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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Overnite parking fees/no hookups
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 04:16:22 -0400

Hugh wrote:
> I'm going to stick my two cents in here. I can't for the life of me see
> how this could work. How is the cg owner supposed to know the in/out
> camper is not going to make use of the facilities? Maybe he could put an
> indelible mark on the in/out people (maybe on their forehead<g>) so they
> could be id'd if caught at say the pool or showers or bathroom or
> spa...........and so on. He would have to make an area outside the park
> proper to spot the in/outers so they wouldn't "spoil" it for the full
> payment campers. It would have to be a dry site, no electric, no sewage
> etc. Anything else and it would be unfair to those paying the full shot.
> It's too bad people think it's ok to park cheap while in transit but
> want all the amenities when they get to their destination. Every park on
> the way is a destination campground for some people. Campgrounds are not
> laid out so as to accommodate both types of campers and the park was
> designed to be a destination park.
> Maybe I've got the wrong slant on this but could someone explain how the
> in/out campers could be segregated properly?
> Hugh

Not only the wrong slant, I think you've fallen off the friggin'

I suspect that you don't realize how retail works.  You say:

> It's too bad people think it's ok to park cheap while in transit but
> want all the amenities when they get to their destination.

By your logic, I should be able to say (and get laws passed against)
"It's too bad people eat for cheap at home and then want all the
amenities when they manage to wander in my restaurant."  Surprise,
guy, that's the way the world works.  It's my job as a merchant to
do everything I can to make my restaurant an appealing alternative
to eating at home.  Competitive pricing, loss leaders, skillful
marketing all figure into the equations - concepts that seem to be
missing from the campground markets.  When a campground makes it
inconvenient to transit-park by virtue of pricing, location,
registration procedures, early closings or whatever, people will
seek out alternatives.  I'd much rather someone in a hurry just drop
in for a coke or a cup of coffee rather than passing me by.  And if
I owned a camp ground, I'd 10X rather have someone paying $5 or $10
to overnight than to have empty spaces!  I thought that would be
obvious but apparently it isn't.

As for segregating overnighters from other campers, why bother.  The
Honor system seems to work pretty good in these parts at federal and
state campgrounds and at many private ones too.  Sure a few people
will cheat but so what?  Most people won't.  That's part of
retailing.  Now I admit that the South is a bit more civilized than
the rest of the country but I'd be willing to be that the honor
system would work.

As to being "fair", surely you jest.  Pricing techniques are
anything but.  I use pricing to steer customers to the products I
want them to buy.  If they deviate from my plan, then they pay
enough to make it worth my while.  Customers with whom I want to do
business with get a better price than those I don't.  Imagine that.
If you want full amenities in a camp ground, then you pay the posted
price and what anyone else is paying is frankly none of your

If a campground wants me to spend my in-transit nights in their
facilities, then they have to offer me something that's better than
Wal*Mart or any other lot.  An outlet to plug into so that I don't
have to run my generator all night in the summer is a good example.
Everything else has to be just as convenient as Wallyworld.  I
imagine Wallyworld will demonstrate it retailing leadership by
offering just that.  I can imagine RV outlets on parking lot light
poles equipped with bill changers.  Feed a $5 bill into the thing
and the outlet gets hot for 12 hours or so and the light goes off.
Can't you just hear the screams of agony from the camp ground owners
who had the same opportunity to offer that service as Wally*World
did but blew it?


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Overnite parking fees/no hookups
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 04:32:08 -0400

Gary - KJ6Q wrote:

> Some folks display real limited comon sense and logic...

Yep, sometimes you do.

> HOWS about we use the SAME logic in a couple of OTHER similar scenarios,
> OK?


> YOU want to get a few hours sleep in the motel - but DON'T want a
> shower, use of the TV, or use of that OTHER twin bed usually present in
> motels - SO, do you feel the motel owner should reduce the cost of the
> room for YOUR specific wants and "needs" After all, chances are, the
> motel owner - like the CG owner - can get top dollar return for rental
> of the space - so WHY would a business person be eager to REDUCE his
> return?

You ought to get out of that RV and spend some time around motels
before presenting yourself as an expert.  Motel rates are eminently
negotiable.  When I was a road warrior, I routinely negotiated the
rate I paid.  Sometimes I had to take a low-amenity room, sometimes
not.  If the motel happened to have a large inventory of empty
rooms, I might just get the super-deluxe room for the economy rate.
At the very worst with the motel practically booked up, I could
usually get a corporate rate by asking for the rate of the prospect
I was calling on.  If I was calling on Georgia Power, I'd ask for a
GP corporate rate.  Lodging is one of the EASIEST things to
negotiate.  A fine example for camp ground owners to follow.

> Same scenaruio at a restaurant - the "blue plate special" comes with a
> side dish of veggies, bread and a cup of coffee - but YOU don't WANT the
> coffee or veggies - and expect the cost of the special plate to be
> reduced for you - do you really think it's gonna happen?

Absolutely, every day.  You don't REALLY pay for food that you don't
want, do you?  You must not get out much.

> Large problem in threads like this, is that so many insist on ONLY
> seeing the issue based on THEIR wants and "needs" and RARELY from the
> actual perspective of the CG owner/businessman making his daily LIVING
> off his rather expensive investment...
> NO. dammit, you CAN'T always "get it YOUR way"!

Ah, but you can.  The Golden Rule always applies.  You know, the guy
with the gold rules.  If you think that this rule does not apply
always in retailing, don't EVER go into retailing.  You'll starve.
The smart retailers know this.  The dumb ones go bankrupt, usually
screaming about how Wallyworld put 'em out of business and how life
isn't fair (duh) and so on.  Meanwhile us retailers who do "get it"
just continue to make money hand over fist.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Overnite parking fees/no hookups
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 04:54:26 -0400

GS wrote:

> Rich wrote:
> >
> > i agree wholeheartedly, bruce.  i've often wondered why there aren't
> > more such overnight parks or why campground owners haven't caught on
> > by setting aside a small number of spots for overnighters.  we found a
> > nice little overnight spot in georgia a few years back.  $10 for the
> > night, 10 pullthroughs with full hookups.
> The cost to set up and run such an operation isn't cheap, given the
> return on investment.
> For example, if you build a 50 site property, and have an average
> year round occupancy of 30 percent (Actually that's pretty optimistic
> in a location with a 4 or 5 month season), and charge 10 bucks a night
> for no hookups, that's an average of 150 bucks a night income from the
> entire operation. That's $54,750 a year in gross income. (You can
> forget about store sales to augment income in such an operation - this
> market segment usually brings everything they need with them, and have
> a pathological loathing of "rip-off campground stores".)

Gary, you're getting caught up in the old sunk cost fallacy.  You
don't justify business decisions based on money already sunk into
the project.  You're looking at the property as 30% occupied.  I
look at it as 70% vacant which is an opportunity for additional
revenue.  The 70% of the CG that's vacant is a potential revenue
source.  Since the fixed costs associated with those vacant slots
remain the same, a smart marketer looks for ways to fill those
vacancies rather setting policies that turn customers away.

Since providing in-transit parking has no marginal cost, it should
be obvious that any revenue so generated goes right to the bottom
line.  The airlines realize this - that's why one can get a
standby/bump seat for practically nothing and sit beside a guy who
might be paying $500.  A smart operator doesn't fly planes with
empty seats and a smart CG operator doesn't let nights pass with
empty slots.

Even if in-transit parking only breaks even (for example, if you
provide electricity), it's still smart policy to offer it.  The
hardest part of retailing is getting the customer in the door.  Once
in the door, he will likely spend some money.  Some proportion of
over-nighters will like the place enough to stay a few days - at the
full-boat rate.  Even at $5 a night and offering electricity, the
rental is still profitable since the only marginal cost is the
electricity and that's much less than $5 a night even in the highest
rate areas.

If these concepts aren't obvious, then that might explain why your
CG ownership experience was less than pleasing.  Unfortunately I
suspect that the majority of CG owners don't understand even the
basics of retailing.

I wish my restaurant was closer to the interstate.  I'd put up the
biggest billboard I could find advertising my parking lot for
overnighters - free if you eat with me, $5 otherwise, with
electricity.  I'd consider any empty slot to be a failure of my

> That's one of several reasons why I don't think you'll see too many
> rushing out to build this type of business.

You're probably right that CG operators won't "get it". Other smart
retailers, perhaps Wallyworld, perhaps C-stores, perhaps truck stops
WILL "get it" and will take more and more business away from the
CGs.  The CG owners will scream and shout and will try to get laws
passed (they'll fail for the most part) as they fail and many will
never figure out why.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Overnite parking fees/no hookups
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 19:03:53 -0400

Bruce wrote:

> I am pleasantly surprised by the response to my posting above.  I had
> hoped it would provoke some thoughtful responses.  It did.  Some of you
> expressed my thoughts on the subject much better than I.  Thanks. I hope
> a camp ground or two may decide to provide an alternative to the
> Wal-Marts, parking lot and, rest area users.   I agree, that some people
> are always going to use and abuse what is free.  I think most of we
> RVers are willing to pay for the services we use.  A CG that has unused
> spaces is sad, especially when the Wal-Mart down the road has several
> RV's in it.  I have spent much of my life in business competing with
> others for my share.  Adjusting to the market is the only way to remain
> in business.
> Thanks to Fred in AZ, Old Biker, Neon John and all the others for your
> thoughtful inputs.

You're welcome.  Frankly, I can't imagine anything getting much more
convenient than the truck stops and Wallyworld.  When I'm traveling,
they offer exactly what I want - a quick, convenient place to stop
with no hassles.  Being free is a minor consideration.

Regarding abuse, my years in the restaurant biz have really opened
my eyes.  People behave quite differently than the media and the
whiners would have you to believe.  The abusers are so rare that we
still stop and talk about 'em when it happens.  Certainly not often
enough to spoil the experience nor make me take steps to "police"
the place.  For instance, I just got my second bad check of the
year.  Count 'em, two for the entire year.  Same as last year.
Needless to say, I don't shake down check writers, asking for all
sorts of ID and making them feel like criminals.  I take their
checks, say "thank you" and stick 'em in the drawer.  Same
experience on all-you-can-eat  features.  Very occasionally, I'll
have someone violate my rule and try to sneak an extra plate out for
lunch the next day or whatever.  But it happens seldom enough that I
wouldn't think of changing the way I do business.  The worst problem
I have with customers involves sorry-assed parents who don't control
their kids.

I think that retailers bring down upon themselves what they ask
for.  For example, I've had several interesting chats with the head
of security at our Wallyworld.  He spends a day a week in court
prosecuting bad checks.  I suspect that Wallyworld's big,
impersonal, complete lack of service atmosphere coupled with the
obvious and excessive security and surveillance sets the mood for
people so inclined.  OTOH, I've talked to many other small
businessmen in this town and they all, almost without exception,
have had customer experiences similar to mine.

Something for you camp ground owners to think about as you sit in
your office viewing your customers as the enemy, someone to guard
against, and railing against every perceived transgression.


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