“A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats” John F. Kennedy

Having just left Moab, Niagara Falls and Acadia National Parks, I could have written this article, but here it is from a verified publication.

The title is, as follows and the link is below.


US national parks’ growing popularity prompts warning
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The “Warning” bodes well for private parks. Namely, the US National Parks are seeing record numbers of guests. Utah parks are up as much as 30% over last year, with most others up double digits as well.

“Some parks are even requiring reservations just to drive down roads or journey along trails. Park rangers across the nation are all issuing the same warning: be mindful of when you visit a national park amid this surge of park guests.

Day passes for the parks are often sold out by 9 AM. Campsites are even more limited. What are the options? YOUR PARKS! Instead of viewing national park campgrounds as “Competitors,” embrace them as a place that drives business to your park! Offering more sites, more amenities, and more creature comforts allow park guests to visit them by day, but enjoy your park at night.

Records are being shattered this year as COVID introduced people a new subset to outdoor hospitality, and a year of quarantine brought cabin fever to all of us. We are now mid-summer, and the best is yet to come!

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To OTA or Not OTA-This Is The Question

Every week there seems to be a debate over the value of list inventory on OTA (Online Travel Agencies) channels. The blogs are replete with owners and managers arguing the topic. Park owners look with suspicion on the Expedia, Booking.com, and Air BB’s of the world.

Let me try to settle the debate once and for all~ OTA’s work-period!! They book sites and they introduce an audience to you that may not otherwise know you exist.

The following graph is a true representation of a true AOS park. As noted, OTA and Online Bookings beat traditional call in or walk in bookings by almost two to one.

Bookings by Type
Orange Call or Walk In Bookings
Yellow Online Bookings
Lime Green OTA Bookings

If brands such as Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt believe in the OTA model, why does the Outdoor Hospitality industry fight it tooth and nail?? To do so is at your own peril and you miss the vast amount of revenue produced via OTA channels. You also allow your competitors an advantage as most of their inventory is most likely listed.

Stop treating OTA’s a foe and start embracing them…your enemy will soon be your friend.

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Reputation Is Earned

AOS team members across the country had a high level training this week on Reputation Management.

Rao, a part of our revenue management team led the training. As is the case with all AOS revenue managers, Rao knows his way around revenue, OTA’s and reputation management.

This week, He specifically focused on NPS “Net Promotor Scores” and how to improve them.

His training this week included the following:

  • Our current status vs NPS
  • How to increase surveys and return ratio
  • How can we increase NPS ? 
  • Future of Reputation Management and its impact on RevPOS. 

Most interesting is how NPS affects revenue. The following data, provided by Cornell University School of Hospitality Management confirms the importance of NPS.

If you are an AOS client, you know we train weekly on guest services, revenue management, budgeting, PMS systems reporting, and HR issues. No other team in the industry trains as much as we do. You can be sure your GM’s and Regionals are attending trainings and calls weekly to get them trained and moving in the right direction.

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Seismic Shift

If you have been paying attention at all to the industry, you know there are monumental changes occuring.

I am not talking small changes, I am talking disruptive changes. Some are common knowledge, some are about to be revealed later this year.

Change is inevitable, and this article from RV Travel highlights the changes occurring in Outdoor Hospitality.

Like it or not, change is coming and it is not a trickle, it is a raging river. Getting with the program, taking advantage of new technologies, and adjusting to the changes will be an exciting adventure for all.

I have been in the industry for 20 years, and I have never witnessed so much change happening so quickly. Mom and Pops are selling, corporate investors are flooding in, software MUST change to meet the demands, and cutting edge ways to travel are about to be revealed. AOS is keeping up with all of it, and is looking forward to being at the forefront of the shift!

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Getting Comfy in Buying Parks

We have noticed an interesting phenomeon in the buyer and seller relationships this past year. Our clients are most often the buyers, and the sellers are most often couples or family groups.

While 90 percent of the processes are easy and all parties are on the same page, 10 percent of the time we see things become rocky. Typically, it has to do with one spouse being excited to sell and the other spouse wanting to hold the asset. The same with family groups. Some of the members wish to sell; others are not sure what life will look like outside of running a park.

When the latter occurs, it can make the due diligence period painful. One way to protect yourself during this phase is to have a “Comfort Clause,” or “Letter of Comfort,” as part of your agreement.

Will Kenton, Writer for Investopia writes:

Two parties in a business deal can use a letter of comfort to put in writing the outline of the terms of their deal. Most major business transactions require a lot of time on management’s part to perform due diligence before they can finalize a deal. A letter of comfort can summarize the steps each party agrees to take to ensure the successful completion of the transaction. A well-written letter of comfort can assure each party that the time spent on completing these tasks will be well worth the effort.

This clause calls for access and data to be shared in an open and accessible way. It prevents sellers from holding out on important information until the day of settlement. It calls for transparency regarding files, figures, permits, site access, and inspections.

Many times, the sellers are reluctant to allow buyers on site to take photos needed for a new website or to gain access to their PMS system in order to pull reports needed for budgeting and forecasting. This hinders our clients and puts them at least a month behind where one should be on opening day. An important corollary to this occurs in connection with paid reservations. The buyer wants to know what payments will be delivered to them at the time of settlement.

Adding a “Letter of Comfort,” to your LOI’s or Purchase Agreements can ensure you get the data and the access you need to make informed decisions well before the day of settlement.

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Take a Listen

We were excited this week to have our Founder and CEO, Kathleen Walsh, featured on the “Fireside Chat,” series hosted by Brian Searl of Insider Perks and Cara Braeutigam of the Canadian Campground Association.

You can listen the the Podcast here.

They discussed 3rd Party Management for RV Parks and Campgrounds, who is and is not a good fit for 3rd Party Management, and why AOS is the fastest growing company in this space.

Take a listen to this informative discussion and let us know if we can answer YOUR questions regarding 3rd party management of your assets.

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Making New Campers Feel Welcome

This week I did a swing through some of our Northern parks. Namely, the states of New York and Maine.

One thing became very apparent, there are scores of new RV guests out there this year. As I worked the parks, many guests came in nervous on their maiden voyages or in their rental. They were excited to start the adventure, but apprehensive about getting started.

This presents both challenges and opportunities for you as park owners this year.

The challenge is making sure you have the staff on hand to assist these guests. Many of them were asking for assistance in getting connected or backing in. Many were unsure of how to setup even the most basic functions inside their rigs. Most were still nervous driving. This can be particularly challenging for night scheduling. Making sure you are well staffed in the office and on the grounds -both day and night- is going to be paramount this season.

Having said this, I believe the opportunities far outweigh any challenges. By assisting new RV’ers to the art of camping you make a lifelong guest. They will never forget how you helped them learn about their rig, get connected, and made their first stay a memorable one. The security of having water, electric, sewer, and propane properly connected gives them a sense of comfort and helps make their next stay a more educated one. The old fishing adage might now be rephrased as, “Hook a man up and you make a nice one time stay, teach a man (or woman) how to hookup and you make a educated lifelong RV’er.”

Take these new RV guests under your wings this season and help become safe and happy campers.

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Winning the West

It is with great excitement we announce the addition of two Durango Colorado parks to the AOS portfolio.

Colorado is one of our fastest growing states, and we are honored to be adding two more. Vallecito RV Resort near Vallecito Lake and Durango Riverside on the water in Durango.

We have great plans for these parks and you will want to check them out. We will be rolling out marketing, doing upgrades, and keeping Durango open year round for those ski enthusiasts who want to downhill at Purgatory or Cross County most anywhere in the area.

Vallecito RV Resort is located just minutes from beautiful Vallecito Lake at an elevation of over 7000 feet. We will be adding wifi and upgrading the cabins throughout the season. We are excited about this beautiful property.

The AOS team is on site on-boarding these parks and training the wonderful staff we have placed at these parks.

These are our 4th and 5th parks under these owners and we look forward to continuing the journey!

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Four Seasons at Lake Anna

For those of you interested in the Powerpoint presentation, please see the attached PDF version.

We appreciate you joining us today for the roundtable discussion of this great project. As we stated, this outdoor venue will bring a high-end resort style amenity to the already stunning area around Lake Anna.

Please feel free to reach me with questions. I can be reached at kwalsh@advanced-outdoor-biz

Check out some of the luxury parks we have helped build:

www.castawaysrvoc.com

Chesapeake KOA at Sunset Beach

Chincoteague Island KOA

Thank you again for your fantastic questions during our presentation. We look forward to seeing you at the lake!

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