As campground owners and operators, there are many facets of your business that can feel out of your control. While it can be difficult to make fast changes to your strategy during busier seasons, your overall guest experience is always something within your control.  

Ultimately, satisfaction is driven by the many experiences your staff, property, and brand have with your diverse guests. To understand how important guest experience is and how operators can prioritize it to see immediate results with little to no financial investment, we sat down with Amy Hansen, owner of Amity Outdoors. 

To view the full webinar, click here. Otherwise, read on for a taste of Amy’s wealth of knowledge and guest experience advice for the outdoor hospitality industry. 

Meet Amy Hansen

Amy Hansen knew early on that human connection would be the focus of her passion and now 25+ year career. She earned a psychology degree and later transitioned to investment property management, including frontline general management and directing operations. Amy has lived all over the world and learned to leverage the embrace of diverse cultures in her profession. She believes in the nexus of psychology, personal interaction, and hospitality, which led Amy to found her own outdoor hospitality consulting business, Amity Outdoors

Customer Service vs. Guest Experience

These two terms are often used synonymously, but Amy sees them as two distinct concepts. 

Customer service is very transactional and clearcut. On the other hand, guest experience is where Amy sees the new infusion of emotion and layers. Though every guest interaction is different, warmth, care, and personalized attention are at the heart of guest experience.

When campgrounds only focus on customer service, they can often fall into a mechanical cycle that puts them out of touch with the human connection to camping. This is one main reason Amy founded her consulting business: to help operators avoid this rut and redirect their energy towards guest experience. 

The outdoor hospitality industry is more immersive in the experiential piece than traditional hospitality. Rather than just checking in and out of a hotel room with a keycard, campgrounds are living entities with many opportunities throughout one’s stay to connect with staff, the environment, neighbors, and more. This is precisely the type of human interaction that sets parks apart and that people crave. Any RVer who’s been on the road for a while will understand this sentiment, and campground staff are often the first touchpoint after hours of solitude. 

Assessing Your DNA 

Amy has advised small, nightly-turnover campgrounds, extended-stay diversified campgrounds, and every type in between. No matter how different the operational side may be, when guests are prioritized in every case, those parks see an increased return on bookings. Guest retention is a win-win. 

To work towards this state of mutual success, Amy suggests you begin with your park’s DNA. It’s a misconception that all parks have to be carbon copies of one another to be successful. Each park is so different, which means each owner and manager are able to provide a unique experience. 

Focus on your business’ vision, shape goals around that, and consider how you can then go even further beyond the basic campground requirements to exceed customer expectations. From front staff to groundskeepers, Amy believes the staff are the heartbeat of the campground, so make sure to involve them in your visioning process. 

Hear from Amy directly and catch the full webinar here

Common Challenges in Delivering a Top-Notch Experience 

There are a few common hurdles parks may encounter when shifting their mindsets and operations toward guest experience over customer service. 

Overtime, campgrounds begin to see guest experiences just as transactions, especially during the reservation booking process and other operational pieces of the business. When these interactions become too mechanical, this is the beginning of the end for your reputation and bottom line. Make sure you are regularly performing gut checks or soliciting guest feedback to avoid slipping into this cycle. Above all, remember to consider the human experience—not just treat your guests like numbers.

Second, Amy finds that parks struggle with finding the right balance of providing information and over-informing their campers. She suggests asking the following questions: 

  • Am I overburdening my guests during the check-in process?
  • At what points in our interactions are my guests disconnecting?
  • Are my operations as efficient as they can be?
  • Am I letting my guests dictate how long we interact, or am I forcing them to engage longer than is necessary?

Evaluating your operational procedures through these questions will help you to determine what’s important and unimportant to both you and your guests. 

Investment and Technological Amenities

Amy stresses that the financial investment for a campground seeking to focus on guest experience can be very minimal, while the ROI potential remains high. With a little bit of time and concerted effort, you can put a new strategy into action almost immediately. 

There are a few core areas that Amy does recommend investing in. The first is online booking software, such as Campspot, that makes the guest reservation process seamless. Reliable and easy-to-access Wi-Fi on site is also a must. Personalized forms of communication are also easy to automate, especially prior to arrival, to ensure the guest feels supported and in-the-know. Another optional feature is a self check-in kiosk, which allows the arriving guest to fully choose their level of interaction with either your staff or the kiosk since campers all have different preferences. 

Measuring Success

The easiest way to measure the success of a new guest experience program is through guest retention, occupancy rates, and guest ratings. Of course, these are important markers for the health of your campground overall, but they will also positively uptick following a guest experience focus. 

If you own more than one resort, the positive effects from one property will also often translate to guests wanting to explore your other properties. 

When Amy works individually with teams, she can always sense how the team works. “If I can sense any tension, the guest is going to sense that tension,” says Amy. When in doubt, prioritize teamwork first. Find ways within your staff to utilize each other’s skills and offset strengths and weaknesses together. This will ultimately be the energy your guests can sense, and a positive environment will pay dividends in the long-run. 

To hear questions from fellow park operators and Amy’s closing advice—as well as where the industry is headed with guest experiences—click below for the full webinar. 


Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons—from snow skiing to scuba diving in the Great Lakes. A former Campspot marketing manager, Haley holds a B.A. degree in public policy from Michigan State University and an M.S. degree in sustainability from the University of Michigan. She is passionate about environmental stewardship, exploring the outdoors, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.