Penny-Pinchers Looking to Get Away This Summer Trigger Uptick in Visits to Campsites, Parks With Perks
By: EJ Schultz
Here’s an article excerpt from Advertising Age magazine about the trend for upscale camping. Families looking for a fun but economical vacation are finding campgrounds like Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks to be just the ticket!
When Gaynell Garcia began planning a family reunion for this summer, she had to make a decision: Rent a home, book a hotel or go camping? She decided to rough it. Well, sort of.
Her extended family — more than 50 kids, parents and grandparents — will meet this Fourth of July weekend in the Rocky Mountain foothills at the Jellystone Park in Larkspur, Colo., which in addition to the usual tree-lined campsites touts a heated pool, 24-hour laundry, remodeled bathhouses and free WiFi. “We have a pretty large group going so we wanted to make sure we could accommodate everybody,” said Ms. Garcia, who will make the four-hour drive to the campsite from her southern Colorado home. “With the economy and everything, we just thought [camping] would be the best option.”
Camping is emerging as the top choice for many families this year, as the industry touts new amenities to draw penny-pinching vacationers who still want to get away, but can’t afford shelling out big bucks for airline fare, posh resorts or pricey home rentals. The road to recovery started last year, when revenue for the nation’s more than 13,000 privately run campgrounds and RV parks grew 3% after falling 4.8% in the wake of the recession in 2009, according to a new report by IBISWorld, which provides market intelligence on a variety of industries. Although hurt somewhat by the recession, camping didn’t fall as fast as other travel segments, such as hotels and motels, whose revenue plummeted more than 9% in 2009, according to IBISWorld.
But campsites are not taking future growth for granted. Many sites are upgrading facilities to lure picky campers who are often looking for more than just a patch of dirt to pitch a tent. Consider the Jellystone Park franchise, where several sites are adding “splashgrounds” and water slides. Sites are also adding more rental cabins to attract visitors who don’t own an RV, or don’t like to sleep outside. “People who don’t normally consider themselves campers can still have the outdoor experience,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Leisure Systems, parent of the Jellystone franchise, which covers 78 camping locations nationwide.