How to Meet the Needs of Today’s Campers

Americans—more than 40 million a year, to be exact—continue to head to the hills for that weekend camping trip. And while the activity of camping hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years, the needs and habits of today’s campers continue to evolve. Large tents have been replaced for lightweight models; small RVs have been traded up for larger, tech-infused vehicles; and tech-savvy travelers are now booking their camping getaways online.

Here is a closer look at the needs and travel habits of today’s campers, and how your campground can best cater to them.

Understanding Travel Needs and Booking Behavior of Today’s Campers

Experts at Virtuoso have found that baby boomers and millennials travel for very different purposes. Boomers see travel as an opportunity to enjoy quality time together and value escapism. They’re not afraid to splurge and prefer to travel with families. Millennials, on the other hand, tend to travel for personal fulfillment and look for customized experiences when traveling. Also, most prefer to travel with friends.

Knowing this means you can tailor your offerings and marketing messages for these two distinct groups. Baby boomers may be attracted to camping packages that include a trip to an area day spa, for example, where they can unplug and de-stress. Millennials may be more eager to book packages for groups with kayaking lessons, paddle-boarding adventures, or other outdoor activities they can enjoy with friends on or near the campsite.

Upgrading Campsites and Amenities to Appeal to Today’s Campers

Your campground may not be able to accommodate larger RVs or provide enough electricity to support some of the upgraded vehicles, gear, and accessories today’s campers rely on. Consider expanding parking sites (by trimming trees and shrubs) to accommodate for larger vehicles. (Class-A RVs can be as long as 45 feet, so you should have at least one spot that could easily fit this type of vehicle.) Also, many campsites aren’t able to support the 50-amp plugins required by some newer RV models, so consider updating your electrical outlets if you can’t handle this type of setup.

A large portion of campers will be looking for some type of hiking activity, according to the Outdoor Foundation. These hiking enthusiasts will often rely on GPS devices and smartphone apps to map out their routes. In order to stay connected and maximize their experience using technology, these campers need high-speed Internet access. Campgrounds and RV parks that offer free WiFi access and connectivity amenities, such as power outlets to charge phones and camera batteries, will be a more attractive destination for the modern traveler.

Another interesting fact: 52 percent of campers between the ages of 18 and 34 years did online research to buy items for their camping trip and then purchased in-store, according to the Outdoor Foundation. Be the campground that sells accessories and other items—from extra batteries for portable coolers to basic cooking utensils—through your own online store or at your campsite to cater to these shoppers. This will also open up another revenue stream for your campground business.

Be the campground that sells accessories and other items through your own online store or at your campsite to cater to these shoppers

Providing Mobile Booking Options for Today’s Campers

The vast majority—90 percent—of millennials book travel online, according to Virtuoso. Take advantage of online reservation software, such as Peek Pro, to incorporate online and mobile booking options into your website to capture this large segment of the market. This will make it a cinch for campers to reserve spots that fit their RVs, or to make reservations for outdoor gear and supplies.

Also, as Skift points out, personalization in travel is one trend travel operators simply can’t ignore2. Instead of booking a campsite and settling in for the day, campers may be interested in enjoying localized experiences during the trip. Offering the option to customize a camping experience—such as adding a workshop or educational tour to the visit, or giving guests a chance to have food or groceries delivered from area businesses—can make for a personalized experience.

And don’t overlook social media activity. Encourage visitors to use Instagram and Twitter to share their photos and updates while mentioning your business. This allows them to join a community of fellow travelers while helping your business become more visible in the social media sphere.

The American tradition of camping isn’t disappearing anytime soon. But the needs of today’s campers continue to evolve with technology. Catering to today’s tech-savvy campers with online booking options and introducing modern amenities into your campsite will help keep your booking calendar full year-round.