A very hot topic in the outdoor space is “Site Lock Fees.” Parks are jumping on board, charging guests anywhere from $5 to $40 for site lock fees.

Good idea?

For the most part, we would say, “No.” The following illustration shows you why.

This is an AOS park. We have full hookup pull thru sites, and on the following dates (October 15-October 22) we have the following availability:

Site 48 Open three nights

Site 49 Open four nights

Site 50 Open Six Nights

Site 52 Open Three Nights

Nightly rate for Full Hookup Pull Thur Sites is $85 per night.

Say I use site lock fees, and Tom Smith wants three nights during this time. He loves site 50, so he pays a site lock fee of $40 to guarantee he gets site 50.

Mr. Smith just paid me my regular fee of $85 X 3 PLUS $40 for site locks. A Total of $295

Now Mr. Jones calls and wants six nights. I no longer have the room to take this booking since I guaranteed Mr. Smiths site for an extra $40. I have now lost revenue of $510 because I guaranteed a site for $40. A loss of $470.

Unless your site lock fee matches your nightly rate, site lock fees are most likely costing you money. Yes, they show up on your P&L as revenue, but most are not tracking the losses due to not being able to work your grid. A costly oversight!

When do site lock fees make sense? We would say when groups wish to be together. For groups under 10 sites, we would allow site lock fees. For groups over 10 sites, we would waive site lock fees altogether.

Before you jump on the site lock fee bandwagon, think about how it ties your hands to work your grid for maximum revenue. What seems like a win/win, is mostly likely a win for the guest, but a loss for your park.