I was reading the other day in the NY Times about a guy who sells swimming pools. His story kind of mimics ours. Honest guy, not the cheapest, but feels he provides the best value for his customers. With the popularity of the FAQ section of our website I thought I would would try to pose and answer some customer questions in this blog in the next little while.
Whenever I talk to potential customers invariably the question comes up in the the first 10 minutes , “What is the price?”. Our issue is number one, how to we showcase the value of product when people focus on the price? Number two, there are many options available with our Campground Manager Software® system, that without a question and answer period with the customer, we cannot give them a rock solid quote. For instance we need to ask:
- How many concurrent users do you want? In other words how many computers do you want to be able to access the system at the same time?
- How many campsites do you have?
- Do you have storage sites that you want on the map?
- Do you have a store? If so, do you want our fully integrated POS (Point of Sale) system to manage your inventory and operate your store?
Which leads us back to what is the price? We have had our price on the Internet for about 6 years.
The pricing: There are two ways of going about acquiring our product or services.
Option One: You can buy the license to run the software and operate it on your own network at park level. This is the traditional way of running software and owning a license to use it.
Option Two: You can also run it over the Internet using our SAAS (Software as a service) option. We run the system for you on the Amazon E3 Cloud and handle all backups and upgrades. There is a monthly fee for that based on your park size.
The pricing is dependent upon park size and can be found using our online calculator.
Please click here for a short video on how to use the online cost calculator.
You enter in the number of sites you have and the number of concurrent users you want and the prices appear on the right. The upper price in the green box entitled “Purchased Pricing“is the traditional ‘buy a license‘ approach. As you can see the pricing can run any where from $1,400 to $29,000.
The lower price in the second green box entitled “Asp Pricing” is the monthly online software as a service pricing that runs on the Amazon Cloud. As you can see it involves an investment anywhere from $79 per month to $1200 per month.
So I hope you agree it is very hard to give a rock solid price with out some initial give and take with the customer.
More questions will be answered in this space in the next little while. Hope you enjoyed it!
Hope we can earn your trust and your business.
PS. My wife and I are on the road full time in our vintage Airstream motorhome and are writing a blog in this space called “the RV Life”. You can see them listed here on the right if that is what you are seeking. Check them out:)
Good day to all!
Hope everyone is fine and had a fantastic New Year and even better Christmas! This is only the second time in 20 years we did not hold our annual New Year’s Day party at our house in Calgary. I am not going to lie, there was a void there. I shed a crocodile tear. I‘ll tell you one thing though, I felt good on January 2 for once. But I digress.
When last seen to our legions of readers ( all 4 of them) we were in Lake Charles, LA. at the Jellystone park on Decmeber 7th 2012. Since then we hit Florida, the Caribbean, Sarnia, Ont., Windsor, Ont., Toronto…
In case anyone cares let me give you a quick run down:
We left Lake Charles, LA and worked our way across the Florida panhandle stoping at Destin, Florida. We stayed for 2 nights at Camp Gulf RV park. My buddy Pat O’Neill runs the park and he put us right on the beach. Very, very nice. Well-run park and of course they use Campground Manager Software® . Here is the silver potato backed in at our spot. Lots of bird life and saw some kind of sand shark.
Then we headed across the panhandle to Carrabelle Beach where we stayed at Carrabelle Beach RV park. Owned by RVC, it is a nice little park right on the gulf. That area of Florida is rich in wildlife and fishing is huge there. However, we were on a mission from God to pick up our girls (Hannah and Madeline) at the Orlando airport at 4:30 pm on December 11/2012. Like a horse seeing the barn door open, we headed for home. God forbid anything or anyone who stood in the way of reuniting mama bear and her cubs. Made it to the airport at 4:29 pm and were successful in picking up Hannah and Maddie.
From there we checked into Tropical Palms RV park in Kississimee for 3 nights. Had not been to that park for quite a few years and felt good to be back. We rented a car from “U-Save” car rental. What an adventure! Their car rental counter was actually in a Red Coach bus terminal about 4 miles from the airport. Their “U-Save” sign was taped to the window of the bus terminal with scotch tape. Turned out OK and was certainly inexpensive but jeez I worried that the car might be hot.
While in Orlando we went to an Orlando Magic NBA game. Tickets’s were list price $35 and we bought them on Stub Hub for $5. Five bucks! There was probably only 6000 people there. The numbers just don’t make sense. I guess it is TV money that carries that league.
A couple of their cheerleaders saw me and chased me down and asked for a picture so I obliged.
From there we went on a Caribbean cruise with the good folks at Adventure Bound Resorts. Hats off to Wayne and Bob and their crew for treating myself and my girls as family. Highlight was St. Marteen where we went snorkeling on the Bluebeard Three. OMG. What a great day! All the Heineken you could drink (the green grenades), crystal clear water, tons of tropical fish and topless women from another boat rubbing themselves with some kind of sacred mud off the island we were moored. The pedals came right off the bike. Words escape me.
This is the chief as we pulled into St. Thomas Virgin Islands.
Back into Port Canaveral at 6 am and on the plane to Toronto at 12:30 pm. Spent the next three weeks around Sarnia and Windsor visiting my folks and Cathie’s folks and enjoying Christmas. Had not been home to Ontario at Christmas for 20 years. It was nice!
Flew back to Florida mid January and picked up the tin tuber at T. Palms and headed out. Next stop was the Great Outdoors RV resort.(TGO) My friend Wendy is the manager there where she also lives with her husband Paul. Kind of a cool place up by Titusville. TGO is a massive park that is part ownership and part RV transient park. About 1300 sites just off I95. If you want to RV resort living this place has it all. Nice golf course, nice fitness facility, lots of nature and even its own golf cart rental shop. Wendy and Paul looked after us and we had lots of laughs. One anecdote, Cathie and I played golf on the Friday afternoon. We were that last group out at 3 pm as we were only playing 9 and as you know I had my nose to the grindstone so we did not have time to play 18. At any rate we quickly caught up to the group in front of us as it was a fivesome. The interesting thing is they all had their own golf carts and the group in front of them had the same. So on the one par five there were 10 carts in front of us. Looked like bumper cars. Weaving back and forth across the fairway, the only missing was the sparks! When we caught up to the old guys I asked,” What, you guys don’t like each other?”.They quickly explained that they only use their own personal carts when they golf.
We left there and went to Vero Beach. We stayed at my buddy’s place, Wayne Klekamp Jr. He has a nice house on three acres of land and he let us hookup for a few days. Went out to the Long Branch saloon with Wayne and Jaimie and had some laughs. Then Sunday we went out to a rural acreage where Jamie’s cousin lives. These people know how to have fun! Here‘s what we did in order starting at 11 am: drank beer, watched horseshoe game, drank more beer, watched more horseshoes, drank more beer, sat in the back of pickup (esepcially configured with bus seats bolted to the bed) and watched more horseshoes, played horseshoes, drank some shots of some unknown liquor concoction, ate copious amounts of fresh deep fried ocean perch and fries, drank more shots, fired off some handguns and went home. Man, the only thing missing was the General Lee and whats’ er name in the pink bikini top and Daisy Dukes who has since had a baby and is in weight watchers. Too much fun.
From Vero Beach we headed to Ft. Lauderdale to the IMBC convention boat show for 3 days. Stayed at the Renaissance right beside the convention center. When I booked the reservation I expressively asked if they had outdoor parking for the unit and they said yes. When I got there the answer was no. So I parked on the city street behind the hotel where they told me they put RV guests all the time. Then they wanted to charge me 30 buucks per night to park there. On a city street! They added a caveat- “Let’s hope you don’t get a ticket.” I said pardon? Forget the charge and if I get a ticket or get towed you are paying. Luckily, nothing happened. Except when we went to leave, we had left the fridge on to try and save some food and the tin tuber would not start. Had to call AAA to get a jump. Man, I am getting to know those guys on a first name basis!
From there we headed to Ft. Myers Beach for Superbowl weekend. Cathie has a cousin who lives there and my in-laws came down from Windsor to join us. We stayed at Red Coconut on the Beach RV park. This park has ocean front sites and is very old school Florida. We really liked it. They are a customer and treated us very well. The beach scene is very cool there. We toured with my in-laws around Sanibel Island and had many nice meals. We partied with Cathie’s cousins and watched the Superbowl. A nice weekend.
We went to a bar called the Junkanoo across the street from Red Cocconut and had some conch fritters. About 2 pm in the afternoon a 9 piece polka band fired up. Weird surreal experience sitting at a beach bar on the gulf listening to “Roll Out the Barrel”.
Here is a short video I took to make my friends in Western Canada jealous. As you can see I am in tip top physical shape after 3 months on the road.
From here we headed to the Florida Keys.
Stay tuned for Chapter 5..
Tags: Accounting · Business · Customers
So here we are on December 7 in the Jellystone park in Lake Charles LA. They are really nice people and have been a customer a long time. So when last seen,our intrepid rver’s were cocooned at Meridain RV park in Phoenix owned by my buddy Stoaksie. So our tour itinerary went like this:
- Phoenix until the 23rd.
- Sedona AZ on the 24
- Lees Ferry AZ 25, 26 (Novemember)
- Las Vegas for the ARVC show November 27-30
- Back to Phoenix until the December 3rd
- Hit the trail on the 3rd
- Lordsburg NM on the 4th
- Ft. Stockton on the 5th
- Kerrville TX on the 6th and 7th
- Lake Charles LA as we speak (evening of December 7)
Tour T-shirts and 8x 12’s will be available in the lobby after the show.
For those of you keeping track of motor expenses you can add- new headlight $125, new tires $2700 and new spark plug wires at $218. I quit keeping track of all the bills as I could not see through all the tears, all the money I was spending .
Here are the highlights and thoughts of each part of the trip in order:
Phoenix.- When we moved to Meridian park it was a completely different gig than Desert’s edge. Not better or worse just different. The biggest thing was the activity schedule. These folks had a skydving club. They play golf 3 times a week. Happy hour Friday afternoon. ATV club. Hiking club. Shopping Mexico club. I got tired reading the list. This is a 55+ park! I wanted to combime all acitvities into one by getting drunk to to bejesus and jumping out of an airplane with my golf clubs on my back. Land in the desert and get picked up by an ATV. I would skip the shopping. Would have covered them all off in one afternoon so I can go back to sit by the pool.
At any rate we ran the numbers and instead of driving the silver potato to Sedona and Vegas we rented a car off carrental.com and it was way cheaper than the fuel would have been. It was from Fox Rent a car at the Phoenix airport. It was a mistushitty galant and it was $19 per day! I mean it is a bit of a sktchy rent a car place but you cannot beat the value. I was sure the car had been used for a drive by shooting the week before in the barrio of Phoenix but it turned out OK. But it did have faint smell of gun powder… but I digress.
Off we went for a romantic evening in Sedona. What a cool place. Very mystical and our friend Helen from Calgary would love the yoga vibe there. We had a great dinner at the Etole Mexican retaurant and met a couple from So cal. Here is our picture! You have to go there to eat if you are ever in Sedona.
Next day we did the pink jeep tour which sounds goofy and sounds like it would be a tour of local hair salons and nail studios but was actually a very cool back country jeep trip. Only issue is I jammed my ankle and I was bummed as I was going fly fishing the next day at Lees Ferry. I started taking Costco Ibprohens like Tic Tacs.
Next day (Sunday) we drove to Lees Ferry AZ to the Cliffdweller’s Lodge. Now buckle in because this is where the story gets interesting. Lees Ferry is the only Colorado River access above the Grand Canyon. All the rafting trips through the gorge start here and pull out 6 days later in Lake Mead. We went up stream in a jet boat from there, to just below the Glen Canyon Dam that creates Lake Powell. It was a guided fly fishing trip and my lovely bride was good enough to accompany me.
One word – stunning. Check out the fishing report from the actual guide. Your’s truly is featured.
Take a minute and read it. That is not a misprint. Over 100 rainbows by your intreipd blogger. The cliffs are 800 feet high. Just an absolutely perfect day. Like the owner/guide Terry Gunn said it was a “yesterday” day as in “you should havce been here yesterday “ in fishing guide parlance. My fishing buddies in Alberta, eat your heart out.
Here is a couple of more pictures.
Just a spectacular weekend.
Off to Vegas on the Tuesday for the ARVC show. We had a great show, great ARVC business forum meeting and of course seeing old friends is the highlight. This was our 20 th year at the ARVC show. We showed of our new iphone app and it was a hit. We had a couple more competitors there but life goes on, you are always going to have those.
Then back to Phoenix on the Saturday night after eating and drinking too much. And I got a wicked case of the gout. Oh my god is it painful. You know eskimoes get it from too much protien in their diet. I am sure all the seal blubber I ate in Vegas added to it. So I just keep taking the Costco Ibprohen that I took for my jammed ankle! I did not even break stride!
So here we are in Lake Charles LA after 4 days crossing TX.I am having a nice cold Blue Moon beer, dealing with the gout and trying to be the wily and parsomonius writer I know I can be.
I have a couple of thoughts about the RV business I would like to share:
1. Internet- a gong show. There is not such thing as free wifi. People want the same kind of Internet they have at home. Just give it to them if you can. Charge them for it, but give it to them. If they want to download movies, skype with their grand kids in England or play online games- Let them! Just charge them for it! Don’t be the bandwidth censor! The expectation bar is too high for people when they get to the park. If you can get lots of bandwidth at your park then go for it. If the camping public does not want it then do not charge them. Don’t let the cable companies make all the dough on your seasonal or long term campers. You should be making the dough.
2. If you park name is Ft. Somewhere RV park and you have a nice big ad in the Good Sam directory , make sure you are in Ft. Somewhere. Not 5 miles outside of town, that you have to drive back into the next morning to get a damn spark plug wire put on your 96 airstream that costs $218!!! (I am not bitter about that)
3. If you are advertising free wifi then make sure you have it. I don’t care if your router went down. Get it fixed. You are breaking the trust of the consumer.
4. If you are advertising free over the air TV make sure you can get it. At this park people were bitching in the washroom the next morning.
5. Offer internet bookings. Not a form, not a phone call, real true internet bookings that when I am rolling down the road I can book something through my phone or iPad.
6. Cut down on the rules. The first rule should be COMMON SENSE. If people have trouble with that they should not be in your park. Design the rules aorund the 95% of the people who stick to them not the 5% who have little regard or respect for any structure. More rules are not going make the 5% any smarter. They still will have an IQ of 7 and it takes 9 to bark.
7. Pay more attention to the toys people drive. Have a RV washing bay- coin operated. The dudes driving these are proud of their units. The dirtiest RV I saw was my own. There is money to be made with these guys and their toys. Don’t just farm it out to someone who comes in and charges $10 per foot to detail your unit.
8. Dogs- treat them like paying customers. Have dog washing stations. Every person in any kind of big A class has a dog moreover a rat in a dog suit. They get treated better than the owners treat each other.
9. Laundry rooms- get rid of the top loaders and got to Front loading. Way cheaper to operate for the owners, more environmentally sound and makes your park look up to date. Plus you will make more money!!!
Those are my thoughts for now. Hope to see you down the road! We miss all our friends in Calgary and big shout out to our friends in Trochu!
Tags: Accounting · Business · Customers · Employees · Marketing
November 21st, 2012 · 1 Comment
Well this is the second chapter in the 6 month odyssey of the road trip of life. So where we left it, we had just crossed the border with the new alternator running like a wrist watch.
Our trip from Calgary reads like a Fred Eaglesmith tour: Calgary, Lethbridge, Great Falls MT, Idaho Falls ID , Provo Utah, St. George Utah and finally Phoenix AZ by way of Vegas. I should have sold T-shirts.
At any rate the Silver tuber was pretty loud by the time we pulled into Desert’s Edge RV park. Owned by my friend Ms. Saundra Bryn, it is a nice park on the north end of Phoenix. That was Sunday November 4th around supper time. I discovered that on the way down what little exhaust manifold gasket I had left on the right side had packed up and hit the highway to parts unknown. So there was one of those notices on the board in the park (you know the kind you see in the grocery store where you pull off a little tab with a phone number like you are trying to buy a baby stroller) of a mechanic in the park who works on Rvs. He also does detailing. Well he hit the motherlode with me. Like I was the power lotto win. So he and his partner washed and waxed the silver potato and fixed the exhaust gasket. So $1250 later I was happy as a pig in poop. I mean I am beginning to think the numbers don’t work on this whole RV thing. But anytime I think that, I just turn up the music and have a beer, hot tub and swim and that thought goes away.
So two days later (Tuesday) we were at the airport at 4:30 am for our flight to Cinci to the Jellystone park symposium. I mean could they make it any earlier? What are we, raccoons ? Then by the time you get to wherever you are going you feel like a dishrag. It is like the airlines have decided that if we can make your flight any more uncomfortable to save a buck we will. But I digress.
Symposium was fun as usual. Great group of folks. Back to Phoenix on the Friday through Houston. Man was it hot there. I was sweating like a grape picker. Back to Desert’s Edge by cab and when we pulled into our site it actually began to feel like home. Thirty six feet of now shiny home.
So that was November 9th.
On the 10th my buddy here in town, Stoaksie and I went to the Nascar race. Well that was an experience. Lot of dudes there wearing sweaters but then I realized they just weren’t wearing a shirt. There had to be 7000 RV’s parked there. I can see why Good Sam spends money there like a sailor on shore leave. Everything I read tells me Nascar is in trouble, indeed the stands were far from full, but it was something. Not really my gig, but just a cacophony of sound. I mean gut shaking, ear splitting, AC/DC loud wall of sound. The visual is OK but the sound track is tremor producing. I think we were the only dudes who did not have hearing protection. My ears were still ringing two days later. Beers were $7.25 each. I was like “I only want one”. I asked the beer vendor if they had financing. But I digress.
Then the chief and I settled in to life in Phoenix for the week. I worked all week and enjoyed the stunning weather. Did some cycling and planned our trip to Vegas for the ARVC show.
On the 19th we moved to Meridian RV Resort in Apache Junction. Another really nice park. Strictly a snow bird park, no full timers or park models. Lost of Canadians here. Big Grey cup party coming up on the 25th! Tons and tons of activities . Got my hair cut today for $10. I mean 10 bucks! I gave her $15 because I felt sorry for her. Right at the RV park!
So that is where we are currently cocooned. Learning the RV lifestyle and starting to ease into it. Thanks for reading and hope to you see you on the road.
Tags: Accounting · Business
November 14th, 2012 · 1 Comment
Hi Folks, As you may or may not know my wife and I have started a new adventure. If you are friends with me on Facebook you will already know this. At 52 years of age, after living in the same house in Calgary Alberta for the last 20 years, we sold our house , bought a 1996 Vintage Airtsream motorhome and hit the trail. All 3 daughters grew up in this house and they all left home home. The last one left for school on September 2 and we immediately put the house up for sale. We sold it and the new owners took possession on October 29 2012. That is the day we cast off the bow lines and let the wind fill our sails and hit the trail. As you can tell it was a beautiful day in Calgary but we were excited and undeterred by the bad weather. Sad to see our neighbours go but they are still our friends and we will stay in touch. We stopped in Lethbridge AB on the way to see our daughter who goes to school there. Stayed over night and hit the trail the next day. Our next stop was unplanned.
Yep, six cars from the front at the US border crossing into Sweetgrass MT, the old girl packed it in. She had no spark left, as the alternator decided (with almost no discussion whatsoever) to pack up and move on to a better place. The American border guards got a little excited however we talked them down off the ledge and they were great after that. They were concerned about us blocking traffic and rightfully so. At any rate 2 hours later we were on the back of this flat bed tow truck and on our way back to Lethbridge. The next day, $555 poorer we were back on the road heading to the sunny south. The good news was the hotel we stayed in was right beside a casino. Talk about Karma! When we got to the border we had the same agent. He was happy to see us up and running.
So that was the start. More to follow and check back again soon!
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.
I wanted to throw my two cents (and Canadian at that) into the ARVC- State Association discussions floating around right now. I know it is a bit of a volatile subject but hey, faint heart never won a fair woman.
In my seventeen years in the business I have seen this ongoing situation manifest itself many times. The tension between the state associations and ARVC has always been there albeit to a lesser degree. From my perspective instead of this huge tug of war for the attention and dues from individual parks, why can’t we just drop the rope? I am not saying they have to work together but there is certainly space for all these organizations.
It is all about value in today’s marketplace. It is about which organization can deliver the most value to the campground owner. The one who can do that will get the business. What if they both got the business! If I am not mistaken it is the job or mission of the state park associations and ARVC to look after the lobby affairs of their “constituents”. The parks realized way back when that you cannot fight city hall, so they banded together and formed associations that fought the fight on their behalf at the state capital level and in Washington. Yes I am sure there are other ancillary benefits that come with banding together but I believe that is their main focus. At least from my somewhat skewed perspective.
I have found lately that both of the trade associations have gotten away from that. They are becoming all about driving revenue to the bottom line in order to stay in business. They offer buyer bulk discounts, take money form vendors/suppliers such as myself to promote their products and generally do what they have to do to stay in business. However they are not a business. To quote Peter Drucker , “Business is about building things and selling them”. These trade associations do neither.
I have a couple of good examples. About 10-12 years ago we were invited to a state association trade show. We purchased some space, flew down there with our booth, rented a car, rented a hotel room and generally spent money on the road. When we got to the show one of the associations board members announced over the public address system that his son was also in the software business and had a booth. Please go visit him as he is a lot cheaper that Campground Manager Software® and the state association will get a commission on every system he sells. We packed up and went home. We have never been back and will never go back. I have no problem with buddy’s son starting a software company but don’t wrap in the cloak of the state association and expect me to participate. We have enough trouble competing with competitors that we don’t need to compete with the trade show organizers also.
I have another good example. Recently we decided to launch an iPhone and iPad app for our Bookyoursite.com booking system. So in order to make it a user friendly feature enriched app we needed some campground data. We approached an association (of which we are a long time member) about using their data. They turned us down because they are launching their own iPhone app and we would be a competitor. Huh? I thought you were a trade association.
I get that there is strength in numbers and the benefits are many when people group together. However I just think these associations have lost focus on what their mission is. Once they refocus and get back to doing what trade associations do (acting on behalf of their constituents at the government lobby level, advertising, setting standards, education, political donations) then it will be much easier to “drop the rope”.
Your comments are welcome.
With the recent announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo have formed a partnership I thought I would take a quick look at what that announcement means to the average consumer and average advertiser. I have been doing lots of reading on this and I thought I would share my thoughts. We are an advertiser on Google with both Campground Manager Software® and especially with Bookyoursite.com ,as we are trying to drive traffic to our partner campgrounds and get reservations.
Fist off, what does this deal entail? As you may or may not know Microsoft recently launched a new search engine called Bing. This is their latest attempt to take a run at Google and their massive advertising revenue. The old MSN.com was obviously not working. So Yahoo’s ads will appear on the sidebars and headers and footers of the Bing website. Bing (using the massive power of Microsoft search technology) will power the search portion of the consumer input. So this partnership effectively puts Yahoo out of the search business but still in the advertising business. Yahoo will get 88 percent of the revenue for the ads and the pay per click (PPC) revenue.
What does this mean to the consumer?
More competition for Google is the goal here. Together Yahoo and Bing together will account for just under 30% of the searches on the Internet. Now that is dwarfed by the Google 67% but is still much more formidable than two other competitors at 15% each. With more searches you get more revenue. With more revenue you can drive better quality targeted advertising. With more revenue you can drive more innovation. With more innovation you can produce a better product that will benefit the consumer. All the search engineers at Yahoo that get laid off can get off the Titanic because let’s face it Yahoo was dying a slow painful death and move over to the evil giant Microsoft. Think of it- Microsoft the underdog- who’d have ever thought we would say or think that?
What does this mean to people like advertisers like us?
More competition for Google. No longer is spending money on Yahoo or MSN.com like throwing money out the window at 60 miles an hour. No longer is doing an ad buy on Yahoo or Microsoft a gesture of protest against the Google behemoth. At 30 percent market share there is a serious number of people using this search engine. “YaBing” will be able to build a long term relationship with advertisers which will lead to more revenue and more innovation. More innovation should lead to more business and value for advertisers like us. Like they say the bigger the ship, the harder it is to turn it around. You have to think Yabing will be much more nimble than Google.
Our Bookyoursite.com ad spend on Google is being done almost out of spite as no one else can drive the volume like they do. Yet we know we have to be there.
Google ads are becoming more and more expensive and less effective. Hope fully this deal will put a small dent in their armor and give us what everyone wants, more choice and better value. More customers in a cost efficient manner for our partner campgrounds on Bookyoursite.com . ( Statistics and some editorial ideas are gleaned form many sources on the Internet especially Searchengineland.com)
I was recently in Colorado at the ARVC Business forum meeting. We meet twice a year and make recommendations to the ARVC Board. We, as outside vendors, bring a different view to some of the issues facing ARVC. The ARVC board does not have to take our recommendations or indeed even respond to them however lots of ideas and policies we have suggested have gone on to be adopted by the board.
It is a very loose group of mostly vendors and corporate suppliers and it can be very informative. Recently the most interesting thing I took out of the meeting centered around the discussion of A Class motor homes. With 4 out of the top 5 A Class manufacturers no longer in business there was some discourse as to whether the A Class segment of RV’s would ever return. Is the A Class segment dead? And of so why? These are the reasons we discussed:
- They are not on the top of the list environmentally. They are very large, use a lot of fuel and have a huge carbon footprint.
- They take up a lot of square footage in campgrounds.
- 30 amp used to be the standard but now 50 amp is and soon will be a 100 amp for some of these big machines. That is a lot of energy usage.
- They are not easy to drive and maneuver.
- In some cases people require off-season storage as the home owner as no room in the driveway. Whereas you can put a pop-up or tent in your garage.
- Some municipalities do not allow driveway storage (could be said of all RV’s).
- The society wide trend of stripping away the decadence in a time of recession, does not bode well with the A Class segment.
These are just a few of the things that were discussed. I personally do not think they will completely disappear as there is a market niche there. People love toys and A Class motohomes are one big toy. Also based on the length and width of some of the huge fifth wheels out there, they could also be included in this argument.
Now the question is, how does this affect the campground owners? How would we change our park layouts?
Too early to tell. At our park we are not making any changes based on the above discussion. However it is important to stay on top of the trends with an eye towards the future.
Also at the meeting we heard from a representative from REI. They are a huge camping coop retailer in the US. He shared with us that their tent sales have gone through the roof. So as a park owner that does interest me. Those people have to camp somehwere and with a lot of state park systems cutting back and closing parks, we see a real opportunity there. Maybe upgrade our tent sites, put them in better locations and maybe charge a bit more.
I like how the two discussions are diametrically opposed. Kind of reflects what is going on in societal terms. So that is it for now. All comments are welcome.
Tags: Business · Marketing
In the past you have heard me pontificate about the trust of the consumer and more specifically how it relates to setting rates at park level. To be more precise, over the years there has been some pressure to move toward yield optimization of parks automatically. In other words, the rates go up in your park every time you sell a site. The rates are adjusted by your software program based on an algorithm that you configure in your system.
My argument has always been that the outdoor hospitality business is different than the airlines or hotel business. That there is a certain social interaction you see around the campfires that you do not see in other industries. If you charge one person one rate and the next per a higher rate you end up breaking the trust of the consumer. It will cost you a lot more than the extra $10 per night you might have gotten, to get that customer back. Recently I had an experience to illustrate this fact.
My older brother just turned 50 years old. To celebrate the entire Kearns clan went to Vegas. Twenty of us. Now Steve is a new year’s baby so we went down over this past New Year’s. It was fun but I always had this underlying feel of distrust that I was being overcharged because it was New year’s. Turns out I was. Now Vegas are the absolute masters of supply and demand. My hat is off to them and they make no bones about it. They are there to deliver a customer experience and extract the most amount of money possible from your pocket. But at what cost?
For example, we stayed at the Mandalay Bay Casino. Very Very nice. Our room were $278 US per night. Got home on the Friday night. The following Sunday I had an email from their marketing department offering me the same room for $77 per night. I understand supply and demand. I get it. However I had just a bad taste in my mouth and a lingering odor of rip off when you receive that kind of treatment. Beer was $9, Cocktails $14. Corn beef sandwich $19. When I asked the waiter, was this the regular pricing he said no , it’s new year’s eve! Get over it!
I got in a cab to somewhere in Vegas and I chatted with the cab driver. He tells me it is out of control. He says the hotels built too big too fast. He showed me the new 9 billion $$ CityCenter project that sits idle. He tells me the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is moving because the costs are too high. That is the hidden cost of breaking the trust of the customer and relying solely on supply and demand. Once you take the human eyeball element out of it you risk the wrath of your customers.
I had a good time in Vegas however I will not go back on New year’s. Not because I can’t afford it, because I don’t like to be taken for a ride. Let’s not go that route in our industry.
That is it for now. Hope that invokes some discussion.
November 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment
Just returned from two solid weeks on the road. My longest road trip in 25 years of traveling. First we went to the LSI Jellystone trade show in Cincinnati Ohio. This was our 12th year in a row at this show with the good folks at LSI. We are the recommended software vendor for the Jellystone parks and we support them by attending their show.
I flew through the Chicago O’Hare airport the day of the federal election in the US. The airport was just buzzing with excitement. At any rate the flight was full to Cinci and the hotel was full and made me wonder again about the actual “on the street” effects of the financial market crisis. Now, if the car company’s go down there will be massive layoffs and I think it would accelerate the downward spiral and you would really see the effects at street level.
We left that show and went to the ARVC In Sites show just down the road in Nashville. I actually just stayed down in Cinci for the weekend and did not make the long trip home. While there I visited the National Underground Railway Museum. Absolutely spellbinding. You want a reality check on good we have it? Check out that museum. I then continued on to Nashville on the Monday.
The ARVC Insites show is a show we do every year and as far as shows go, the best attended. This year the attendance at the show was very disappointing. Something like 600 people showed up as opposed to the usual 1100. Yes our booth was very busy, yes most of our major customers were there however I have this underlying feeling of discontent. Not sure why. Was it because not too many people pulled their wallet out in Nashville? Was it because people are constantly bombarded with bad news that the bad news in itself was causing more bad news? Kind of a self generating maelstrom of discontent and worry.
Was it because we were in Nashville during the CMA awards? (Where, the night of the awards, there was just an orgy of opulence pulling up to the Sommet Center to unload the VIP’s of the country music industry). Into this environment we held the ARVC trade show which is a grassroots back to nature industry (not exactly aligned with the County music corporate business).
I am wondering if the shows would be better attended if they were “free” for the campgrounds. ARVC would have to charge it’s vendors a lot more however if we got a lot more people maybe it would pay for itself. Include the InSites admission in the park’s ARVC membership fee. Put the membership fee up a bit but then attach this “value add” of the tradeshow admission to their membership. Just an idea. With some of the state associations moving away from ARVC this might be the best opporunity for ARVC to “move the cheese”. For ARVC to start building their brand equity. To stand on the value they deliver to their 4000 members. To change their revenue model. Food for thought.
So I home now, getting out my curling gear and sharpening the edges of my skis getting ready for winter here in Calgary.
As always I welcome your comments.
All for now