Campground Cache: Who is your most important customer and why – Part 1

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Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series about campground loyalty programs. This segment focuses on the need for loyalty programs to entice existing customers to spend more.

By Brian Schaeffer

I have had hundreds of salespeople in the field over the last 20-plus years. The question they always get around to asking advertisers is, “Where does your business come from?” The answers they get are as varied as the Texas weather!

Anytime someone says, “Oh all my business comes from ______  (you fill in the blank with internet, state guide, Good Sam, billboards, etc.), I know they aren’t paying attention to their business. Nobody gets 100% of their business from a single source.

The fact is, that unless you opened your business yesterday, your No. 1 source of business is repeat customers and, hopefully, their referrals.

Think about it, and be honest, if you didn’t have your repeat customers you’d have to close the doors – SOON!  So why do our marketing schemes pay so little attention to these critical friends of our collective businesses.

The first misconception is that you can only grow your business with “new customers.”

I will grant you that new customers are important, but here’s a news flash. If you don’t take care of those existing customers, you will be looking for a helluva lot more new customers than you bargained for.

Moreover, it is definitely possibly and encouraged to experience business growth through your existing customer base. So, how do you go about that, and no, this isn’t going to be a discussion about customer service. I’m going to assume you don’t mistreat your customers!

First of all, existing customers are just that – EXISTING!

You don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get them. They are yours baby. Help them enjoy doing more business with you.

You already treat them like royalty, now shower them with loyalty programs. Why do you think the very best marketers give you coupons upon check out, either at brick and mortar stores or online. They are encouraging your future spending.

Everybody walking out of a campground or dealership or completing an online transaction should receive a discount for future activity. If you don’t have some type of loyalty program, that means budget for one. You are missing the boat.

Here’s another interesting tidbit. An online survey of customers showed that they spend 40% more on their fifth purchase than their first purchase and 80% more on the tenth purchase than their first purchase. Does this sound familiar?

Bob and Beth booked a reservation at your park for a night on their way to wherever. You treated them right and on the return trip they booked a weekend. Due to you being amazing — and incentives — they called and stayed a week with you several months later.

Then the following year they decided you were a great destination for the entire season. Hopefully you rewarded them for this behavior and in fact drove the train with your marketing budget for repeat and referral business.

In Part 2 of Who’s Your Most Important Customer, And Why,  we’ll explore what a loyalty budget should look like and specific items to include to blow up your EXISTING business and just maybe save you some money on that “new customer” budget.

Brian Schaeffer

Brian Schaeffer

Brian Schaeffer is the executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). He is also the president of Texas Advertising and AGS, a company based in Crowley, Texas, that produces guest guides for campgrounds throughout North America. He can be reached at

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  • Drew says:

    Great article Brian, but the culture today tends to run counter to rewards for customer retention and loyalty. I hope some business owners read and act on your piece here.

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