Campgrounds are the epicenter connecting RVers and outdoor enthusiasts with the outdoors in a fun and easy way. We take a look at how one campground, Campland On the Bay, has built its business by creating better guest experiences.
At Campland On the Bay, good guest experiences are an investment, passed down from one generation of campers to the next. That’s why you see guests wearing “Campland Raised” t-shirts from the gift shop, and why those who visited Campland as kids now bring their children to this same spot. When campgrounds create better guest experiences, guests are more likely to return.
Here we explore how Campland On the Bay fosters better guest experiences to ensure that every trip is memorable, that guests leave better off than they came, and that every point of contact is meaningful for their guests.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one of this three-part series.
The Camping Revolution
The pandemic spurred many families to go camping for the first time — 7 million families, for context. It also brought out many more campers who had stopped camping prior to the pandemic. For campgrounds, this meant record-breaking numbers at a time when the rest of the hospitality industry struggled.
Camping demand increased, and campgrounds were presented with a unique opportunity to grow their customer base. The question was (and remains): Will it last?
The leadership at Campland On the Bay believes this “camping revolution” will ultimately prove to be beneficial to campgrounds and the RV-camping community.
“It has really reoriented travelers and people looking for recreational experiences to the importance of outdoor recreation… [and] RV camping in particular as a family-friendly way to reconnect with the outdoors, but to also have some agency and control over the experiences [they’re] having,” said Jacob Gelfand, COO of Terra Vista Management.
As Campland On the Bay saw record-breaking numbers over the last few years, they focused on providing excellent customer service, so those first-time campers would be more likely to return.
With so many different guests revolving through a campground day to day, week to week, how do you provide good guest experiences, and how do you measure your success? For Campland, online reviews are a gauge of how well they are meeting customer service standards.
At Campland, they monitor online customer reviews in real-time, which, in some cases, has given them a chance to address issues while the visitors are still at the campsite. And it’s not just about putting out fires. These follow-ups help Campland build trust with guests and create face-to-face opportunities to improve situations and show campers they are listening.
“Reviews are crucial… No matter what their issue, if you can take care of it before they leave, then there’s a very good chance they’re either going to modify that review to reflect how good the park did with its response or they’ll take down the review completely and leave a five-star review because of the customer service they received while here,” said “Ranger Dave,” the Guest Relations Manager at Campland.
Reviews can be red flags to help owners fix immediate issues, and they also provide a more global reading of what guests think about your campground in general.
Not only are reviews helpful for campground owners, but they also help campers determine where they should stay. Ninety-two percent of consumers now read at least one review before making a decision, and over 70 percent of customers are more likely to trust a campground based on a positive review.
Campgrounds should make it easy for campers to provide reviews, whether by offering a QR code to their review section, encouraging YELP reviews or similar, or even providing a physical comment box. That feedback can be invaluable and it communicates to campers that the campground wants to improve on their experience.
Creating Customer Experiences
If addressing reviews and improving customer service are the responsive actions campgrounds take to grow their customer base, then creating incredible customer experiences is an active action they can take, preparing long before a camper enters their gates.
At Campland, they work to create memorable customer experiences that visitors will want to recreate and share with family and friends.
“At every point of contact along the way, we’re thinking about how we can make this experience as meaningful as possible for our guests,” says Gelfand.
Guests at Campland are greeted personally and asked about what they might want to do during their stay. Staff provide information of all the possible attractions and activities to try to meet those customers’ expectations on an individual basis. From hosting organized events like dodgeball tournaments, live bands, and concerts to establishing permanent social hang-outs like cantinas and an ice cream parlor, Campland strives to make the guests’ visit as action-packed as possible.
But not every campground needs to offer the same scale of experience as Campland to be successful.
“You can provide family-friendly activities and entertainment on any scale. You don’t have to have a waterfront location, you don’t have to have a huge footprint to provide activities and experiences that will keep guests engaged and coming back and also set you apart from the competition,” says Gelfand.
For campground owners: What activities and entertainment happen at your campground?
For campers: What experiences have you had at campgrounds that have brought you back?
Let us know in the comment section below!