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Jeanine
08-30-2008, 06:15 PM
Good evening to all,

My family and I are opening a new rv park in Pensacola, Fl. It will have a laundromat, showers, washers, vending, kitchen area, 51 sites, some pull thru, others back in, cable for all sites, 30& 50 amp each site, full hookup, large lots (aprx 40 X 80) and wifi throughout the park. The park is located on acreage that has been in our family for years and the employees will be family (we like each other and have other family businesses so we know the ups and down of this) Our plans are to open in November - but we keep working around tropical storms and now Hurricane Gustva, so the opening may be delayed abit....
Stan referred me to this forum for information and I have spent some time tonight reading your posts.
As a new camground owner, what words of wisdom do you have for us?
Topics of interst that come to mind tonight are:
#1) how do you handle mandatory hurricane evacuations?
#2) do you like the campground master system?
#3) advertising - which is the best ?
#4) how has the economy affected your business?
#5) if you opened an rv park today (keeping the knowledge you have from being in the business) what would you do differently and why?

I realize this is a long post and hope I am posting in the right area) if you have the time to answer it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jeanine
Pensacola RV Park
Florida

sspielbusch
09-02-2008, 06:45 AM
Jeanine,

Welcome! Hopefully some others will chime in here on some of your questions. The only one I can address is how the economy is affecting business. While we're not exactly in the campground business, we get the feeling from trade journal articles and hear-say that while there is some effect from the economy, it's not as bad as some might think.

Gas prices don't seem to be keeping people from camping -- they're just staying closer to home. In fact since air fares are up also, some may be choosing a camping vacation instead of flying somewhere.

I don't think I've heard any of our customers (campground owners) complain about their park not being full enough (at least compared to previous years). We do hear that a lot of them are expanding, and recently we seem to have more questions about how to handle waiting lists and people that they can't book. So it sounds to me like the business is getting better, not worse.

Hope that helps, and we hope Gustav hasn't caused too much of a problem for you!

Jeanine
09-02-2008, 03:09 PM
Thanks for your response Stan! - looking forward to hearing from other owners also.

Jimmy
09-04-2008, 05:00 AM
#1) how do you handle mandatory hurricane evacuations?
I moved from Key West Fl to Tenn so hurricane evacation is a thing of the past LOL

#2) do you like the campground master system?
The Campground Master is the best that I have found. There are a few systems that work on line that looks easier, BUT all your info is kept in someone else’s computer, if you loose your internet you system is down to the point you can’t do anything. No looking up who is to check in, no looking up anything. So when the hurricane cuts your cable or phone line and hi speed internet don’t work….your system don’t work. Stick with something that you own and have in your office. Not a on line system!

#3) advertising - which is the best ?
We added the have to fill out “How Found” to our reservations page so we have to fill it out. This way we found out for us, Woodalls & Trailer Life give us less than 1% each of out customers. If you are on the side of a interstate the return may be higher for you. The internet is the best advertising that we have.

#4) how has the economy affected your business?
When the gas price moves up, the campers slow down. We went from campers coming from out of state to camper who live within 3 hours of us.
Our numbers are about the same as last year. Some of the parks that I talk to are down as much as 50% and some of the others are up.

You should join the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (FARVC). I know that the TN ARVC was a big help, it gave me a way to talk to other people in my state who was doing the same thing.
Our web site is www.MistyRiverRV.com. Give me a call sometime if we can help any more or just add a new post.
Jimmy Felton

Wolfes
12-01-2008, 04:09 PM
Welcome Jeanine,

You already found the best campground software, right here, download the demo and play around with it. You will find it is fairly easy to use.

#1) how do you handle mandatory hurricane evacuations?

Hopefully, In Indiana, we won't have to deal with this... :rolleyes:

#2) do you like the campground master system?

We have used 2 other software programs, Campground Master is by far the best. (No Stan didn't pay me to say this) We started taking reservations in 1997 using MS Excel, it worked but was very limited in the form of useful information we could extrct from it.

#3) advertising - which is the best ?

There are many avenues that you can spend money on advertising. You should set a budget then review what sector of campers you want to attract. Traveling campers will find facilities that are easy to get to. They may not need all the bells and whistles your facility offers but are a decent income for overnight business. The majority of the traveling campers do not spend any more than the camping fee.

Get a rack card printed and try to get them into rest areas within 50 miles of your location. They are also used as hand outs at local markets and current customers take them "for a friend".

The foremost important form of advertising for us has been the Internet. We secured space on a server and created our site ourselves. You do not need to be a HTML guru to build a web site with the various programs available today.

Also be sure to check in with your local Visitor and Convention Center,

Next would be to join your State Campground Association, They will get you listed on their web site and into printed material they distribute directly to campers.

Then, depending on your budget and the type of campers you are trying to attract, look to the travel guides. Keep in mind, you do NOT have to take out an ad in Woodalls OR Trailer Life to get listed in their publication.
(Woodalls may give you a lower ranking, but anyone that uses their guides know that they are bias)

#4) how has the economy affected your business?

We are just closing out our 2008 year and we're about the same (or slightly higher) than the 2007 season. But we have had a steady growth since 1997.

#5) if you opened an rv park today (keeping the knowledge you have from being in the business) what would you do differently and why?

Layout and power, We purchased an existing campground and don't have the option of a total re-design. We would create more pull-throughs, ALL sites would be 20/30/50 amp electric (we're slowly converting) and also design a few sites facing each other (for groups). The why's should be obvious, but, to accomadate the RV'ers of today's world.

We wish you the best and again.... Welcome!:cool:

Jimmy
12-01-2008, 06:24 PM
Jeanine,

I agree with you. Money spent on your own web site is much better that giving it to any guide book. I know what we have spent in years the last few years on adds and what little we spend on our web site. The web site wins hands down by a land slide!
So we dropped the guide books. The 2 ways most people find us is word of mouth and the internet.

What is your web site? I love to take a look at it.

Jimmy Felton
Misty River Cabins & RV Resort
East TN