By: Steve Stafford Director of Franchise Sales for Camp Jellystone
Adding a new amenity or attraction to your campground can significantly affect your campground’s bottom line. If you think through the correct questions about the attraction ahead of time, you can drive profits but if you don’t, your new attraction or amenity might only drive up your costs and losses. I spent 13 years as the General Manager of a large park full of attractions and it taught me the value of critically weighing the potential benefits, challenges, and feasibility of investing in a new attraction.
What will my return on investment be?
This is obviously the key question to answer but to get there, you need to first project your revenue growth from adding the attraction along with the costs and expenses necessary to acquire and operate the attraction.
Should I charge a fee for use of the new amenity/attraction?
Your campground’s overall business model will likely guide you as to whether you should charge a fee for the use of the new amenity. Do you charge for your existing amenities or are most offerings included in your nightly rate? Admittedly, charging for the use of the amenity makes measuring your ROI easier but including it in a standard rate (even if you raise that rate to account for the new offering) will likely lead to higher occupancy rates, more reservations, and stronger word-of-mouth referrals overall. It’s just much harder to track and allocate increases in those metrics to a specific new attraction.
What are the true costs of adding a new attraction?
In addition to the cost of buying or building a new attraction, you need to consider whether staff will be required to operate or supervise the amenity. If so, the more hours the attraction is open, the more staff you’ll need to run it. Don’t forget that those individuals will need training – and possibly outside certification if the attraction requires certified operators (water attractions that require lifeguards, ropes courses, etc.). You’ll also need to allocate hours from your maintenance team to service and support the offering as needed.
If multiple vendors offer the amenity, speak with campgrounds that are currently using each vendor’s version to learn about each vendor’s after-sales support, warranty coverage, and the general quality of the product as the longer it lasts before needing replacement, the higher your profit potential.
Don’t forget about your new insurance costs. Speak to your insurance provider to learn how the new offering will impact your premiums.
What should I do next?
Be sure to gather as many facts as necessary before making your decision. Afterall, the more you know about all the costs associated with owning and operating the new amenity, the more appropriately you can project the revenues it will need to generate the returns you’re looking for.
I’ve had to go through the same evaluation process with a variety of offerings ranging from water slides to paintball courses to cashless wristbands so if you’d like some additional insights regarding how to properly evaluate the purchase of a new attraction, please reach out to me at SStafford1@campjellystone.com.
Steve Stafford is the Director of Franchise Sales for Camp Jellystone, franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. Prior to joining Camp Jellystone, Steve was the general manager of the North Texas Jellystone and implemented several new amenities and different types of accommodations during his tenure.