front and more! Playground, Amphitheater, Basketball slab, 50 electrical hook-ups, 56 tent spots with room for more. Home with 3 bedroom 1 bath included on 21+ acres with a creek and 3 fishing ponds. Sale includes water rights. Please call for more information. Agent related to seller. Currently the NOI will not support the price. Owners have never marketed the business or paid for advertising. Business continues to grow and be in need in the area by word of mouth. Owners are taking a proactive approach this year to increase NOI, also considering using part of the acreage for Storage Units and/or RV and Boat Storage to increase income to an all-year-round income instead of seasonal.
Campground/RV Park For Sale – Central New England
A beautiful, family-oriented campground located within minutes of many famous and popular tourist attractions. Currently opened for the summer Season, only, it has great Winter Camping potential for skiers and snow-mobilers. Extensively remodeled and updated, this campground has been the dominant campground in its area for 40 years. It offers a mix of sites from open/grassy-to-remote, wooded tent sites: and all, quite popular. There is approx. 30 acres of land with both room and Permits for expansion. The residence has just been updated and offers a 3-bedroom residence with views and additional lower level rooms. The Equipment List is extensive. This high-grossing facility should be of interest for those seeking an attractive, manageable campground on an upward Growth and Gross track with opportunities galore for continued successes!
Additional information will be provided to financially qualified Buyers with verifiable Confidentiality/Non-Disclosure Agreements on record with this office or who register on our web sites and acknowledge the appropriate Confidentiality and real estate forms there; and who wish to be new campground/RV Park Owners by Spring. Financial institutions in this region generally require a Down Payment of 25% (300,000 – 325,000) plus Closing Costs and Working Capital. Don Dunton, Real Estate Broker (ME-NH-VT, NY) Campground Specialist and Exclusive Agent representing the Seller in this transaction. Note: The information contained herein and any future information regarding the property will have been supplied by the Seller and, while believed to be correct, no Broker warranty as to it’s accuracy is made or implied and all information regarding this property is subject to error, omission and Buyer verification during Buyer’s Period of Due Diligence prior to purchase
Don Dunton, Real Estate Broker
Dunton Commercial Properties
Contact: Don Dunton, Campground Broker, ME-NH-VT-NY. (Over 120 Sold)
| RV Park and Campground Memberships For Sale:
This section of RVParkStore.com is growing quickly. Memberships are being listed and sold quickly. With about 175 memberships currently for sale, this continues to be the prime outlet to buy and sell campground memberships.
Best of all, when you are selling your membership, we do not charge you up front to do so. You only pay us if you are successful in finding a buyer from RVParkStore.com.
Find out more about Selling your Campground or RV Park Membership
|RV Park Employment Listings:Are you searching for good quality employees or looking for a position with an RV Park? Then be sure to visit our ever growing employment listing sections.
I have filled my vacant park manager position and would like my listing on rvparkstore.com removed. Thank you for the great service.
All listings in these sections are FREE!
|Here are some links to articles we have found this month.Mohave County, AZ reviewing Health & Sanitation Code for RV Parks and Campgrounds.
(You will find three links to articles on this topic below)
As RVs get more luxurious, owners expect more amenities at resorts
Baby Boomers continue to buy RV’s despite fuel increases
City land to be leased for an RV park at Camp Catalpa in Richmond, KY
|Tell us what you think! We’d love to hear what you think of this issue!
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|Until Next Time,Dave Reynolds
18923 Highway 65
Cedaredge, CO 81413
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