RV campsite developers and resorts are pushing to meet “skyrocketing” advance reservations at RV parks, paired with record-breaking shipments of new units.
RVIA noted The Jenkins Organization (TJO) founder and CEO, Ricky Jenkins, reported as much as a 300% increase in advance bookings. It was an opportunity the RV campground owner saw coming, the association stated.
“We saw similar opportunities in the RV campgrounds business that existed three decades earlier in the self-storage business,” Jenkins said. TJO was founded as a self-storage facility 31 years ago. The company’s 2019 acquisiton of a Kampgrounds of America site in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has grown to owning more than 1,231 RV campsites at parks in Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Colorado.
With six acquisitions under its belt, TJO is in the RV resort development business, launching five new properties under the brand, “Great Escapes.” Two of these are made possible by opportunity zone legislation in Texas, RVIA stated, which provides tax benefits to businesses willing to invest in economically-challenged areas.
“Incentives like this help to offset the many factors that go into deciding where to locate new resorts,” the association stated.
“However, building new campground is not without its challenges,” RVIA stated.
On the political front, RVIA noted municipal governments sometimes try to pass laws to make it financially impossible to build or expand.
“We fight to educate legislators and government officials that RV parks are not full of undesirables,” Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) Executive Director and CEO Brian Schaeffer said.
Development challenges to meet the demand of the new influx of RVers were echoed by chief marketing officer at Northgate Resorts, Tessa McCrackin. She cited weather delays in construction at their newest Texas-based RV resort – “Camp Fimfo” – in New Braunfels, Texas.
“The camp, which opens in July, has 200 RV sites and several large- and medium-sized cabins and is designed with an eclectic modern charm to evoke summer camp nostalgia,” RVIA stated.
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Northgate, which began acquiring RV campgrounds in 2013, is the country’s largest Jellystone RV campgrounds franchisee, RVIA stated.
Back in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, the association noted TJO business is booming. The company is targeting families with children at their new resorts. Jenkins estimated nearly 40% of RV owners have dogs, so parks and washes for large and small dogs are popular.
“Consumers today expect a high level of guest experience, so we are working hard to meet these expectations,” Jenkins said.
At least a dozen new campgrounds and RV parks – with more than 2,500 sites – have just opened or are scheduled to open in Texas this year and early next year, RVIA stated. Expansions are also underway at several existing parks, which plan to add over 200 sites this year.
“Campgrounds and resorts are where 99% of all RV’s end up,” Schaeffer said. “You simply cannot spend a weekend camping on the beach at Malibu or on a cliffside of the Grand Tetons. The lifestyle in RV parks and campgrounds is very wholesome and should be celebrated across the board.”
Despite the difficulties RV park owners face in developing new campgrounds and resorts, RVIA stated both Northgate and TJO are optimistic about continued industry growth.
“The pandemic has certainly accentuated the desire for families to recreate together,” Jenkins said. “We anticipate this trend to continue as more families are exposed to the RV lifestyle.”