Social media can deliver some pretty powerful revenue-generating opportunities for your park, but only if you know how to use it. We asked Erin Thiem, who co-owns ARVC member-park Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, Calif. with her husband Dan Thiem, to share a few of the secrets of her online success.
Even though Inn Town Campground has only been open for two years, Thiem honed her social media skills with the other business she and her husband own, the Outside Inn, also in Nevada City.
“Outside Inn is a remodeled 1930s motor court motel that’s been in the family for 20 years, but we've owned it for the last seven-and-a-half years. When we took over ownership, I decided that my creative outlet would be to write a blog for the motel on things to do in our area.“
“I think my most recent one was about a local craft fair,” she says. “The one before that was about an indoor climbing gym. It doesn’t really have much to do with the motel itself, but it helps draw people there.”
Thiem started blogging about their new campground while it was still in the construction phase. “I took all of those skills that I already had from being an active local blogger and using social media, and just applied them to telling the story about our campground.”
Social media can be daunting, so unless you have the ability to unload the day-to-day (or even minute-to-minute) responsibilities to a specialist or an agency, it’s important to be able to prioritize.
Besides their extremely successful Instagram account, Inn Town Campground also maintains a Facebook page, Twitter account and a Pinterest page with multiple boards, but owner Erin Thiem acknowledges that she doesn’t have enough hours in the day to keep up with all of their social media. “I recognize that I can’t do it all, so I recently outsourced the Pinterest management for our business.”
The woman who manages their Pinterest account is actually one of Thiem’s Instagram followers who reached out to her. “We’re about two months into this relationship and the traffic is huge. It's amazing what you can do, especially when you have people who know what they're doing.”
“That would be my tip,” she says. “Find out what you can do. And what you can’t do, either determine if you need it or outsource it.” She also recommends finding a platform you’re passionate about and being realistic about what you can do.
“Probably the most activity that I have is on our Instagram account,” she says. “It’s interesting how some platforms have more traction than others. I have done promotions and giveaways and specials on Facebook and Instagram. I've just given away random things and got this amazing response from people. People love things like that.”
Thiem promotes all of the campground’s social media outlets on its website as well as in all communications, including online reservation confirmations. “I feel like the more you're out in social media, the more likely someone will stumble upon you.”
She finds that there’s always more to discover with social media. “I’m continually learning what our customers are looking for, and how can I be in that conversation. I have not quite perfected my list of hashtags.”
“I think that Pinterest has so much more opportunity to grow. With Facebook, how you keep on top of all the algorithms is beyond me. I'm of the mindset that I'm just consistently participating. I personally like Pinterest and Instagram better. I think they're just so much more visual. And to me, more interesting.”
“Being a new campground, we just prioritize social media as something that's really important to our business,” she says. She’s always on the lookout for new ideas. “There's so many amazing campgrounds in the United States. I'm always wondering, what are they doing? I want to see more. I want to hear more. I want to know more.”
For examples of the ways the Thiems use social media to promote their campground (and to get some inspiration), visit inntowncampground.com.
This was the final story of a three-part series called “Using Social Media to Drive Revenue.” For more, re-read Part 1 “The Power of Photos” and Part 2 “Generating Interest with Instagram”.