“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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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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Taking The Easy Way Out

In the course of a week, I read a lot industry news and blogs.

This past week, I was reading a thread regarding reservation systems. Different people were commenting on the ones they like, and a reoccuring theme on one was it is, “Easy.” I would never target a particular system, but I will say, “Easy is not always better.”

Yes, a system should be easy to use, but the problem is, the easier systems often come with less functionality. Therefore, things backend functionality often suffers for the sake of ease of front of house use.

There are numerous systems in the market that provide both ease of booking and robust back end functionality. Pay attention the the following when checking out a system:

  • Reporting-is it solid, does it do both cash and accrual accounting, and is it easy to read on screen and by day, week, month and year
  • Rate Yielding- it easy to manipulate rate based on supply and demand
  • OTA Connectivity (especially if you have Cabins)-does it connect to Air BB, Booking.com and Expedia
  • Online booking-does it do online booking and what is the cost per online reservation
  • Does it allow you to option to book by site type rather than specific site
  • Does it allow you to use your credit card provider of choice, or does it force you to use their provider
  • How easy is it to do group and split bookings

These are just a few of the criteria you should consider when choosing a reservation system. Most are pretty easy up front and booking a site is simple, pay attention to group and split booking functions. Some are better than others.

AOS is NOT a software developer. We look at all systems and we recommend what is best for the client. We know all systems in the market and have worked on almost all of them. Trust us when we say, “Easy is not always better.”

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Let Freedom Ring

When I entered college, I was torn between three majors-English, Accounting, and American History.

I eventually chose accounting because I felt it gave me the best chance to make a living. All in all I was correct, but there is still a little part of me that would have loved to teach American History.

As an elementary school student I remember reading every blue cloth covered biography written about our founders and early American heroes. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, James Madison, all came alive in the pages of those books. It gave me an enduring love for my country and the sacrifice it took to bring about freedom and liberty.

All these years later, I still prefer history books and the History Channel to fiction and sit coms. I still get goosebumps when I watch documentaries on the American Revolution or WW II. I listen to old speeches and read impassioned pleas about courage and patriotism.

Therefore, I love the 4th of July!

So this July 4th-take time to remember the sacrifices of our founders, and in this day and age of dissent, remember we are still the proud residents of what is still the greatest nation on earth.

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“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” Fred R. Barnard

Fred R. Barnard is the advertising executive who first spoke these famous words. He said this he was referring to book jackets, and how the graphic on the front of a book could be the very thing that entices people to purchase it.

Little did he know how advertising would change and how much more true these words are now than ever before.

We sent our in house team out to shoot some of our parks this past week. The images they shot will completely revitalize these parks websites and show the bucolic nature and settings of each.

Case in point, the two photos below.

The first photo below is from the old website. It is dark, pixelated, and unwelcoming.

The second photo is from our recent shoot. It is focused, the lighting is right, and it invites the viewer to come and sit a spell by a lovely pond. Same location-vastly different look and feel.

Pixelated, Dark and Unwelcoming

When it comes to your property, DO NOT cut corners on good photos and video. Today’s outdoor enthusiasts shop and book online. Your photos are their first impression of your park. Make sure it is an inviting one.

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Worker Bee Parks

When we have parks in our portfolio who cater to workers, we refer to them affectionatly as “Worker Bee Parks.”

This is a disparaging term, rather it defines the target market and how we approach rate and occupancy. There are a few things to remember about AOS Worker Bee Parks:

They are NOT work down trailer parks! We run our worker parks with the same set of guidelines with which we run our transient parks. Clean, comfortable, and NO junky sites allowed!

Secondly, they do not play second fiddle to transient parks. Worker Bee parks can be highly profitable since the teams are often paid generous per diem housing rates and will pay a nice price for nice accommodations.

Rarely are these parks just one industry. They may be wind farm workers, solar farm teams, or oil industry contractors, but throughout there are always sprinklings of traveling nurses, families, those who are building homes in the area and need a short term rental, or just folks on the road traveling through the area.

We love working with these parks and connecting our parks to the jobs happening in the area. We do this through our digital communications, connecting with the industries, and partnering with the local chambers.

We also manage revenue in these parks the same way we manage revenue at transient parks. In fact, it is more important in these parks since the ADR is lower overall and we need to eek out every penny we can.

If you own a worker bee park, it is worth your time to speak to one of our team members about how we can help build your success .

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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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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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Lemons Into Lemonade

As of today, the whole world seems to be on lockdown. Schools closed, workers sent home to work virtually, and events cancelled across the globe.

While traditional hospitality is hardest hit, Outdoor Hospitality faces a golden-or shall we say-lemon yellow opportunity.

This article out of Japan tells us exactly what is happening to Outdoor Hospitality in that country post WuFlu.

In this environment, the industry there is thriving. People want to get out, and they want to be in wide open and “Socially Disconnected” spaces. RV parks , glamping resorts and campgrounds are the perfect solution to meet their needs.

Unique situations call for creative solutions. Making sure our common area and cabins are cleaned with bleach, having hand sanitizers at our desks, and postponing close contact events until a later time help ensure we are open and welcoming, but remain vigilant.

At AOS, our team has jumped on this early and have started to reach out to all those cancelling foreign vacations and welcoming them to our unique spaces. With the great outdoors calling and spring weather at hand, the great outdoors is the greatest way to experience -“Life not Cancelled.”

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