Looks Can Be Deceiving

One of the things we thrive on here at AOS is data. I suppose my apples do not fall far from the tree. I am a data nerd-it is why I went into accounting in the first place. Thus, as a company, we thrive on numbers and analytics.

Recently, we spoke to a client who commented that more sites seemed to be empty versus this time last year. He drove through his park and assumed his revenue was down and attributed it to what he perceived to be lower occupancy.

What he did not do is look at the data. The data showed he was up over $8000 in revenue and his expenses were lower as well-resulting in a much higher NOI versus the same month last year.

At AOS we always strive for the rate and occupancy balance. We want the best rate at the best occupancy. This means we do not strive for sold out, but rather we strive for maximum revenue.

Looks can be deceiving. Make sure you take things like ADR, booking window, and overall revenue before making final judgements.

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Sewer Drives Everything

If you have heard me speak, you will often hear me say, “Sewer drives everything.” Why? Because it is true!

When it comes to planning and building your outdoor resort, wastewater matters! There are only a few ways to deal with it, and each comes with its own unique set of challenges.

One solution is on site septic. On site systems alleviate the expense of package plants and impact fees, but they are not without their challenges. Valuable land must be set aside for drain fields, eco requirements must be met, and if gravity feed does not work, lift stations must be part of the design.

Secondly, private package plants are an option for many larger parks. These entail engineering, state approvals, and can be costly to build. Once built, they require maintenance and licensed operators to keep up with testing and state regulations.

Finally, connecting to an established municipal system is an option. This may seem like the least amount of headache, but impact fees can be in the millions for a large park. Add to this the monthly costs, and this may be the best way to go, but it is often not the most economical.

For glamping, you may also wish to use the option of composting toilets or incineration toilets. These are certainly viable solutions, but operationally there may be some challenges and ADR may suffer if guests consider this primitive and not an ideal scenario.

All in all, black water is an issue all outdoor resorts must take into consideration. Costs, ecology, smell, and convenience are all things that must be thrown into the equation. We at AOS work with specialty consultants in the field of RV and Outdoor resort wastewater. Residential systems are not equipped to handle the thinly diluted waste in this industry. You MUST consult with an expert. Spending a few dollars now could result in saving millions on your next project.

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Nerds Ahead of the Herd

Anyone who knows me knows I am a data nerd!

From the moment I took my first accounting class in college, I knew I was in love!! I love numbers, spreadsheets, formulas, and most of all, REVENUE.

Coming out of my former life, I was impressed with the software we used in the hotel world. It gave a data wonk like me hours of enjoyment. Armed with reports, I was able to make solid, data driven decisions with the type of reports these systems were able to compile. I am happy to report, we are moving our clients to such a system between now and 1-1-21!

If you have seen my budgets, you have a sneak peak at where we are headed. All properties will be on or moved to this hospitality based software beginning January 2021. This may not sound exciting to you, but I am like a kid at Christmas.

Our new software will give us the data we need to continually make solid financial decisions. The screenshot below is just the header of one of the new reports. Without having to pull multiple reports from different systems, we will see at a glance the nights sold, occupancy, ADR, REVPAR total revenue and revenue per occupied site-including ancillary and misc income such as extra person fees, pet fees, and booking fees.

Same on the expense side. Now our reporting gives us daily snapshots into how we are comparing against budget as a PER OCCUPIED SITE cost as well as overall revenue. Cost control is a strong focus and reporting on CPOS is a fantastic tool to control costs. Owners can now login and not only see expenses, but an image of each vendor payment made on the AP side. Owners will also have control over the approval process should they desire to have that level of control.

If you are a new property, you will be on the software from day one. If you are a current property, you will be live 1-1. Let us know if you have questions or comments. We will keep you in the loop as we move you forward!

We want to thank all of your for allowing us to partner with you in the ever expanding world of Outdoor Hospitality.

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Pivot for Profits

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at AOS is the ability to quickly respond to the market. Pivoting our marketing, rates, and strategy on a dime allows us to respond to changes in demand in minutes.

Case in point-hurricanes. AOS has many parks in coastal areas, thus we respond quickly to threats. Not only are we able to get our guests out of harms way, but we are able to get them to other AOS managed parks quickly. We strategically pinpoint those in evacuation areas, and send them to AOS parks right outside the danger zone.

Another case in point is COVID. When COVID came on the radar in March, we immediately changed our marketing strategies to reach guests who were traveling, wanting to stay in place, traveling nurses, and those headed to state and national parks that were closed. This resulted in enormous revenue increases for our clients. Overall, our portfolio is up about 30% YOY.

The AOS team is large enough to get it done, but small enough to be able to move and move quickly. It does not hurt that our team in under one roof and when we see trends, we get into high gear.

If you are not getting results with your current management company. Try us-I promise-no one will work harder to earn and keep your business.

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Time To Plan Ahead

It is hard to believe November starts Sunday. Three weeks later is Thanksgiving and then we are in full Christmas mode. If you are like most people, you are ready to say, “So Long,” to 2020.

For us, the end of 2020 is, in a word, BUSY. We have our plate full -and the start of 2021 is looking just as busy.

Between our current clients expanding their portfolios, the Glamping Show success, and the market being hot-we are beyond blessed with work. We never take this for granted.

We encourage anyone who wants to schedule their onboarding to get it scheduled NOW. We are planning for Q1 2021 these last few months of 2020.

If you need to get on our calendar, please schedule an appointment with Jenna at jlombardo@advanced-outdoor.biz and get on our calendar. She manages all calendars and can get you scheduled and off we go. The new year will bring exciting changes to our clients. We will be moving to a hospitality based accounting program for daily reports and occupancy updates. Our software systems are rolling out advanced features to save payroll dollars and enhance the guest experience.

You have made 2020 our most exciting year yet-and we look forward to working with you in 2021.

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Thank You

Just a quick note to say, “Thank you,” to all those who joined me at the Glamping Summit kick off. What an honor to be chosen as the opening speaker. I know you will be blessed by all the others to follow.

Please check back on my blog in the coming days for the promised budget suggestions. Once off the road and on stable Wifi-you will get it hot off the presses here!

Remember my points in the seminar and you will be on track for great success.

B-Buy it Right

U-Utilities Drive Everything

I-IT Matters-even in glamping

L-Location

D-Demand

Thanks and have a great conference!

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Hitting The Mark In Your Outdoor Resort Marketing

When it comes to your social and digital media, results are what matters. Money spent must be converted into real dollars, good bookings, deposits placed, and guests satisfied.

When AOS manages your marketing, KPI (Key Performance Indicators) are part of the weekly reports you get in your packet.

Why is this important?

Because far too often, resort or park owners spend money on marketing, but never really know if their dollars are converting to bookings. With AOS, not only do you get reports such as the one below, but we give you hard data on how many bookings came through as compared to what was spent.

Our marketing team is equipped with all the certifications and knowledge needed to attack marketing in this day and age. Here are just a few of the skills sets under our roof:

Google Adwords Certification

Facebook Blueprint Certification

Google Analytics Certifications

Adobe Creative Cloud Expert Level

SEO and Keyword Certification

Certified Content Managers

Final Cut Pro and Zillow Real Estate Certificates

FAA Drone Licenses

Make sure you vet your marketing team and demand KPI reports and verification that they are up to date on all things digital. If you need a more experienced leader, check us out and let us show you what we can do.

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Rate Yielding By Location

When I speak across the US about managing and yielding rate, I am still shocked at how most people in this industry are reluctant to even consider the possibility.

I have shown park owners over and over again how just manipulating rate a few dollars here or there can result in thousands of additional dollars to the bottom line.

After having led seminars across the US on this very subject, even I was surprised where I found rate yielding this week…..based not on supply and demand, but demographic and having to do with medication.

I was in Bethany Beach DE spending time with family when I realized I had run out of my asthma inhaler. Through my insurance, I have an app showing me the cost at the different local pharmacies (see below.) My inhaler was almost $10 more at my location than a location 10 miles inland and in a less prosperous area. You see, Bethany Beach is a bedroom community for wealthy Washingtonians, and the pharmacies in the area know this..so if you are in Bethany and you need medication, you are going to pay more than if you were a local living inland.

Some might consider this an unfair practice, but the market considers it the simple rule of supply and demand. If this product is demanded in the wealthy vacation spot, then the consumer will pay the price. It all goes back to this very basic principle of business:

Key points

  • The law of demand states that a higher price leads to a lower quantity demanded and that a lower price leads to a higher quantity demanded.
  • Demand curves and demand schedules are tools used to summarize the relationship between quantity demanded and price (Khan University)

The price locals are charged inland has been determined to be the price they will pay-the same rule applies to Bethany Beach.

When considering your perishable inventory item, “Site Nights Sold,” consider the rule of supply and demand and what the market is-at any given time- willing to pay for your inventory. This will help your rate, occupancy, and overall revenue stream by matching market price and demand with your guests willingness to pay.

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Go Away-Ye Who Wish To Spend Money With Me

“What Not To Do Wednesday” is back with a vengeance. After traveling for the past month, I have a whole new arsenal of hospitality, “No No’s.”

Today, police state signage. Below is an actual sign at a “Welcome Center,” check in station:

I am middle aged, married and and by no means a “Party Animal,” but if I rolled up on this, I would be out. No talking after 11 PM?? I cannot sit by my fire and have a glass of wine and converse?? Really!!

The best part is the bottom line, “If this is not your style, please leave now and save us both the hassle.” Just when I think I have seen it all, I see this.

I met the folks who run this park, they are nice people, but you would not know it from the sign. Instead of a welcoming entrance, this is what you are greeted with at the check in area.

Don’t get me wrong, we have rules in all our parks, but we never lead with the negative. Instead, we have clear rules on our websites, make sure everyone agrees to them at booking or checkin, and then we address the very few incidents as needed.

Here is how AOS would have worded this sign:

“Welcome to our park! We are so glad you have chosen to stay with us.” Then we would have had a separate rules sign stating:

“We know you are here on vacation and we want you to enjoy your stay, for everyone’s safety and pleasure, please keep in mind:

Others are trying to sleep after 11 PM, so please use inside voices when outside on your site. Refrain from playing music or outdoor TV after 11.

Please keep your kids safe on site after dark for their protection.

The responsible use of alcohol is permitted at your site. Please keep all alcohol in cozies or plain cups and do not walk with open containers.

Respect your neighbors-they may not have the same agenda as your group, so please abide by all guidelines.

If we receive complaints, you may be asked to leave without a refund..and that would just be a bummer!

Let us know if you have questions and PLEASE enjoy your stay!

What a difference, and yet the same message. Remember, your guests keep you in business and many of them are on vacation. Running your park like a police state is not the way to create lasting memories for those who want to relax and enjoy their time at your park. Make sure you are not saying, “Go Away,” before they every get in the door.

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Cha Cha Cha Changes

Let’s face it, most people do not like change. However, sometimes change is in our best interest, particularly when it comes to our parks.

We visit a lot of parks in a year-and I mean A LOT! Most of the time, the trips are in conjunction with a client due diligence trip. We are looking, investigating, and recommending for or against the purchase.

What is most interesting to me are the parks that are being run one way, but should be running in a completely different manner. I am always astounded at the mismatch.

Consider a recent park we visited, we shall call it Campers Delight. Campers Delight is a 378 site park and is full….of seasonal guests. Campers Delight should NEVER have been set up as a long term site. It is near rivers, streams, parks, horseback riding, bike trails, river rafting, hiking, and boating areas. Campers Delight should be teeming with daily and weekly guests paying a high average daily rate of around $75 per night. However, Campers Delight is full of long term guests paying an average daily rate of $15 per day. WHY DO YOU ASK??

I asked, and I was told, “Well, even though we know we could make more, we did not want the headache of transient guests.” What!! First of all, if you consider guests a headache, you should not be in hospitality. Secondly, the staff you need for short term stays is well worth the additional revenue generated. Campers Delight should have been alive with families, and campfires, and fun…but rather it is full of guests who live like squatters, trash their sites, and pay rock bottom prices.

The audit report we prepare for this park will show the vast amount of money that is being lost by putting a square peg in a round hole.

When you are purchasing or running a park-KNOW YOUR MARKET. Missing the mark by having the wrong guests, the wrong pricing, and the wrong targets mean sub par operations and sub par revenue. Neither makes a Campers or a Campground Owners Delight.

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