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By Michael Moore
Certified Tourism Executive
I like to lead off any presentation that involves marketing with the question, “Do you know your No. 1 source of business?” The responses are similar no matter where I go – generally, the internet, Good Sam, or a billboard on the highway.
However, for established businesses, the top source is, and always will be, repeat and referrals.
No matter what business you are in from campgrounds to cell phones, the goal is to win your customer over so that they keep coming back, and tell their family and friends.
How do you go about that? There are a few things you can do whether you’re big or small, or working in the east or west. The first is to remember that you’re in the hospitality industry.
I was at a convention in Texas a few years ago when an industry journalist, who made hundreds of calls to campgrounds a year, was very honest and told attendees that 90 percent of them have people answering the phone that should NOT be answering the phone.
Remember that first impression a potential customer will have of your campground is often that person answering the phone.
This positive attitude continues when a guest steps foot in your park. Not only should the front desk be prepared to accommodate your guests as much as possible but this trickles down to your maintenance workers and work campers, too.
Not that everyone will have the biggest smile on their face all the time but at the very least, they should be willing to be helpful.
This hospitality should also extend to after a guest’s stay is completed. Whether its emailing to thank them for their stay and surveying what you can do to improve or leaving them with a small token of their stay – just because they’re not at the park doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t hear from you.
This may sound like you don’t need any outbound marketing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Catering to your current customer while trying to obtain new ones are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, I bet a lot of campgrounds don’t spend what the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends, which is 7 to 8 percent of revenue on marketing for businesses with less than $5 million in revenue per year.
This percentage also assumes you have margins in the range of 10 to 12 after you’ve covered your other expenses, including marketing.
Marketing should include things like your website, digital ad campaigns, print advertisements and much more. And to those who say “I don’t need to advertise because I’m full,” would you really not like to charge more for your sites? Or expand your park to accommodate even more guests? We’ll discuss yield management next time.
Michael Moore has been in the campground industry for more than 15 years and is the general manager of Texas Advertising, a marketing company that specializes in the RV park and campground industry. Subsidiaries include TXAD Internet and AGS Publishing, which has been around since 1986. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.