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By Michael Moore
A site map or guest guide, complete with local business information, can be a very valuable marketing tool for your campground. Whether it’s bringing the community into your park or referring your customers to all of the wonderful services your town has to offer, there are countless opportunities and pitfalls.
I’ve been in the industry for 16 years (AGS has been around for 33) and I can tell you not everyone has the best experience with their site map vendor. Some do the marketing and collect the money, but never delivered a site map – yikes!
Some show up, sell ads and then take forever to deliver a product that isn’t correct. Please don’t let such an experience sour you on the incredible benefits of a professionally done guest guide or site map.
For those not familiar, most site map companies will ask for a complimentary site for no more than two weeks in order to obtain enough local supporters to cover the cost of producing a publication. This is the industry standard and is necessary in order to give your park every opportunity to receive a top-notch publication for free.
Yet, some site map representatives fail to do everything they can to get supporters for your park, giving the rest of us a bad name.
The problem is some reps hire on with companies to “experience the lifestyle,” and campground owners may feel like they’re being used as “just a place to stay.”
You may have fallen victim to this – a rep spends their time at the pool; or stays only a few days as a stopover and claims the marketing is ‘too hard’ as they move on to their actual destination. I’ve even heard of reps that stayed at certain parks for weeks or months on end – and wanted it for free – all in the name of the site map.
I’m here to tell you, if you choose wisely, this should not be the case. Abuse is not right and shouldn’t be tolerated.
We tell our own reps that they are there to do a job. They will literally visit 100-150 businesses on average as an ambassador for the park looking to get as much support for a campground’s guest guide as possible. If they are just thinking about free camping, they need to find another line of work.
Our reps are also there to work with the campground on giving an RVer the best possible experience by including things to see and do, in addition to referring them to local businesses and services that their customers need.
By accomplishing this together, we enhance the guest experience, provide a superior product and connect the park with the community. A win-win-win!
You may scoff at the notion that the nirvana I describe is possible. Well, it is possible; not in a few days, but a two-week stay and a 60-day turnaround for design, proofing and printing is easy breezy.
I have many examples of campgrounds, with various owners and brands, that were so turned off by a past experience, they wanted nothing to do with a site map again.
But, by providing them with references and what a productive site map experience should be, we’ve developed an amazing relationship — one that grows the guide and the park reputation year after year in the community and with their customers.