How Prioritizing Guest Experience Powers Quilly’s Campgrounds’ Success 

One of our team’s favorite aspects of working within the outdoor hospitality industry is the diversity of owners and managers we have the pleasure of working with—from all walks of life and corners of the continent, each with a story to tell as unique as their brand of camping. Kate McLeod is one such owner who exemplifies the top traits of our industry: personable, genuine, and committed to providing nothing less than the best guest experience. As her campground management journey progressed, Katie chose Campspot to help make her commitment possible across all three of her properties. From branding and team building to online software advice, read her story below to learn how her decision to prioritize guest experience led to her success.

Called to Camping

Campspot: Hi Katie, tell us about your journey to become a multi-park campground owner.

I think my journey is a bit different from most other campground owners. To start, I’m the youngest campground owner I know. I also lived abroad for many years, first in Beijing, China for four years. I got my Master’s Degree in Aberdeen, Scotland while living there for almost two years. I also met my husband in Beijing. We then moved to Brazil together and lived there for a while.

When it came time for us to come home to the U.S., I knew I wanted to go into business for myself and invest in something longterm for my future. If you look at the numbers, the average RV park is a relatively low cost buy-in considering what you get for the investment. I grew up in a very outdoorsy family and have been camping since I was, gosh, a baby! Because I was very passionate about camping already and it made sense business-wise, buying an RV park was a natural entrepreneurship path for me.

Campspot: What do you enjoy most about working in the campground management space?

I think the RV and camping industry is unique in the way that it brings so many different people together. You get to meet and interact with a more eclectic set of people than you would otherwise in life. I’m actually a trained therapist. I graduated from Touro University with an M.A. n Family and Marriage Therapy and from University of Aberdeen with a masters in Perceptual Psychology. I’m a real people person, so I find working in campgrounds very fulfilling because I’m always in contact with a lot of people. If you think of other types of real estate and investment deals, you don’t necessarily get the same depth and variety of human interaction as you do through campgrounds.

Campspot: As co-owner of Quilly’s Campgrounds, how is your husband involved in park management with you?

He’s an architect by trade and is helping with a major expansion at one of our properties right now. Recently, he designed a clubhouse and pool for our other RV park. He designed all of our park websites, maps, and our logo, too. Needless to say, my husband does so much for me and our businesses.

Building a Brand and Curating a Special Guest Experience

Campspot: Can you describe your properties and what distinguishes them?

I own three RV parks in Texas and Mississippi: Quilly’s Magnolia, Quilly’s Big Fish, Quilly’s Cozy Traveler. Between the three, we serve a mix of short-term and long-term guests.

Quilly’s Magnolia RV Park – Vicksburg, MS

The first park I bought was Quilly’s Magnolia RV Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I love this place because it’s conveniently located off a major intersecting highway and by restaurants while still being nestled away on a secluded street. Driving into the park, guests are welcomed by the big trees and green space. Even though the park is in a more populated area, it’s super idyllic and you feel really tucked in. This location also has a pool, dog park, and playground. People tend to stay here to visit Vicksburg’s many historical sites such as the National Military Park, go on river tours, and or check out the regular BBQ competitions.

Quilly’s Cozy Traveler RV Park – Oyster Creek, TX

Quilly’s Cozy Traveler is a gated boutique park with 30 pads in Oyster Creek, Texas. It’s right across the street from Oyster Creek and the municipal park. Our guests appreciate the close proximity to fishing and the nature reserve with nice views all around. We try to preserve as many trees on the property as possible while still providing concrete RV pads, which is more difficult to do. We’re south of Houston and just eight miles from multiple beaches on the Gulf.

Katie at Quilly’s Big Fish RV Park – Rockport, TX

Quilly’s Big Fish is fantastic and so much prettier in person than in the pictures—and we’ve had professional photography taken! We have four ponds that have been stocked with fish for 20 years, so the fish are really big and established. The lots are staggered to make them more spacious and private. Some sites border the ponds and others back up into a large wooded area. There’s also over a mile of walking trails on site. Being so close to Corpus Christi and the oceanfront, this site is a huge destination for winter Texans who want to thaw out farther south.

Campspot: Although they’re clearly each unique, would you say there is a single theme across all Quilly’s parks?

Absolutely. While I didn’t build any of these parks from scratch, I spent a lot of time picking them out to make sure they really fit my aesthetic and vision. RV camping can often feel like you’re just in a glorified parking lot. That’s something I never want guests to feel while at my parks. Guests can feel the difference when you care and invest in curating a special experience just for them. That’s why a Quilly’s park is always a place where campers can have a relaxed stay and rediscover nature in an urban setting.

Campspot: What are some ways you market your unique brand of camping online?

I post on our business Facebook and Instagram pages every day and regularly share video reels on TikTok. I also have a YouTube that I post to regularly. Making behind the scenes and “get to know our managers” type of content is especially fun for the people who are at the park. They get to know us and know we are authentic. If a guest has tagged our business or shared a photo from their stay on social media, we always re-share it, which is an easy way to amplify positive reviews.

Through Google Ads and Analytics, we’re always trying to improve our websites’ search engine optimization (SEO). The main reason is to make sure everything is optimized to accurately show guests what they will experience when they arrive. Even in my everyday vernacular, I’m constantly talking about helping people discover nature in a relaxed state. I’m living and breathing the Quilly’s brand!

Campspot: I love your enthusiasm for your businesses. What do you have planned next?

We actually have a big expansion underway at Quilly’s Magnolia. My husband and I worked with a landscape architect who specifically designs for RV parks to emphasize the property being embedded in nature. We’re adding 28 premium spots with extra space and privacy. Although, we chose to maximize the guest experience rather than the number of new spots the park could physically hold. We widened existing roads and built the new RV pads at the right angle for big rigs to back in and pull-thru with ease. Because traveling is stressful, being in the RV park shouldn’t be. 

At Quilly’s Big Fish, we’re adding the new pool and clubhouse my husband designed. The great thing about Texas is that you can swim all year long, and I’m so excited to be able to provide that amenity now. We already host a monthly potluck, but now if the weather is bad it won’t matter because guests can go in the clubhouse. We’ll also be able to host regular bingo nights.

Delivering the Best Experience and Providing a Magical, Natural Place Without Worry

Campspot: As a newer campground owner, what would you say is the guiding north star for your businesses?

I think a lot about how I would want to be treated and experience staying in my parks if I were a guest. I’d want it to be a magical, natural place where I can relax without worry. That sentiment guides me, and that’s why I’m always trying to improve the guest experience. I mentioned before I’m a huge people person, which is why I love to bring the community together at my parks through expanded gathering areas, potlucks, you name it.

Campspot: Given the properties’ physical distance apart, how do you accomplish it all?

When I took ownership of the parks, I built my management teams, starting at Quilly’s Magnolia. Getting to grow my own team was really amazing because I was able to hire people who truly shared in my vision of providing stellar customer service, wanting to learn, and seeing exactly what I saw in my business. They’re an extension of the Quilly’s brand and I couldn’t do it without them.

For example, I have an amazing management team that lives in Rockport at Quilly’s Big Fish, which is also my home base. I travel to Vicksburg about once a month, visiting my sister along the way. Aside from my amazing manager, Tiffany, I’m able to do everything remotely for Quilly’s Cozy Traveler and guests receive gate access codes.

Lastly, Campspot helps keep everything organized for me. I log in wherever, open the reservation grids, and can easily see exactly how things are looking at each park.

Campspot: That’s a great transition. How did you first learn about our software?

All the parks that I bought were doing pen and paper reservations, which was pretty shocking to me in 2021 and I knew was a no-go for us. I researched many different software providers. During one software demo, while the backend user navigation and look were pretty good, I thought the guest booking experience was just not up to par. For me, the customer experience is a deal breaker.

Other shortcomings were systems being too clunky or the set up too arduous. Having a high buy-in from the owner’s end is problematic, too, because what if we try it and hate it? When I found Campspot, I thought the user experience was the best. I was also drawn to Campspot because there is no upfront buy-in or locked-in commitment. I’ve been a Campspot user for a year and a half now.

Campspot: Can you speak more to why you prefer online booking over pencil and paper?

During the first week of ownership, the stress I felt using a paper reservation system was unbearable—50 notecards, a spreadsheet, and a big headache. I would be mortified if someone showed up to my park and they didn’t have a spot when they made a reservation. I wanted to remove human error from the process. 

As part of Quilly’s customer experience, I believe booking should be as easy as possible. I don’t ever want there to be a time when a guest is struggling to book at our park. At two o’clock in the morning with an online system, my guests can book their reservation, know their spot, and get all of the discounts they’re supposed to.

Even before someone shows up at Quilly’s, they should have a pretty good idea of what to expect and receive good communication from us. For winter Texans, it’s a big deal where you’re going to book because you’re going to stay there for three to four months. If you are having a bad booking experience, the process is so much more stressful. As I said before, traveling is already stressful enough. The booking experience shouldn’t be. 

From the Campspot booking page, it’s clear to a guest that their reservation was made correctly, payment was accepted, and that more information is on its way. Campspot automatically emails guests on our behalf confirming their stay and sends another reminder email closer to arrival. If you’re traveling across the country, you often forget what campgrounds you’ve even reserved at. Campspot makes sure that you don’t forget and have all of the information you need.

Campspot: What are your favorite Campspot software features?

My favorite aspect is simply booking online. The grid optimization feature is obviously great because every manager is trying to get the most people into their park without overlapping sites or nights. Campspot’s feature eliminates the guesswork and shuffles sites for you. 

If you get into campground software, you want it to be intuitive for both operators and campers. Before Campspot, I was really intimidated to set up metering for our long-term stays for the first time. Then I started using Campspot’s built-in metering function, which led to less mistakes and happier campers. Guests can see a metered record on their bill in an organized and consistent layout. The customer knows they are being taken care of and that means everything to me.

Campspot: How would you describe our software to someone who is new to it?

In one word, refreshing. The platform is un-intimidating, and that’s surprisingly difficult to find.

Campspot: What would be the main reason you would recommend Campspot to other campground owners?

If optimizing the guest experience and being on the cutting edge resonates with you, then Campspot will resonate with you—and that is what got me. Campspot’s desire to build the best online booking experience and my desire to provide the same for my guests aligned. The campers love it, too. We’re all aligned.

It’s also really nice that Campspot provides good help. The support professionals know you and what you’re going through. There’s never been a time when I’ve received bad customer service. I love Campspot. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing then maybe I’d want to work for Campspot!

Thanks to Quilly’s

We want to thank Katie for providing her time and expertise during this interview. We echo the importance of her business philosophy to elevate, optimize, and maximize the guest experience to fit your brand. In the spirit of growing together, thanks for taking the time to hear her story and what she’s learned along the way. We hope it inspires the best for your business.

Do you have a story you’d like to share with other campground owners? Reach out at

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

How to Get Your Campground Ready for the Summer Season

We know there’s always a laundry list of to-dos for campground operators when welcoming the change in seasons—no matter where you’re located. Let’s dust off the cobwebs and focus on the top tasks to get your campground ready for the summer and possibly opening day.

Do a Deep Clean

We were serious about the cobwebs, and it’s nothing personal! Dust has no doubt accumulated in your rental cabins, recreation hall, on bathhouse surfaces, and elsewhere. Developing a monthly or seasonal deep cleaning checklist—especially one ahead of the busy summer months—will help you stay sane by knowing exactly where to begin spring cleaning each new year.

Easy-to-forget tasks include:

  • Scrub grill grates
  • Clean leftover debris from fire pits
  • Replace paper products
  • Touch up faded or dirty signage
  • Restock cleaning supplies

In addition to deep cleaning, be sure to revisit any neglected maintenance orders from the prior year. Having multiple family or staff members walk the grounds and do a thorough visual inspection will go a long way in catching any overlooked areas. Don’t forget to inspect your maintenance equipment as well to avoid using a faulty ladder or dull tool.

Read Next: Creative Ideas for Marking Campsites

Begin Hiring Staff

Depending on your park’s capacity, amenities, and number of returning employees, your seasonal staff hiring timeline will vary. Generally, we recommend updating and posting summer positions between January and March. There are many different applicant sourcing options, from LinkedIn and Indeed to direct advertising in your area and referrals.

You might be familiar with Amazon’s CamperForce program, which gained notoriety from the 2021 Oscar’s Best Picture Nomadland. Since 2008, CamperForce has been a desirable option for full-time RVers to make extra money on the road and have their lodging compensated by the retail giant. As of December 2022, Amazon announced the end of CamperForce to streamline its seasonal hiring. This hiring void will likely cause former Amazon workers to look elsewhere for work camp postings, which is good news if you’re in the market for flexible help.

Here are a few websites where you can advertise help wanted and find work campers: Workamper News, Workamping Jobs, Workers on Wheels, Happy Vagabonds, and the public Facebook group Workampers.

Stock Your Camp Store

Camp stores are an ideal way to generate ancillary income at your property while providing convenient shopping for campers. After all, who hasn’t forgotten sunscreen, snacks, or been tempted by a souvenir while vacationing? Prior to the bustling summer season, you want to ensure you have enough of the right inventory in stock and a plan for periodic reordering.

Industry trends and consumer appetites change from year to year, which is something to consider when deciding what consumables, necessities, and novelties to sell. We suggest discounting limited, dated, or out-of-season inventory early on to clear the shelves for relevant products. The products you sell should cater to your main audience, such as families with young children or full-time RVers. If you run a dog-friendly park, don’t forget about pet treats and accessories.

While you’re providing TLC to your camp store, this is also a great time to ensure your point-of-sale (POS) system is up to date. Thankfully, online software providers like Campspot have fully integrated POS capabilities for ease of tracking and transacting.

Read Next: The Best Camp Store Merchandise to Sell

Focus on Landscaping

Another great way to get your campground ready for the summer is to focus on landscaping. Depending on your local climate and planned opening day, snow removal may be a persistent part of your reality even late into May. Make sure you are continuing to use salt or sand mixtures to prevent icy pavement and be prepared for late spring snowfalls. Once spring thaw has begun, however, you can take stock of necessary landscaping duties.

Common outdoor maintenance tasks include:

  • Rake remaining fall leaves
  • Adjust paver blocks and level walkways
  • Clear dead branches and plants
  • Address any trees at risk of falling

Aside from old trees, your docks, decks, and the other wooded parts of your property could be compromised. Check twice for any loose or rotten boards to avoid safety hazards.

Showcase New Campground Photos

While photos taken during the soggy winter-to-spring transition might not flatter your property, it’s possible you took great photos last year when the sun was shining and business was in full swing. If so, now is the perfect time to upload those photos across your business’s online presence: social media platforms, website, OTAs, and online booking interface if applicable.

If you’ve added a new amenity or changed your map, a brief video walking tour of the grounds would be a fantastic tool appreciated by prospective and returning guests alike.

Plus, did you know campgrounds with a complete listing on Campspot Marketplace make 20% more revenue on average? All the more reason to ensure your presence, in every place it lives, is crisp, clean, full of powerful imagery, and up to date.

We hope this list inspires you to tackle plans to get your campground ready for the summer. From staffing to cleaning and everything in between-ing, we wish you the best for another great year of camping!


Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

5 Must-Try Campspot Software Features

At Campspot, our team works hard to continuously enhance our campground management and reservation software. This includes consulting with our customers, developing new features within the platform, and building integrations with external partners. We do this to lighten your workload and help you manage a smarter campground!

To kick off 2023, we’re highlighting five top-notch Campspot Software features that you must try this new year. Read on to learn how you can leverage these five tools to grow your business.

1. Text Messaging

In an era of limited attention spans and ubiquitous digital communication, SMS messaging reigns as a highly valuable business tool. That’s why Campspot enables campground operators to text guests currently at their properties, guests checking in the same day, or guests checking in within a certain date range up to 30 days out. There are many texting use cases for campgrounds, such as notifying campers of severe weather, upcoming amenity maintenance, or a limited time promotion.

Streamlined functionality and compliance assurance are two main benefits of texting guests through Campspot. New campers are already prompted to opt in to receive texts when they make an online reservation, which is a crucial legal requirement for businesses. Guests can also opt out of texting at any time without the need for manual tracking. Texts are conveniently sent from one toll-free phone number that’s registered with all carriers to reduce cost and improve deliverability across the United States, Canada, and international numbers.

Imagine the ease of strategically communicating mass messages to your campers, all through one platform at one low cost. Learn how to enable text messaging today.

2. Mailchimp Integration

In addition to text messaging, emailing remains a tried-and-true method for communicating with customers. Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms and integratesdirectly with Campspot. Our software automatically imports your Campspot customer data into Mailchimp. Say goodbye to the hassle of manually exporting and uploading data.

This integration also simplifies audience segmentation for your various marketing campaigns. For example, audience one—guests who are set to check out the next day—could receive an “extend your stay” offer at a discount via Mailchimp, while audience two—past guests who haven’t returned in over six months—could receive a separate promotional email to visit again. Never worry about disorganized audience lists or segmented messaging again.

Mailchimp offers over 300 third-party integrations for Campspot users to explore and incorporate into their email campaigns. Additionally, crafting branded and uncluttered e-newsletters is a breeze with Mailchimp’s drag-and-drop templates. To begin, first sign up with Mailchimp and then follow our step-by-step guide for syncing your Mailchimp and Campspot accounts. New to email marketing? Check out our top email marketing strategies for campgrounds, too!

3. Online Store Add-Ons

The ability for campground operators to sell add-ons through the Campspot reservation workflow has long been a staple feature, and for good reason. While reservations are the bread and butter of campground revenue, they are by no means the only potential income source. By highlighting add-on purchase opportunities directly within the online checkout process, our software creates a low-effort and high-demand revenue stream for park owners.

In addition to selling daily add-ons like golf cart rentals, operators can sell add-ons with quantity. This highly requested feature includes the ability to sell bags of ice, bundles of firewood, T-shirts, and many other quantifiable products. In 2021, Campspot Software customers made $33.3 million in add-on revenue alone—a number which only stands to grow now that add-ons with quantity are possible. Campspot’s integrated point-of-sale system paired with your camp store and endless add-on opportunities means more ancillary income in your pocket. Watch our video tutorial to get started.

Read Next: 10 Best Campground Amenities to Increase Revenue

4. Campspot Analytics

Data visualization is the representation of information through visual elements like graphs, maps, and charts. This ability to clearly view data trends and trajectories is a game changer for those operating in the outdoor hospitality industry, which is why Campspot Analytics was born. Users save time and effort without needing to download CSV files to understand their business performance. Choose from seven dashboards to visualize key campground data at your fingertips, such as an overview of recent booking trends or a real-time snapshot of park occupancy. New dashboards are also regularly added.

If you’re ready to make more data-driven, impactful business decisions, start using Campspot Analytics today. One free Campspot Analytics user seat is included for each park, with the option to buy additional seats as needed.

Read Next: Data and Reporting: How to Track the Health of Your Campground

5. Integration

Modern consumers often use online travel agencies to book vacations, given the variety and aggregation of many lodging options on one website. is one such online travel agency where over 1.5 million room nights are reserved every day. Through our integration with this hospitality giant, you can crosslist your bookable sites on and easily manage them in Campspot. This partnership means vast brand exposure to a new audience of campers who are waiting to discover your property.

New reservations will appear in Campspot as normal. For added convenience, certain site type setup rules from Campspot will automatically transfer over: occupancy rules, minimum and maximum stay lengths, advanced booking limits, and resort closed rules. Learn more by reading our full FAQ article.

Get Started Today

While these five Campspot Software features are certainly newsworthy, Campspot offers countless powerful features to support your campground. Join the Campspot Family by simply filling out this form to demo our platform in action. For existing customers, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of texting messaging, add-ons with quantity, Campspot Analytics, and our Mailchimp and integrations!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

Ready to Grow With Campspot Software Features?

7 Tips for Campground Operators to Rock 2023

Each new year invites ample personal resolutions, but what about resolving to strengthen your business in 2023? As a campground operator, devoting some R&D and TLC time to your annual business plan is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. We know it can be daunting to consider reinventing your campground management plan year after year. That’s why we’ve curated the top seven tips for campground operators from our Campspot Outdoor Almanac to help you build upon your seasoned base of camping knowhow.

The following statistics come from our survey of Campspot campers and campground owners and the supplemental report we compiled just for campground managers and operators. Use these insights as inspiration to chart a fresh course for campground management in 2023.

Top Tips for Campground Operators

1. Understand Your Core Audience

At Campspot, you’ll hear us speak often about each Campspot customer’s unique brand of camping. That is, there’s something special that sets your campground apart: uncommon amenities, historical significance, proximity to a famous attraction, a year-round theme, or otherwise. We always recommend keenly understanding what your unique brand of camping is and who it resonates with most. This is your core audience of customers—even if it’s all dogs!

For example, in our Almanac survey of campers, we found that 23% camp for family vacation time, 19% camp for relaxation, and 17% camp to be closer to the outdoors. In each of these examples, a unique brand of camping and marketing tagline emerges: “family-first park welcoming young children,” “couples retreat with a bookable massage therapist every weekend,” and “get lost in over three miles of wooded mountain biking trails.”

Because millions of first-time campers are set to hit the road in 2023, consider how your business can uniquely cater to them.

2. Adjust Your Rates

For the majority of campers, their per-trip budget is under $500. Unsurprisingly, 51% of guests also look for deals when booking their next camping trip. The common denominator here is your rates. While we recommend regular rate assessments and use of Campspot’s dynamic pricing feature year-round, now is a great time to evaluate your reservation rates by campsite type, season, proximity to amenities, and more.

A good place to start for this exercise is calculating the average amount spent per visit at your campground. (This can be calculated by taking your total spend and dividing it by your number of guests). Aside from lodging, this logic also extends to the activities or camp store purchases guests make while at your property. Once you have this baseline number, you will be able to make more informed rate adjustments and offer appropriate discounts.

3. Invest in Google Ads and SEO

Formerly known as AdWords, Google Ads is a necessary tool in your advertising box. In fact, 65% of Almanac respondents said Google search is their favorite way to find camping information, and 85% of campers turn to online search to find a new place to camp. By running Google search ads, you can bid to ensure your campground’s name pops up near the top of the results page when a camper searches keywords relevant to your ad.

If digital advertising is still foreign territory or you’re not ready to invest money, consider investing time into search engine optimization (SEO). This simply means ensuring that your campground website is following all of Google’s best practices to drive search traffic, like incorporating relevant keywords throughout your site and designing it in the most user-friendly way. Fortunately, Campspot already implements SEO best practices for its software customers through each park’s online booking page, but we highly recommend you review your main website in the new year, too.

4. Upgrade Main Infrastructure

The majority of campers (54%) said that bathrooms are their #1 amenity when choosing a campground, while 40% said internet access is top of mind. Campers want to unwind in nature without completely disconnecting from the common comforts of home. If the winter is your off-season, January through March could be the best time to upgrade your bathhouses and internet infrastructure. Before adding flashy new amenities to your property, consider the basic ways you can update existing necessities, such as the following:

  • Install an electric hand dryer
  • Expand laundry facilities
  • Reglaze or re-tile showers
  • Offer lotion and special toiletries
  • Switch or upgrade your internet provider

These enhancements can make a significant impact on your guests’ experiences throughout their stay at your campground.

5. Take Property Photos and Videos

Did you know that campgrounds on Campspot with complete* Marketplace listings generate 20% more revenue than campgrounds with incomplete listings?

*A complete Campspot Marketplace Listing is defined as a park with 5 photos, an about description, and at least 1 photo per available campsite.

If you’ve made changes in the last year, early 2023 (depending on the local climate) may be an ideal time to capture fresh, high-quality photos of your property. If your region has already been graced by snow, mark a date on the calendar for late spring or early summer to photograph the grounds. If fall colors are in full bloom in your state, schedule a photo shoot in October and use these fall-themed images promotionally for advanced bookings the following year.

Documenting individual site types—a paved versus gravel RV site, or a standard versus waterfront tent site—provides crucial visual information to campers during the online booking process. Because most smartphones now have incredible cameras built in, you can also film a brief walking tour video so new guests can spatially experience the layout and feel of your park. Update these visuals in your Campspot booking platform and share them on social media to drum up excitement for the next camping season.

6. Include Furry Friends

If you’re a dog-friendly park, it might not surprise you that 26% of campground owners want to add a dog park to their property. Camping with pets is becoming an increasingly popular trend, and some RV owners even have live-in cat companions.

Now could be the best time to build or revamp a pooch-exclusive place at your property. If you don’t allow pets on property, consider if this policy still fits your brand of camping and the pros and cons of changing. Better to think through the new rules and revenue opportunities now if you do decide to convert later.

7. Plan Events in Advance

You can save considerable last-minute planning time and potential headaches by launching an annual events calendar ahead of your opening day. This gives both your staff and prospective guests plenty of notice for all the fun you’ll be offering throughout 2023. In fact, 52% of Almanac respondents said they like having the option to participate in campground activities and events during their stay, and 17% love these opportunities. Think through the best mix of events that your core camping audience would enjoy and the best event timing based on your seasonality.

Neither Rome nor (most) dog parks were built in a day. Take these tips as inspiration, but don’t feel the need to implement them all at once—you’re the expert of your campground. Most importantly, we wish you rest and refreshment as you recharge for another great year of camping. Happy planning and Happy New Year!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

Data and Reporting: How to Track the Health of Your Campground

We live in a data-driven world, which is why it’s more important than ever for campground operators to understand how to navigate it and what tools are available. To help provide the best perspective on data and reporting metrics for campgrounds, we interviewed Casey See, Campspot customer and co-owner of Piney River Resort in Tennessee.

Casey, tell us more about you and Piney River Resort.

I’m one of the owners of Piney River, and we’ve been in the campground industry for three years now. We’re definitely a family-first park. We are also big supporters of military families, first responders, and our overall community.

We offer a wide range of accommodations, including traditional RV sites, premium RV sites, tiny homes, and we’re now onboarding our first set of glamping units and premium tent camping. Our tiny homes are branded to each have their own unique story. For example, guests can stay in a tiny home where musical instruments and Grammys decorate the walls. We always hear people say how amazed they are at the attention to detail.

Source: Piney River Resort Facebook

What key business metrics do you track on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?

As a business approach, we’re heavily into data, numbers, and forecasting.
Day-to-day, we look at all reservations that come in, whether it’s a large or small number. We study Google Analytics to see “who” made the reservation and where these reservations are coming from.

On a weekly and monthly basis, we care most about our revenue compared to the previous month and the same timeframe last year. We spend a lot of time comparing occupancy trends.

For 3 months now, we’ve been able to use Campspot Analytics’ pace reporting to project our future business growth compared to how full our park was last year, for example.

That’s great to hear you cross-reference Google Analytics. Can you elaborate?

We spend a lot of time looking at Google Analytics to know how guests got to our website and from which platforms. We want to know if they come from another website, social media, a third-party partner, or elsewhere.

Geographically, we like to see where the visitor came from, such as what part of the country and their average distance away from our park. We are also interested in their device usage, like mobile phone versus desktop, and other demographics. We overlay information from our Google Analytics and ad campaigns with Campspot Analytics’ various reports.

What metric is most important for managing your business?

The most important thing for us is the guest experience. Regarding the math side of our business, revenue is our main metric. The tip of the spear for revenue is occupancy. So, even as we’re managing daily rates, dynamic pricing, and all other revenue-related items, it all comes back to occupancy.

What healthy business indicators do you like to see?

We look for growing occupancy. This may vary if we’ve expanded sites and then expect to see a temporary dip in occupancy percentage, but overall occupancy is our guiding light.

Because RVing and camping are so seasonal, we always compare year over year—sometimes by a single month, or by lumping months into seasons as well. As mentioned earlier, the new Pace Report in Campspot Analytics allows us to track this exact past-to-present-year change, such as how many reservations we actually have compared to the same day in 2021. We make significant financial decisions based on our occupancy trends, like which new amenities to onboard and whether to expand.

Graph of Campspot Analytics data

What are red flags you keep an eye out for?

​​We watch out for trends, which are like a journey. They tell us the history of where we have been and the future of where we may be going. Whether it’s a change in the economy, travel patterns, gas prices, unseasonable weather, or occupancy, we need to know where we’ve been and where we are headed. Closely monitoring trends allows us to react and adjust with as much accuracy as possible. Some businesses might look at their numbers and say they are either good or bad. We try our best to look at data from the standpoint of, what exactly do we need to change?

How has your experience been using Campspot Analytics?

We have used Campspot Analytics since September 2022. It’s more comprehensive and user-friendly than traditional reporting and spreadsheets. We used to download a handful of reports to build our own custom spreadsheets. Now, it’s much less of a manual process.

Campspot seems to be very receptive and responsive to park owners’ needs. The creation of their analytics tool is one example. We’re still learning about analytics, too, but it has really helped us so far. The support and customer service we receive is also very good.

What is your favorite part about Campspot Analytics?

We really like its visual and graphical reporting. The embedded charts are helpful to view at a glance and see a snapshot of performance. Additionally, what backs them up are csv files that one can look at day by day and make important comparisons. You can see exactly in detail what your park’s occupancy is and where the trends are headed.

What sort of business adjustments have you made so far based on insights from Campspot Analytics?

In general, we make necessary adjustment decisions on a weekly and monthly basis.
With the economy taking a bit of a downturn lately, we have seen this reflected slightly in our occupancy or Pace Report numbers. We have used this cue to make more specific and aggressive marketing adjustments to compensate for the soft market.

Once we have the chance to use analytics for longer, it may help inform other strategic decisions, such as which amenities we add, when we choose to market heavier, and what specials we offer.

Campspot Analytics and Reporting Metrics for Campgrounds


Campspot Analytics allows campgrounds to access their data in visualized dashboards that help users track performance and quickly gain answers without the need to download a massive spreadsheet. Here are the seven Campspot Analytics dashboards that help campground operators access key reporting metrics for campgrounds and make impactful business decisions:

  • Portfolio Overview
  • Operations Summary
  • Occupancy Pace Report
  • Park Overview
  • YoY Metric Comparison
  • Campspot Value
  • Cancellation Insights
  • Coming Soon: POS Dashboard

It’s clear that the ubiquity of data in our technologically-advancing world will only grow. Becoming a data-oriented park operator now means learning to access reporting metrics for campgrounds at your fingertips to stay ahead of the curve later. Your campers and your bottom line will thank you. To learn more about how current campground owners are leveraging the power of data through Campspot Analytics, click here!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

Top Email Marketing Strategies for Campgrounds

Electronic mail has come a long way since the first electronic message was sent in the early 1970s. Known today as email, 92% of America’s digital population now communicates through this medium. This usage rate among Americans is even higher than social media, which is estimated at 83% as of January 2022. Whether it’s Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, or otherwise, I’ll bet a free night’s stay you have your email inbox tab open in the background of your device right now! All this to say, campground owners and operators need to leverage email as a marketing tool. This post highlights the most important elements of email marketing to jumpstart your strategy. If you’re already an avid email marketer, you can use the following advice as new inspiration to fine-tune your approach. Let’s embark! Read up on top email marketing strategies for campgrounds below.

Manage Your Lists

Who, who, who—that is the question. You should view each email you intend to send as having a unique audience with a unique goal for engagement. This doesn’t mean you are constantly reinventing your list of recipients, but it does mean strategically thinking about how to segment your audience based on their interests, customer type, frequency of contact, and more.

For example, your camp hosts, a first-time camper, and your maintenance staff are all different audiences whom you may need or want to email. While some active management is necessary to ensure your target lists are consistently formatted and updated as time goes on, email CRMs or customer relationship management systems make audience list management a breeze. These automated platforms help you securely build, separate, label, and store different audience segments much better than any offline spreadsheet—although spreadsheets can often be the first stage in list-building.  HubSpot, Mailchimp, and Constant Contact are a few well-known email marketing platforms.

Campspot integrates with Mailchimp in an effort to simplify email marketing efforts for campground owners and operators. The integration allows customer data to be imported into Mailchimp by syncing with your Campspot customer/reservation data. No spreadsheet or uploading required!

Once you upload an audience list, you can categorize recipients based on how you plan to engage with them. You can build a newsletter list of all former and current campers to keep them updated on events, upgrades, and promotions. You can build an internal list to only contact your employees regarding company updates, scheduling, or maintenance overhauls. While data quality—accuracy, completeness, consistency, and reliability—is an understated factor in this process, the baseline process of conceptualizing all the people you could possibly and legally email into segments is invaluable to ensure your email energy isn’t wasted and that your recipients stay subscribed.

Write Compelling Subject Lines

Your email subject line is not just the recipient’s first introduction to your content, it’s also the make-or-break factor in whether they’ll open the email. In fact, 69% of recipients mark an email as spam based on the subject line alone. To avoid this, an easy rule of subject lines is to be honest when writing them. Avoid clickbait-type zingers: their sole goal is to get you to click on deceptive content. Though it can be tempting, this also means avoiding things like “$$$” or gimmicks that spammers often employ—you don’t want to be mistaken for one of them.

Don’t be afraid to be personal and test the unexpected. Politics aside, the emails sent by former President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraising team drew national attention—and garnered considerable donations—from their simple subject lines such as “Hey” and “I will be outspent.” This suggests that personability and not overthinking your message can go a long way. Think about what fellow campers, such as yourself, want and what would convince you to open an email.

Create Calls to Action

Every email you send should be purposeful to avoid exhausting or annoying your audience. Beyond having a clear purpose to your email, there should also be a clear call to action, or CTA. As defined by Campaign Monitor, a CTA “is a button or hyperlinked line of text that directs a user to a website of a brand’s choosing.”

When your email captures a recipient’s attention, you want to make the most of it by encouraging them to take the desired next step. For this reason, a CTA should be highly visible (which is why we like buttons), brief and clear (such as “Book Your Stay”), and potentially featured at multiple points within the body of the email. For example, consider hyperlinking your CTA in the body of a short opening paragraph and including a large button in the middle or footer of the email.

One caveat to this strategy is that sometimes your desired call to action is simply to get your audience to read and remember a stand-alone message. Examples can include a major campground announcement such as a change in ownership, a thank-you letter, holiday well wishes, or a maintenance alert. In these instances, the goal might not be to direct the recipient to take action outside of the email; therefore, you wouldn’t necessarily want to distract the reader with additional hyperlinks or buttons. In the spirit of always promoting brand awareness, though, we do recommend always hyperlinking your website and main social media profiles in the email footer. This type of templating is standard through most email managers, such as Mailchimp.

Appearance and Branding

Because it’s important to use a consistent logo and company messaging in all public communications, reflect this branding consistency through your email marketing, too. Make sure that your logo is always part of your email design, whether it’s placed in the header or footer. This not only looks nice but is also a clear signal to the recipient that they are receiving a legitimate email from your business. You don’t want anyone mistaking an unbranded or unfamiliar email for spam.

Different designs and layouts signal to the recipient that they are internalizing different content. This means that a booking confirmation email should look different from a “come back soon” email. If you send a weekly e-newsletter to your campers during peak season, consider the value in using the same template throughout the season for ease of content editing and to reinforce your brand. Even when crafting multiple designs, make sure to still stick with colors that are a part of your brand suite and complement your logo.

Though email was first used as an online vehicle for sharing the written word, most people don’t want to read an entire novel in one email. In general, think less text and more visualization. Try to convey the most important aspects of your message in as few sentences as possible while strategically varying font size and style to emphasize certain words. Photographs of your campground and other relevant graphics are also a great tool to break up blocks of text and keep readers’ interest.

Above All, Be Authentic

From your email’s audience and branding, to its subject line and calls to action, there should always be one common denominator: authenticity. As a marketer, you can think of authenticity as “creating a dialogue between your brand and your audience that’s natural and genuine.”

As a campground operator, you don’t pretend to offer non-existent amenities, mislead others about your brand of camping, or falsify anything else related to the camper experience. Your emails shouldn’t either, simple as that. Write emails purposefully, honestly, and authentically.

One endearing way to be authentic is to let the campground dog or cat speak for you. That’s right: politicians and business marketers alike have found great success in leveraging their pets as email “authors”. One woman even wrote a cover letter from her dog’s point of view to land a job. Perhaps your pet wants to let campers know about a month-long BOGO promotion or the launch of your new dog park. Who better to share the good news via email than the pet themself. Even if you aren’t a pet-friendly property, the recipient will still enjoy the change of pace in their inbox. Among other creative ideas, Americans’ affinity for their furry friendsis just one strategy that can and should be leveraged authentically through your email messaging.

We hope you now have a set of new email marketing strategies for campgrounds and creative insights to begin emailing your campers with confidence. Remember to try, test, and have fun with it!

Learn more about how to simplify your email marketing efforts using Campspot’s Integration with Mailchimp. 

Read Next: New Feature Announcement: Mailchimp Integration

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

How to Make OTAs a Part of Your Business Strategy

In a world flooded with arguably useless acronyms, such as BOGSAT (“bunch of guys sitting around talking”) or ICBINB (“I can’t believe it’s not butter”), we’re excited to share an acronym that is worth learning about because of how it can positively impact your business: OTA. While this may sound familiar, you may not realize the vast opportunities OTAs (especially camping OTAs) provide for campground owners and operators. Let’s dive in!

What is an OTA?

An online travel agency (OTA) is an internet-hosted marketplace where customers can find, explore, and purchase travel-related services. Traditionally, OTAs such as Travelocity and have originated from and dominated the hotel, rental car, and excursion industries. As the original private lodging OTA, Airbnb has become synonymous with and shorthand in conversation for OTA—you’ve probably heard someone say, “it’s the Airbnb of ____.” Today, however, OTAs are permeating just about every industry one can imagine, including finding rentable swimming pools. Camping is no exception; as a result, there is immense value in featuring your bookable camping inventory on OTAs, especially those designed exclusively for camping.

On Campspot’s camping-centric OTA, 92% of customers booked at a property they had never stayed at before.

The Value of OTAs

The biggest value an OTA provides is access. There were 62% more U.S. RV owners in 2021 than there were in 2001 with growth trends accelerating today. Undoubtedly, hundreds of new campers would love to stay at your property, but oftentimes they aren’t aware of your offerings due to living out of state, being new to the area, or being new to camping. Listing your property on an OTA allows you to effortlessly make connections with thousands of campers who can learn more about your campground and later book their stay. In fact, on Campspot’s camping-centric OTA,92% of customers booked at a property they had never stayed at before. If this seems intuitive to you, that’s because it should!—an OTA isn’t providing value if it’s only attracting your repeat customers.

Fingertip access is also a value-driver for OTAs that have a mobile application, such as Campspot, because mobile phones account for 55% of web traffic over laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. Furthermore, “46% of travelers with smartphones say they make their decision on mobile, but then book on another device” according to Phocus Wire. Even if a camper waits to book, having your business appear on an OTA app means instantaneous inspiration that generates lasting brand recognition. Knowing that 70% of travelers have turned to an online travel agency before for inspiration, don’t you want to be their source of inspiration?

The second main area of value an OTA provides is a new, low-maintenance revenue stream. The revenue is low-maintenance due to all of the ways an OTA goes to work for you behind the scenes. Through an OTA’s marketing dollars, your individual business or suite of resorts receives amplified advertising attention across the digital platforms where your customers are spending most of their time: Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to name a few. An OTA can also drive earned media coverage through top publications such as Travel+Leisure, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg where Campspot campgrounds have been featured. Your bottom line benefits from the fact that those dollars aren’t being spent from your own marketing budget.

While there is usually a 10 to 15% commission on reservations that come through an OTA, there is no cost to acquire them, unlike a traditional pay per click marketing channel which can have high costs of entry and acquisition.

Not only does an OTA offer a far superior and efficient return, on top of that, Campspot has found that 30% of customers who discover a campground on leave the site and then book directly with the campground, bypassing that commission fee altogether. As mentioned above, an OTA should integrate easily into your existing marketing strategy without interfering with what’s already working well for your business.

How to Make OTAs Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Firstly, you should not rely on any single marketing channel to drive the majority of your business. While OTAs increase brand exposure for campgrounds, they are just one piece of the marketing pie. With this in mind, let’s explore how to incorporate OTA exposure into your broader marketing strategy.

It’s important to strike the right balance of traffic you receive from different OTAs if listing your inventory on more than one. You actually don’t want an OTA to drive too much of your overall online traffic. Roughly speaking, up to 20% of your marketing traffic should come from all OTAs on which you list your property, and no more than about 10% of traffic should come from a single OTA. For example, has enough volume to represent 3 to 5% of your campground’s online bookings. This ratio is both well-balanced and expands your overall customer base by sourcing from new campers. If you are seeking to broaden your customer base even more or build into a new sub-industry, such as by adding glamping accommodations to your park, consider listing on multiple OTAs to reach these goals. As mentioned above, the key is to let OTA marketing dollars go to work for you so then you can later capitalize on the right traffic they send your way.

Relevancy is extremely important when assessing the worthwhileness of listing your property on an OTA. One of our previous blogs cautioned against spreading your social media presence too thick because trying to be everywhere online without having the time or resources to maintain your ongoing presence can backfire. The same goes for choosing the right OTA. You should be integrating with OTAs that closely match your industry and business goals. While certain camping or glamping brands will find value in listing their inventory on an OTA built firstly for the hotel industry, listing through a predominantly camping-based OTA is an equally wise avenue for two reasons. One, a camping-based OTA’s backend and booking process better aligns with the structure of most campgrounds, such as sites and RV amperage instead of rooms and bed sizes. It’s even better if an OTA delineates between different site types and their unique rules—RV sites vs. tent sites vs. cabins. Second, a camping OTA is specifically branded and constructed to target niche camper segments in the same way you either do or aspire to do as a marketer.

In summary, compare both an OTA’s volume of inventory and the relevant traffic it can drive when choosing which OTAs are right for your business. Integrate an OTA into your marketing strategy without letting it overtake your strategy. Lastly, keep relevancy to your overall marketing goals in mind at all times.

What to Expect From OTAs

Expectations for an effective OTA fall into four main categories: user experience, growth, content, and control. 

User Experience

As any driver who has been forced to wait in a long DMV line without having the option to renew their license plate online knows (oh no, another acronym?!), user experience is everything. An OTA should display an uncluttered and attractive web interface that allows visitors to easily search, filter options, and book. Digital user experience and what makes it good or bad is an actual science. At the same time, it’s easy to recognize an OTA that’s doing user experience right and one that’s doing it wrong. The more time and difficulty it takes for someone to click around to find the next step in their search query, the more likely one is to lose their attention…and business. The less imagery an OTA presents, the harder it is for a camper to imagine themselves vacationing at the property. And the worse a visitor’s online experience is, the more likely they are to associate this negativity with both the OTA and whatever brands they interact with while on the site. You expect nothing but the best when it comes to providing for your guests, so make sure your guests’ OTA experience is also the best.


If the last two years of camping have taught us anything, it’s that adaptation is key for success and that our industry is poised for continued growth. Any vendor or business partner that isn’t motivated to innovate and adapt with youisn’t the best choice long term. You should view your OTA—a partner in your success—in the same way. Those that are continually growing their bookable inventory, continually fine-tuning their platform, and continually creating opportunities for you are those to watch. For example, seek to work with an OTA that incorporates behavioral economics into its booking algorithm, or one that partners with leading outdoor brands to create an outdoor almanac for prospective campers (cough, cough, that one’s us!). These few ideas suggest innovative thinking, marketing advantages for you, and value-added for our industry at large. You may be quick to think that more booking inventory means more competition, but remember our discussion of the right volume and proportion of traffic earlier? If it’s the right fit, each OTA should be viewed as another online opportunity where you can showcase your unique brand of camping—not viewed as the sole source of your business. That’s why a growing OTA is an encouraging sign because it really means expanded exposure for you. Therefore, do partner with an established and expanding OTA to share in the growth opportunities without being overly reliant on any one.

Did you know Inc. 5000 ranked Campspot #4 in its 2022 List of Fastest-Growing Travel and Hospitality Companies? Read more here.


Cash may still be king, but increasingly content is king, too. In the same way that you may engage in content marketing, your chosen OTA should also entice audiences by providing meaningful content. This helpful information should relate both to the camping experience in general and the presentation of your property. Consistent presentation of your park is key across all marketing channels, and your OTA should accurately match your business’s unique brand, including your logo, photos, and amenities. Listings are not just about showcasing the inventory though; they should also reflect your backend operating rules, including minimums, maximums, add-ons, and more. These are necessary points of information campers are craving during booking, and you don’t want them to be lost on an online travel agency. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of your park’s brand and offering meaningful content while streamlining the end-to-end booking process is essential.


Last but certainly not least, you want to have control over your content and business, which extends to your OTA listings. An OTA should ensure the following: you own the customer data, you have control over the content you share, and you are able to showcase your unique value. Seamlessly mirroring all the ins and outs of your business rules is a crucial but sometimes lacking OTA function. This is especially important when one OTA integrates with another, such as and Campspot. You should be able to manage multiple listings across multiple platforms from within one intelligent, real-time interface. Furthermore, any OTA you work with should act as a supportive but not overbearing partner by helping you make pricing decisions, stay ahead of industry trends, and operate according to your best interest: all integral factors in maintaining control. If you are the driver of your campground, an OTA is there to maintain the smoothest, autonomous roadway for your success.

Campspot Marketplace: A Camping OTA in Action is the largest camping-specific OTA by bookable inventory with nearly 200,000 listings and serving over 500,000 campers across North America. In Q1 of 2022, total revenue of parks on Campspot grew by 467% over Q1 2021; in the same time frame, traffic to the online marketplace increased by 232%.

The listings that appear on the Marketplace are a direct reflection of the campground listing, ensuring ownership, fluidity, and synchronicity in branding.

Campgrounds on the marketplace are amplified through larger marketing efforts paid for by Campspot including email and social media, seasonal promotions, special reports such as the Outdoor Almanac, the Campspot Awards, and more.

In an effort to ensure campgrounds have options available to them, Campspot also offers integrations with third party OTAs in which campgrounds can sync up their lodging inventory on travel-focused marketplaces. To learn more about how Campspot Marketplace can supplement your campground business strategy and drive results, schedule a demo today.

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

Attract Campers Year-Round With Original Campground Events

From New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, there are 11 U.S. federal holidays that take place annually. Those are great opportunities for campers to vacation at your park, but they only make up about 3% of the total days in a year. That means you have to get creative to attract guests during off-weekends and off-seasons.

Below, we dive into how you can build unique campground events that don’t have to be centered around busy holiday weekends. Instead, you can use these six simple tips to pioneer your own holiday-worthy events for campers. Ready to charter a new annual tradition at your park and entice visitors year-round? Read on!

1. Create Original Annual Holidays

There are hundreds of non-traditional and unofficial U.S. holidays one can find online. While many might be difficult to capitalize on, there are surely many more that could suit your campground.

National Pizza Day is February 9, which offers a great pre-Valentine’s Day opportunity for couples or families in warm weather states to get away. Consider having a 50/50 raffle drawing (half of the proceeds go to your business and half go to a local charity) where campers have a chance to win a private pizza party at the campground for a group of eight over a future weekend. Or, you could offer free slices of pizza—one per camper, while supplies last—for everyone in the park that evening.

Because it’s not bound by a specific date, Christmas in July is another popular fictional holiday that you can host during whichever July weekend is most convenient for your campground. Invite Santa Claus for photos with kids and pets, show a classic holiday movie on an outside projector, and put an artificial tree in the recreation room adorned with complimentary candy canes.

Aside from these two ideas, you can use just about any topic or excuse that would be popular with your brand of camping to create an original recurring event. And if you can make use of odd occasions like National Clean Your Desk Day, Jump Over Things Day, or National Name Your Car Day, then more power to you!

2. Celebrate Your Campground’s Anniversary

If you’re coming up on a major milestone at your park—such as five, 10, or 50 years in operation—then make it a major event. Even if you’re approaching an odd number of years in business, that’s still a great opportunity to host an inaugural anniversary party.

Lifelong or multi-generational campers at your property can look forward to the annual reunion, while reliving old memories and admiring how the campground has grown. Attract new guests by offering a special week-long booking promotion in honor of your campground anniversary. This milestone is guaranteed to happen every year, so make the most of it and invite your community to take part.

Read Next: Marketing Opportunities Within Campspot Software’s Consumer Booking Platform

3. Target Shoulder Seasons and Off-Seasons

If you’re struggling to get creative with event planning, don’t add stress by trying to compete with every other New Year’s Eve, Halloween, or Independence Day party. That will make the comparison game and challenge of differentiating your park all the more difficult. Instead, target the most available period of time you have for planning and capturing the attention of prospective visitors: the off-season.

Give campers a reason to be excited and travel when they normally wouldn’t. Depending on where you’re located in North America to define your off-season, April 10, September 20, January 27, and many more dates are eagerly waiting to be picked for new traditions to be made.

4. Collaborate With Community Groups

If you’re struggling to advertise your special upcoming weekend, look local. Consider what community ties, such as churches, PTA groups, Rotary clubs, and VFW chapters you might be able to leverage to get the word out.

If your park caters to families with young children, collaborating with your local PTA group is excellent exposure to be the host for their future fifth grade camping trips. Supporting this annual grade school weekend getaway becomes an event unto itself. Boy scout and girl scout groups are another naturally aligned group to the camping industry. Dedicate a certain week out of the year to their troops with special cabin blocks and activities reserved just for them.

When partnering with the Rotary, Knights of Columbus, or other nonprofits, suggest that a portion of each site booked for a weekend goes towards the charity. You can also offer them an information table at your camphost’s site or office to share their mission. It’s mutually beneficial to collaborate within your community, and your neighbors could become your next most loyal customers for their future staycations.

Read Next: The Best Camp Store Merchandise to Sell

5. Feature Local Vendors

On the topic of local engagement, consider integrating local businesses into your campground event to draw in their customer bases as well.

If you don’t sell food, hosting one or two food trucks per weekend can become popular among hungry patrons who don’t want to leave the property. Local artists and live musicians would certainly liven up any themed event. Partnerships with each of these vendors can even be spun into entire events themselves: food truck rally, hometown artist sale, battle of the bands, and more. Consider inviting and hosting artists or musicians from farther out of town or out of state, too. As campers begin to associate your brand with their other favorite businesses, you’ll be twice as likely to come to mind for their next vacation destination.

While offering an avenue for vendors to do business at your property, allow them to do the same for you in return. Ask artists with brick and mortar shops to display your event fliers. To amplify your message online, follow one another on social media and have the vendors cross-post your events with their networks.

6. Offer Games, Prizes, and Incentives

Games or sporting competitions are always popular themes for an entire weekend of fun.

For example, consider hosting a volleyball tournament. If you have an arcade or recreation room, create a weekend gaming competition. Recreate elementary school field days and involve the whole family in potato sack races, water balloon fights, three-legged races, and more. Make sure to include mini prizes for the winner of each competition to incentivize participation. By tapping into specific interests for each event, you broaden your base of customers who relate to your brand of camping and think of you in the future.

Whether you’re capitalizing on classic holiday weekends or inventing your own annual tradition, we hope these tips inspire new avenues for connecting your events to broader communities and for attracting campers to your property year round!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

Image credit: Adobe Stock

5 Ways to Use Text Messaging to Communicate with Campground Guests

Campground guest communication can take on many forms. For instance, email is a tried and true outlet for communicating with your target audience of new, returning, and aspiring campers. However, email has a rising counterpart that’s worth incorporating into your camper communication and marketing strategy: text messaging.

Did you know that SMS (short message service) campaigns—a.k.a. text messaging campaigns—have an average message open rate of up to 98%, compared to email at just 20%? Well, now you do, and we’re going to share the top five ways you can easily use text messaging to communicate with campground guests! First, here’s how to get started with texting for your business.

Compliance and Enabling Text Messaging

As a reservation software provider, Campspot has integrated text messaging into its suite of management tools to make it easier than ever to communicate with campground guests who are currently at your property or are arriving between certain dates you set. The biggest difference between one-to-one text messaging, such as to a friend or family member, and texting as a business is permission. Technically, you as an individual can text whomever you want to without penalty. However, as a business, the camper you want to text must first opt in to receiving messages. The active process of opting in is very important for legal compliance under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). You can even be fined , which can add up quickly. Under the TCPA, you must also provide a clear way for someone to opt out of texting, such as “Reply STOP to this message to stop receiving text messages”, which would automatically remove that guest from your list.

Because you can’t text a camper to first ask them “Can we text you?”, you need to get written permission from that camper up front and as seamlessly as possible. Fortunately, within Campspot’s Reservation Summary link for each booked guest, there is a simple opt-in option. Once a camper is opted in, there are numerous ways you can utilize texting to your advantage to reach them.

General Updates

It’s hard to track down everyone at your property to deliver the same, accurate message to them. Flyers on the office bulletin board aren’t the most efficient and the camp host can’t reach everyone, which also leads to a bad game of Telephone waiting to happen. When you need to communicate facility updates to your guests, texting is the way to go. Pool hours changing? Shower maintenance taking place? New asphalt being poured? No problem.

A phone in front of a pool with a text message alerting campers that the pool is closing.

Of course, not everyone who comes to your property will opt in to receive your texts, but this is an added incentive for those who do—they get to learn about key information first.

Campground Emergencies

In the case of extreme weather, time is of the essence to notify your guests. Mother Nature waits for no one and storms can roll into your park fast. That’s why text messaging is such a convenient and timely mode of communication in this instance. If you have any lead time while tracking the radar, a simple heads up can go a long way. If you have less time, in the case of an approaching tornado and sirens for example, a short and direct message will be even more appreciated in the moment.

A phone in front of a lake scene with a text message from a campground alerting campers of inclement weather.

In the case of other emergencies, such as a missing child or active crime reported in the area, enhanced guest safety and awareness is instantly at your fingertips with text messaging capabilities.

Campground Promotions

Odds are, your campground is irresistible once guests arrive, and no one likes ending their vacation. Why not offer a real-time promotion for guests at your property to extend their stay by one night for half the rate? This is a great tactic during your slower season or as you’re keeping an eye on occupancy from day to day. You may be surprised how many campers take you up on the offer, and that’s cash in hand.

A phone in front of a waterpark asking a camper if they'd like to extend their stay.

If you want to entice guests to become repeat campers, send a message on their last day thanking them for their stay and offering a 10% discount off their next booking or a BOGO deal.

You can apply a percentage discount such as this to any reservation as long as you have a discount rule set up for it. While there isn’t a way within Campspot to track the eligibility of certain guests who receive this promotion, you could honor word of mouth for such a discount by providing a unique code with each new text offer—such as “EXTEND”—or you can track this in another way outside of the software. Because text messages cannot be sent to guests after they’ve already checked out, texting them on the last day of their stay also keeps your brand of camping top of mind even as campers are on their way out.

Campground Access

Whether it’s a private shower room or gate code, some of your facilities may have restricted entry points. A simple way to remind your guests of their access codes and deliver further instructions upon arrival is through a quick text. Guests will have the code handy on their phones and you can avoid front desk calls from forgetful campers.

A phone screen in front of a pool gate alerting a camper what the gate code is.

As a reminder, while you can’t send targeted messages to individual guests, you can send these access code texts when they apply to all guests, such as shared facilities.

Campground Rules Reminder

Enforcing campground policies is tricky enough as it is without communication barriers involved. When you need a fast and concise way to remind guests of the speed limit, noise curfew, no parking zone, or otherwise, texting is the ideal solution. This is especially handy if there have been frequent or recent violations to specific rules.

A phone screen in front of a dog park reminding campground owners of the campground rules.

Ideally, you will only have to send messages of this nature sparingly when guests are at your property. You don’t want to overdo these updates because they could annoy guests and prompt them to opt out. Simply consider this type of messaging as one more tool in your box when needed.

Final Campground Text Messaging Tips

You’ll notice in the examples above that we kept our text messages brief. That’s for a few reasons. One, a single SMS text message will get cut off after 160 characters unless the cell provider supports message concatenation: splitting the long text into segments and re-joining the message at the receiving end. You don’t want to risk your message getting cut in half. Two, readers may tune out or be annoyed by a longer message. Include the important points and say what you need to using as few words as possible for best results. Finally, stick to sending texts during business hours. Otherwise, a late night text from a business will feel intrusive and make the camper more likely to opt-out. As with every marketing touch point, be strategic about how often and when you reach out for best results.

We hope you now have a greater understanding of the many ways you can utilize texting to expertly and easily manage campground guest communication. Happy texting!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

6 Key Campground Marketing Strategies for Every Park

We don’t have to tell you twice that repeat business equals success in the outdoor hospitality industry—and in most industries for that matter. Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” As a campground operator, you are in the business of selling an unforgettable experience and attracting lifelong friends: your campers! This adds to the fun and challenge of leaving a memorable impression on your guests, which should begin far before they step foot on your property through strategic marketing efforts. Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start, we outline the most important campground marketing strategies that are simple yet essential to building an iconic camping brand even while time-strapped.

1. Use Consistent Branding and Messaging

At Campspot, you’ll often hear us refer to each of our customers’ “unique brand of camping.” This simply means that amongst thousands of North American campgrounds and vacation options, you must differentiate your park and begin your campground marketing strategy by defining what makes your business unique.

Perhaps you’ve built your park as a no frills, rustic haven for locals and nomads alike. Maybe you exclusively welcome families with young children because you love providing their first camping experience. It’s possible your campground is the closest lodging to a nearby national park, which makes location a key part of the property’s identity and appeal. No matter who you cater to or how you do things differently at your campground, make sure you craft a creative tagline and visual logo around your key differentiators. Use this special branding and messaging continuously wherever you choose to advertise your campground. That’s the essence of marketing: a core message repeated over time to the same target audience. Because if you don’t recognize, define, and share with the world what makes your park special, campers will never know what they’re missing.

2. Create a Website, Even a Simple One

Having a website is important as both a strategic campground marketing tool and a general validator of your park’s existence. If a camper heard of you through a friend or a local ad but then can’t find your business online, they may question the legitimacy of your operation. That’s why it’s important to at least have a simple homepage, ideally hosted through a domain (a.k.a. URL) that contains your property’s name or location. You don’t have to be an expert web developer either. There are many free to low-cost web templates and tools—Squarespace, WordPress, Wix—that make it easy to set up a webpage in one day. While it’s common for a Facebook account to serve in place of a website, we recommend having a separate webpage because the capabilities, appearance, and goals differ significantly from social media.

Additionally, a website will allow your campground to appear in search engine results when campers search keywords related to your campground, such as your name, “campgrounds near me,” or other key terms on your website. A Google Business profile also helps with local search engine optimization.

3. Don’t Spread Your Social Media Presence Too Thin or Thick

These days, there are seemingly endless social media platforms where businesses can advertise and engage with their customers: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, Clubhouse, Snapchat, the list goes on. Yet, the prevalence of social media in our personal and professional lives is undeniable.

The good news is that your campground marketing doesn’t actually have to take place on all platforms—really. In fact, trying to be everywhere online often means you’re risking the quality or consistency of your content, which can be worse for your online presence. It’s not a good look if your campground’s last social post was from 2018 or if a camper tries to message you on a social platform and doesn’t receive a reply for months.

The best course is committing to a business profile for at least one social media platform that your staff is very comfortable using and has the bandwidth to actively manage. If time management goes well, consider expanding to more platforms and crossposting the same content for efficiency and amplification of your message.

Read Next: 11 Social Media Tips for Campground Owners 

4. Start Text Messaging Campers, With Their Permission

Email is a tried and true outlet for communicating with your target audience of new, returning, and aspiring campers. However, email has a rising competitor that’s worth being included in your campground marketing strategy: text messaging. You may be surprised to learn that SMS (short message service) campaigns have an average message open rate of up to 98%, compared to email at just 20%. With eyes on your message as the main goal, this open rate difference is substantial.

What does a marketing text message look like in practice? Well, beyond the common cases of updating current guests staying at your property about inclement weather or last minute changes, you can also entice those guests with an “extend your stay” discount rate at their fingertips. Alternatively, keep former guests in the loop about upcoming events and other promotions even after they’ve left. The shorter nature of texting also makes it a beneficial way to share your message quickly and succinctly versus a wordy email. Similar to email compliance, though, you must have a camper’s explicit permission before you text message them—meaning they must opt in as the default rather than opting out. As long as they stayed opted in, the options for text message marketing are vast.

Some reservation software providers, including Campspot, provide text messaging as an integrated service, making it even easier to manage SMS messaging to your guests. If this wasn’t already on your campground marketing ideas list, it certainly should be now!

5. Invest in Quality Photography of Your Park

If a picture of your property is worth a thousand words, you want to make sure those are all positive words! That’s why we highly recommend investing in quality photography of your campground. Browsing campers are eager to see what your property looks like and to get their bearings before officially booking. With zero photos of your property online, you leave many of these answers up to assumptions and guessing, which is not ideal. If you have low resolution, low light, or poor quality photos of your property online, a guest will be much less likely to be persuaded to choose your park.

At a minimum, we recommend photographing your various site types (inside and out if you have cabins), bathrooms, scenic views from the property, amenities, and camp store. Controlling your public image while making sure the initial impression of your park matches reality is vital to ensuring guest satisfaction and trust. For this reason, we also discourage the use of stock photos on your website or social media.

If you’re unable to hire a professional photographer, the quality and accessibility of smartphones today mean you can still take stellar photos on your own.

Read Next: 5 Campground Photography Questions Answered 

6. Take the High Road When Managing Online Reviews

Online reviews are an inevitable help and hindrance to operating a park. Building an online archive of happy customer experiences can do wonders for validating your brand and attracting newcomers—whether that be from simple 5-star Google reviews or long heartfelt stories left on your Facebook page. On the other hand, some marketers say it takes 40 positive customer interactions to undo the impact of one negative review. Sometimes, no matter what you do in person or how you treat someone, bad online reviews will appear that are truly out of your control. What you can control, however, is how you manage and react to these reviews.

We recommend always replying to all reviews. For positive reviews, responding with a simple “Thank you!” is a nice affirmation of the customer’s view and it shows you pay attention. In the case of a negative review, avoid arguing. You can try to clarify the story in question depending on the circumstances, but redirection and effusive positivity are equally good strategies.

Through a confirmation email, post-stay automated survey, or text message, try to solicit as many online reviews as possible to even out the bad and to have the widest representation possible. You could even incentivize reviews with a random monthly drawing for a prize for those who leave reviews that month.

While the campground marketing ideas certainly don’t stop here, we hope this list is a helpful jumpstart to either starting from scratch or revisiting your foundational marketing efforts. If you liked this post, check out our other marketing related content, such as The Best Camp Store Merchandise to Sell and How to Create a Rural Retreat Campground.

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.