MC Fireside Chats - July 6th, 2022

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In this week’s episode of MC Fireside Chats, experts discussed the latest news in the outdoor hospitality industry, mainly how inflation, gas prices, and other economic effects are impacting today’s recession, the industry, and the traveling plans of people.

They also discussed how outdoor hospitality businesses can alleviate the adverse effects and adopt new solutions to thrive in today’s economy.

The show started with Randy Hendrickson, founder & CEO of United Parks Brokers, mentioning that inflation and fuel prices will always affect travel. Still, it does not mean the outdoor hospitality industry is in bad shape.

He added that there is always something new coming into the industry every day that allows businesses to “adjust, rethink, and innovate.” As long as the industry is constantly adjusting, moving, and not remaining static, it is not in bad shape.

Ivar Mensink of Germany-based travel company Camping Dreams said different things are happening today that were never thought to have happened before, and “we have to be prepared for it every day.”

Mark Koep, founder and CEO of CampgroundViews.com, said that a business operating for the last five years didn’t need the market since they have people “flooding into their doors.” However, in today’s situation, they need to invest more in marketing and be more proactive in whatever business they are in.

The group further discussed why businesses should focus on marketing and reaching a wider or different target audience since people are still traveling, despite the effects of inflation and fuel prices.

Dutch Online Marketer and Contractor for French Campsites Monique Barendswaard said travel is becoming closer and closer. Travelers also prefer destinations closer to nature and less crowded areas.

She added that Southern France was a popular destination for travelers in past years, but because of the economic effects, travelers, particularly from Northern Europe, preferred to travel to Northern France today.

When discussing his recent RVing experience, Koep said he saw that people are still RVing, but most of the RVs have local plates. The campgrounds he visited were packed and occupied mainly by locals or new RVers.

He said that people are still traveling despite the rising gas prices, most of them doing so either in short distances or in one big journey.

He also said it is only a matter of how businesses find their market, asking, “Who is still camping? Who is still traveling and will continue to do so as gas prices rise?”

Hendrickson said that businesses should look more into what “they can control,” which are payroll and marketing, and how they should pivot their funds to refocus their marketing to reach a target audience of higher marketability.

He further mentioned that gas prices and inflation would affect consumer behavior and how the businesses can market themselves and their services to find that audience and market to provide them the benefits of their services.

He advised operators to stay mindful of their expenses on a daily or weekly basis and monitor the trends in the market. He added that the key to success in today’s market is great management, particularly yield, and revenue management.

When discussing changing the rates of campgrounds to get more customers, Mensink said increasing could also benefit a business since it will allow them to make more investments and improve the experiences for their customers.

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