Do you want to start an RV Park? If YES, here is a guide to help you understand the RV park business model plus 20 smart ways RV park owners make money.
Every business is set up to make profit. This is a requirement that has never changed since the dawn of time, regardless of the business in question. If you want to succeed, the business you invest in must provide you a decent return.
Understanding the RV Park Business Model
From providing a decent income, it can now grow and birth other similar businesses in other locations. If you want to start up an RV park, one of the first things to put into consideration is how your camp can make the money needed to run it, sustain it and pay the required bills.
More and more regular people are making the decision to own RV parks for many different reasons. A lot of them just want to enjoy their vacation without having to cover long distances and pay too much for storage or expensive vacation rentals.
Today, RV campgrounds are regarded as one of the real estate investments with the highest return on investment (around 15% to 20%). Considering an ROI of around 10% for a residential real estate investment and 7% for a stock market investment, owning an RV park lot looks like an intelligent solution.
But before you proceed, you need to ask yourself if just booking campers in your RV park can provide the required income you need to run your park? While the income that can be gotten from this source is good, but it can keep you running on a very tight budget year on year.
This is where you now have to get proactive and think outside the box. If you are an RV campground owner who is having problems turning sufficient income from your business, we have provided you a few ways you can make additional and even passive income from your campground.
20 Smart Ways RV Park Business Owners Make Money
- Advertise Local Businesses at your park
Advertising a local business in your RV park is not really a new thing as campground owners have been doing this for years. You may have worked with one of the large sitemap companies in your area before, as a lot of people need to see a map of your campground so they can find their assigned campsite, see where the bathrooms are located or know how far they have to walk to take their kids to the playground.
How do you pay for that sitemap? Many campground owners allow sales reps to stay at their park and sell advertising on behalf of their companies.
The sitemap company then keeps those advertising dollars, and the campground receives the sitemaps for free. You can do this for other local businesses too but here you can charge them some money for them to advertise in your camp.
- Advertise related businesses on your website
Every entrepreneur that is worth his onions knows that when running a business, having a functional website is non-negotiable. It is also imperative for an RV park to own a website. A good website designer can set up a system where you can place advertisements for other businesses on specific pages in your website.
You can even accept credit card payments online for these ads and have the revenue deposited directly into your bank account without lifting a finger. You can sell by clicks, by views or by the number of days. In a single season, you could pay off the cost of a great website. But you must know that your website has to have good traffic before you can convince businesses to place advertisement on your site.
- Have Excellent Customer Service
Some businesses totally neglect the role a good customer service plays in getting you customers. In fact, quite a number of business owners can trace the path from excellent customer service to increased revenue. Many can see that this route exists, but they don’t understand how it works.
You are running your campground in an age where 80% of customers are willing to pay more money for a better customer service experience. It doesn’t matter what kind of amenities you offer, where you are located, or what kind of product you are selling. Simply by providing better customer service, 80% of people will spend more money for the same thing.
You can significantly decrease the time your visitors have to wait to have their questions answered by offering a live chat solution. You can even encourage people who are comparing campgrounds to engage with you and book before they even see your competition.
You can check-in a guest while chatting on a computer and even chat with multiple people at the same time. Not only does this give the guest an immediate answer, but it almost certainly gets them to book quicker. It can also save on staffing with fewer phone calls and training since almost everyone can chat with you via text.
- Outdo the competition
When you own a campground, you have a lot more money-making opportunities at your disposal than you might think. Sure, renting out campground space will remain your strongest financial asset, but consider integrating auxiliary products and services to boost your bottom line.
This is where you have to look out for your competitors and then aim at offering more than they offer. You can offer more service and amenities by upgrading your general store, offering special event space or campsite add ons. Customers are likely already seeking out these products and services, but are forced to visit nearby competition if you don’t offer them.
Cater to camper needs in-house and become a one-stop-shop location for outdoor recreation. The initial cost of this will be easily offset by customer demand throughout the year, not to mention, improving your offerings will hook new customers as well. If you give prospective customers a mix of reasons to visit your campsite, you’ll give them the incentive they need to choose your site over the competition.
- Make your campground tech friendly
It is on record that over 44 million millennials went on camping as of last year. With this fast growing client demographic in mind, you must consider their values and adapt. They’re influencing and changing industry trends, and you can either choose to keep up by offering amenities that can appeal to this set of people.
First, consider on-site amenities that might affect a young person’s decision to visit your campground. Like it or not, gone are the days when going camping meant unplugging from technology. One study found that 88 percent of campers bring along their mobile phones, and Wi-Fi ranks as the top desired amenity among campers. You can draw in more visitors by offering free Wi-Fi and other related amenities.
- Rent Out Recreational Equipment
Not all of your campers will have enough room in their RV or vehicle to bring along recreational gear and equipment such as kayaks, canoes, or even pop-up tables for meal time.
Make things easy for your customers by offering equipment rental options for a modest fee, and set up a pickup station or area where staff can keep track of inventory and store it safely after each use. With the location of your camp, you will know which equipment will be in higher demand for you to focus on.
- Organize Special Events and Activities
From hosting fun holiday events like carols and s’mores around a big bonfire, or providing live entertainment during the summer months, ticketed events are a great way for your guests to build fun and lasting memories at your campground.
These might appeal to both campers and visitors in the area looking for something to do during a vacation. If you open up these events to the public, could also attract locals and garner some attention from area businesses during the season.
Make sure to promote these events heavily on your social media sites, and set up a Facebook event so the general public can easily find it when they’re searching for local things to do on the Internet. You could also list your event with area magazines and publications as part of your promotional efforts.
- Put Together Lessons and Workshops
Lots of campgrounds around offer activities such as painting lessons, tie-dye t-shirt making classes, games and other educational activities. While these mainly cater to children, such workshops are a big revenue generator. Additionally, watersport activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding can be turned into educational opportunities for first-timers or beginners.
Offer lessons as part of your roster of daily activities on the campground for an extra fee. Another option is to host educational workshops, such as seminars or hands-on activities from nature guides, teachers, and other experts to give campers something to look forward to during their visit.
Consider partnering up with local instructors who can offer services your staff isn’t trained to provide, so that you can offer a variety of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Provide Breakfast or Meal Service at Your Park
One other way to increase profit at your RV park is to give campers the option to purchase a meal onsite so they can save time and effort during their vacation. Some of your visitors will probably appreciate less time doing dishes, and more time going on hikes in the surrounding area.
As long as you have a food and beverage license for your operation, you can set up a dining area to serve meals as part of the camping experience. Consider selling meal tickets as part of the camping reservation or sell meal plan packages for guests who may want to enjoy multiple meals onsite during their visit.
- Provide Shower and Laundry Service
Whether your visitors have been hiking, fishing or just sitting around a fire all week, a shower and fresh clothes are a total necessity. Offering coin-operated showers, washers and dryers will provide convenience for campers and a source of passive income for you. The best part is you’ll never need to leave the park to cash in your change – just tell campers that you have quarters and they’ll bring the cash directly to you.
- Vending Machines
Having a vending machine can be profitable in almost any situation but they can be especially profitable at a campground where people usually have limited options. With a customizable machine, you could sell not only drinks and snacks but toiletries for the showers, bug spray or anything else you think campers might want. The options are endless.
- Install an ATM Machine if You Have the Crowd
If you have enough people trouping into your campground at a certain season, it may be a good idea to have an ATM machine around where people can settle their cash needs and from where you can earn some passive income.
- Rent Out Vehicles
Depending on the location and size of your campground you have many options to offer campers. You could invest in golf carts for inside the park, ATV’s for off roading, bicycles or maybe even a horse. Having something unique can make your campground more attractive and bring in plenty of extra cash. And know that the more unique your offering, the more you can charge for it.
Although only a few states offer financial incentives for recycling, there are still many recycling companies across the country that offer cash for recyclables. With some states offering up to 15 cents per bottle this can really add up. Since you already have a lot of people milling around who take their drinks out of bottles and cans, all you have to do is place bins throughout the campground and wait for them to fill up. This not only give you some income, but it is also good for our camp environment.
- Start a photograph and monograph service
Autumn is the most beautiful season and a wonderful time for camping. A great way to showcase that beauty and make some extra money is by photographing it. Keepsakes like postcards, t-shirts and mugs can be emblazoned with your images and cherished forever by campers. This is a good way to grab camper’s addresses too. You will need to get their current home address to send them their mugs. You can charge a little more for your time and picture.
- Take advantage of the holidays
Winter isn’t everyone’s favorite season but it is the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday ornaments and decorations are just one way you can spread cheer and make some extra cash.
If your campground is in a part of the country that gets cold, you probably already have firewood available but, for most campers, it’s all about what’s roasting on top of the bonfire. Having marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars for sale is a perfect way to make a little extra money and make your campground just that much sweeter.
- Sell flowers and fresh veggies
A day of camping can be totally ruined by those roaring spring storms. However, if your campers have the option to buy their family a set of ponchos at their campground so that they can still enjoy their trip, you’ve just saved the day and made some extra cash in the process. If you enjoy gardening you might also consider selling bouquets of flowers or fresh veggies around this time of year.
- Sell ice and other frozen treats
Though Summer is definitely the best season of all, some folks just can’t take the heat. An often overlooked part of RV’ing during this season is how much heat comes through the windows. Having reflective window coverings available for purchase can make a huge difference for a family trying to stay cool.
Many RV’s also do not come equipped with an ice maker and even the best coolers will eventually be full of melted ice. Having ice for sale at a campground is a great way to bring in extra money in the summertime. If you’re keeping ice frozen, you can also keep popsicles frozen which are a great treat for campers of all ages.
- Sell subscription
Speaking of repeat business, consider selling subscriptions to families who might want to come regularly, where they either get a discount or they can stay for free for a certain number of nights with their subscriptions. Often, these can be big money makers because people buy subscriptions which then don’t get fully utilized.
- Lease your property
Consider also the possibility of running a for profit summer camp on your property or leasing the property to a summer camp each summer. This way, you can maximize your profits, guaranteeing income over the summer while renting the space out as an ordinary campground the rest of the year.