From New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, there are 11 U.S. federal holidays that take place annually. Those are great opportunities for campers to vacation at your park, but they only make up about 3% of the total days in a year. That means you have to get creative to attract guests during off-weekends and off-seasons.
Below, we dive into how you can build unique campground events that don’t have to be centered around busy holiday weekends. Instead, you can use these six simple tips to pioneer your own holiday-worthy events for campers. Ready to charter a new annual tradition at your park and entice visitors year-round? Read on!
1. Create Original Annual Holidays
There are hundreds of non-traditional and unofficial U.S. holidays one can find online. While many might be difficult to capitalize on, there are surely many more that could suit your campground.
National Pizza Day is February 9, which offers a great pre-Valentine’s Day opportunity for couples or families in warm weather states to get away. Consider having a 50/50 raffle drawing (half of the proceeds go to your business and half go to a local charity) where campers have a chance to win a private pizza party at the campground for a group of eight over a future weekend. Or, you could offer free slices of pizza—one per camper, while supplies last—for everyone in the park that evening.
Because it’s not bound by a specific date, Christmas in July is another popular fictional holiday that you can host during whichever July weekend is most convenient for your campground. Invite Santa Claus for photos with kids and pets, show a classic holiday movie on an outside projector, and put an artificial tree in the recreation room adorned with complimentary candy canes.
Aside from these two ideas, you can use just about any topic or excuse that would be popular with your brand of camping to create an original recurring event. And if you can make use of odd occasions like National Clean Your Desk Day, Jump Over Things Day, or National Name Your Car Day, then more power to you!
2. Celebrate Your Campground’s Anniversary
If you’re coming up on a major milestone at your park—such as five, 10, or 50 years in operation—then make it a major event. Even if you’re approaching an odd number of years in business, that’s still a great opportunity to host an inaugural anniversary party.
Lifelong or multi-generational campers at your property can look forward to the annual reunion, while reliving old memories and admiring how the campground has grown. Attract new guests by offering a special week-long booking promotion in honor of your campground anniversary. This milestone is guaranteed to happen every year, so make the most of it and invite your community to take part.
3. Target Shoulder Seasons and Off-Seasons
If you’re struggling to get creative with event planning, don’t add stress by trying to compete with every other New Year’s Eve, Halloween, or Independence Day party. That will make the comparison game and challenge of differentiating your park all the more difficult. Instead, target the most available period of time you have for planning and capturing the attention of prospective visitors: the off-season.
Give campers a reason to be excited and travel when they normally wouldn’t. Depending on where you’re located in North America to define your off-season, April 10, September 20, January 27, and many more dates are eagerly waiting to be picked for new traditions to be made.
4. Collaborate With Community Groups
If you’re struggling to advertise your special upcoming weekend, look local. Consider what community ties, such as churches, PTA groups, Rotary clubs, and VFW chapters you might be able to leverage to get the word out.
If your park caters to families with young children, collaborating with your local PTA group is excellent exposure to be the host for their future fifth grade camping trips. Supporting this annual grade school weekend getaway becomes an event unto itself. Boy scout and girl scout groups are another naturally aligned group to the camping industry. Dedicate a certain week out of the year to their troops with special cabin blocks and activities reserved just for them.
When partnering with the Rotary, Knights of Columbus, or other nonprofits, suggest that a portion of each site booked for a weekend goes towards the charity. You can also offer them an information table at your camphost’s site or office to share their mission. It’s mutually beneficial to collaborate within your community, and your neighbors could become your next most loyal customers for their future staycations.
5. Feature Local Vendors
On the topic of local engagement, consider integrating local businesses into your campground event to draw in their customer bases as well.
If you don’t sell food, hosting one or two food trucks per weekend can become popular among hungry patrons who don’t want to leave the property. Local artists and live musicians would certainly liven up any themed event. Partnerships with each of these vendors can even be spun into entire events themselves: food truck rally, hometown artist sale, battle of the bands, and more. Consider inviting and hosting artists or musicians from farther out of town or out of state, too. As campers begin to associate your brand with their other favorite businesses, you’ll be twice as likely to come to mind for their next vacation destination.
While offering an avenue for vendors to do business at your property, allow them to do the same for you in return. Ask artists with brick and mortar shops to display your event fliers. To amplify your message online, follow one another on social media and have the vendors cross-post your events with their networks.
6. Offer Games, Prizes, and Incentives
Games or sporting competitions are always popular themes for an entire weekend of fun.
For example, consider hosting a volleyball tournament. If you have an arcade or recreation room, create a weekend gaming competition. Recreate elementary school field days and involve the whole family in potato sack races, water balloon fights, three-legged races, and more. Make sure to include mini prizes for the winner of each competition to incentivize participation. By tapping into specific interests for each event, you broaden your base of customers who relate to your brand of camping and think of you in the future.
Whether you’re capitalizing on classic holiday weekends or inventing your own annual tradition, we hope these tips inspire new avenues for connecting your events to broader communities and for attracting campers to your property year round!
Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.
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