Camping is a very popular outdoor activity in which people stay one or more nights in a portable or improvised form of accommodation such as recreational vehicles, tents, etc. The definition of camping can also include recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and campfire cooking. It is a way that allows people to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The term "camping" can have different meanings depending on the context. In the outdoor recreation sense, camping refers to the temporary use of lands for overnight occupancy without a permanently-fixed structure. According to NSRE 2000, p.3, cited by Lillywhite, Simonsen et al. (2013) there are two types camping preferences:
Primitive or dispersed camping: for the most adventurous ones, this type of camping includes staying overnight in more remote locations without many of the amenities of a developed campground like water stations, showers, toilets, etc.
- Developed camping: a more relaxing type of camping, with more amenities that include staying overnight near roads in developed campgrounds in parks or national forests.
Verma et al (2006) studied other important preferences for campers when choosing the location. Those include size, occupancy, location, activities in or near the campground (like swimming, hiking, cycling, etc.) and the fee related issues.
RV, motorhomes and other recreational vehicles
A recreational vehicle (RV) travel is defined as "a form of tourism where travelers take a camper trailer, fifth wheel, slide-on camper, caravan, or motorhome with them on vacation and use the vehicle as their primary form of accommodation" (Hardy and Gretzel, 2011, p. 194)
RVs, also known as recreational vehicles, have become increasingly popular in recent years as a flexible and convenient way to travel (See: Why RVs are the latest trend in travel). These versatile vehicles offer the freedom to explore the open road and experience different destinations while bringing the comforts of home along for the journey.
The Appeal of RV Vehicles
One of the main advantages of RV vehicles is their ability to provide both transportation and accommodation in one package. With an RV, travelers have the freedom to decide when and where to stop, allowing for spontaneous detours and the exploration of off-the-beaten-path destinations. RVs come in various sizes and styles, ranging from compact camper vans to spacious Class A motorhomes, offering options for different travel preferences and group sizes.
For families, RV travel can be an excellent way to bond and create lasting memories. Children can enjoy the excitement of a road trip while having the comfort of familiar surroundings. RVs also provide conveniences like kitchenettes and onboard bathrooms, making meals and bathroom breaks hassle-free.
Getting to know RV users
Not all RV users are the same. To be able to understand the RV market is vital to know the different types of RV users and their motivation. According to several literatures we can define recreational vehicle users as a group of highly mobile persons whose primary motivation is the desire to experience freedom and independence that nature and outdoor spaces can allow and escape the routines and obligations from everyday life.
According to Hardy et al. (2013), marketing campaigns are oriented to this conception highlighting words like diversion, escape, freedom, discovery to advertise their products and attract the target buyer
They also categorize users into 6 different groups:
Families:the classic ideal of families who bond through camping and road trips.
Snowbirds:North Americans who are seasonal travelers, driving south in winter and north in summer.
Australian travelers who are over 50, traveling for a period of at least 3 months and going north in winter and south in summer.
Full timers: those whose permanent resident is an RV.
Independents: the group who likes to make their own plans and travel alone, with a partner or with family/ friends.
Caravaners: these people are organized into groups with the same interest and have a set schedule.
Although these are very different groups with remarkable differences between them according to Bennet (1999) cited by Hardy et al. in their 2013 article, the primary driver for RV travelers is affectivity. Getting to know other people who share the same interests, share their own experiences with others, helping each other, prioritizing the journey over the destination and in general evoking a feeling of belonging to a group are some of the main things that attract these particular groups of the population.
Seniors and RV traveling
As per Counts and Counts (2004) the elderly are a particular group that has been growing in the last few years and currently account for over 16.8% of the population in the US and 22.5% in Canada. This demographic group has caught the attention of many companies converting them into an important target audience in economic and social areas, hence why we will be discussing them apart.
The demographic surge of elderly people and the increase in life expectancy has made this group a little problematic according to most sociologists and economists because they fear the inversion of the population pyramid and consider the economic aspect such as health care and pensions.
However, the elderly people have become an important and large group whose actions can be decisive in terms of economy, politics and more. This is why the “industry of the old” now has its own marketing focus, different from other demographic groups.
One of the industries who are very interested and focused in this group is the RV industry. According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA) seniors commonly have control of large sums of money and a lot of free time and after a lifetime of working under stress and living by strict routine many of them find appealing the adventurous, nomad, free life making it a very attractive audience for RV companies and according to the latest statistics of the RV industry association 66% of RV owners are +55.
When you picture senior people and retirement you often imagine mental and physical decline, rocking chairs and retirement villages, however the notion of aging and what it means to reach a certain age is changing. According to several interviews conducted by Counts and Counts (2004) Many old citizens see the RV ownership as an opportunity to have a more adventurous and fun life, the ability to connect with others of the same age or younger and to remain physically active for a longer time.
This can be explained too through by novelty, conceptualized as “the experience of something new and different from the everyday” which according to Mitas and Bastiaansen, 2018, cited in the work of Xie and Cheng (2021) is broadly believed to be what defines tourism experiences and makes them enjoyable.
That’s why marketing campaigns oriented to the elderly often refer to the novelty, the possibility of starting a new life no matter the age, away from day to day worries and avoiding retirement villages by staying as active as possible.
Novelty and their different spheres
According to Xie and Cheng (2021) there are different types of novelty that can explain the motivation to buy, rent and travel in recreational vehicles. These are:
- Novelty of space; undiscovered novel locations and geographic significance turned out to be an incentive for these RV travelers.
- Cognitive novelty space; refers to “the senses linking to tourists’ perceptions of novelty at their journey destinations, as well as novel objects at these destinations or during the journey” Lee and Crompton (1992)
- Psychological novelty; involves daily duties in accommodations such as meal preparation and other comforts that made them feel like at home during the travel
- Social novelty space; “social element explains the pace and evolution of friendships, and it represents the importance of people and interpersonal relationships during traveling” Counts and Counts, 2004; Hardy and Gretzel, 2011; Hardy et al., 2013.
- Mechanical novelty space; refers to dealing with RV repair including oil change, flat tire wheel alignment, vehicle modification, and other minor work to run the trip smoothly, making them learn to handle emergency situations.
The increase of younger RV ownership
According to the 2021 RVIA statistics, even though the largest demographic group is conformed by people over 55, in recent years there has been an increase of younger groups. The millenials and Gen Z generations represent 17% of RV owners and 84% of them are already planning to buy another RV.
RV usage and the need of storage
The RV association industry in their 2021 “Go Rving RV owner demographic profile” stated that the average annual RV usage for people who are already owners is 20 days and people who want to buy a RV plan to use their RV a median of 25 days per year.
This leaves us with a total of 340 days with a big question, what to do with my RV when I’m not using it? Thanks to the surge of RV sales, the need for a place to store it when not in use has grown as well.
The latest statistics say that RV/boat storage facilities generated over $556.1 million of profit in 2022 and the prices per acre of land intended for RV storage facilities went up too with a 53.6% compared to previous years.
Reasons to invest in RV storage facilities
There are many reason as to why is a good idea to invest in RV storage facilities, here are some of them:
- High profit margins; thanks to easy and lower maintenance
- Reliable income; RV storage renters are less likely to stop paying and abandon everything inside the facility
- Lack of RV storage facilities; little competence means more power in the market and profitability.
- High RV owner’s statistics; every year more and more people buy recreational vehicles.
- Possibility of having a mixed storage; you can also offer self, boat and other toys storage.
How to sell and connect with your target audience
When talking about the quality of a service we must think in 5 important dimensions studied by Ali and Xiong (2021):
- Reliability; always deliver the promised service.
- Responsiveness; be always prepared and ready to help customers with any problem or query.
- Assurance; be able to make your client trust and confide in you.
- Tangibles; represent your product or service in the best way and in everything related to it, maintain pristine and functioning physical facilities, equipment and the appearance of your personal)
- Empathy; connect with your client and their needs with caring and individualized attention.
Every company must make sure that these 5 dimensions are optimal in order to gain and maintain a clientele. Performing a good service is the best marketing campaign, having great references of people close to you.
Another important aspect according to Ali and Xiong (2021) is knowing your target audience:
- What are their ages?
- What are their motives?
- Do they travel solo or with company?
- Who are the people they’re traveling with? Is it their partner, a friend, family?
- Do they plan on being full-time RV travelers or are they more into sporadic travels?
- How often do they plan to use their RV?
- Have they got space at home to store their vehicle?
- What are the aspects they look for in a RV storage facility?
By answering these questions you can orient your marketing campaign to be more effective and actually reach your target audience in a way that seems attractive according to their interests and buyer behavior.
The ideal characteristics of a perfect RV storage
RVs are a valuable asset and people want to be sure that when they leave their recreational vehicle they’re going to find it in the exact same conditions they left it. Following the 5 dimensions used by Ali and Xiong (2021), we can extrapolate those qualities and apply them when talking about the ideal characteristics people look for when planning of renting RV storage and divide them into several subgroups:
Cleanliness; a clean space, with a correct garbage disposal, pest control measures and frequent maintenance will always bring a good image to your investment.
Comfortability; a great, spacious and comfortable place for people to maneuver easily into their storage unit or stall.
painted units, paved or gravel stalls, no water leaks, good condition of the fences.
digital surveillance cameras, great lighting, moving sensors, controlled digital access, heating and air conditioned units.
Convenient to use;
located near major road accesses, near parks or other attractions.
a good rate according to the services offered.
Easy RV-Pick up; no long waiting time for RV pick up.
Brand Reputation; good references from previous clients. A good reference will always beat any type of marketing strategy.
Customer Service; a good customer service available 24/7 or in access hours to solve any issue or solve any query.
- Good, prepared, polite and helpful personnel.
- Connect with the client and know their individual needs, compensate accordingly when a mistake has occurred.
The RV industry is growing fast and their demographics are ever transforming. People are changing the way they see outdoor activities and how they want to spend the time with their loved ones or after retirement.
To run a successful RV storage it’s important to understand the whole picture starting from the statistics of RV sales, the demographics and their average usage to what are the characteristics of an ideal RV storage facility.