How to Improve Your Waterfront Campground
Nearly 79 million Americans considered themselves part of a camping household in 2019, a significant growth from previous years. This trend is likely to continue as more people seek new ways to enjoy the outdoors. It’s more crucial than ever to equip your campground with everything you need to attract new campers to your facility and turn them into lifelong customers.
Learn how to improve your campground with helpful tips for gaining visibility, getting an edge over the competition and creating the ideal camping environment for all visitors.
How to Attract More Visitors to Your Campground
The United States is home to thousands of publicly and privately owned campgrounds, and each offers a unique guest experience. Help your campground stand out from the crowd with these tips.
Simplify the Reservation Process
Add an online reservation portal or online contact option to your campground’s website to make it as easy as possible for guests to reserve a stay.
Ensure all relevant information is available for potential guests so they can make the right decision for their needs, including:
- Directions to the campground and campsite location from all major cities or popular travel routes.
- What type of campsites are available — e.g., RV pull-throughs, amp connections, primitive or tent sites.
- A map of the campground with restrooms and fishing docks listed.
- Campsite proximity to the playground, restroom, dumpsters, waterfront and pet park, as applicable.
- Your pet policy, restrictions, rules and fees.
- A list of amenities and nearby attractions.
- Special considerations, like accessibility accommodations.
- Nightly rate and applicable fees.
- A phone number to call with questions.
Have an Online Presence
An active online presence makes your campground more accessible to potential guests and gives them a place to go for more information. Make sure to include elements like these.
- Good website design: Ninety-four percent of consumers cite an easy-to-use website as the most critical factor when browsing a company’s online services, while 91% say they wish company websites would include a better description of services, preferably with visuals. Your website should also include all relevant information about your facility, including hours of operation and how to contact you to learn more.
- Social media engagement: Social media is a powerful advertising tool, and 72% of people have a social media account. You can use your profiles to garner more interest in your campground by posting pictures and videos of the amenities and waterfront view and hold conversations with potential guests to answer questions or concerns. You can use it for advertising special campground events or updates and reach your audience even faster.
- Online advertising methods: Depending on your marketing budget, you might consider investing in online advertising, like pay-per-click ads, website banners, social media ads or video ads.
Hold and Attend Special Events
Special events are a great way to get exposure for your campground. Stay informed about rallies, fairs, markets, retreats, demonstrations, festivals and conferences in your community, especially if those events are likely to draw your target crowd — outdoor enthusiasts or those seeking a relaxing getaway. Bring plenty of visual aids to these events, like pictures and brochures, and hand out information with your facility’s name, address and website listing on it.
You can also showcase your campground by hosting events like family-friendly promotions, weekend events for kids, charity events, RV rallies or niche-specific outdoor gatherings, like birdwatching. Advertise your events locally and promote them via your website, social media and other advertising methods as your marketing budget allows.
Add and Improve Amenities
Adding more amenities and improving existing ones will create a more comfortable, enjoyable campground to entice new visitors. If you don’t have these amenities already — or if yours could use an upgrade — consider adding or upgrading them if your space and budget allow.
- A playground: Playgrounds and established play areas are some of the best ways to entice families, friends and visitors of all interests. Include activities that appeal to all ages, like a child-friendly play structure, swings, a sandpit with a volleyball net, a basketball court and lawn games.
- A public venue: A public venue, like a covered pavilion or event center, gives potential guests a place to host events — like family reunions, weddings and birthday parties — bringing dozens or even hundreds of new eyes to your campground. Consider adding discounted group stays as an option to entice event visitors to choose your campground for their accommodations.
- A pet park: Forty-two percent of pet owners say they would choose a vacation destination if it were pet-friendly, and nearly 50% are willing to pay more for it. If your insurance company approves your campground for pets, add a pet walk area or dog park to give furry visitors a place to exercise and socialize.
- On-site restrooms: An on-site restroom facility is a must for many families with young children or campers who prefer a more comfortable or luxurious stay. Upgrade existing bathrooms to offer hot, private showers, a baby changing station, mirrors and other amenities.
Contact Visitor Guides
Contact local travel guides, city and state visitor bureaus, travel agencies, local bloggers and camping publications and see if you can get your campground listed in their guidebook. These publications reach potential guests all over the country seeking a memorable waterfront getaway.
Focus Your Advertising
As you use various advertising methods — like online ads and booths at local events — focus your advertising on qualities that set your campground apart. Is it your breathtaking waterfront view? Great access to nearby trails or popular attractions? An on-site fishing pond? Campground amenities and special events? Extra-large campsites that accommodate multiple tents? Include any awards, rave reviews or prestigious recognition.
Ways to Get Visitors to Come Back to Your Campground
Now that you’ve garnered interest in your campground, how do you turn those guests into lifelong visitors? Or, even better — lifelong visitors who will help spread the word about your facilities? Here are four easy ways.
Have Outstanding Customer Service
Helpful, positive customer service is critical for creating return campers. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed consumers are willing to share positive experiences with others via reviews or recommendations, while 60% say they will not continue business with a venue or facility after a poor customer service experience.
Your campground staff should be easy to identify via name badges or uniforms and attentive to guests’ needs. Ideally, they will be familiar with the surrounding area and camping protocol to help guide new campers and non-local visitors with recommendations. Prominently display campground rules for staff to maintain and enforce.
Consider these ways to ensure your guests receive the best service.
- Feedback: Collect guests’ feedback after their stays with an option to rate or comment on their happiness with the service provided. Follow up with concerns if necessary, and use this information to make improvements and adjust training.
- Training: Hold ongoing training with staff to encourage good customer service skills and keep them informed about campground and policy updates.
- Escalation: Create a specific protocol for escalating issues, including various management levels for staff to consult if problems arise.
- Environment: Happy employees are 13% more productive and more likely to leave guests with a positive impression. Create a happier workplace by encouraging open communication and implementing policies that will benefit your staff.
Implement a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs give past guests even more incentive to revisit your campground in the future. Millennials in particular — the age group that makes up the majority of campers — are willing to enroll in loyalty programs with valuable rewards, as long as the program is easy to use.
Consider implementing a loyalty program that lets guests collect points or receive a discounted or free night of camping after a specific number of stays. You can also include other perks, like discounts at local restaurants or bait shops, tickets to local attractions upon signup or special access to events.
Build a Mailing List
Build a mailing list by giving guests an option to enter their email addresses and receive periodic newsletters in their inbox. Though traditional mailed newsletters are an option, they cost more to distribute and cannot share time-sensitive information as quickly as a free, instant email.
Use your newsletter to inform previous guests about:
- Upcoming events you’re hosting or attending.
- Special deals and discounts.
- Updates and improvements to the grounds.
- Information about new or updated policies.
- Opening and closing dates for each season.
- Opening dates and events at nearby popular attractions.
- Milestones or special staff celebrations.
- Charity work and local community involvement.
You might consider giving newsletter subscribers a first look at exciting updates or let them be first in line when you open popular campsites for the season.
Make Campground Improvements
Gather customer feedback from visitor surveys, online reviews and customer concerns to make necessary improvements around your campground.
When making campground improvements, remember the following:
- Work on necessary repairs and immediate needs before investing in unnecessary upgrades or amenities.
- Check with local contractors and governing bodies to stay within compliance and regulation for all projects.
- Adjust nightly camping rates as needed to accommodate expensive or unique amenities, like on-site eateries, camping stores or kayak rentals.
Products for Waterfront Campgrounds
Investing in the right products can transform your campground into the ultimate outdoor destination for travelers and local visitors. Consider consumer feedback, your competitors’ offerings and your available space and resources when making improvements and upgrades.
Waterfront properties are ideal for water-based recreation. Add a modular dock or dock accessory to your campground and give your guests easy access to a day of fun in the sun!
- Boat docks: Boat docks are a classic campground pairing because they offer a safe place for boaters to keep their vessel when camping, while still granting passage to fishing or boating ventures throughout their stay. You can customize boat docks from EZ Dock to match any configuration needed to fit your space and budget. EZ Dock floating docks rise and fall with the water level, so you never have to worry about the weather impacting your amenities.
- Swim platforms: EZ Dock floating swim platforms offer a slip-resistant experience for swimmers of all sizes and ages. Pair it with an EZ Dock swim ladder for easy entry and exit. Each product consists of heat-resistant polyethylene, which requires minimal maintenance to keep it looking its best.
- Kayak launches: Kayak launches make it easier than ever for guests to enter, launch and exit kayaks from the boat dock. The EZ Kayak Launch from EZ Dock includes integrated paddle notches, a V-shaped entry and wide, single-piece construction for easy use. Because it features the same durable, floating construction, the launch will match the water level, so your visitors can quickly access their kayaks.
- PWC ports: Personal watercraft vessels — like Jet Skis or WaveRunners — provide a fun, adventurous way for guests to explore the local waters. EZ Dock offers multiple PWC port options to aid in lifting and docking PWC vessels, including the EZ Port XVP, EZ Port 2i and the EZ Port MAX System.
On-site recreational rentals give guests a chance to learn new skills or engage in fun activities without making hefty investments or adding bulky gear to their luggage.
Possible campground rental items include:
- Kayaks and canoes
- Hiking gear
- Watersport equipment
- Lawn games
- Board games
Focus your efforts on creating a safer, more universally accessible campground, so you can appeal to guests of all abilities and provide a memorable experience for all.
Here are some additions to consider.
- Ramps: Install wheelchair-friendly ramps in potentially challenging areas around your campground. Many people, including older adults who may struggle to use steep stairs, will appreciate the addition and have a more comfortable camping experience because of it.
- Gangways: Gangways make it easier to access docks and are a critical addition for many waterfront properties. EZ Dock gangways integrate with your existing traditional dock structure or pair perfectly with an EZ Dock floating dock configuration.
- Dock railings: EZ Dock modular dock railings give adults something stable to hold on to while navigating the dock and help protect children and pets from accidental falls. They are available in several sizes, color and finish options to complement your campground’s existing dock and gangway.
- EZ Launch Accessible Transfer System: The award-winning EZ Launch Accessible Transfer System from EZ Dock is ADA-accessible and uses an innovative system of slide boards, a transfer board and a railing system to grant canoe or kayak access to guests with disabilities. You can also integrate it with your floating dock configuration for optimal access.
- Bathroom upgrades: Make upgrades to your bathroom by designing some accessible stalls with sinks and mirrors and larger, more accommodating showers, if possible.
The more accessibility upgrades you make around your campground, the better your facility appeals to every outdoor enthusiast. Create some accessible campsites with adjustable grill heights and have some waterfront areas paved for easier navigation. Contact EZ Dock to learn more about designing an ADA-accessible campground.
Many additions aren’t necessary for a good camping trip, but some make things a bit easier and more comfortable for some guests. Consider these convenient add-ons.
- Outdoor lighting: While you probably have some outdoor lighting already, improve existing fixtures by investing in upgrades like motion-sensing bulbs, auto-timers to create a darker sleeping environment around tent areas, colorful lighting near amenities and gathering spaces and more energy-efficient alternatives.
- Dumpsters: On-site dumpsters give guests a place to dispose of their trash instead of leaving it to clutter campsites. These will also prevent food scraps from attracting wildlife.
- Public water spigot: Guests appreciate an outdoor public water spigot for several reasons — filling dishwashing tubs, baby baths, water dispensers or water balloons, rinsing kids and pets and gathering cooking or cleaning water for the campsite.
- Wash-off spot: If your waterfront campground is near a sandy shore, investing in a wash-off zone or outdoor shower area helps guests rinse away sand and dirt before returning to their tent or RV.
- Fish cleaning station: Half of all campers fish during their campground stays. Create an angler-friendly fishing area near your dock by adding a complementary fish cleaning station for easy processing and cleanup. The mountable fish cleaning station from EZ Dock features marine-grade aluminum for easy care and weather resistance.
- Camping store: A small camping store near your check-in spot is the ideal place to stock small necessities that campers may forget or run out of, like firewood, cooking essentials, RV-safe toilet paper, tackle and bait, first-aid supplies, over-the-counter medicines, bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, ice, lantern fuel, batteries, matches, disposable tablecloths, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, RV maintenance supplies and tent and air mattress patches. You could also have vending machines for drinks.
Tips for Improving Individual Campsites
Campground-wide upgrades are an excellent start, but don’t forget to implement campsite-specific improvements as needed. Spending a camping vacation in too much sun, a swamped campsite or in loud, bright sleeping conditions can dampen a visitor’s experience.
Maintain quality campsites that will keep guests happy with these tips:
- Ensure each campsite is as flat and level as possible, with a tent-pitching area free of large tree roots.
- Do not place campsites in ground depressions or in areas that get excessively muddy or flood easily after rain.
- Avoid placing any harsh overhead lighting directly over campsites unless you plan to turn the lights off at night.
- Create adequate space between all campsites for privacy and comfort.
- Keep on-site amenities, like grills, fire rings and picnic tables, clean and in good condition.
- Clean up excessive wildlife messes left by geese, raccoons or squirrels.
- Place as many campsites near shaded areas as possible.
- Create a few designated areas for groups traveling together who want to camp close to one another.
- Advertise each campsite’s benefits — e.g., a spectacular water view, proximity to the restrooms or playground, large enough for multiple tents — at the time of reservation.
Some changes are specific to the type of campground and campsite you’re working on. For example, long-term camping spots at an RV campground might add satellite television or Wi-Fi, while tent campsite improvements could focus more on creating the ideal place to pitch a tent.
Enhance Your Campground With Products From EZ Dock
With Americans seeking new and exciting outdoor destinations, there has never been a better time to upgrade your campground and start spreading the word about the memorable experiences awaiting your guests. EZ Dock products are the ideal investment to enhance your waterfront property because their design features durable construction to accommodate all types of water, weather and property needs.