They say great minds think alike, and we luckily had the pleasure of interviewing members of an award-winning braintrust to see how their campgrounds tick. In The Secret Sauce of Award-Winning Parks webinar, our engaging panel of 2024 Campspot Award Winners shared their individual strategies that have led to their collective success in the outdoor hospitality industry. 

Meet our panelists: 

  • Meghan Durkin, Director of Operations at Team Outsider
    Representing Neversink River Resort, New York
    Awards: #1 for Top Campgrounds in the U.S. 
  • Erin Forrest, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing at CRR Hospitality
    Representing Verde Ranch RV Resort, Arizona 
    Awards: #1 for Top Large Campgrounds, Top Campgrounds in the U.S., and Top RV Campgrounds
  • Cheryle Rawding, General Direct Manager
    Representing Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort-Kingston, Nova Scotia
    Awards: #1 for Top Campgrounds in Canada

To offer you timely inspiration, we summarize the insights of our panelists and the themes across their award-winning businesses below. Catch the unabridged webinar for the full deep dive. 

Keeping to North Stars 

For Verde Ranch, success begins and ends with their DNA—that is, the three words they feel best represent their business and through which they filter every operational decision. If their proposed decisions, actions, and deliverables don’t tie back to “adventurous,” “ranch,” or “authentic,” they don’t move forward down that path.

Neversink River Resort felt similarly that if any potential action went against their core values, it would be a non-starter. They also prioritize putting their team first. Neversink believes that when they demonstrate gratitude and quality of service to their staff first, these traits will authentically resonate through to their campers.

The Kingston Jellystone team is steadfast in keeping their sights set on the end goal at all times: to help others create lifelong family memories. Importantly, they know what is and isn’t in their control. After last summer’s Canadian wildfires and flooding threatened their property, they doubled down on their familial commitment. Because of this, Kingston weathered the battle and served as a community refuge during an otherwise plagued time.

Whether you engage in a similar DNA-building exercise as Verde Ranch or possess the intense focus of our other two winners, it’s easy to see across all three properties why being mission-oriented and values-driven can carry one’s business a long way.  

Dealing With Change

Change is constant, yet it often catches the best of us off guard. Creating meaning and opportunity out of change is the mark of a winning business. In the midst of change or uncertainty, it’s also important to leverage collective tools and knowledge while keeping your own perspective at the forefront. 

For this reason, all panelists agreed that it was crucial to keep pace with industry trends and those with stake in the game, including respective competitors, state associations, and vendors. Each of these entities is a piece in a much broader puzzle, just as one’s own business is a piece. 

The panelists recognized Campspot as one vendor who has been a valuable thought partner and member of each of their camping communities.

“I think partnering with Campspot has been really helpful because [they’ve] helped introduce some of the more traditional hotel-world revenue management strategies into the outdoor hospitality world.” 

– Meghan Durkin, Director of Operations at Team Outsider

Finally, absorbing educational content from diverse sources, seeking out networking opportunities, and attending trade shows were all weekly—if not daily—best practices of these award-winning operators. 

Strategies for Outreach

Some campgrounds are near travel-worthy destinations while others stake claim as the vacation destination itself. No matter the balance of amenities or strengths you provide, the common denominator is a need to effectively communicate those offerings and your unique brand of camping. The award-winning panelists each had communication strategies that validate this need and work uniquely for them. 

Verde Ranch takes advantage of Campspot’s Add-On feature to be able to both advertise and sell the extra excursions and amenities that attract campers. These include rental golf carts, kayaks, pavilions for groups, and more. Verde Ranch goes a step further to provide concierge services for excursion inquiries that are offsite, which greatly eases the process for campers. The inquiry appears as a bookable add-on right within Campspot. Verde Ranch highlights these excursion partnerships in their monthly newsletter, too. 

Neversink uses their website as a main platform to highlight the different things guests can experience while visiting the area. During their website overhaul, Neversink’s team plans to provide custom exploration tips and favorites in the neighborhood—because there’s nothing quite better than having a local guide when vacationing somewhere new. 

Kingston Jellystone echoes the tried-and-true importance of past customer referrals and word-of-mouth marketing, especially in a smaller community. As a family-focused operation, Kingston creates specific parent-and-child marketing materials to emphasize their target audience as well as amenities. Similar to the other two parks, they find value in partnering with and advertising through local tour operators for mutual benefit. This can be as simple as sharing rack cards at each other’s physical locations for greater tourist exposure. 

Hear From the Award-Winners Directly 

Though Meghan, Erin, and Cheryle come from award-winning properties, they have faced their fair share of challenges over the years. They also know a thing or two about maintaining long-term customer satisfaction. To learn more from their discussion and  our live Q&A with fellow park operators, tune into the recording!


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.