Why your RV Park and Campground must take online reservations

Everything is online and everyone is online these days. That really is where this article should stop but if we still have not convinced you, here are a few reasons why your RV Park or campground needs an online reservation system. 

  1. There were 148.3 million travel bookings made online in 2016 in the United States. Of course, these were for hotels BUT why would you not think your reservations would go up if your RV Park or campground had an online booking system? It is time RV Parks and campgrounds tapped into the online reservation industry. 
  2. Over 40% of people in 2016 booked their stay 1-5 days in advance and 24% booked stays the day of. If your campground has a website and pops up a coupon code when they enter for 10% if they book now, they WILL book. Most people who are looking to book the day of don’t have time to call around. They are looking for convenience. So why not let your campground or RV park can give that to them while making money? 
  3. 30% of millennial worry that costs will rise if they wait too long to book their trips and yet 19% of consumers as a whole book their travel a week or less before their departure. This tells us that you can offer the same rate for those who book in advance but, better yet, you can charge more for those who wait. Bonfire, allows you to increase rates for dependent on time before booking. Although we would not suggest charging a heavy increase for those who trying to book day of, if your RV park or campground online reservation system charges a few bucks more automatically, that price increase could cover small costs such as wifi (which makes you more money). 
  4. 78% of people plan in advance for traveling during big days such as Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and July Fourth. If you accept online reservations and have a great website featuring the amenities you will provide such as free wifi, fireworks, and rentals, reservations will come pouring in. even if you miss out on a few bucks here and there, a full park means more money in your pocket.
  5. Even if you have never logged into Yelp, Facebook or Trip Advisor, there is a 95% your RV Park or campground is already on there. Having a website is crucial for these sites. You can link to your park’s website directly on these sites. A side note, you should also claim these pages in order to respond to not only your praises but also your negative reviews. People who are searching for your park will see these and not responding to the reviews reflects negatively on your park. 

RV park and campground online reservation systems are a must for this day in age. Luckily, sites like Bonfire makes it easy. People are used to having everything at their fingertips. They will pick the park easiest for them book. 

5 RV Park & Campground Management Tips

Campground management is no walk in the park. Between checking in and out campers, to keeping up the grounds, there is little time to do general tasks such as keeping up with the books. Below are some of the best tips and hacks we have tried or read about to save you time and make your life easier. 

  1. Want to keep out noisy campers or those just looking to throw parties? Plaster FAMILY campground around everywhere. This always helps keep out people who are looking to throw big parties. If that isn’t working then institute a sound deposit that is 100% refundable if noise is kept to a certain level or there are no complaints. 
  2. When setting up wifi, ask your provider to restrict some sites such as streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and HBOgo. This will stop people from eating up all your bandwidth but still allow them to check social media profiles. 
  3. Make sure your campground or RV Park has a website you can take reservations on like this one. Your reservations will go up due to ease. Take advantage of some of the features campground and RV Park reservation management systems have such as pricing. Try adding a dollar or two to see if people are still willing to pay it. We are not saying to price gauge people, but if your prices have been the same for the past 5 years, it might be time for an increase. Adding in presale amenity packages such as kayak and fishing pole rentals is also a great way to make extra money. You can do this easily with sites like Bonfire which specializes in campground and RV park management software. 
  4. Don’t forget about the extra money that can be made with things like vending machines and make sure it is full of things kids love. They will definitely be the ones pulling the strings. If you position it by the pool, they will go flying off the racks.
  5. Give out next visit coupons as campers leave or enter. This will get them back to your park or they could hand them out to friends. 
  6. Make sure and make one to two new improvements each year. That way when repeat customers come back to your RV Park or campground and say “what’s new this year?”, you can delight them with something. 
  7. Use Facebook advertising to promote your campground. It is easy. All you need are a few great pictures, $20 and some creative wording. After logging into Facebook, click run an ad (you must have a Facebook page for your park). Click on “Clicks to website”. Then choose your state and ages 25-65. Type in camping and RVing in the interests column. Select your date range and how much you will spend. We recommend $20 over 1 week. Click next and add your pictures as well as wording. You will send them to your website URL where they can make a reservation. “It is too beautiful to sleep indoors. Get out of the city and into nature with us today", is an example of text. 
  8. Use Bonfire Software to make your life easier. From allowing customers to easily book online to keeping your books in order, Bonfire is a no-brainer. You can also access your notes, reservations, and receipts from any device. This makes it easy to go on with your day to day life while also managing your park. 

We hope these tips help you manage your RV Park and Campground easier. If you have any tips, we would love to hear them! 

4 Ways to Add Value to Your RV Park or Campground

Internet

For some people being able to connect to the internet at all times is an absolute necessity, even when camping. Many campsites are located in areas where there is little or no cell phone service so having Wi-Fi is a huge factor when choosing a campsite, if not the only factor. Being able to share experiences quickly also means more people talking about your campground and reserving sites.

Space

Whether you're sleeping under the stars or in your air conditioned fifth wheel, nothing spoils a great day of camping like being able to hear your neighbor snore all night. If it's not possible to space your campsites further from one another, planting trees between spaces is another way to create a noise barrier and sense of privacy for campers. The more alluring the spots are, the more campers are willing to pay.

Amenities for pets

It's no secret that pet owners are willing to do anything for their pets - including choosing a campground that caters to them. Providing a dog run for your campers best friends will automatically make your campground a better choice than one without. If there are horse trails, competitions or rodeos near your campground having watering troughs and corrals for horses can open up your campground to business from a whole new type of camper.

Simple online booking

In today's world, everything is convenient. Planning a camping trip should be just the same. With Bonfire, reserving a campsite is quick, easy and efficient. When reservations are just a click away, campers will want to make them again and again.

 

How To Deal With Park Speeders

For most, speed limits are just suggestions but when you manage a family campground making sure drivers adhere to speed limits,  can mean life or death. Below are a few ways you can ensure all motor vehicles slow down. 

1. Be strict. Make sure campers know there is a strict 2 strikes you're out rule. Speeding can be added to the list of violations like noise, alcohol-fueled shenanigans, and fighting. Although no one likes to be THAT owner who kicks people out, safety should always be a number one priority. 

2. Use cones. By placing cones in different patterns around your park, you force people to slow down to navigate around and between them. At night, place cheap LED lights ($1 at Walmart) inside the cones so they light up. 

3. Use speed bumps... and the closer together, the less chance they have to speed back up. RVers won't be too happy about them, but they need to go even slower than normal vehicles. On the downside, speed bumps can get expensive and while being installed, that section of pavement will not be able to be used. 

4. Signage. This seems obvious but we are not talking about MPH signs. "Speed and I will shoot out your tires" and "Speed limits are radar-enforced",  will get people's attention and by taking things to the next level, you will have a better chance of getting your point across. If you do use MPH signs, put them 5 mph lower than you want people to drive. 

5. What should you do when all else fails? Use a fake cop car. Yes, this is a little extreme but it seems to work for Monte Lake Resort. Click here to read more. 

Speeders are a nuisance for every park but by using some of these methods, we hope your park can keep speeding to a minimum. 

 

Customer Spotlight: John Pratte, Manager of Swan Island Wildlife Management Area

This month our customer spotlight is on John Pratte, a wildlife biologist who manages one of the most unique campgrounds in the country. The Swan Island Wildlife Management Area campground in Maine is a hidden gem that won’t remain hidden for long. John uses his extensive knowledge of the area and dedication to customer experience to make sure of it.

Where is your business located?

“We’re located on Swan Island which is on the Kennebec river near Richmond, Maine. It’s actually Perkins Township. So the island is its own town and it’s at the North end of Merrymeeting Bay.”

How long has your business been open?

“The camping and hiking have been open since the 60’s but we started acquiring the property back in the 40’s.”

How long have you been a part of the business yourself?

“I’ve been involved in it for about 9 years now but I’ve been managing it and working out here full time for 4 years.”

What led you to become a part of the Campground Industry?

“I started my career in Forestry and Wildlife and the road I went down professionally just led me here. It was a good fit for me - I enjoy being out in the field. What I like about it is that this is not an ordinary campground. This is a lot like a management area that happens to have hiking, camping, and educational programs. So as a wildlife biologist I get to do a lot of the work that we do on our wildlife management areas and then share that with our visitors.

We let them see some of the work that we do and at the same time help them have an enjoyable stay out here. For me, it’s just a great mix - wildlife, or if you want to do some forestry, rent some equipment and maybe spend as much time fixing it and all the public interaction we get to have.”

Can you describe or outline your typical day?

“Well, out here, we don’t have a typical day. It’s myself and two summer staff that take care of all the operations out here. We’re a little unique from your typical campground because we’re on an island so we use a ferry to bring our visitors back and forth from the island.

Typically the ferry runs four times a day, with reservations, and it’s a couple minute ferry ride across the river. Then we load everybody up onto a tour truck and drive the mile and a half to the campground. From there, they can explore the island.

There’s one person dedicated to getting people on and off the island for the day. In between that, the campground is quite large, so there’s probably about eight hours of mowing a week. We squeeze that in and maintenance of our equipment, some work on the staff house, some of the wildlife stuff we do out here, and we have a bunch of events we do through the season so there’s a lot of prep work to make all those happen.

This week I’m going to be prepping for some manual road work for the season. We kind of have stages as the season progresses for the things we focus on. Early on we did a prescribed burn out here and some herbicide spraying for invasive plants and shrubs that we have on the island. We mow some of our fields the first week of September, so usually, a week or two prior to that is when I do some more spraying for the invasives in the field to get those under control before mowing. So there’s a just a variety of things that we focus on and work on through the season.”

What are the main challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

“For us, it’s been promoting, advertising and making people aware that our facility exists and that it’s a place for them to come camp and hike. We also want to make more teachers and schools aware of our educational programs that we have available. For the last four years, my focus has been on improving the infrastructure and amenities that we have to make our visitors stays more enjoyable. Now I’m going to be shifting into the advertising and promotion to try to build up our visitor rates.

That’s one of the reasons that I put in the online reservation system and ended up selecting Bonfire - to capture those potential visitors, the folks that are looking online for something to do on the weekend. And if they can click and make their reservation right then, I think there's a percentage of the population that’s more likely to make that reservation. I think we were losing customers before because they didn’t make the call or send an email and found another website in between that had the online reservation.

We have seen our visitor rates increase this year and part of it is a result of having the online reservations with Bonfire.”

 

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

“I think it’s the positive feedback we get. We put a lot of work, effort and thought into the things that we do out here to appeal to the public and the wildlife work we do. And when we hear back from the public how much they appreciate those things we do, or our repeat visitors that notice those improvements, that makes it worthwhile. We’ve had some visitors that just discovered it by chance and made their reservation to come out here and now they’ve been back several times the same season. It’s great and shows that we’re doing something right.”

If you could offer any last piece advice to others in the industry, what would that be?

“Focus on your customer service and providing a facility that’s going to be comfortable and enjoyable for them and everything else will fall into place for you.”

For John, managing this one-of-a kind campground is a perfect fit. From making it easy to make a reservation with Bonfire, to keeping the fields mowed, John provides an outstanding experience for every visitor. If you’re in Maine, canoe, kayak or ferry your way to Swan Island to see for yourself!