Outdoors Here We Come

As I have been writing since COVID began-our parks remained hot commodities.

Now that the year of COVID seems to be somewhat waning, everyone is writing that the outdoor industry is THE vacation craze of the future.

Even Forbes came out with this article recently. Since 2003, we at AOS have been all about Outdoor Hospitality, but it seems COVID and Social Distancing are going to bring in a whole new wave of folks who wish to space out and breathe deeply the fresh air that comes with outdoor vacations.

Thinking RV’s are the only ones booming? Not according to our data. Our glamping and rental units still booking heavily during COVID and we are SOLD OUT for the holiday weekend. Again, space and lack of crowded rooms call to those who want to vacation, but with a little less contact.

Never had the industry been hotter and never have we been so thrilled to be at the forefront of grabbing those guests and getting them into YOUR parks. We have always known the outdoor industry was the way to enjoy life-we are just happy to see more people getting on board.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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Heating Up Hotter?

As I write today’s blog post, we here in Florida are headed toward Phase II of post COVID reopening. Fingers crossed, we are moving along well with very little to no uptick in our cases.

As many of you know, the industry as a whole fared very well during the COVID crisis. It was not by accident that our parks weathered the storm, except for way up north, kept the doors open and the fires burning.

To this, I credit the good Lord, the smart staff, the great team members at the properties, and the owners who allowed us to do our thing. I also give enormous credit to the state associations who battled endlessly to be deemed, “Essential Services.”

What everyone keeps asking is, “What do you see in the future?” Given how well the parks did during COVID-and reading the tea leaves, I dare to suggest we may come out even hotter than we were going into COVID.

Why you may ask?

First of all, European vacations are not going to happen anytime soon. Trust me, I love Europe, but even I would not go right now. I was to be there for three weeks this month, and we have rescheduled for October. I am going to again reschedule since October is too soon for me. Given I am pretty adventurous, I am sure I am not alone.

Secondly, social distancing is a built in amenity when you take advantage of Outdoor Hospitality. Wide open spaces, fresh air, and plenty of room to stretch and separate is part and parcel of an outdoor vacation.

Finally, outdoor adventures are still, for the most part, and cost effective way to vacation. The come with built in amenities and activities, plenty of perks included, and if you RV, you are sleeping with your own germs every night.

We here at AOS are always looking for ways to improve and capitalize on what we are handed. Lemons into lemonade was our mantra pre-COVID, during COVID, and we aim to be a part of the post COVID boom we see coming.

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Driving Traffic

I wanted to share a one day screen shot from two of our parks. During this time of panic and COVID, we are thrilled that our portfolio parks are thriving. These screenshots, sent to me each morning, shows me what is happening across our portfolio. This particular one, shows me how our marketing department is reaching guests.

First thing to note, 166 people were driven directly to our Book Online Button from our “Call To Action,” campaigns.

139 were driven to the same site through our enhanced Google showing, and 60 directly to Madison through our Adwords. Keep in mind, this is ONE DAY. Most importantly, 239 of the 263 were NEW visitors.

Marketing is always important, but marketing during COVID has been a whole different animal. For the states that have allowed us to remain open, the team has absolutely slayed the competition.

If you are not seeing these kinds of results, you are with the wrong team. No one is more aggressive in their thinking than the team at AOS. We beat the data to death and then tweak each day as needed. It is what we do, and we do it well!

This screen shot tells you a couple things.

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Sweet Home Alabama

First of all, I am smart enough to never admit publicly if it is, “Roll Tide,” or “War Eagle.” Although if you know me well, you know which one.

Secondly, we LOVE the state of Alabama and the relationships we have made through both FARVC and AARVC. We have been speakers at both and have formed some great friendships.

We are also very happy to announce our latest client park hails from this great state. We could not be more thrilled to Welcome Johnny’s Lakeside RV Resort in Foley to our portfolio. Johnny’s has almost any amenity you would want during both a short term and long term stay.

We look forward to some of the new amenities that will be added and are excited about our GM, Connie. If you have not met her, make sure you stop by the office and say, “Hello.”

Johnny’s is currently booking both short and long term stays and Connie and her wonderful team will be happy to help you get settled and experience the best of Southern Hospitality.

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When There Is A Fork In The Road-Take It

The first half of my career was spent working for my mentor. I started working for him right out of college. I worked as his CFO for twenty years and almost everything I know about business I learned at his feet. He was, and still is, one of smartest men I know. He long ago became one of my dearest friends, and every day I open my mouth and he comes out.

One of his oft repeated lines to me was, “Don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions.” And he meant it! I cannot recall one time in all those years going to him and saying , “I can’t.” It was not that I feared him; it was that I never wanted to let him down. Armed with that attitude, problem solving became almost as much a part of my job as running his company.

This has always been my attitude when dealing with issues. COVID is no exception. Early on in March, we took an aggressive approach to dealing with this demon. Now that we are on the tail end of it, I am happy to report that the vast majority of our parks not only survived, but most thrived.

In life, there always has to be a “Plan B.” We have to be able to maneuver situations and find ways over and around them. My former job forced me to solve problems and make them go away. I was always challenged with finding a way when there seemed to be no way. I have my mentor to thank for the boot camp training I received. He often handed me things that I had no idea how to do-but he had enough faith in me to know I could figure them out.

This same thinking drives us at AOS. We will look at problems, turn them over, throw every idea against the wall until we figure out a path forward. G-d has blessed me with some of the most creative minds in the industry-and their dedication to our client success is something I wish our clients could witness. I see it day in and day out when and what they have done with our parks during COVID has been nothing short of amazing.

We hope we are at the end of this painful period in our nation. I have been humbled by the goodness of Americans.

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Welcome To Our Newest Park

The AOS team would like to say, “Welcome,” to our newest park. Junction West is located in one of our fastest growing states, the beautiful state of Colorado.

Junction West is right outside Grand Junction Colorado. Mari and Tom Garland were the long time owners of Junction West and are well known in the RV community. They hand off to us a rich legacy and we plan to continue to build on their successes.

Samantha Jager is the new GM. Samantha is native to Colorado and comes with a fantastic set of skills. She is in the process of building her team and forging ahead with exciting new ideas. We are thrilled to have this gem of a park in our portfolio.

Thank you to Mick and Ryan for entrusting us with your investment!

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Perspective Not Panic

One of the advantages of having been in this industry for so long is it has given me perspective during times of national panic.

I started in Outdoor Hospitality back in 2003. In 2005 real estate started taking a hit, and by 2007 we were in a full blown recession.

A few years later, in the middle of peak season, we were hit with an early hurricane and evacuated a park at almost peak capacity. Almost $100,000 in refunds were processed in one day. I was sick every time I had to hit the credit button.

Then, gas prices skyrocketed and we were terrified it would put a complete halt to our upcoming season. We strategized and worked very hard to stay ahead of that issue. It was a time when travelers were having to choose between groceries and gasoline-not a good time to be driving a rig that gets 10 MPG.

This brings us to today, and COVID. Again, we face a national crisis and once again, our parks are weathering the storm. Getting creative in our approach has assisted our parks in not only maintaining, but in many cases, thriving.

In all states to date, we have been considered “Essential Services,” and have been able to continue to take care of our guests and their needs. If you have ever wondered about your state ARVC’s and what they do-you know now. They have been at the forefront of keeping parks open and making sure our residents are able to access our services. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

They say, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” We have seen this over and over again and know this too shall pass. Until then, let us know your needs and how we can help. We are all in this together.

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Welcome to AOS

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome one of our new client parks to the AOS portfolio.

This special park is located in the great state of South Carolina. Hideaway RV Resort is located in beautiful Myrtle Beach. Beach bums and snow birds alike will find all they need at this waterfront gem. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, we offer boat docks for those traveling north or south and wanting to stay a spell. This 119 site park offers back in sites, pull through sites, and sites directly on the water. A fishing pier and private boat launch are located on site for the enjoyment of our guests. We know you will love calling Hideaway your, “Home Away From Home.”

Hideaway RV Resort
Myrtle Beach SC

The entire AOS team says, “Thank you,” for your faith in us. We look forward to working together.

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Casting and Catching

When it comes to hobbies, there are few things I love more than fishing. NFL and College football probably top my list, but fishing is a close second.

We live in a fishing community, and we are often on the water. Out of my entire family, I catch the most fish. When someone asked my husband about my angling success, he said, “It’s easy-she never takes her line out of the water.” I have to admit, this is true.

I catch more fish because I am tenacious. While the others are eating, or drinking, or looking for shells-I am fishing. When we are headed in, I am fishing. When we are almost at our lift and in our own canal-I am fishing. When one lure does not work, I switch lures. When I find the magic one, I keep using it.

This principle also applies to the way we do business at AOS. We keep our line in the water, always looking at what works, what does not work, and what needs to be changed to exceed expectations. We never rest on yesterday’s success, but always look for ways to improve upon revenue, followers, marketing trends, or guest services. We keep at in day in and day out in order to provide the best in class service to our parks.

These are not easy times. Working alone in the office is eerie and I miss my staff. However, now more than ever, they are committed to the process of making sure our parks are staying ahead of the curve, picking up bookings, and keeping our line in the water.

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Paying It Forward

Today my good friend, Ben Quiggle, from Woodalls Campground Management reached out to me. He was getting a lot of questions regarding setting rate at a time of crisis. I am always happy to chat with Ben, and he quickly put out my advice here.

I am a person of deep faith, and believe the scriptures teach us how to care for one another. During times of crisis-hurricanes, wildfires, or as now, a pandemic, it is always a good policy to err on the side of compassion. Managing revenue also means doing the right thing, knowing it will make you part of the solution and pay mighty dividends in the end.

Do not, however, toss our revenue management for future bookings. When making reservations for future stays-keep yielding in place and continue to use the solid business principles of good revenue management. Remember, revenue management does NOT mean raising rate, it means balancing rate and occupancy for optimum revenue.

In a time like this, it is easy to panic and toss aside common sense practices. Keep doin the things that successful operators do and stay the course. Caring for your guests now, and managing your future business, will get you through this storm and ready for sunnier days ahead.

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