To operate a successful campground, campground owners and managers need to give what campers want. These campground owner tips will provide insight on how to get Campers and RVers to not only stay at your campground or RV park but to get great reviews for others to follow.
With a recession looming in the near future, campers and RVers are paying more attention to what they’re getting for their money.
With crowd-sourced websites and apps like Campendium, The Dyrt, Campground Reviews, RV Parky, and even some Facebook groups, potential camping guests are seeking information that may entice them to stay at your campground.
Because of those campground reviews and ratings, campground owners are having to work a little harder to attract and stay in business. While some campgrounds are totally missing the mark, others are actually turning potential guests away. What are they doing to keep their campgrounds full?
We’re breaking it down to see what campers are wanting and how campground owners and managers can improve their campground or RV park so they will come!
This blog article contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
Campground Owner Tips: What Campers WANT from Your Park
CAMPGROUND OWNER TIPS: CAMPGROUND or RV PARK ADMINISTRATION
Almost every campground guest will visit your website first before making a reservation. If your campground’s or RV park’s website is lacking, they’re going to question “what else is lacking at your facility?”
So, a professional looking, updated RV park or campground website is a potential guest’s first impression. A campground website should include:
- Current and accurate photos (of campsites, common areas, laundry, bathrooms and showers, etc.)
- Campsite map
- Precise campsite descriptions (Level? Picnic table, fire pit or grill?)
- Current Rates
- Cell/WiFi Signal Strength (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
- Campground Activities (for kids and adults)
- Local Attractions
- Local Weather
- Campground Rules (include dog breed restrictions and allowable pet quantity)
- Cancellation Policy
If you really care about your guests, please provide a separate page of unbiased and important information with addresses and phone numbers. Include local hospitals, urgent care facilities, dentists, Veterinarians, pharmacies, hardware and home improvement stores, delivery and take out restaurants, RV and camping supply stores, etc.
Truth in Advertising
False advertising is another complaint amongst campers. Be forthright with your potential guests. Don’t fib or claim your campground is something it’s not.
One example, if you claim that you’re establishment is an RV Resort, then it better have amenities that replicate that of a ‘resort’ such as having a pool, hot tub, lots of amenities and stellar customer service. If it doesn’t have those, then it’s a campground.
Another example, if your campground or RV park has received significant weather, be honest by contacting your guests who have reservations to let them know that some services or amenities may be lacking.
Case in point, we made a reservation at a campground up near Voyageurs National Park. When we arrived, we couldn’t use half of the amenities because of flooding. Yet, we paid for those amenities.
Another example; if your pool or hot tub is going to be out of commission for more than a few hours to even a day, you owe it to your guests who are arriving to know before they arrive.
Nothing’s worse than a family booking a reservation at a campground with a pool only to find out once getting there that the pool is out of commission. Realize your guests choose to come to your campground because of cool amenities like a pool, hot tub or boat ramp.
Remember, your guest’s experience starts the minute they make a reservation; not after they arrive. So, be truthful and go the extra step to make them look forward to their stay. This will not only get repeat visits but also to get those good reviews so other campers will want to come stay too!
Campground Reservation System
Right off the bat, online campground reservation systems will immediately make or break your campground. If you make it easy for patrons to make a reservation without website speed issues, incomplete information or other issues, they will book the site.
Also, please answer the phone. We’ve read several reviews that state that no one answers the phone or answers their voicemails. While campers understand time is valuable for you, understand and respect your potential guests’ time is also.
Campground Cancellation Policy
As we’ve noticed through our years as full-time RVers, campground cancellations seems to be controversial.
While we all understand campground owners need to make money, realize important events and emergencies do come up; especially for those on the road. Penalizing those who have a mechanical breakdown or medical emergency is one way to earn a crappy campground review. So, work with them or at least offer a voucher for a later date.
And, while you need to make it EASY for guests to make a reservation, you also need to make it simple and financially painless to cancel a reservation too.
Because this is what happens: Why Campsites Sit Empty!
Compensation for Loss of Amenities or Interrupted Service
Compensation could mean the difference between getting a good campground review or poor rating. Inconveniences on behalf of the campground or RV park will make guests unhappy which will reap a poor campground review. Apologies are received as the standard blah blah blah. But, campground owners can win hearts and minds by compensating guests with smooth-overs.
If, for example, you lose electricity (campground’s fault or not) for more than a couple hours, knock a few dollars off their bill. Or, compensate your campers with a gift to show your good graces.
If it’s really hot out, run to the grocery store and pick up ice cream sandwiches and popsicles for the kids. Again, win your guests’ business by winning hearts and minds.
And, if the electric outage extends more than a 6-8 hours, please consider comping your guests with a free day or ample discount for their next stay.
If your campground is subject to a boil water advisory, consider going to the grocery store and picking up a gallon of spring water to leave at each RV with a nice note “sorry for the inconvenience.”
Even these few simple inexpensive gestures show that you truly care about your guests. Spending a few extra dollars WILL reap you better rewards; including a better campground review. Make your guests feel like they’re getting what they paid for and more!
CAMPGROUND OWNER TIPS: CAMPGROUND MANAGEMENT
Campground security has become a thing in past years. Unfortunately, due to the times, campground theft is on the rise. Expensive bicycles, grills, coolers and other camping gear are being stolen right out from under your nose. It will be your campground that will suffer the repercussions through campground reviews and word of mouth because of the lack of security.
So, how can you make your guests to feel safe without worrying of personal harm, vandalism or theft?
Simple! Install in a security gate where only your guests have access using a key code. Or hire staff to check your guests each time they come in or leave your campground. A gate will also protect the campground from vagrants coming in to help themselves to your bathhouses, laundry rooms, pool and other amenities.
Also, consider installing key code locks on your bathhouses, laundry rooms and pool shower rooms. And change those key code combinations often. Because the last thing you want is personal tragedy that can literally shut your campground or RV park down permanently.
Almost every campground issues a sheet of campground rules. However, big percentage of your guests will never read them. The result? Lots of rule violations that drives you and your guests crazy.
One camper’s suggestion is upon check in, have your desk person or gate attendant point out the top 3 rules that are commonly violated: 1) leash your pets ALWAYS, 2) clean up after your pets ALWAYS and 3) do not cut between campsites. Then, have your camping guests sign a checklist showing they acknowledge the campground rules. This will help alleviate ignoring or misunderstanding of the rules.
But it goes further than just posting the rules. Your camp hosts should be roving the campground to ensure your guests are not breaking the rules.
At the same token, campers should feel comfortable reporting infractions and know they are going to be dealt with accordingly. Because if you don’t, bad campers will the ones who will be driving your good guests out. Do you really want that reputation for your campground?
Reliable WiFi Connectivity
WiFi is serious business for your campers. Lack of WiFi or unsustainable ‘free WiFi’ is the #1 complaint of RVers, especially full-time RVers.
It’s like saying you get a free lollipop when you check in but you pull it out of our mouths after 3 licks. In other words, campers would rather you didn’t advertise that you have ‘free WiFi’ when it’s actually nonexistent.
On the other hand, if you provided substantial WiFi, you’d get great reception from your camping guests. Spend the money on a decent WiFi system and repeaters (lots of them if you have a big campground or RV park!).
Because face it, this is the digital age and everyone needs connectivity to check emails, trip plan and research new destinations, work, online school, etc. While we get that this is a high-end expense, it is what it is.
Trust me, if you have great connectivity at your campground or RV park, you’ll get great reviews! Just to give you an example, reviews on Campendium and The Dyrt, RV Parky, and RV LIFE Campground Reviews include connectivity and WiFi capability. Do you really want something like that holding you back from making more money?
Recreation, Events or Activities
Campgrounds and RV parks are supposed to be fun, not just for the littles, but for the adults also.
Do you have an empty space at your campground to set up a pickle ball court, corn hole games and horse shoe pits. Because camping isn’t just about sitting in camp chairs all day drinking beer and roasting hotdogs or marshmallows. Your adult campers want to be active and play too!
Also, planned events, field trips, game nights, horseshoe or corn hole tournaments, and campground activities are a great bonus! Hiring an Activities Director to take the load off the campground manager will make your campground or RV park more professional and fun!
It used to be we could wash our RV at any given campground or RV park. Now, even finding a place to even wash a small RV is like pulling teeth. That said, RV owners do understand that some regions of the country have water usage issues. And the extra cost is an issue for campground owners.
Realize though that many of your campground guests are full-time RVers who live on the road. They need to wash their motorhome or trailer because of weather, wear and elements their RVs are subject to.
And for example, as full-time RVers ourselves, washing our motorhome ourselves provides us time to thoroughly clean and inspect our RV. It’s then when we notice when we need to caulk seams, tighten screws, and even do minor RV maintenance or repairs.
How about charging RVers a $5 washing fee so you don’t have to face higher water bills and so your RV campers can take care of their campers or motorhomes properly.
Trash and Recycling
Everyone knows that weekend are a campground’s busiest time. Your campground is most likely at full capacity which means trash output is going to be monstrous.
Providing enough dumpsters is essential, not only for your campers but your staff as well. A huge turnoff for campers is seeing overflowing dumpsters that wreak of nasty smells and spewing awful liquids.
Perhaps schedule your trash collector to come empty the dumpsters during the weekend to avoid overstuffing.
Also please provide recycling receptacles. Not only does it help our environment but also, your campground looks like great conservation proponents too!
Stationary RV Living vs. Camping
When people go camping, they want to leave the world behind; including their neighborhoods and homes. The last thing they want is to camp in another neighborhood. Campers want to meet other campers, check out their setups, share stories of the road and enjoy their camping experiences.
But they lose that when half to three quarters of your campground is stationary full-timers. Stationary RVers aren’t RVing (verb). And it’s quite obvious which campers are stationary RVers. They have the typical permanent decks, tons of mismatched outdoor furniture, faded yard art and a ton of flower pots with dead plants. Truthfully, it’s not very aesthetic and kills the camping vibe.
The question campground owners need to ask themselves, ‘do you want to operate a trailer park or do you want to manage a campground? Do you want to be a landlord or a campground owner?’
There is a vast difference between the two. Not saying you can’t do both but according to many transient campers we’ve shared many campfires with, stationary RV dwellers should be kept separate from the actual campers.
Further, don’t create a disparity between who should follow rules and who gets away with bending them because they live there. It’s unnerving to be in a campground where there’s two sets of standards and rules.
CAMPGROUND OWNER TIPS: CAMPGROUND FACILITIES
Cleanliness and Visual Appeal
While some of your campers may not care, most don’t want to be parked next to the rat infested dirt bag camper. And because of this, we realize why there’s the 10 year rule at more selective RV parks and RV Resorts.
Not that your camping guests expect the Taj Mahal of RV parks, they do expect a level of cleanliness and visual appeal of your campground. Otherwise, they’d just as rather just go camp alongside the river or mountain.
So, keep after your landscaping and mowing. Repaint those signs, posts, fences and buildings. Have your camp host pick up trash on their rounds. In other words, make your campground look inviting.
Campground bathrooms and showers are a huge concern amongst most campers. A big turn off, especially for your female guests, is the lack of expected privacy in the bathhouse or showers.
Spend a little money and build lockable shower stalls. Because really, curtains don’t do it. Ever since that case of the woman who took photos with her cellphone in the gym locker room, people are on edge about who has access to them when they are most vulnerable.
Besides, shower curtains suck. Each time someone opens the door to the bathhouse, the shower curtain flies every which way leaving your guests angry.
Also, please update the lighting in your bathrooms and shower stalls. Those silly little 40 watt yellow bug lights are fine for outside the door. But inside, we all need light to see what we’re doing.
And lastly, please consider having your cleaning staff clean them after daily check out and before check in times. We’ve noticed so many campground cleaning crews with cleaning the bathrooms in the mornings when your guests are trying to shower and get ready for the day.
Having an accessible campground laundry is HUGE! Once your campers arrive, they don’t want to be searching far and wide for a laundromat. They also don’t want to be toting all their laundry all the way from the other end of the park. So a few parking spots near the campground laundry room is important.
But please post a couple signs. One being that no clothes should be unattended. No one should have to wait on others to wash and dry their clothes.
Also, post a sign ‘no pet beds allowed’. Nobody likes their laundry smelling like wet dog or hair sticking to their linens, fleece sweatshirts or clothes.
It’s a given that probably 75% of your campers have pets camping with them. And it’s also a given most of them are dogs. Which means, those dogs are looking for a good time too!
So, providing a safe, fenced in dog park will earn your campground accolades from the fur campers. And please, provide two sectioned off dog parks; one for the little dogs and one for the big dogs to romp, run and play without worrying about getting trampled or picked on by the other dogs.
I’m actually surprised at how many campgrounds lack a play area for families. Is it because campground owners are trying to dodge the liability bullet?
Considering that families are what make up the largest percentage of campers, campground owners should seriously take note. Camping is about being outside which includes providing means for kids to play and interact with other campers their age.
While liability insurance may be pricy, please put in a safe playground, a cool sand box with toys, ball courts and even a safe place where they can ride their bikes or scooters or draw pictures with chalk until their hearts’ are content. By providing for children, you’ll win hearts and minds of their parents. And they’ll come to your campground if you provide for the littles.
As in that baseball movie quote goes, “build it, they will come”. It relates to all business prospects; campgrounds and RV parks included.
Office Space and/or Adult Lounge
Today, people are more mobile than ever. Jobs are now remote and children can be educated remotely as well. You would score hug points and even get return campers if you provided a quiet office space.
A couple spacious desks, a working printer (of course we expect to pay for paper and ink!) and direct internet connections would be a total game changer for many. In fact, as remote workers and trip planning, we’d use such an important amenity.
Just the same as offering quiet office space, while not a requirement per se, it would be nice if RV parks and campgrounds offer a quiet and comfortable lounge area where your adult guests can go read, take a breather from the kids, make a quiet phone call, etc., but not leave the park.
It’s a given, your guests will forget to pack something important. Whether it’s marshmallows for those S’mores or you realized your peanut butter is darn near empty, having a well stocked camp store is worth its’ weight in gold.
But please, don’t price gouge!! Seriously, don’t charge $6 for a box of graham crackers you picked up at the dollar store for $2.
Also, part of the fun of camping with the kids is they love to go buy something at the camp store. Ice cream sandwiches, pushup pops, soda, candy and chips are a big hit! You may also consider getting affordable swag souvenirs for your families to take home as a memorable item (stickers, mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, etc.)
Some popular food items to stock in your camp store (but not limited to):
- Graham Crackers
- Hershey Bars
- Peanut Butter
- Tuna Packets
- NonStick Cooking Spray
- Ice Cream Desserts
- Chips Snack Bags
- Candy and Candy Bars
- Soda & Water
Other suggested items for your camp store (but not limited to)
- Charcoal (Matchlight)
- Aluminum Foil
- Paper Towels
- Toilet Paper (Septic Safe!)
- Travel Size Toiletries
- Plastic Zipper Bags
- Pudgie Pie Maker
- Marshmallow Roasting Sticks
- Pool Inflatables
- Camping Supplies
- Bug Spray
When we travelled around in our big rig fifth wheel, we’d cringe when we’d pull into an RV park or campground and find the roads barely wide enough for our RV.
Please make it easy for RVers to navigate your campground or RV park. Avoid placing posts and fences, trash cans or landscaping on the corners of each campsite. Trying to maneuver a big motorhome or trailer around obstacles not only is stressful but presents potential for damage to both, campground property and their RVs.
CAMPGROUND OWNER TIPS: CAMPSITES
Campsite Location and Size
A lot of campers and RVers would rather be able to choose their campsite rather than be assigned one. And here’s why it’s important to listen to your guests and pay attention to their needs.
First, assigning all your big rig sites to the outer edges of your campground may take away great views or quiet from your guests in smaller RVs and vans.
As well, not all pull-throughs should be reserved for or assigned just for big rigs. Some smaller RVs may need a pull through if they’re towing a trailer or they want a little more space for their kids to play or ride their tricycle where it’s safer than the road.
Tent campers and vans will still want to have a water source as well as a place to plug in their fan to keep cool or operate their CPAP device. They also want to be closer to the bathhouse or bathrooms for obvious reasons.
Smaller RVers and tent campers also prefer to be closer to the laundry because they’re constrained by storage space. They don’t have room to store big clothes baskets or laundry carts. Nor, should you expect them uproot their campsite setup just to go do laundry way across the park.
And lastly, some RVers prefer to be camped under trees while others prefer bright sunshine. Those with pets may want to have a campsite with trees for shade so they too, can enjoy being outside.
In other words, when making a reservation or when checking in, ask them what kind of campsite they’re looking for.
It seems lately that campers are having to clean up their site even before they put their slides out. When your guests arrive at their campsite they expect the site to be ready; just like a hotel room. There should be no trash lying about. Picnic tables , standing grills and fire pits must be clean.
Perhaps at check in, issue a small bag with a note attached ‘Leave no trace”. This provides your guests reason for leaving it better than they found it. Plus, it helps your camp hosts concentrate on other more constructive and pleasant duties.
Learn why WE (and others) won’t Camp Host again! Campground Lessons Learned!
Landscaping & Pest Control
Know that a big rig RV is about 13′ 6″ tall. Please keep after your low tree limbs regularly! As well, pay attention to the dead branches and trees. One good wind storm will cause them to break and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the RV. Not to mention, falling limbs and trees can injure or kill anyone in their path.
And while having beautiful green common spaces around and in between sites is nice, proper lawnscaping isn’t just for aesthetics. Allowing your lawns and grass to grow too high provides breeding ground for insects such as ant hills, ticks, mosquitos and even wasps.
But also, especially in areas prone to rattlesnakes and venomous spiders and scorpions, it’s dangerous for even your employees. So please keep after your landscaping, lawnscaping, tree trimming and weed control.
Keeping RVs level is a huge issue no matter the size. Having level campsites is important because refrigerators malfunction and slide outs may not operate correctly if there’s a large grade.
Furthermore, for small RV owners, it’s not conducive to store a whole bunch of leveling blocks because they simply don’t have the room. So, sticking them in that tiny un-level spot is going to make them not want to stay.
And if you’re planning on building a campground or have an existing one, realize that for motorhomes only their front wheels should be lifted off the ground. So, if you’re orienting RVs, please take this as advisement in your campsite planning.
Campground utilities are another big issue. RVers and campers expect clean water with ample water pressure without blowing out their RV’s water systems. Also, you may want to check your water spigots regularly to ensure the threads aren’t damaged.
And sewer locations and connections should be easy to access. And anything that isn’t more gross than a sewer hole full of…yep, you guessed it.
Clean electricity is of the utmost importance. Anything RVers can’t stand is having their electricity constantly interrupted due to inefficient campground electricity. So, check your campsite power pedestal fuses regularly; replacing them as needed.
Don’t wait until a camper gets all set up only to find out their campsite utilities aren’t working and your maintenance crew left for the day. This too, will get you a poor campground review. Perhaps task a staff member to ensure everything is working properly at each campsite before new guests check-in.
RV PRO TIP: Every RV owner should carry a water pressure regulator and a good quality surge protector. Check out these articles:
While most RVers have their own campsite setups that include chairs and tables, we do like it when there’s a picnic table and fire pit on each site. But please make sure your picnic tables haven’t lived out their life. Broken or split picnic tables are a health hazard.
Also, if you really want to score points, drill holes in the center of your picnic tables to accommodate beach or patio umbrellas to shade them.
Want to score more points, especially for tent campers, small RVs and vans? Provide a permanent grill on each campsite. That leaves tent campers, small RVs and vans one less thing to store and painstakingly dig out of their vehicle or camper. But when you do, please don’t forget to stock charcoal in your camp store (mentioned earlier)!
Final thoughts on these campground owner tips
RV Park and Campground Owners, THIS is the sign you want to see at your campground! While this list of campground owner tips seems long, it’s a great starting point or ways to improve your campground or RV park to bring in more revenue. Though it may cost a little more, it will be worth it. Your camping guests are worth it.
“If you build it, they will come” isn’t just about baseball. It’s also about your business as campground owners and managers. If you provide your campers with great experiences, those good campground reviews will come naturally. And remember, in the hospitality business, their hard-earned money will become yours. But only if you treat your campers like proper guests. Make them feel like they made the right choice to come to your campground or RV park.
Wrapping this up, campers and RVers want affordability, great amenities and a safe place to create long-lasting memories. Give them, not just one good reason, but several to come stay at your campground or RV park/resort. Because there are plenty others out there that are begging for their business as well.
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