Food For Thought – Site Lock Fees

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.

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HOT Trends-School In The Great Outdoors

A few years ago, our AOS parks were starting to see a growing trend, homeschool families staying in our parks over the winter-especially in traditional snowbird states.

One of our Florida parks even went as far as to setup the community room as a mock school house during the day. The families enjoyed the added space where they could educate their children while on the road.

This is also one of the reasons we encouraged “Snowbird” resorts not to label themselves as, “55+,” since the trend was growing as far back as five years ago.

Now one of the latest industry publications, RVIA, has confirmed traditional education is dying.

Here are the stats….

This is not only a stunning socioeconomic trend, this is a stunning statistic for outdoor hospitality.

What does this mean to you and your resort? The implications are numerous and varied:

  • Spaces for schooling should be considered at all newly built resorts
  • Blazing fast WiFi is a must
  • Child friendly spaces should be added to all designs
  • Partnering with Homeschoolers by providing group activities and educational programs should be added

This trend will not go away. Families are fleeing traditional education for many reasons, and have been for decades. However, they are now fleeing traditional education and hitting the road. THIS will have positive ramifications for YOUR resort if you plan ahead now!

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Meet Me In The Mountains

AOS is headed west this week! We are pleased to be part of the 2021 Glamping Show taking place outside Denver.

Once again, Kathleen is a featured speaker and will be presenting one of her most requested topics, “Governmental Hurdles and How To Overcome Them.”

Make plans to attend this event to learn from her 20 years of experience in overcoming obstacles and getting resorts thought the approval process.

A welcome addition to this seminar will be AOS In House Counsel, J. Michael Hannon.

Michael started his career as a federal prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office in Washington DC. He then left government and founded Hannon Law Group on Capital Hill. He serves as Founder and Partner at HLG.

Micheal now works full time with Advanced Outdoor as Chief Counsel and can assist AOS clients in dealing with the sticky wickets than can be government red tape.

We will also be manning our booth at the Trade Show both Wednesday and Thursday. We look forward to meeting each of you. If you would like one on one time, We HIGHLY suggest reaching out to make an appointment. Our booth is BUSY and time slots fill up fast.

Reach out to Bob Gillcash at rgillcash@advanced-outdoor.biz if you need some booth time.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in Denver!!

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Data Nerds Rejoice

If you love data, you will LOVE our new dashboard reports.

We have been promising our clients these reports and we finally have them- released this week.

Now with the click of a button, clients can view their financial data every day of the month in real time.

Here are just a few of the graphs included in our dashboards. Parks identity are hidden and both are new to AOS in 2021:

We are thrilled to be the first to offer these deep data dives to our clients. One click on any graph leads to the details behind the data.

Next up, our new pacing reports built between our PMS systems and Zoho Analytics. These will contain detailed comparison data week over week and year over year. We are in the final BETA of the new pacing and all should be released by November 1.

Happy Data Parsing to all AOS clients!!

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High Fives All Around

We would like to be one of the first to say, “Congratulations,” to our clients the Knapp family on the news their AOS/OHG designed park, “Cabana Club,” has been acquired by Margaritaville Resorts.

We first met this wonderful family at FARVC and we quickly went from consultants to friends. Designing their former blueberry farm into a stunning five star resort was a labor of love.

We worked together for two years drawing and reworking the plan, the market, the rates, the technology and finally opening the doors.

AOS could not have asked for a better group of siblings. It is bittersweet to see it sold, but we are thrilled for the family.

We know Margaritaville will be a stellar addition to Central Florida and guests will continue to enjoy the luxurious amenities at this fine park.

Congratulations to all!

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Red Flags In Your Parks-Domestic Issues

With more and more families taking to the full time lifestyle, a brand new set of issues are arising at parks across the nation.

While full timing is an attractive lifestyle, it can also be a pressure cooker. Small spaces mean small issues can erupt into full blown domestic disputes.

Just this week, a female is missing after she and her boyfriend started their full timing “Van Life,” adventure. To date, she has not been found. However, the body cam footage from a police encounter revealed the small disagreements that can explode when couples and their differences are confined to a space the size of a van.

What does this mean for your parks? It means having to alert and train staff at fully transient parks how to deal with domestic disputes. Formerly, this training was mostly required at long term or seasonal parks. Those days are gone.

AOS is always at the front of tackling these issues. With a full time attorney on staff, we have the muscle to train our staff, and at times the local police, on the rules and regulations of a transient park.

Domestic issues and disputes are dangerous. We train our staff how to get the police involved and engaged from the start. We train the police on state laws and the difference between an RV Park “Guest,” and a “Tenant.” You would think it would be clear to law enforcement, trust. me, it is not.

With the full timing trend growing, your staff must be prepared to deal with difficult guests and know how to work with local authorities to tackle problems before they become emergencies.

With these issues, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a thousand pounds of cure!

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Training At The Beach-Yes Please!!


Once again, the AOS regional managers have gathered for their annual conference.

This time, the conference is being held in beautiful Bethany Beach Delaware.


This conference is an important tool in keeping our regional managers up to date on all things Outdoor Hospitality.

The goal, as always, is to equip our RM’s with the tools to equip your parks. 

Training topics will include:

  • Budgeting for Success
  • How to remove guests safely and legally from a park
  • Managing and exceeding expectations
  • Activities for your parks
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Guests’ guidelines versus Tenant Law
  • Road trip to nearby resort parks-designed by AOS and flipped to Sun

All RM’s in the AOS portfolio will also spend time in Roundtable discussions-learning from each other about what makes their parks tick.

Lastly, off hours will be spent with some beach time and meals together. 

Our RM’s work hard to make sure your parks meet and exceed the goals set forth. Each Monday the week is kicked off with RM meetings and Wednesdays are RM trainings. However, this annual in person conference gives them the opportunity to dive deep with leaders in the industry.

Here’s to a great week!!

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Thank You Team Members

As we celebrate Labor Day, we want to say a heartfelt, “Thank you,” the the AOS team members across the US.

These wonderful folks welcomed thousands of guests this season and helped create a lifetime of memories for friends, families, and adventure travelers.

Often short staffed and overworked, our team members were committed to their parks and exemplified customer service to those entering their campgrounds.

As the second season begins in the North, Northeast, West, and Midwest, those in the South and Southwest are gearing up for their peak season. We know they too will carry on the proud AOS tradition of customer centric service and welcoming atmosphere at your parks.

Not to be forgotten are the hardworking folks at AOS corporate. I work along side these fine people every day, and I am honored that they chose AOS as their work home.

Every week our AOS staff holds calls with the park team members to assist in everything from revenue strategy, risk mitigation, marketing, and operations. I see their dedication each and every day and they are a very important part of what makes us tick.

As Americans enjoy a day off, we want to honor you for your work and dedication. Thank you from your guests and us!!

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Welcome To The Team

We are thrilled to Welcome these (4) new properties into the AOS portfolio.

By the River RV in Kerrville Texas is a wonderful property along the Guadalupe River. It is part of the HTR Brand of properties and our third property in this growing portfolio. Our team members Ilana and Brent will be leading this riverfront park.

Added as well is Branches at Niagara, a gem outside the Niagara Falls National Park. Again, this is an HTR Brand property and is a stunning park with RV sites, cabins, zip lines, lakes, and a stellar staff. The entire staff is staying on board and will be running this beautiful property. Welcome Diana, Marcia, Elaine, Corey and the entire staff of Branches.

Last but not least, our friends from Canada have purchased Shady Shores RV and FairPoint RV and Marina on Lake Ontario in Sterling NY. It is hard to describe the beauty of this location and the commitment of the staff to continue the legacy built by Tim and Cheryl. Welcome to Megan, Nick, Ryan, John, Richard, and the entire staff.

We are always humbled by the trust our clients place in us to run their parks and run them well. We love working with the on site team to make these parks hum.

Thank you and welcome to team AOS!

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Rethinking Deposits and Cancellations

At AOS, we manage our cancellation policies, deposit policies, and fees the same way we manage rate. This is becoming increasingly important in today’s high demand markets.

This article by RV Travel is the perfect example of why you may want to rethink your booking strategies.

In parts of the country where demand is higher than supply, parks are seeing more no shows as travelers book numerous sites to make sure they get one. Additionally, nightly guests are reselling their sites at higher rates, even at private parks. Buying sites and subletting used to be a problem only at seasonal parks-this is no longer the case.

Recently, we changed one our high demand parks to 100% due at booking with a very strict refund policy. We watched to see if it would have an impact on bookings-and bookings continued to soar!

Here is snapshot of just one week after the switch. We made 141 bookings in the week. A full 122 were through our website or OTA, and only 19 were by phone.

Not only did we not slow down, online and OTA bookings shot off the charts. In addition, no shows were no longer a worry as we had 100% of the fee up front. At checkin, drivers licenses are requested to make sure the booker is the guest. Lime green is our website, orange is OTA, and yellow is walkin or call in bookings.

Why did we do this? A few reasons. First of all, it prevents all the woes outlined in the RV Travel article. It also allows our staff to step outside the office and engage with guests. They are paid in full so the office work is minimal at checkin.

We plan to move all of our in season high demand parks to this policy. We have also added “No Subletting” language into our daily and weekly guest forms.

The times are changing and we are making sure our parks do not suffer with the changes.

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