Increasing Profit Margin of Your Campground: The Ultimate Guide

The great outdoors is increasingly becoming greater for those hoping to increase the profit margin of their campgrounds. With people desperate for air and space after being confined by lockdown restrictions for practically a year straight, there is no better time to boost bottom lines by capitalizing on current demand.  

While the demand may be temporary, the benefits of developing your campsite and scaling your marketing efforts— both important in increasing profit margins— will stick long after the last drop of the COVID-19 vaccine has been used.

So we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to creating a better camping experience and leveraging effective marketing techniques to help you hit your revenue goals sooner rather than later.

This guide is divided into two parts:
1) Campground upkeep and development
2) Marketing techniques

Let’s take a look at the first one.

Campground Upkeep and Development

Maintaining and developing your most important real estate will give you the edge to compete over the long term. Here are key ways to do that:

1. Prioritize Vegetation Management

Vegetation directly influences the camping experience, and a well-managed campground spells the difference between a happy and unhappy camper. 

Imagine going to a campsite with plenty of trees around it, feeling like you have total privacy. You hear the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves every time the wind blows. Everything is perfect. 

Except the trees are so dense, the sunlight can’t get through anymore. Not to mention there’s a dangerous-looking tree near you that looks like it’s about to fall. 

This scenario shows how contracting tree specialists for your campground is critical. Expert vegetation management, tree stump removal, mulching, tree trimming, and other tree jobs should be done on a regular basis. 

So, look for tree specialists who can help you develop a vegetation management plan for your campground and take care of the general maintenance of trees, plants, and the entire vegetation on your grounds. 

Tree specialists can also help you plan and carry out the clearing of paths & land clearing for new construction and installation of new utilities.

Whether you’re building new campsites or not, your tree specialist should be able to guide you on potential issues like hazardous trees, congestion risks, and general safety.

Some recommendations you might find us making for campsites are clearing and trimming of overgrown sites or paths to ensure your campgrounds have enough vehicle access. 

Keeping a solid vegetation management plan can create greater camper satisfaction as they do not have to back their RVs through overgrown bushes and tree branches to reach their final parking spot. 

You don’t want negative reviews of your campground posted online because you advertised fits a 32’ but really, can only squeeze a 28’ camper because the campsite wasn’t well kept.

Here at Pevach, we understand how your vision matters, but more importantly, we believe that your campground’s design should work. Vegetation management plays a critical role in carving out new camping spots and the maintenance of existing spaces.  

Let’s take a further look at this.

2. New Camping Spots

Camping is on the rise. The pandemic has really inspired more Canadians to go camping now more than ever. 

New data shows that 1 in 5 Canadian campers have taken their first camping trip this pandemic. Another 1 in 5 campers has also started camping again at the start of the pandemic after not having camped in recent years.

As well, one-third of all Canadian campers now identify themselves as  “life-long” campers. 

It’s apparent that even with the pandemic, interest in camping remains strong, particularly from the younger generation. The report suggests that this enthusiasm for camping will continue in the coming years.

Some people didn’t let the pandemic cramp their camping style.

This is consistent with the forecasted market size by the end of 2021. In a separate study of Canada’s camping market size, campgrounds and the RV park market is shown as steadily increasing since 2013. Check out the graph below.

Market size of the campgrounds and RV park sector in Canada.
Image Credit: statista.com

Except for the consistent values in 2018 and 2019, and the seen impact of the pandemic in 2020, we can see that the market is forecasted this year— coming from the height of the pandemic— to be 2 billion US dollars. 

Keep in mind that lack of campgrounds is a problem that has been going on for the past few years, and now we know why.

If we are going to believe the market research and studies, the lack will only increase in the coming years. You’ll be restricting your growth if you don’t have concrete plans to offset the numbers. 

One of the things you can do so you can capitalize on the huge market, gain a competitive advantage, and increase the profit margin of your campground is to have land clearing and slashing to create new camping spots. 

By removing trees, tree stumps, brush, large rocks, and other obstructions, you can open up new spaces and increase your capacity. 

Dead or dying trees, for instance, are a good candidate for this purpose. Dying trees are nearly impossible to revive and dead trees can fall at any time. They only present danger and don’t serve you and your campground anymore. They are a ticking bomb that might only cost you if not removed immediately. 

Not sure if your trees are dying and causing a potential hazard? Give us a call to come out and test trees to see if they’re dead or dying.

A professional arborist can help you identify trees that are dead and dying. By removing those trees, you can create more spaces and eliminate the hazards of falling trees and branches. 

3. Clear Space

Whether you have new camping spots or not, you’ll need to make sure your utilities are within your capacity boundary. A well-managed vegetation allows for spaces and paths for new construction. 

Remember that if you have more visitors than you have utilities to cater to all, you’ll have increased insurance liability costs, which is based on your campground’s risk assessment. This could take a dent in the profit margin of your campground. 

That is why you need to clear spaces, if you don’t have enough utilities for your capacity. 

4. Higher Daily Rates

Managing your campground’s vegetation also means more spaces for trailers and RVs. 

With bigger spaces, you can also accommodate bigger trailers and introduce new rates specific to larger travel trailers.

All these directly affect the profit margin of your campground.

5. Additional Revenue from Firewood and Cut Trees

Do you sell firewood in your campground? If so, you already know that selling firewood can be very profitable. 

When you have your trees cut, you can keep the wood for firewood. At Pevach, we keep the wood at clients’ request, and even pile the wood neatly for you!

6. Storm Damage Prevention

Rather than waiting for a storm (and all the damages it usually brings), you can take a proactive stance by having a vegetation management plan. 

The potential damage costs from fallen trees (from repairs to compensation payment for property damage, injury, and even death) will be significantly more than the cost of having a professional arborist to maintain your campgrounds. 

Storms aren’t the only reasons you should have an emergency tree removal, but emergency or not, you should not attempt to do it yourself.

7. Firebreaks

Another reason why you should have an expert in vegetation management is so you can ensure that you have an effective design for firebreak and stop the spread of forest fires.

The width and location of firebreak, including the landscape of your campground, all play an important part in creating an effective fire barrier. 

A good firebreak may not completely stop a fire, but it should slow fire down to give firefighters and rescuers more time. 

Campground Marketing Techniques

The growth of any business depends on more than a great product. That is, managing your campground’s vegetation is only one part of building a profitable business. 

Improve your marketing efforts by incorporating some or all of the following marketing techniques below. 

1. Introduce Online Bookings

Improve your market reach by introducing online bookings. Research shows that 34% of Canadian campers prefer booking online. It’s second to 47% who still prefer the telephone to book for campgrounds (the rest prefers booking via email).

So, if you aren’t using an online booking system yet, it’s time you should. Online booking is a common feature of campground management software. 

A campground management software is a system that lets you organize and manage your bookings, finances, inventories, and many others.

It can automate a lot of time-consuming and repetitive tasks, so you, the owner, can focus more on improving customer experience and the profit margin of your campground.

Below are some of the best campground management software, as rated by users. 

RMS Cloud

RMS Cloud comes with analytics so you can view your daily revenue and compare monthly income at a glance.
Image Credit: RMS Cloud

RMS Cloud by RMS is a cloud-based software that easily integrates with your website for a total booking and campground management solution. 

Because it’s on the cloud, you can access it from any device and at any time or place, as long as there’s an Internet connection. 

It’s designed with the customer in mind. It has a user-friendly online reservation system and sms capabilities for staying connected with customers. Booking availability/spots automatically updates so managing reservations is easy and double bookings are avoided. 

It’s best for small to large-sized parks and campgrounds. The fee starts at $125 per month and the company offers a free trial.

  • Features
    • Activities Booking
    • Booking Notes
    • Built-in Accounting
    • Campaign Management
    • Catering Management
    • Channel Analytics
    • CRM
    • Customer Support
    • Dynamic Pricing
    • Extended Stay
    • For Vacation Rentals
    • GDS/OTA Integration
    • Group Reservations
    • Guest Check-in/Check-out
    • Inventory Control 

Campground Master

Campground Master is specially designed for campgrounds and RV parks, and similar site-rental businesses. 

It features online reservation and registration, QuickBooks integration, site reservation management, and others. It also differentiates itself from other campground management software with its dual rack and map view. 

The rack view helps with finding openings on a given date, as well as the length of stay and openings, while the map view helps with visualization of location and guest positioning. 

Creating a map is easy with the point-and-click map editing functions.
Image Credit: Campground Master

It is also user-friendly with great technical support. 

Pricing starts at $720.00 and free trial is available. 

  • Features
    • Billing & Invoicing
    • Customer Management
    • Guest Check-in/Check-out
    • Online Registration
    • Online Reservations
    • Point of Sale (POS)
    • Program Management
    • Site Maps
    • Site Reservation Management

CampManager 

Simple and easy to use, CampManager integrates with your website to accept bookings 24/7. It automatically updates booking availability and accepts payments from multiple locations simultaneously. 

It offers a real-time view of occupancy which can help owners generate more bookings and increase revenue and profit margin of their campgrounds. 

The system does all the work, from checking availability to invoicing to sending booking confirmations, and the dashboard shows all your crucial site information.
Image Credit: CampManager
  • Features
    • Billing & Invoicing
    • Calendar Management
    • Customer Management
    • Guest Check-in/Check-out
    • Online Registration
    • Online Reservations
    • Site Maps
    • Site Reservation Management

Campspot (with FREE version)

Campspot is another software that can ultimately help boost the profit margin of your campgrounds. 

It’s big on revenue-driving and time-saving features like dynamic pricing, contactless check-in, integrated POS, recurring guest billing, lock-in fees, automated reporting, and others.

The software is also intuitive and easy to use. The entire booking process can also be done online without further need for phone calls, saving you or your staff some valuable time.

Their promise to campground owners, summed up in five words. Image Credit: Campspot

Campspot offers a free version. Pricing for the paid version starts at $2.00 per feature (one-time payment). They also offer a free trial.

  • Features
    • Guest Check-in/Check-out
    • Multi-Location
    • Online Reservations
    • Point of Sale (POS)
    • Rental Management
    • Site Maps
    • Site Reservation Management
    • Utility Billing

CampLife

Designed for parks and campgrounds of all sizes, CampLife offers contactless features like mobile check-in, digital signatures, SMS texting, work orders, and more. 

It’s focused on giving customers a great experience and campground owners an easy time using the system. Reserving online is easy and the interface is user-friendly. 

Set up is straightforward and customizable features are available as well. Watch the video below for features geared towards improving the profit margin of your campgrounds. 

  • Features
    • Guest Check-in/Check-out
    • Multi-Location
    • Online Reservations
    • Permit Management
    • Point of Sale (POS)
    • Rental Management
    • Site Maps
    • Site Reservation Management
    • Utility Billing

2. Use Facebook Groups for Marketing

Promote your campground services in Facebook groups.

Remember that Facebook groups are created to bring people with similar interests together. So when you join a Facebook group of campers, glampers, RV fanatics, and outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll have numerous opportunities to promote your campground to your target market. 

To avoid coming across as sales-y, do not post promotions without actually interacting with and bringing something of value to the group. 

Whether it’s an answer to a question, a camping tool recommendation, or a shared post about tips for starting a campfire, you have to contribute something first. 

In marketing, posting three to four non-sales content before a promotional one is the general standard. In reality, some groups may require that you become an active member first before you can start posting sales and promotional content.

Whatever you do, aim to regularly provide valuable content and solutions to the group’s problems, so you can position yourself as the go-to expert they can rely on in the industry. 

You can find groups by using the search bar on the top (top left on desktop) of your Facebook homepage.

Desktop view

Choose ‘Groups’ from the left panel and input city of your choice. You can also opt to see public groups only. Private groups need approval from the admin and may be harder to join than public groups.

Mobile view

If you want to find out what that group is talking about, search for a topic or keyword on their homepage. See image below.

Take note that unless the group is public, you won’t be able to see the discussions until you’ve joined the group and your request for membership was approved.  

Below we use the keyword ‘campground,’ for searching discussions. The search results on the topic are shown on the right.

As you can see, using highly targeted marketing on Facebook groups, without any cost to you, is possible. 

Targeted marketing is very powerful because addressing the right audience— your very market— doubles the sales potential.

3. Leverage Targeted Marketing to Expand Your Reach

Attract new clients and expand your marketing reach by targeting places where campground bookings are selling out. 

For instance, when finding Facebook groups, instead of searching for groups in your city, try searching for groups in areas considered as ‘campground hotspots.’

Outside of Facebook groups, you can sponsor a post on Facebook and target audiences by location in combination with behavior, or their activity and browsing history.  

Do the same with your Google ad campaigns. The idea is to steal those Jasper or Banff-going campers who are most likely looking for alternatives given that campgrounds they’re visiting probably have a month-long waiting list.

4. Invest in Photos to Increase the Profit Margin of Your Campgrounds

Photos matter. Photos captivate us because we are visual creatures by nature.

Science explains that the human brain processes visual data better.  

Developmental molecular biologist John Medina, in his book, ‘Brain Rules’, explains how we only retain 10% of the information we heard 3 days before, but that if the same information comes with pictures, we remember 65% of it.

So if you want to be memorable, use photos. And as long as you are including photos in your marketing efforts, make sure they are of good quality. 

Have you ever clicked a blurry, distorted, and overall low-quality picture on Instagram?

According to Instagram itself, 58% of people become more interested in a brand or product after seeing pictures or videos of it. Pictures drive interest. 

So, invest in professionally taken photos to market your campgrounds on social media, the web, and other platforms. Great photos can make a huge difference on your business profile, print ads, brochures, and other marketing materials. 

Show how clean and well-kept your campground is and advertise through pictures. 

5. Get Reviews

Customer reviews are very powerful both for your own reputation but also are extremely important for SEO. 

We often make decisions based on the choices other people have made or haven’t made. Reviews can make or break any product or service.

So encourage your campers to leave reviews for your campground. Request for reviews over the phone (via text), through your website, email, social channels, and even on-site. 

Put a similar request for feedback in your office or your check in/check out counter. 

Note that people who are satisfied with a product or service typically don’t leave reviews unless (1) you take the initiative to ask them, (2) they are deeply moved by how great the product or service is, and (3) they are extremely dissatisfied and want to let you and your potential customers to know. 

You want to focus on the first two by openly asking for reviews, and of course, making sure you offer excellent service and a great campground with well-trimmed trees, bushes, shrubs, and landscape. 

But don’t be afraid of negative reviews. Did you know that customers will not buy unless you have a 4-star review, but if you have a 5-star review, they will go elsewhere?

Apparently, when you don’t have a few negative reviews, people start to doubt the authenticity of your reviews and start to suspect the reviews as all fake. 

So go ahead and ask your customers for a review. Give them incentives if you can, like a coupon or a discount for their next visit. 

When you have lots of positive reviews, people will find you and you’ll surely boost the profit margin of your campgrounds.  

6. Partner with Economic Development and Tourism Boards

Partner with Economic Development and tourism boards. When you collaborate and join forces with them to promote the region, not only will you have a steady source of revenue from visitors but you’ll also build SEO value for your website. 

Create ‘stay and play packages’ especially for them and build a marketing campaign centered on that theme. 

Below are some of the Travel Boards, Destination Marketing Organizations and Government funded tourism initiatives in Alberta and Saskatchewan you can check out. 

Key Takeaways

As with all things real estate, maintenance and development are keys in keeping and increasing the value of the property. An expert can help you with this. 

There’s wisdom in contracting an arborist for your campground. Well maintained vegetation will increase the value of your land which will also result in an increased profit margin for your campground.

As well, employing tried and tested marketing techniques to promote your business will help you get there.

There is no better time than now to act: maximize your real estate and leverage marketing practices discussed above while the demand is high and there are no signs of it going down in the near future.