The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Thu Apr 27, 2017
MONTGOMERY, Texas - Park operators attending the annual Spring Meeting of the Texas Association of Campground Owners on Tuesday were briefed on the latest trends in demographics and guest needs.
Larry Brownfield, director of franchise development for Billings, Montana-based Kampgrounds of America, Inc., highlighted several key findings of the latest North American Camping Report, a demographic survey of American interest in camping, which KOA has sponsored for each of the past three years.
The latest report documented a 3 percent increase in camping households in 2016, compared to the previous year. The report also found that 37 million U.S. households camp annually, a 2 percent increase from 2015, while 11 percent camp at least three times per year.
However, the survey found that only 26 percent of U.S. campers camp at privately owned and operated campgrounds, with the majority of people camping at state and national parks and other public lands.
While the percentage of people camping at private parks is low, this represents a significant growth opportunity for private park operators, Brownfield said.
The survey also documented increases in the numbers of Asian American, Hispanic and African American campers, but noted significant growth opportunities among non-caucasian campers.
“It doesn’t take a marketing expert to look at the trends and see where the growth needs to occur,” Brownfield said. “Eighty-two percent of our market is still caucasian, although we are experiencing growth in other groups.”
Indeed, while Baby Boomers remain a core business group accounting for 44 percent of campers, Brownfield said the emerging business opportunities are with multicultural markets as well as younger people, particularly Millennials.
“Thirty-nine percent of the new market is multicultural,” Brownfield said. “There also was a 4 percent increase in Millennial camping last year. KOA scored a 9 percent increase.”
The survey also found that people camp longer at parks that offer WiFi. Brownfield said the growth potential for private park operators is significant.
“We have 3.4 million new households that just starting camping since 2014,” he said. “More Millennials are camping. More families are camping.”
Park operators also need to pay attention to the needs of tent campers as well as campers who prefer rental accommodations.
In 2016, the survey found that 60 percent of all campers were tenters, while 22 percent were RVers and 17 percent were cabin campers.
Among new campers last year, 43 percent were tent campers; 26 percent were RVers; and 27 percent were accommodation renters. Among KOA campers last year, by comparison, 31 percent were tenters, while 57 percent were RVers and 33 percent were cabin renters.
“We believe there are strong years ahead,” Brownfield said. “Fifty-one percent of our campers tell us they are going to camp more in 2017. Ask your campers about their intent to return.”
Brownfield also challenged park operators to step up their game. He noted that hospitality industry research found that guests want to go to places that provide a “meaningful” experience.
“How are you going to provide a meaningful experience?” he asked.
Guests also want simplicity.
“Remove the pain points in doing business with you,” Brownfield said. “How hard is it to make a reservation (at your park)?”
He also urged park operators to simplify their park rules and to create places and opportunities for social interaction among their guests. Ice cream and wine and cheese socials are great ways to stimulate social interaction, he said.
Tuesday was the final day of TACO’s annual spring meeting, which took place at the Lake Conroe/North Houston KOA in Montgomery. Other educational presenters included Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, who discussed the latest trends in WiFi, as well as TACO’s executive director and CEO, Brian Schaeffer, and Jeff Crider, TACO’s publicist, who conducted a marketing and public relations class. Representatives from the Texas Railroad Commission are also on hand to discuss the latest rule changes for propane distribution as well as continuing education opportunities.
For more information about TACO and its upcoming events and educational opportunities, visit www.tacomembers.com.