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.

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!

 

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 Booking.com 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 Campspot.com 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, Campspot.com 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.

Growth

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.

Content

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.

Control

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 Booking.com 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

Campspot.com 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 -peopleimages.com

Set Your Campground Business Up for Growth [Free E-Book]

Regardless of why you got into the campground business, the opportunity to grow is ripe. Even before the boom in outdoor activity related to the pandemic, camping experienced steady growth—a 77% increase since 2015. Popularity continued throughout the pandemic and despite a tumultuous economy, it continues to be a place people turn for peace and inspiration.

The question is, are you poised and primed to grow with it?

At Campspot, we love helping campgrounds grow, especially when it comes to revenue. But there are more ways to increase your earnings beyond our revenue-driving features. It starts with building the right foundation—one that helps you streamline your business and market your park efficiently. This solid ground allows you to open yourself up to new revenue opportunities.

To get a snapshot of growth strategies at different campground businesses, we interviewed two parks—one single-family owned campground with 51 sites and, on the other end of the spectrum, a multi-park group that is growing rapidly. With their input, we created a free e-book where all campground owners and operators could turn to find insights and ideas. Spoiler alert: it’s chock full of advice, experience, and tips and it all starts with what we call “establishing your north star.”

Download Your Free Copy of Growth Strategies for Your Campground Business for:

  • Insider tips
  • Tried and true practices for marketing your campground
  • Specific ideas you can implement today to help drive more revenue
  • A worksheet to help you move forward 

From streamlining your operations to broadcasting what makes your park unique, to reaching more campers, this guide is packed with insights and ideas for your campground to apply.

Find out what other parks do to set a steady course and ensure their own growth, and get clear on your own path for the coming year. Ready? Set? Let’s grow!

Download the guide today.

How to Build a Campground Dog Park

As the number of millennial campers rises, so too does the number of folks who love to bring their dogs with them while they travel. Of all campers, 38% are millennials, and as of 2020, 80% of millennial pet owners have dogs. How can you cater to these millennials who are eager to camp with their beloved pups? A campground dog park is a fantastic offering that you may want to consider adding to your facilities.

So What Is a Dog Park?

Blue and red agility equipment at a campground dog park.

The American Kennel Club defines a dog park as a “park, typically fenced, where people and their dogs can play together…they offer an off-leash play area and the chance to socialize with other canines and their owners.”

The Benefits of Dog Parks

An australian shepherd at a campground dog park

Among their many benefits, dog parks provide an excellent opportunity for beloved pups to socialize with other dogs in safe, enclosed areas.

Campground dog parks also offer a great space for dog owners to socialize with each other. Campers may forge new friendships here and make plans to meet up with their new human and canine friends in future years.

A dog park is also helpful to the campground because these well-exercised pups will be tired out and less likely to bark all night or destroy campground property.

Guidelines to Build Your Own Campground Dog Park

An Australian shepherd at a campground dog park

Consider Your House Rules

You don’t want your campground dog park to be a total free-for-all. Laying out ground rules can help ensure that dog owners behave responsibly so everyone can enjoy the park safely.

Here are some sample guidelines to consider:

  • No more than two dogs per person.
  • All dogs must be vaccinated, as well as spayed/neutered.
  • Puppies must be at least four-months-old.
  • Do not leave dogs unattended.
  • All dogs must wear tags.
  • Keep dogs leashed when entering and exiting the dog park.
  • Clean up after your dog.
  • No dogs with a history of aggressive behavior allowed. If signs of aggression are shown, the dog will be asked to leave.
  • Follow designated dog park hours.

You can post these rules on signs at the park and on your website so campers can research them in advance.

A Note on Dogs of Different Sizes

A golden doodle dog at a campground

At some dog parks, pups are separated into a small dog and large dog section. Consider whether you’d like to implement this at your park. The typical range to be considered “small” is 35 pounds or less. This can be helpful for making pups feel comfortable with dogs of their same size. It does require more fencing and planning though, and may be seen as a downside for folks whose pups love playing with dogs of any size.

Paul Brennescholtz, owner and CEO at Four Paws Kingdom Campground and Dog Retreat and Campspot customer shares some insight about their campground’s dog parks which are designed specifically with dogs in mind.

“We have a dog park reserved just for dogs 30 pounds and under and we have a “private” park available on a first come first serve basis that allows dogs that might not be as well socialized to have some private room to roam.”

FAQs on Building a Campground Dog Park

A golden retriever at a campground with campers

How much space do I need?

The general rule of thumb is that you need at least one acre for a dog park. If you have more room, that’s great—the bigger, the better! It gives pets and their owners more space to comfortably run and play.

When you consider the location of your dog park, you may want to place it somewhere it won’t be in the way. You don’t want it near a busy road, nor too close to cabins where barking might disrupt guests. But you’ll still want it within walking distance of your campsites.

Another important consideration is land that’s not currently being used. Is there a hill or slope where you haven’t been able to build? That could become part of your dog park! Dogs love bounding up and down hills, so you may be able to make use of an under-utilized area.

When it comes down to it, campground owner Brennescholtz recommends that you provide more space than you think is necessary. “Dog owners notice these things and they can tell when a dog park was just slapped into a small piece of land.  Give the dogs room to chase a ball.  After all, they’ve been cooped up in an RV!”

What kind of fencing will I need?

Experts recommend a 4-to-6 foot-high chain-link fence. Four feet is about the minimum to prevent larger dogs from jumping over. The ideal setup would also include a double-gated, self-closing entry to prevent dogs from escaping.

Make sure to think through the placement of your entrance. Placing the gate in the corner may result in dogs rushing the newest arrival, stressing the pup and possibly resulting in fights. Instead, placing entrances along the sides of the park may be better, as pups will have more space to enter calmly.

Campground owner Brennescholtz shares the following as it relates to fencing maintenance:

“Not surprisingly, keeping up with our fences and gates can be time-consuming. Our number one priority is keeping the dogs safe, so inspecting and repairing small imperfections in the fencing before it gets to be a big issue is an essential part of our park maintenance.”

Grass is the perfect surface for dogs, right?

Actually, grass may not be the most advisable option. Playful, perpetually-running dogs may tear up the grass, resulting in a muddy mess after heavy rain. An artificial turf or decomposed granite may last longer and require less maintenance. Keep in mind that such alternatives may cost more up front, but can be worth it for the sake of durability.

Do I need to include any other amenities?

Yes! Plenty of benches and picnic tables are important so folks can sit down and relax. Include at least two benches and two tables in a one acre park. A dispenser of waste bags is also a good idea, as well as garbage cans, so folks have no reason not to pick up after their pets.

Water fountains (a high one for humans and a low one for dogs) are also wise to include so everyone can stay hydrated. Dog water fountains are preferable compared to placing water bowls around the park, as standing water can attract bugs and spread disease.

Consider these amenities in your long-term budgeting process. You may only need to replace benches and picnic tables every few years, but waste bag dispensers will need to be refilled far more often, and you’ll need a waste management resource for trash removal.

What else does my dog park need?

Trees! Shade is essential to help dogs and pet owners alike to stay cool.  Campground owner Brennescholtz also recommends a way to rinse dogs as well, sharing, “A nice piece of hose around six feet long attached to the faucet can be great for a quick rinse down or cool-down for a dusty and hot dog.”

How can I go the extra mile when it comes to appealing to campground guests with dogs? 

When it comes to wow-ing their guests, Four Paws Kingdom Campground and Dog Retreat knows how to truly delight their campers and their doggos. Brennescholtz shares a few of their campgrounds special amenities below. Consider how you might add extra elements to your own campground that help provide a special touch and accommodate your furry guests.

“We have a dog park that has a pond in it. The dogs LOVE to be able to splash around and swim.  We also have a park that is set up with agility equipment. This provides a great first experience for many dogs AND their humans about how much fun doing agility training is.

We also have a dog wash room in our bath house that has 2 tubs—one on the floor for the big dogs and one on a table for the small dogs.”

I hope this helps you build a wonderful dog park for your campground that dog-loving campers from near and far will enjoy! Once you’re set up with your dog park, be sure to add the pet-friendly tag to your Campspot listing, so dog lovers can find you and book easily.

Emily Hessney Lynch is a social media strategist with ten years of experience helping organizations share their stories through engaging digital content. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and their three rescue dogs. They love getting outside year-round and enjoy paddle boarding, hiking, and snowshoeing. You can follow her on Instagram at @servemethesky.

Photo credit in order of appearance: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Hill Country, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Hill Country, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Hill Country, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Hill Country, Tyler Way, Tyler Way 

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.

Protect Your Data: What You Need to Know About Campground Reservation Software and Security

Finding a Secure Campground Reservation Software

Campground reservation software unlocks enormous potential for growing RV parks and campgrounds. From point-of-sale (POS) systems, add-on amenities, housekeeping schedules, and remote check-in features, an online management system can save time and boost revenue. But not all software is created equally. As you compare campground reservation software solutions and determine what’s best for your campground, one thing to consider is security, practices, and transparency. Investing in a software that securely stores and protects your data will ensure you’re set up for success, and keep your business and your campers’ important information safe.

But what does secure software actually look like? Read on for advice on how to select the very best option for your campground.

Tip #1: Your Software Needs a Backup Option

As a campground owner, you’ve learned to plan for the unexpected. Whether it’s early arrivals, ice shortages, water leaks, or plumbing repairs, you rise to the occasion and adapt. Your reservation software should do the same! When it comes to a campground management solution, cloud-based options are essential. Unlike desktop apps or a pen and paper approach, cloud-based software can be accessed on multiple devices and always has a backup. When a computer crashes unexpectedly, you can be confident that your reservation data is safe and easily accessible on a different device.

Backups are also really helpful for reporting. By finding software that offers automatic reporting options, you can schedule reports to arrive directly in your inbox as a backup. If anything unexpected happens, you can be confident pulling up your backup data in those reports.

Questions to ask when exploring campground reservation software solutions: 

  1. How does your company store my data?
  2. What are your company’s backup options when it comes to securing our data?

Backup Options at Campspot

At Campspot, we store our data in Amazon Web Services (AWS) using Amazon’s flavor of MySQL database (Aurora MySQL). The database is only accessible to our internal systems and authorized users who have access to our production Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Furthermore, those users are regularly audited to ensure that access is still needed and appropriate.

For backup purposes, this database is copied in real-time to another AWS region for assurance and to not overload the website. The database also has a snapshot taken every morning; these are stored for 60 days. Campspot is deeply invested in the security of your data and in the rigor with which we protect and store your data.

Tip #2: Read the Fine Print

We get it. Terms and Conditions can be a little intimidating. But you shouldn’t have to have a law degree to be able to understand if your campground reservation software solution is secure. The right campground reservation software will be user-friendly and up front about your data security.

We recommend reviewing the Terms and Conditions and getting in touch to ask questions if there’s anything that’s unclear.

Here are some helpful terms to keep an eye out for when reviewing company policies and terms and conditions:

  • “secure storage”
  • “industry best practices”
  • phrases similar to “ensures confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data”.

These key phrases show that the company you’re considering takes data and security seriously, and is aware of best practices.

Be cautious of anything that claims to store data on a “blockchain” or “append-only ledger”. These phrases can be a red flag that your data and your guest’s data may not be as secure.

Questions to ask when exploring campground reservation software solutions: 

  1. How is data managed at your company?
  2. What are examples or ways you might use our data at your company?

Data Terms & Conditions at Campspot

At Campspot, we believe that important data is yours, and yours alone, and you have the right and responsibility to know how it is stored and used. We clearly state in our service agreement that “You retain all ownership rights in and to the Customer Data provided by you or on your behalf that is associated with your Account.” 

We’re often asked if we share our data and with whom. We welcome these conversations and want to be clear that Campspot does not share data. In fact, information is never shared outside of an internal need-to-know basis, not even with industry partners and investors. Not only would sharing data with partners be unethical but also illegal and that’s a stance that Campspot takes very seriously.

One of the common misperceptions about Campspot is that we market to a campground’s customers via the Marketplace or other advertising channels. Though we advertise and promote the Marketplace as a whole in order to connect more campers to your campground, we do not, nor would we legally be able to, market to your customers directly. Your customer data is secure within your system.

If your customer creates a Campspot.com account or explicitly opts into marketing communications from the Campspot Marketplace, they may receive Marketplace advertisements encouraging them to book more camping trips. Rest assured, under no circumstance would Campspot advertise to customers that only booked with your campground directly.

Tip #3: Look for Certifications

When it comes to software security, actions speak louder than words. There are a few certifications you can look for that require external audits and third-party endorsements including PCI, SOX, and SOC to name a few of the more popular ones. These certifications take rigor and require external audits to acquire. Knowing that your reservation software company is willing to go above and beyond with these certifications can help assure that they will be intentional about your data.


Questions to ask when exploring campground reservation software solutions: 

  1. What certifications do you have?
  2. Are there any additional certifications you plan to pursue?
  3. Is there anyone at your company dedicated to security and compliance?

Campspot Certifications

Campspot has SOC and SOX and is pursuing PCI-DSS Merchant Level 1 certification as we grow. These compliance certifications are lengthy processes that require significant ongoing investments, both in terms of time and resources, and entail annual upkeep. We take the responsibility of data stewardship very seriously and remain committed to investing in these security measures.

As you look for a reservation system that is right for you, be empowered with an understanding of what questions to ask about your software’s security. By asking the right questions before you join and onboard, you can avoid major headaches and problems in the future.

Read Next: Cyber Security 

If you are interested in learning more about Campspot’s features or about whether or not it’s right for you, reach out to our team at sales@campspot.com or customersuccess@campspot.com.

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. 

New Feature: Advanced Reservation Activity Feed

Campspot is excited to offer advanced options for reporting. While we currently provide robust reports available for download, we are expanding the ways in which we deliver that data to you.  Whether you track data for intrigue, or you manage multiple parks and rely on data for organizational growth, we want to give you the ability to see your reservation data in more consumable ways. 

Data is only as valuable as the insights that can be gleaned from it. Which is why Campspot now offers the ability to feed three years worth of reservation data into your preferred business insights tool. This feed, hosted by Amazon’s web storage services, is updated every night and contains reservation information going back three years. With insights around site income, occupancy, average daily rate, and more, flexibility in how to consume the reports can contribute to more valuable, data-driven insights over time. 

Among the most popular reports available on Campspot are the arrivals, departures, total payments, and rent roll reports. The reservation activity feed is a way to make the kind of information you find in these reports easier to consume and analyze. It’s another step in our effort to continue offering advanced options for reporting and empower you with more direct and flexible access to a set of standard metrics and data for your properties. 

Is This for Me?

This feature is ideal for owners who manage multiple parks and want a seamless way to access and analyze reservation data across your portfolio. It’s also available to anyone who wants to take their reporting to the next level. Technical set-up is required on both ends, so it will be easier for parks who have IT or operations employees on staff.

I’m Interested! What’s Next?

If you are interested in this feature or want to learn more about whether or not it’s right for you, reach out to our team at sales@campspot.com or customersuccess@campspot.com.

11 Social Media Tips for Campground Owners

As a busy campground owner with many tasks on your plate, it’s easy for marketing to sometimes fall to the bottom of your to do list. Especially when social media is a lot to stay on top of. Did you know the average person in the United States spends just over two hours per day on social media? When folks are scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, you’ll want to ensure your campground is part of the content they’re seeing. To help your campground market your campground, I’ve put together 11 social media tips for campground owners.

A Note on Social Media Goals

When developing your social media presence, it’s important to have realistic expectations and clear goals. Like many forms of marketing, social media is more of a long game. Posting three times a week on Instagram won’t instantly get you an influx of new guests, but it will help grow your brand awareness. Typically, most of my clients are using social media to increase brand awareness. Social media can also lead to bookings at your campground, especially if you’ve optimized the experience to make it easy for folks to book quickly through a link in your bio, but it does take many interactions with your brand over time for a potential camper to be ready to book.

Without further ado, here are 11 tips for effective and efficient social media marketing.

1. Use a Scheduling Tool

Rather than trying to remember to post on the go, sit down once a week and plan your posts. There are many scheduling tools that publish posts automatically. Meta Business Suite has a free, built-in scheduler that enables you to schedule Facebook and Instagram posts. This helps build consistency, saves you time in the long run, and prevents errors that you could make when posting on the fly.

2. Write a Compelling Bio on Instagram

Why should someone bother hitting the follow button when they find your campground’s profile? Put yourself in your ideal guest’s shoes. Why should they care? Your bio should have personality, be true to your brand, and have your guests’ needs and interests top of mind.

3. Make Sure You’re Using a Business Account on Instagram

There are many reasons to use a business account on Instagram. Most importantly, it gives you access to analytics so you can see how your content is performing. It also allows you to set up contact options, like a call and email button, so people can easily contact you. Other features like Instagram advertising and post scheduling are also available to business accounts only. Here’s how to switch to a business account.

4. Post When Your People are Online

There’s no one universally perfect posting time, but there are a few times that tend to work well. Generally speaking, folks are often online: first thing in the morning, over the lunch hour, and in the evening. For many industries, evening is the best time to post, as people are often on their phones after dinner or before bed. This guideline doesn’t always hold true, so review your analytics. They can show you what days of the week and what times your followers are most active.

5. Consider Creating a Facebook Group for Your Campground

Organic reach has been declining for business pages as Facebook pushes businesses to run ads. However, groups can be a great place to engage with your audience. Try making a group like “X Campground Regulars” or “Moms of X Campground” to cater to a particular demographic that loves your campground. This can give your most loyal fans a place to interact with each other and stay up-to-date on campground news. Try offering special incentives to group members–like special sales or early access to booking. 

6. Hone Your Hashtags on Instagram

No need to use hashtags in your Facebook posts. Facebook users don’t typically search by hashtag and they don’t help you rise in the algorithm. Focus more on hashtags on Instagram. Social media experts recommend six to eight hashtags per post. Use a mix of small, niche hashtags and larger, more popular hashtags. You can even have a unique hashtag specific to your campground! Encourage your guests to use your hashtag when sharing about their experience, then repost their content in a weekly series like “Photo Friday.”

7. Keep it Personal

When it comes to social media tips for campground owners, this one might seem obvious, but it’s important to remember. Social media is meant to be social. It’s a two-way street, not a one-sided megaphone for self-promotion. Ask questions and encourage people to leave comments. When responding to folks, use their first name to be friendly and show you care. Responding to all comments shows that you’re dedicated to helping folks get their questions answered. As an added bonus, social media algorithms boost accounts with more comments because they see it as a measure of engagement, so responding helps your posts’ overall visibility. 

8. Flex Your Sense of Humor

Humor is a great way to show off your personality and spark engagement. Experiment with funny gifs and memes. Folks love following brands that create relatable, entertaining content. The caveat here is to be funny within reason. There are some topics that are no joking matter, so run your idea by a few others before posting. The last thing you want is to make light of a serious issue and end up being a trending topic for your social media faux pas. 

9. Join TikTok

You don’t have to start creating content for TikTok, but sign up and start getting a feel for the platform. It has grown exponentially over the past few years and many content creators (myself included) are finding it easier to grow on TikTok than other platforms. While you may think the platform is just for kids doing dance trends, that’s far from the reality. Just over Twenty-two percent of users are 20 to 29, 21.7% are 30 to 39, and 20.3% are 40 to 49. The platform also skews toward women; 61% of users in the U.S. are women. Plus, TikTok shared in a webinar that 52% of TikTok users are not on Instagram and 45% are not on Facebook. That’s a new audience you may not have reached yet. Even more astonishing, the average TikTok user spends 89 minutes a day on the platform! TikTok has loads of potential, so pay attention and consider giving it a try for your campground.

10. Check Your Analytics

Every platform has a built-in analytics module; checking it monthly is a good way to measure the return on your efforts. Monitor these metrics:

  • Reach: this shows how many people saw the post, helping you measure brand awareness.
  • Engagement: this includes things like comments, likes, and follows, and helps you see how loyal and active your audience is.
  • Shares: this gives you a sense of how much your followers are doing word-of-mouth advocacy for your brand.

No need to worry about follower count—it’s a vanity metric. It’s better to have fewer followers that are highly engaged than tons of followers that don’t care about your content.

11. Done is Better than Perfect

Many business owners want their marketing efforts to be perfect. Perfection isn’t a realistic goal. Perfect is a limbo state where your content is sitting in drafts, endlessly edited and never shared. Done is the first step in helping folks discover your awesome campground. Create content that’s “good enough” and share it!

I hope these social media tips for campground owners help you market your campground and meet new guests from near and far. Happy connecting!

 

Emily Hessney Lynch is a social media strategist with ten years of experience helping organizations share their stories through engaging digital content. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and their three rescue dogs. They love getting outside year-round and enjoy paddle boarding, hiking, and snowshoeing. You can follow her on Instagram at @servemethesky.