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Four industry trends every campsite should be aware of

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Nathan Mayfield, vice president of ResNexus: Emerging industries, one company at a time, through service, innovation and education.

The number of campers has increased enormously over the years, and recent research by Kampgrounds of America (KOA) shows that there were more than 10 million new camping households in 2020. That means more than two-thirds of U.S. households consider themselves campers, with 46% going camping at least three times by 2020.

The effects of the pandemic have made people more eager to flee their homes for a more natural environment. And with the prevalence of remote work, many people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle and taking “work” in scenic vistas instead of toiling in their home office. As a result, many campers are more likely to increase their camping habits, and motorhome ownership is becoming more and more popular, with motorhome ownership with at least two million since 2005.

This is all great news for campgrounds and RV parks, but what can campgrounds do to prepare for this influx of new businesses, and how can they remain a competitive option for modern campers? Here are four camping industry trends you can use to your advantage.

1. Campers want to connect when they disconnect.

Much of the increase in camping’s popularity is due to the introduction of younger and more diverse campers. The KOA report shows that: 48% of campers in 2020, millennials were of Gen-Z, and 37% of campers were people of color — a huge increase from 2012, when only 12% of campers were people of color.

The market is changing and is becoming more and more universal. New campers mean new expectations. The most classic example is internet connectivity. Remember when hotels tried to charge their guests for Wi-Fi connection, and how long did it take? Not long. Wireless connectivity is now seen as a required amenity, not a chargeable service.

Show studies that 84% of motorhome users want an internet connection while travelling, and 59% said they have worked from their motorhome at least once. This harks back to the digital nomad idea of ​​’workations’ and highlights how essential Wi-Fi is for many campers. Paradoxical as it may sound, campers want connectivity when they disconnect.

To make your campsite a popular destination for all these new campers, you need to make sure they have the access they want. That means Wi-Fi extenders and boosters are routed across your premises. If that’s not an option, make sure your central cabin at least has Wi-Fi access, with shaded seating for those digital nomads. In addition, for truly remote areas, companies like Starlink are starting to offer enterprise-level solutions for remote connectivity.

2. Electric vehicles and power consumption are increasing.

With growing concerns about sustainability, rising gas prices and a strengthening electric market, all signs point to a future for electric vehicles. Almost seven million electric vehicles were sold in 2021 alone. It’s not just road-car Teslas anymore, either. Electric pickup trucks, vans and station wagons are coming onto the market.

This transition from gas-guzzling engines to electric motors means fewer emissions but more power consumption. If you’re used to letting guests plug in for free, you may have to reconsider when a fleet of electric vehicles comes in to charge overnight and you see your next utility bill.

The solution is electricity meters. The only fair way to handle the situation is to charge each person based on the amount of power they use. Install utility meters for any site through a company such as EKM Metering or Wild Energy. If you really want to future-proof your campsite and have the money to spare, you can invest in charging stations for electric vehicles. Besides, there are grants available. For electric vehicle owners, this will really put your site on the map.

3. You can optimize your site reservations.

When the busy season arrives, campsites are reserved very quickly. Before you know it, you are fully booked and no one can make a reservation anymore. But there is more availability hidden in the cracks if only you could reveal it. That’s where site optimization comes in.

Campers, of course, do not reserve campsites for your purposes in the most efficient way. Your reservations are spread across your sitemap on different dates. That means if someone wants to reserve a camping spot for a week for their family vacation, they may find that you don’t have a place for them. But if you shift some of the existing reservations to different, identical campgrounds, you can still free up space for that family campground. It’s all about combing smaller holes to make bigger ones without changing anyone’s site specs or whereabouts.

Several property management companies offer site optimization software that can do this automatically, saving you time and making your busy season even more profitable.

4. Generate more revenue with closing costs.

Some campers don’t want just any site with electrical hookups that fit a 15m motorhome; they want the one by the creek and the bathrooms. Maybe it’s the same site they go to every year. If you offer your guests the option of locking fees, they can lock up a specific campground for an additional fee to ensure they get exactly what they want.

If a reservation is made without a closing fee, you reserve the right to move it to another site with the same specifications and amenities. When they select a spot on the map to reserve, they don’t reserve that particular site unless they pay the locking fee. It allows you to use site optimization to make room for more campers and give your guests more options to customize their stay.

Conclusion

With camping on the rise, there will be many successful campsites in the future. But what’s important is that they generate happy campers, which means listening and staying abreast of new trends and camper expectations. It’s time to prepare today so you don’t have any surprises tomorrow.


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