Outdoor Hospitality Is Once Again Off The Charts

Anyone involved in the industry know it has evolved from what used to be a Mom and Pop industry to what is now Investor driven and investor owned space.

In addition to this, the guests have changed from what used to be casual vacationers to include full time families, home schoolers, empty nesters and young couples living the nomadic life.

KOA’s report this week is just a peek into the growth of the industry since 2014. This most recent graph shows the number of camping trips per household last year and its growth over the past 8 years.

In 2021 alone, camping accounted for 40% of all leisure trips taken.

Over 56 millions households are now camping each year. A staggering number that does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. Reaching these potential guests and making sure you have the right mix of amenities to meet their needs is the exciting challenge of the day. AOS has been at the forefront of this growth and will continue to lead the way!

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Thank You Maine Campground Owners Association

It was a pleasure to present at the Maine Campground Owners annual conference on Friday April 1. It was no joke, April Fools or otherwise. The room was packed and the audience was well informed and asked pertinent questions. Thanks to all who participated.

As promised, here is a link to the PDF presentation I presented

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qna5p65bn5w7vte/Maine%20COA%20Conference.pdf?dl=0

Please let us know if we can assist you in managing your parks, assisting with site design and expansion, or answer questions to support you along the way.

Have a great 2022 season!

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Adding Value The AOS Way

Recently a client came to me telling me he has an offer on his park. He is selling this one and is purchasing another.

He has been with AOS many years. When we took over management of the park, it was a mess. It had a underperforming GM, a grounds crew that barely worked, and guests paying little to nothing in rent.

Before hiring us, he had an offer of $250,000.

Today the offer is 2 million dollars. What happened?

When we took over, AOS installed a new GM, and hired an outside grounds crew. We fixed all code violations, repaired the broken amenities, and started raising rate to match the improvements.

We installed high speed Wifi, upgraded the grounds, and improved all cabin rentals. We put the cabins on Air BB and setup a professional website with online booking.

The committed owner gave us the capital funds to make the necessary changes and the GM is a rock star. As the park took shape, rates started to match market rate, and the NOI started to climb. Cash injections were no longer needed, and NOI took off!

Today, the commitment has paid off in a cap rate that could only have been imagined a few short years ago.

If you plan to sell and you know your park is underperforming, adding value now will get you a sales price you could not have imagined today. Buyers pay off Cap Rate. Cap Rate is defined below

What Is Capitalization Rate?

The capitalization rate (also known as cap rate) is used in the world of commercial real estate to indicate the rate of return that is expected to be generated on a real estate investment property. This measure is computed based on the net income which the property is expected to generate and is calculated by dividing net operating income by property asset value and is expressed as a percentage. It is used to estimate the investor’s potential return on their investment in the real estate market.

Investopedia

If you are unsure how to get every penny out of your park, let AOS management help. When a park’s bottom line increases, its value goes up, it’s cap rate down ( a good thing) and everyone wins!

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A New Day For OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)

For two years, I have been working with a group that is ready to launch a revolutionary way to book RV sites. Take note of the above logo, and get ready to see it change the outdoor space.

BookOutdoors is getting ready to launch in May, and we could not be more excited. Every AOS park will be on this platform. Many PMS integrations are done or pending. If you want your PMS to connect, make it known to them.

Because they have been working with AOS and other industry operators, the functionality for RV parks will be spot on. They took every detail into account and spent almost two years creating the technology that works for both operators and guests. As an operator, I have worked with the team to make sure operators needs are addressed from start to finish.

This promo video was released this week.

Take a sneak peak here

Go to their website and get your park enrolled for early access. These guys are straight out of Silicon Valley and their CEO comes from GoDaddy. They are the real deal and it has been my pleasure to advise on such an outstanding product.

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GOOD Marketing Matters

When choosing your marketing company, it is important you look at the metrics. It is also important you understand them. Words such as impressions, click through rate, and conversion can make your head spin, yet, they will tell you how well the strategy is working. Outdoor Hospitality is becoming a sophisticated industry, and marketing your park(s) is more important than ever.

At AOS, we are passionate about marketing for our properties. It is a part of all our contracts, and the below shows the reason why. As a full service 3rd party management team, our marketing department is one key to our success. They are AOS employees and work out of our Florida offices. We do not use sub-contractors for this most important piece of the pie.

Early on, one time, we agreed to allow group to take on their own marketing. The results were a disaster.

Below shows a screenshot of bookings for the upcoming season.

With bookings like this, we finally convinced the ownership group to change to AOS marketing. We are just two weeks in, and here are the results:

These are not doctored screenshots. These are REAL numbers two weeks after taking over. These numbers will continue to improve as our marketing makes inroads. It usually takes a month for good marketing to gain traction, so we expect big things in the next few weeks.

Make sure your marketing is producing results. If it is not, it is time to take a long, hard look at the problem areas and make a change before your season is upon you. Educate yourself to understand the terms and results being delivered. Demand your marketing group produce a report showing you how your money is being spent and the results of those dollars.

These few simple steps will put you in charge of your marketing budget and making intelligent, data based decisions.

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OTA Booking Trends In The Digital Age

Traditional hospitality has always had a love/hate relationship with OTA’s. Outdoor Hospitality is no different. I cannot count the number of times parks have resisted connecting to OTA’s because of the commission they take from each booking. They do not take into account the number of nights they sell. Our data proves, they are well worth their commissions.

Outdoor hospitality has long been able to book Cabins and Roofed Accommodations on OTA’s. All AOS properties take full advantage of this capability. The new OTA’s coming for RV sites, such as Book Outdoors, will now allow RV enthusiasts to book RV sites via an OTA channel. AOS is ready to board their parks onto this exciting platform.

Still thinking of bucking the trend to OTA’s? Think again.

A new report by Amy Hinote of VRM Intel reports the following data from the vacation rental space:

New US data shows direct booking is down 19% YOY for professional vacation rentals in 2021. Airbnb is up 29%, and Vrbo is up 17% as a percentage of revenue. Is it due to more OTA marketing, less PM marketing, a new customer base, consolidation, or a lack of consumer education . . . or something else?”

Direct versus OTA Booking

What does this mean for you?

Make sure you connect to a PMS which allows you to a direct connect to multiple OTA channels, NOT just their channel. If a PMS only connects to their booking channel, they are NOT an OTA. They are a PMS with a website. There is a huge difference.

Secondly, stop bucking the trend. OTA’s are here to stay and you need to get on the train or you will indeed be left behind. If Marriott and Hilton believe there is value in OTA’s, trust me, there is value in OTA’s.

Finally, make sure you have good photos to use when you list your properties. Hire a local photographer to take well staged shots of your accommodations. Pictures sell sites.

These few helpful hints will get you selling nights and giving up the fight against the market leaders paving the way to your profitability.

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Tracking the Trends

We have been writing a lot this week regarding revenue management strategies and how me implement these at AOS Parks.

One very important factor is to track demand for future dates. We all know holidays and special events create demand, but there are many other factors that affect demand. How to gauge it has been tough, until now.

January 2022, AOS is launching an exciting new technology to assist us with our already stellar revenue management services.

Below is a screenshot from a sample park showing demand for key future dates. By getting in front of high demand dates, we can start yielding rate aggressively and early. We can also set these features to show demand for different accommodation types, not treating everything with one broad stroke.

This new technology can be implemented anywhere in the US, with real time data points. Cutting edge, to say the least.

As always, AOS is ahead of the industry in new and exciting ways. “Thinking Outside The Tent,” is not just a tagline, it is how we manage our parks every day.

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What a Difference Some Days Make: Variable MLOS Targets

2022 budgets are in the books! We are now excited to rock this coming year and make it happen for our client parks!!

While reviewing OTB numbers for 2022 (On the Books) we noticed a great trend-one we implemented this year for next. Namely, our variable MLOS requirements for high demand parks.

The data tells the tale:

We inherited this park in May 2021 and most of the years bookings had been placed.

Average Length of Stay was 2.72 nights in 2021.

With targeted MLOS rules, AOS more than doubled thus number with our 2022 ALOS at just shy of 7 nights. See below

2021 Average Length of Stay
2022 Average Length of Stay

Our Average Length of Stay went from less than 3 nights to almost 7 nights!!! These results happen when our revenue managers, GM’s, and Regionals work together to manipulate days, rates, and policies. Trends will dictate when to drop our MLOS to 3 nights, but for now, we are BOOKING!!

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Pulling Ahead of the Competition

When looking at parks, the comp set is always part of the equation. However, it is not the end all be all in decision making.

When we developed our first park, people thought we were crazy. We were developing 1/4 mile from a park which offered a full waterpark and theme park FREE with the camping experience. Our park did not include such amenities.

Everyone wondered, “How are they going to make this work?”

Not only did we make it work, we blew past them within a few years. How? By focusing on what we did better. By appealing to people who wanted an outdoor experience, but not inside an amusement park. By focusing on a more adult oriented experience rather than kid centric.

It was an aggressive strategy, and it worked.

More recently, we took on an acquisition property near a national REIT’s signature property. With the right marketing mix, marketing dollars, great owners and staff, we blew past previous numbers to have their best year ever.

Results like this take work. They do not happen overnight, but they are possible when AOS is in charge and owners trust us to do the right thing. Targeted marketing, an increase in the marketing budget, great staff, and reworking some of the amenities proved to be the winning formula.

Competition challenges us to think “Outside the Tent,” and to figure out how to pull ahead and leave them in the dust.

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