Taking a look at the Crystal Ball

One of the toughest yearly jobs has got to be deciding what rates to charge for the upcoming season.  If you charge too much, your guests are going to go into sticker shock.  If you don’t charge enough, you may have a tough time deciding what amenities you are going to have to discontinue.

Most of us take a look at what is being charged in the area and make the decision based on that.  But what if the other parks around you don’t offer the same amenities?  Or what if the park closest to you has amenities that you wouldn’t even consider offering?  (They have a waterpark or a casino for example.)  Or what if you don’t have any parks close to you?  What do you do?

David Gorin, of Best Parks of America, had a great comment in a recent discussion on LinkedIn.  He said, “From RV Park Biz: I’ve long believed that campgrounds should be priced at about 50%-60% of what a nearby hotel would charge. So if the nearby Hampton Inn (w pool, fitness room, free WiFi and cable, comp breakfast, business center, etc) is charging $100/night, then a nearby campground offering the same amenities in as nice a surrounding as the Hampton Inn should be able to charge $50 – $60. A nearby Motel 6 (small rooms, no pool or fitness room, no business center, maybe free wifi) charges $50/night then a nearby campground should be able to charge $25 – $30/night.

This seems to be a logical move to me.   The competition today is not only RV parks but also hotels and motels.  So, in order to determine your rate, you need to look at all of your competition.

Create a spreadsheet that lays out all of your amenities.   Here is a sample of what the spreadsheet could look like:

Park Name Nightly 30amp Nightly 50 amp Weekly 30 amp Weekly 50 amp Monthly Pool Spa Laundry WiFi Propane
My RV Park $35 $38 $210 $225 $395 Y Y Y Free Y
Camp Here $25 N/A $150 N/A $345 Y N Y Pay N

Of course you may want to add columns to your spreadsheet for things like cabins, tent sites, etc.  Use this example to help you take an objective look at how you are stacking up against the competition.

Now that we have an idea of what prices to charge, the next problem becomes deciding what amenities to offer.  Here is where knowing your guest is critical.

If you cater to families with small children, your playground area may be a primary attraction.  If, on the other hand, your guests tend to be older then you are naturally going to want to plan your amenities around their preferences.

Pulling together an activities program for the season can be a daunting task.  But it doesn’t need to be an impossible task.  Take a look at what was successful last year and make sure that you keep those activities.  That sure sounds like a “Well, DUH” kind of statement doesn’t it?  The key here is to look at those activities objectively.  Do a complete comparison, looking at how much the activity cost, what you currently have invested in the activity, and the cost per person versus the price per person.  You may be surprised to find that the most successful activity isn’t necessarily the one you think it is.

I hope this helps you put some numbers together to aid in making those all important decisions.  Do you have any tips that would help?

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  1. Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Great article. That is exactly what we do, create a spreadsheet comparing amenities, size of camping areas, etc. In that way, when a customer has a concern, we can refer to our chart of charges.

  2. Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    It really is so much easier when you have the info at hand, isn’t it? It also gives you the info you need if you need to send someone to a different park because you are full.

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