New Campground Owners Embark on Cross-Country Adventure to Learn More about the Industry
When Jen and David Svenson bought ARVC member-park Riverbend RV Park & Cabins in Montrose, Colo. last February, it was a mom and pop, cash-only business without a website. They jumped right in and made significant changes, including demolishing an old fishing house and constructing a new office, laundry room, bath houses, a private suite and dog park. They also created a website, acquired a reservation system, upgraded the electrical service and added fiber optic wi-fi service. And that was all in the first 6 months! Then they came up with a new plan.
Jen and David decided to take advantage of the slower winter season and, after leaving their park in the very capable hands of two work camper couples, they set off on a 3 ½ month cross-country tour of other RV parks across the country. Their goal was to learn more about what other parks had to offer and pick up ideas for their own business as well.
“When we bought the park, David and I were brainstorming about our Brand, and we kept coming back to the idea that we wanted to create a sense of community for guests to experience while they’re traveling. Our goal became to offer common areas for our guests. So, we designed a common kitchen area, common gathering areas with fire rings and a large dog park with benches.”
David and Jen had previously owned an Airstream before downsizing to a smaller travel trailer, but this trip is the first time they are traveling as park owners.
“We’re looking for inspiration and ideas about what other parks are offering, not only how the owners and managers are operating, but also what guests are looking for when choosing a destination,” Jen says.
By the end of January, the couple have traveled throughout Florida, visiting both coasts and the Everglades as well as the central part of the state before heading to Alabama. Next, they plan to visit the Texas Hill Country, then South Padre Island, Corpus Christi and Big Bend National Park in Texas. After that, they’ll stop in Arizona and Moab, Utah before returning home.
Along the way, the couple have continued to ask their fellow campers, “Why did you choose this park?” One attraction they were surprised to see is how pickleball has become popular in most resorts and campgrounds. Jen says she now understands why: the sport is very social! It is a great icebreaker and can be an introduction into your Park’s community as well as providing exercise while traveling.
She says that their adventure has helped them understand what it’s like to be on the other side of the steering wheel.
“Now I understand that “glassed-over” look some people have when they arrive late in the afternoon after a long day of traveling,” she says. “They don't want all the Park details. They’re saying, ‘Just show me to my site and I'll come find you when I'm ready.’”
We’ll continue to follow Jen and David on their journey, so watch for future blog posts to find out more about what they’ve learned along the way.