RVing Millennials - RV Park Owner

RVing Millennials: Are you missing out on an entire generation?

Tech-savvy, environmentally conscious, and impatient — millennials are currently the largest population in the U.S., so it’s only logical that businesses devote marketing efforts to target them. Any businesses doing otherwise, especially those in the travel industry, should take into consideration that the “selfie generation” will have the most purchasing power for the next couple of decades. If you are not accommodating RVing millennials, it’s a decision that could tank your bottomline.

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A 2016 camping report by KOA stated that 18 to 34-year-olds represented 44% of campers the previous year and that number is expected to skyrocket. Toby O’Rourke, chief franchise operations officer at KOA, stated that millennials are a key demographic that the industry should focus on.

So, is your campground equipped to attract the newest population of campers? See if your business has what it takes to win over RVing millennials. If not, you’re missing out on the largest and wealthiest population out there.

Is your campground wired?

rving mellenns cell phone

“Wired” meant something totally different in the 80s when Gen-Xers were first hitting the trails. And we’re all pretty grateful those days are over. Today, if you’re not wired, you’re sending a signal to a huge percentage of customers know that your business model is also stuck in the 1980s.

Millennials are the savviest social media generation and they rely on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms for communicating with peers and loved ones, navigation, and keeping up with current events. To appeal to this generation, there’s a different type of signal campgrounds need to send to  guests. Many Millennials simply won’t choose an RV park that doesn’t have a reliable WiFi signal. And if you have one that goes down, which is to be expected from time to time, someone on-site must know how to get it back online.

Of course campers want access to other social media platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram, to stay in touch with their network, but there are valid reasons for providing WiFi to your customers that are beneficial to you, too.

  1. A poor WiFi signal is the number-one reason customers write a bad review about RV parks.
  2. When guests hashtag your campground, it’s free advertising for you.
How to fix it

It’s understandable if you tried getting a WiFi connection in the past but gave up when the price vs. signal just wasn’t worth the cost. Today, there are several companies that specialize in wiring rural locations and those in valleys and/or surrounded by trees. Check out Summit Technologies, Sigma WiFi, and Simply WiFi.

Do you run a 5-star destination?

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A majority of consumers scrutinize online reviews before trying a new business. How do you know if your online reviews are good? Simply search the name of your campground and “reviews.” The top results should be from RV Park Reviews, Yelp, or Trip Advisor. If you’re consistently ranking between two or three stars, if you’re going through a slow patch, it could explain why your reservations have been low.

How to fix it

Whether you deserved a bad review for having rocks on your trails or burrs in your dog runs, the worst way to respond negative feedback is to react … negatively. Instead, always apologize to an unhappy guest. Here is just one suggestion, “I apologize you had a bad experience when you were here. I’ve read your review and promise to make your next stay much better.” Also, promptly fix the problems that customers complain about. Finally, you can offset bad reviews by asking your satisfied customers to write about their positive experiences. Ask your fans on social media to review your park page (download the RoverPass “Review my Park” graphic). Also, there’s no shame in sending a “thank you” email to guests after they’ve left and provide a link to your online review pages.

Can RVers see your website now?

rving millenns responsive design

Millennials notoriously have their noses pointed straight at their mobile device no matter where they are. They’re a generation that relies more on their smartphones and tablets for browsing the ‘net and shopping. If your website has poor visibility on a screen smaller than a standard laptop computer, navigating through your site’s different pages will be frustratingly tedious. Without a mobile-friendly website, you will absolutely lose customers.

How to fix it

If you’re working with a website developer, be sure you use the term “responsive web design.” It means that no matter what device a person is using, your website is 100-percent perfectly functional.

Do your guests “like” you?

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Before making their first reservation, Millennials will check out your Facebook and Instagram pages to to scroll through pictures of your campsite and read what people have to say. They’ll “tag” your business in photos to share with family and friends and will certainly leave a comment about your park if there is something they like — and will definitely comment if there is something they do not like. User-generated online marketing is extraordinarily beneficial to your business and it doesn’t cost you a single cent. When RVing Millennials read positive comments from past campers and see fun photos or stunning vistas from your location, they’re more likely to book a reservation right now.

How to fix it

If you don’t have Facebook or Instagram — sign up right this minute! If you don’t even have a Facebook page, the least popular of all the social media platforms for 18 to 34-year-olds, it sends a message that you’re out of touch. Be sure to post at least once a day, whether it’s a photo of your skyline or just letting folks know that the weather is perfect for an upcoming RV weekend. Having a social media account gives people a chance to get to know you and pre-plan their trip.

Are guests encouraged to socialize?

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So you’ve just read that the only way to attract RVing Millennials is to offer WiFi and “friend” guests on Facebook. Ultimately, the reason these young people are showing up on your doorstep is still for the hiking, biking, fishing, and late-night campfires. But these are also young people we’re talking about and what they care about most after a full day of adventure is socializing. You can’t go wrong by having an activity calendar. Anything from water polo matches, mini mud runs, bike races, or a very easy-to-organize campfire social with all the fixins’: burgers, beers, s’mores, and anything else you think will attract guests.

How to fix it

Just look at what other campgrounds advertise on their calendars and provide the same activities. Of course, if you provide a few out-of-the-box ideas, it’s your RV park that the competition will copy. One way you can’t go wrong is by providing rainy day activities. If you have a clubhouse, set up a ping pong table, stash a stack of board and card games, and this should be the location where your WiFi signal is the strongest. And while folks are seeking refuge from the rain, this is also the place for you to hang a bulletin board featuring any upcoming specials, events, and coupon codes.

Bonus: Millennials love to “ruff” it

rving millennial off leash

One way that Millennials are unique when it comes to pet ownership is that they grew up in a time when pets wear clothes in winter, canines go to doggie daycare, and professional pet sitters feed and walk pets when “moms and dads” are slaving away at the office. So if your campground has a no-pet policy, you can bet pet owners will find a different RV park without giving it a second thought. But even RV parks that allow pets sometimes don’t give enough thought to on-site doggie amenities.

How to fix it

You will absolutely delight your pet-owning guests by providing just a few pet-friendly benefits, like an off-leash park that give dogs a chance to stretch their legs and make friends. But don’t forget that even pet owners don’t like seeing an untidy park. Post plenty of pet stations with waste bags and lots garbage cans throughout the entire property (or at least be clear about your “Carry In/Carry Out” policy). Keep a jar of biscuits at the office. Not only will your human guests be impressed, but their dogs will do their best to make a stop at the office every chance they get, which means you can offer to schedule the owners’ next reservation.

 

Are you ready for a new generation easy, affordable campground technology? It’s ready for you!

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Steve Sohanaki

Steve is an advertising grad student at UT who was born and raised in Orange County, California. During the weekdays, he'll be writing for RoverPass but on weekends you can find him hiking or mountain biking the trails of Austin.

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