Listen to the Market

I had an interesting conversation with a client this week. He has been a client for a long time, and his park has tripled its revenue since coming on board with AOS.

We were wrapping up a call when he said, “I always thought our park would be headed in another direction. Not sure of what he meant, I dug further.

He said he always thought his park would be families-kids running around and enjoying all the amenities. However, we found his market trended toward single adults who wanted a serene environment, off the beaten path, with adult oriented recreation and amenities.

Once we honed in on his target market, we found we could increase his price and occupancy substantially by fitting the round peg in the round hole-and not trying to force the park to trend in another direction. It completely turned away from what he thought it would be-but it headed exactly where the market demanded it go.

If you have heard me speak, you have heard me repeat this time and time again. The market is going to tell you everything you need to know. Sometimes you are confirmed and sometimes you are confronted-but the market is never wrong.

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What Not To Do Wednesday

My sisters and I loved the show, “What Not To Wear.” We watched it every week and texted back and forth the whole time it was on. The funniest episodes were when they confronted the people who thought they were fashion icons, but were on the annual worst dressed list.

Sadly, we have way too many, “What Not To Do” bullet points when it comes to building, owning, or operating an RV Park or Campground. Therefore, we are starting a series entitled “What Not To Do Wednesdays.”

This past week, I was able to visit one of the most beautifully designed parks in the nation. It was just beautiful! I will NEVER name names during this series, but I will point out the errors I see when visiting these parks.

As stated, this park was nothing short of 5 star when it came to sites, layout, utilities, and VIEW. The curb appeal at the entrance, for the most part, did not disappoint when it came to the RV sites. However, the check in and amenity buildings were underwhelming and did not match the grandness of the entrance. After seeing the entrance, you were a bit let down with the just OK welcome center, bath house, and clubhouse. A few touches could have made the buildings just as much of a statement as the entrance.

Most problematic, the rates were low, unchanging, and made little to no sense. This park should have and could have been getting a good 50% more on base rate, and they should have been yielding up from there. In my conservative estimate, this park is losing $500,000 to a million dollars in revenue each year with this costly mistake. It was shocking that what should have been a base rate $90 site was going for a stagnant $49.

Finally, though they had an online booking engine, it was VERY hard to use and even harder to understand once you actually got to recognize your request. Worse, they allowed you to choose a specific site, allowing the guest to control your grid and reducing the occupancy you could get if the guest were only allowed to book Site Type rather than Site Specific.

These sorts of mistakes are replicated time and time again all over the country. A high end hotel or resort would never make such mistakes, and it is our goal at AOS to keep our clients from falling into these same traps.

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Welcome to All New Clients

June has been a very busy month for our team. We want to welcome several new clients to the AOS portfolio:

Canopy Oaks is the first RV build for Rocklyn Homes out of Atlanta. We are thrilled they have chosen AOS to guide them. Located in beautiful central Florida, this park is going to have the WOW factor! Great location, tiki bar, dazzling grounds, and committed owners are going to make this a work of art.

Autumn Lake RV in Alabama-a beautiful park owned by Robin and Keith McLeod. We love this couple and look forward to working with them to make their gem every better.

Madison Golf and RV located in Madison Florida. Brian is getting ready to build a Golf and RV park resort that will wow those looking for a place to park it and golf. We are excited to be working with him.

Moonshine Acres in Fort White Florida is a new build park close to some of the best tubing areas in Florida. Their energetic owners have been a pleasure and we look forward to making this a true destination park.

Brian Keller has 5 fantastic mixed use parks throughout the state of Florida. He and his engaging team have been a blast and we look forward to making his MH and RV parks shine.

James Watt is a new build client in Florida. He and his dad look to be the go to place when visiting the area and a quiet and quaint stopover off I-10. We love his serene setting and tree-lined property.

River Resort on St. John’s will be a show stopper! This amazing location will be a build from scratch and the AOS team is proud to be a part of it. Exact location is still a secret-but trust us-these folks will get it done in style.

Of course, our Open Air Resorts park is Texas just celebrated their Grand Opening. It is a stunning park just outside Austin in the bucolic setting of Spicewood. Surrounded by rolling hills, wineries, breweries, and Lake Travis, this park is a MUST stay on your list.

We are humbled and honored that these owners have entrusted us with their properties. We will do you proud!

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Alabama ARVC Welcomes AOS

We are excited to be leading one of the sessions at the annual Alabama ARVC show in Mobile.

The event takes place on July 11 at beautiful All About Relaxing RV Resort in Theodore Alabama.

Kathleen Walsh will be there with some of her team members. Topics will range from managing your rate and revenue to kicking off our new series, “Meet your new Snowbird.

We look forward to seeing our current clients and meeting new ones as we head to Bama! The only question you will be quizzed on is, “Roll Tide or War Eagle?”

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AOS Adds New Service-Drone Video

We are very excited to announce that our social media expert, Caleb, has passed his drone certification class and now holds the official FAA license for drone videography.

Caleb started working with AOS in the outdoor hospitality world way back in 2005. He started as a front desk clerk at Eagles Nest, moved to bartending at the Castaways bar, and is now full time at the AOS main office in Florida.

AOS will be putting together a package price for both drone and still photos for our parks wanting to take their marketing to another dimension.

Congratulations Caleb-I know our clients will LOVE what you will do for them!

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Road Trip Revelations-Autumn Lake RV, Calvert AL

I often comment that I learn as much from my clients as they learn from me. This week’s road trip stayed true to form.

This week I visited Autumn Lake RV- a cute little park in Alabama, built by Robin and Keith McLeod. This park is a gem in rural Alabama, close to numerous job sites which supply them with a steady stream of guests.

What is unusual about this park is that it does not look like a worker park. It looks like a clean, friendly, and spotless overnight park. No clutter anywhere to be found. It has back in, pull through, and cabin sites.

The McLeod’s have a great deal of pride in this park, and a quick tour shows you why. They have spent additional dollars to add some very nice touches to make the entire guest experience a more gratifying one. Though the untrained eye may not notice these touches, I noticed them right away!

The photo below shows an extra and important step they took when building their park. Most people do not know that the New Orleans/Mobile/Birmingham area of the country is one of the rainiest parts of the US. In order to keep folks from having standing water, Autumn Lake RV Park has installed drainage at EVERY site! It could rain 8 inches in an hour and your site will be dry! Every single site has been carefully graded to supply water to the individual drainage grates.

The hookup area is yet another example of small, but thoughtful detail. They went the extra mile (and expense) of pouring a concrete apron for all hookups. Guests need not leave the comfort of the patio in order to connect to any of the utilities on site. It makes for a very clean and uniform appearance to all sites. All pedestals and hookups are straight and stay that way having been set in concrete.

These are just a few of the small niceties that make this park a gem. Of course, Keith and Robin are the most valuable asset-and they would love to welcome anyone to see why!

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Stay Tuned for Valuable Video Content

This week, the AOS video team is back up north and visiting some of our most award winning properties. Awards? What Awards? How about constantly up for Park of the Year, the first 10/10/10 Good Sam ever in the state of Maryland, and oh well….you get it.

We plan to take you behind the scenes to show you just a few of the ways we turned raw land into guest loving, money making venues. Some of the topics we will address are:

Weird corners and odd sites-how to make them profitable

Amenities that produce

Wow factors on a budget

These are just a few of the vlogs we will be posting in the new few weeks.

Also, we will be starting a new series entitled, “Meet Your New Snowbird,” where we will be interviewing some unusual guests who head south for the winter.

Make sure you subscribe to our blog where we give out free, yet invaluable, information each week.

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We want to say, “Congratulations,” to our parks who were just granted “TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence” awards.

These coveted awards are based on overall reviews and outstanding customer service.

AOS greatly accelerates your path to this award by managing your reputation and making it easy for guests to post to TripAdvisor and like kind review sites.

By managing your reputation online, your park climbs in rankings and climbs in revenue. For every 1 jump in reputation, we calculate a 4% jump in revenue.

Reputation management is a very time consuming process. Let AOS take the burden off your park by getting your out there and communicating with your reviewers in a positive and professional manner.

Congrats to all the 2019 Winners!

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The Love/Hate Relationship with OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies)

The entire hospitality world has a Love/Hate Relationship with OTA’s.

At AOS, we love them more than hate them.

Like it or not-they are here to stay. Sites like, Expedia, and Air B&B, take your roofed accommodations to an audience you might never find without them.

With the impending release of the game changing-Book Outdoors, even your RV sites will be available to the public via a real time two way interface.  These sites are as integrated into our travel as much as mobile boarding passes and GPS systems, and it is high time we stop fighting them and embrace the power of their marketing dollars.

The way we see it,  if an OTA brings you a guest, and they take a 15% commission for that guest, you are still 85% to the good. That guest might have never located you had it not been for the OTA. Additionally, if the guest enjoys their stay, they will most likely book direct with your for all future stays. Therefore, each time the guest rebooks a future stay, your overall cost to the OTA diminishes and their ROI increases.

All AOS properties are on OTA’s. We make it easy for our parks by employing PMS systems with connectivity to these channels. Our research shows most of the OTA bookings come in after the work day is over and people are kicked back making vacation plans. Your office is closed, the OTA is booking sites, and the money is coming in…what’s not to LOVE??

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Rolling Out the “You’re Not Welcome” Carpet

As I meet park owners all across the US I continually see a familiar pattern with many of them.  And though they would never intentionally do so, they are turning away guests and quickly killing future business.

Snowbird parks can be particularly guilty of this bad business practice. Many owners, having relied on the tried and true retired snowbird of yesteryear, are effectively placing a large stop sign in front of the most engaged buyer in the market-young travelers. Watch this short clip to meet John, your new Snowbird.

Your New Snowbird

John is a restaurant manager in a busy resort town in Maryland. He makes good money and cannot travel during their peak season up north. When the resort closes for the winter, John heads south, with his RV and a pocket full of cash. He is ready to relax, kick back, and spend money. Guess where John does not stay?

You guessed right-55 plus parks that tell him and his peer group they are not welcome.

A quick peak at any current industry data shows the market is trending younger. Homeschool families, minimalist lifestyle advocates, and traveling young professionals are just a few of the markets you miss when you fail to roll out the welcome mat..

It is time to rethink your strategy and allow AOS to reach this trending market on your behalf. Instagram, youtube video, influencer contacts and blogging are just some of the strategies we employ to get your park occupied-if you plan to stay viable in the future.

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