I recently gave a speech on the Online Travel Industry entering into the Camping Industry and starting to offer campgrounds and RV Park reservations on the web. While researching this I was amazed to find out that with the many years that both industries have been operating there has not been a mixing of the two.
Now there have been some companies that have tried to offer campgrounds on their sites and some that have simply redirected campers to other websites for booking, there are currently no major online players in this space. This is one of the biggest reasons why we founded CampReward.com. There is so much opportunity for growth in this industry and I believe that we have the opportunity to really help campground owners bring their industry into the new age of online travel.
During my presentation I talked about the many ways that campgrounds can begin preparing themselves for offering their campgrounds online. Some of the ways that campgrounds can prepare are:
Property Photos: I learned very quickly that a bad photo can make or break an online booking. Campgrounds and RV Parks need to invest in getting quality photographs of their property and their amenities to show the beauty and the benefits of staying at their property. This doesn’t mean that they have to spend a lot of money. There are many phone apps that will allow them to take pictures and edit them right on their phone for less than $5.
Product Descriptions: Property owners should start to think about what their value proposition is for their campground and begin to put that into words. What makes their property special and unique and why should customers visit their property. Having a well thought out product description can have a lasting effect on customers who research their trips before booking.
Mapping: If you search your property on Google, Bing, or Yahoo Maps does it take you to the right location? With the assortment of online map programs now, campground owners need to make sure that they claim their address and make sure that their property is properly displayed online. Customers use these programs every day and it is vital for them to know exactly how to get to your property. Make sure that they can find you quickly and easily.
Controlling Online Reviews: Campgrounds owners should know that they have more control over online reviews than they think. The first way to control online reviews is to make sure that the last experience their guests have at their property is a good one. The last experience someone has during a vacation is usually the one that they will remember when they get home and open up the computer.
Ask your guests to submit a review when they check out or very soon after their stay. The more positive reviews that your property has the less credible the bad reviews will seem. Be sure to email you guests after their stay to check in and to ask them how they enjoyed their stay and to submit a review online and don’t forget to provide the link to the review site. Make it as easy as possible for them to respond.
Respond to any and all guest reviews. If you have a review for your property on a site like Yelp, make sure that you respond. Thank the guests for their stay and let them know how you have responded to their feedback. Let them know that the problem has been fixed and asked them for another opportunity to earn back their business. Knowing that you have read their feedback and that you have taken action can go a long way towards not only getting that customer back, but will also impress potential new customers.
Reservation Management Systems: If you currently have a Reservation Management System ask them if they are set up to integrate with online travel companies. Many companies have the ability to do this and most have it on their list of things to do, but it may not be at the top. Let them know that you are interested in having this as an option and make sure that they are getting prepared for this to be an option. Integration will allow companies like CampReward.com to communicate directly with your reservation system when guests are searching for availability.
These are just some examples of ways that campground owners can prepair for working with online travel companies. The truth is,l this is an exciting time to be a part of the campground industry and there is a lot of opportunity for campgrounds to grab additional revenue and to reach new customers. CampReward.com is dedicated to serving the campground industry through education and through additional marketing and revenue opportunities. If you would like to learn more about what we do please feel free to visit www.campreward.com.