While Zahariev is an expert with the air travel industry, his comments could well apply to the RV park community. Many RVers scratch their heads – or worse – when trying to find an RV park that offers their customers more than mediocre Internet connectivity. A story that recently ran in Woodall's Campground Management – a publication viewed by some 14,000 RV park managers, should sound as a wake-up call to park owners to do something to improve the state of WiFi in private parks.
Here's a synopsis of the main points that the Woodall's story featured:
RVers depend on Internet connectivity. KOA's technology director summed it up well: "It (WiFi) is so important to your guests. It's almost moved from being an amenity to a utility. It's an expectation." KOA has done a bit of its own checking on the demand. The company says 73 percent of customers want WiFi, way more than those that want cable TV, a virtual whisper of 30 percent in comparison.
Pay to play? With WiFi high on the expectation list, should RV parks charge a little extra for those who want it? One California park operator put it succinctly: “If you want to go ahead and piss off your guest, go ahead. It’s an expectation. I don’t think you’re going to get away from that.” Not all industry talking heads agree with that. “The ‘utility’ label implies a cost to be borne by the end user, which will do away with free,” said Joss Penny, executive director at the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association. Still, charging for a "utility," implies a responsibility on the part of the purveyor. "It also demands a higher standard of service expectation, so RV parks will need to increase bandwidth.”
And what about campground coverage? There are plenty of RV park owners who claim to have WiFi on site, but get a bit too far away from the office and your Internet speed acts like your laptop has swallowed sand and glue. Campground owners are being urged to offer WiFi in the park where it's a good, solid, fast connection – and don't offer it anywhere else in the park, lest we customers get disappointed. And as the article cautioned park owners, don't plan just for today – put in a system that will offer more than you need now, as demand will only increase.
If Woodall's is correct in their readership figures – 14,000 – than that means every RV park manager in the U.S. should have had access to these reminders. Will they read the story? We could hope so. The important thing is – will they act on what they read?
For the complete story click here.