The Other Side of the Pond

I was thrilled to be the first guest of the year on the highly touted UK Podcast from Sarah Riley and her company “Inspired Courses.”

Sarah and I cover the gamut when it comes to building a camping or glamping resort. We discuss land costs, utilities, demand drivers, and all things development.

You can listen to the podcast here.

If you are interested in getting started in Glamping or Eco Tourism, Sarah’s courses are a must. She is the step that needs to be taken before we get into land planning and the hard numbers of building your Glamping resort.

If you are interested in getting into Glamping, make sure you sign up for Sarah’s courses Inspired Glamping Podcast. She will give you all the tools you need to move into the world of Glamping in both the UK and the US.

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Looks Can Be Deceiving

One of the things we thrive on here at AOS is data. I suppose my apples do not fall far from the tree. I am a data nerd-it is why I went into accounting in the first place. Thus, as a company, we thrive on numbers and analytics.

Recently, we spoke to a client who commented that more sites seemed to be empty versus this time last year. He drove through his park and assumed his revenue was down and attributed it to what he perceived to be lower occupancy.

What he did not do is look at the data. The data showed he was up over $8000 in revenue and his expenses were lower as well-resulting in a much higher NOI versus the same month last year.

At AOS we always strive for the rate and occupancy balance. We want the best rate at the best occupancy. This means we do not strive for sold out, but rather we strive for maximum revenue.

Looks can be deceiving. Make sure you take things like ADR, booking window, and overall revenue before making final judgements.

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Have Yourself A Blessed Christmas

This year has been one of amazing growth! We have faced many highs and lows such as saying, “Hello,” to new clients and team members and saying, “Goodbye” to some team members we have loved. Most of all, we are excited to Celebrate our Saviors birth!

Last week in church, our pastor asked us to ponder if Mary knew what she was getting into when she said, “Yes'” to the angels announcement of the virgin birth. Clearly, she had no idea that pain it would bring and the way it would impact every area of her life. That is what happens when you say, “Yes,” to G-d-it changes everything.

Each day I strive to live by the words and teachings of scripture and to bring these teachings into the way I run AOS. Some people think this means being timid and a pushover. Rather, a careful reading of scripture points out that Christ teaches we are to right wrongs, hold people accountable for their actions, be merciful to those who need mercy, and walk in a way that we are “Above Reproach.” It means being good stewards of what has been entrusted to you, and to us, that means our clients assets.

To our clients, Merry Christmas and know we are excited to continue our journey into 2021.

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Sewer Drives Everything

If you have heard me speak, you will often hear me say, “Sewer drives everything.” Why? Because it is true!

When it comes to planning and building your outdoor resort, wastewater matters! There are only a few ways to deal with it, and each comes with its own unique set of challenges.

One solution is on site septic. On site systems alleviate the expense of package plants and impact fees, but they are not without their challenges. Valuable land must be set aside for drain fields, eco requirements must be met, and if gravity feed does not work, lift stations must be part of the design.

Secondly, private package plants are an option for many larger parks. These entail engineering, state approvals, and can be costly to build. Once built, they require maintenance and licensed operators to keep up with testing and state regulations.

Finally, connecting to an established municipal system is an option. This may seem like the least amount of headache, but impact fees can be in the millions for a large park. Add to this the monthly costs, and this may be the best way to go, but it is often not the most economical.

For glamping, you may also wish to use the option of composting toilets or incineration toilets. These are certainly viable solutions, but operationally there may be some challenges and ADR may suffer if guests consider this primitive and not an ideal scenario.

All in all, black water is an issue all outdoor resorts must take into consideration. Costs, ecology, smell, and convenience are all things that must be thrown into the equation. We at AOS work with specialty consultants in the field of RV and Outdoor resort wastewater. Residential systems are not equipped to handle the thinly diluted waste in this industry. You MUST consult with an expert. Spending a few dollars now could result in saving millions on your next project.

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Santa Came Early to AOS

When it comes to gifts, we just received some of the best. New clients to kick off the Christmas Season!

Our team is very excited to be working with Good Living Ventures and their seven parks in Arizona. We look forward to walking them through the transition from MH to RV at their AZ properties. We have spent time getting to know everyone and feel a real synergy with these fine folks! We will be on the road next week visiting them in the desert. Welcome team GLV!

Today, we celebrated as we on-boarded Rivers Edge in PA. This fine park was KOA Park of the Year just last year, and we look forward to working with the owners and staff at waterfront campground on the Youghiogheny River. Rachel and Kristen have been there this week getting to know this stellar staff.

Last, but not least, we welcome Flatonia RV Ranch in Texas. Situated between Austin and San Antonio-this cute park is a gem! It even comes with a great fishing pond!!

We never take it for granted that owners have entrusted us with their investments. Thank you to all our fine clients and allowing us to journey with you.

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Even in a Crazy Year….There Is Every Reason to Give Thanks

I have always been a “Glass Half Full,” kind of person. I guess it is just my nature to look for the positives even in bad times.

No one would have believed what was to come in 2020. Right around March 1, we began to hear rumblings of a virus in China. By the middle of March, our world was changing in ways we could have never imagined.

Of course, for our industry, it caused explosive growth. Folks who had never planned to Glamp, Camp or RV suddenly found it to be a safer way to socially distance and yet get out of the house. With work being done via Zoom and virtual schooling, even the kids were free to roam. With these changes-the year of Outdoor Hospitality came to life. For us, 2019 was a year of rapid growth. 2020 has been nothing short of crazy!

It is never lost on us that while COVID caused positive reverberations in our industry-far too many lost their lives and suffered at the hands of this cruel virus. We would be remiss if we did not stop to offer our sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to the horror of COVID

As we head into Thanksgiving, we at AOS are thankful for the health of our staff and clients, the blessings and growth we have seen in our industry, and the promise of a vaccine that will allow life to get back to a somewhat normal flow. We look forward to Advent and a Christmas Season full of promise and hope. To your and yours, we say, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

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“Experience is One Thing You Can’t Get For Nothing” Oscar Wilde

Being Irish, I oft quote Oscar Wilde, and Wilde is most often correct.

Having been in this industry for so long, experience is one thing that comes with being a bit “Long in the Tooth.” Thus, I am always thrilled to be able speak and share what I know with others.

I am excited to announce several upcoming speaking engagements. In January we will be joining Camp Con and the virtual show with the Canadian Campground Association. We have been working with our neighbors to the north for quite some time and we are thrilled to be speaking via virtual conference.

Secondly, we are pleased to be speaking LIVE at the CARVC (Carolina Association of RV Park and Campgrounds) in February. Being back in front of a live audience will be a welcome change to all the Zoom conferences.

Finally, we have started meeting with our friends in the UK and Europe to attend and speak at some of their upcoming Glamping shows. Having family in Ireland, and having fallen in love with Europe, I am excited about the opportunities to work with industry professionals in these countries.

If you know me, you know I adore speaking and meeting with the incredibly interesting people that make up the world of Outdoor Hospitality. Here’s hoping 2021 brings us the medical advances we need to be together early and often.

Check out the shows and events listed above and make sure you register to learn from industry leaders in this space!

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Nerds Ahead of the Herd

Anyone who knows me knows I am a data nerd!

From the moment I took my first accounting class in college, I knew I was in love!! I love numbers, spreadsheets, formulas, and most of all, REVENUE.

Coming out of my former life, I was impressed with the software we used in the hotel world. It gave a data wonk like me hours of enjoyment. Armed with reports, I was able to make solid, data driven decisions with the type of reports these systems were able to compile. I am happy to report, we are moving our clients to such a system between now and 1-1-21!

If you have seen my budgets, you have a sneak peak at where we are headed. All properties will be on or moved to this hospitality based software beginning January 2021. This may not sound exciting to you, but I am like a kid at Christmas.

Our new software will give us the data we need to continually make solid financial decisions. The screenshot below is just the header of one of the new reports. Without having to pull multiple reports from different systems, we will see at a glance the nights sold, occupancy, ADR, REVPAR total revenue and revenue per occupied site-including ancillary and misc income such as extra person fees, pet fees, and booking fees.

Same on the expense side. Now our reporting gives us daily snapshots into how we are comparing against budget as a PER OCCUPIED SITE cost as well as overall revenue. Cost control is a strong focus and reporting on CPOS is a fantastic tool to control costs. Owners can now login and not only see expenses, but an image of each vendor payment made on the AP side. Owners will also have control over the approval process should they desire to have that level of control.

If you are a new property, you will be on the software from day one. If you are a current property, you will be live 1-1. Let us know if you have questions or comments. We will keep you in the loop as we move you forward!

We want to thank all of your for allowing us to partner with you in the ever expanding world of Outdoor Hospitality.

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Pivot for Profits

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at AOS is the ability to quickly respond to the market. Pivoting our marketing, rates, and strategy on a dime allows us to respond to changes in demand in minutes.

Case in point-hurricanes. AOS has many parks in coastal areas, thus we respond quickly to threats. Not only are we able to get our guests out of harms way, but we are able to get them to other AOS managed parks quickly. We strategically pinpoint those in evacuation areas, and send them to AOS parks right outside the danger zone.

Another case in point is COVID. When COVID came on the radar in March, we immediately changed our marketing strategies to reach guests who were traveling, wanting to stay in place, traveling nurses, and those headed to state and national parks that were closed. This resulted in enormous revenue increases for our clients. Overall, our portfolio is up about 30% YOY.

The AOS team is large enough to get it done, but small enough to be able to move and move quickly. It does not hurt that our team in under one roof and when we see trends, we get into high gear.

If you are not getting results with your current management company. Try us-I promise-no one will work harder to earn and keep your business.

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