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MC Fireside Chats – January 4th, 2023

Episode Summary

In this episode of MC Fireside Chats, outdoor hospitality experts discussed various trends and provided insights regarding the sector. The discussion kicked off on how businesses can prepare for and come back from a long break like the recently concluded holiday break and how culture can define a company for its employees. One way to reward staff for their contributions is to give them a break they deserve. The group noted that executives chose their work when they started the business and, therefore, may have to work during the holiday break. “So it’s different. Like, and I told this to people I talked to today. It’s different for me. I’m the owner. I signed up to do it. Randy’s the owner; he signed up to do it. Mark’s the owner; he signed up to do it,” Brian Searl said. Randy Hendrickson, Founder & CEO of the Intrepid Group, suggested improving the company’s culture, including managing staff and creating a positive work environment and customer service. Casey Cochran, the Vice President of Business Development at Campspot Software, emphasized the importance of setting expectations for the reality of the day-to-day job of being an executive and owning a business and how this can benefit the company. Randy also pointed out that people stay with a company not just for the brand but for the managers leading them and that a healthy culture and leaders who reflect that culture is key to success. “It’s also interesting, I mean, there’s a number of studies I’ve read over the years that people don’t always stay with the company because of the company brand itself. They stay because of the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor,” he said. “And when you think about that, kind of makes a lot of sense, right? Because they’re not reporting to the brand every day, they’re reporting through their immediate supervisor. So there’s also kind of a top-down thing. I think the culture is paramount, absolutely paramount.” Casey noted that money matters as employees still need to make ends meet at the end of the day, and that incentivizing staff could lead to increased revenue for the company and improved behavior among the people. Mark Koep, Founder & CEO of CampgroundViews.com, added that incentivizing staff encourages them to work more, not just the required deliverables and tasks assigned to them. Randy emphasized that a company’s culture is not just about its size but about its mission. Casey also mentioned the importance of finding the proper role for staff members, considering their strengths and capacity to fill a need, especially during times of change. The discussion then shifted to how the RV Industry would fair this year. Mark said a recent RVIA report showed data that wholesale numbers are down as 2022 ends and asked if international tourists can either save or balance the numbers to help the industry. Brian Searl, the host of MC Fireside Chats, mentioned that RV sales might be low, but they are still higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to an RVDA representative the show had last December 21. “[RVDA representative] said, you know, that yes, RV sales are down, but what they’re really doing is normalizing from 2019 over pre-pandemic. Right. And maybe that’s a buzzword; maybe it’s not. I tend to believe him based on the numbers that I’m looking at. Cause you can see they’re up still over 2019, even though they’re down 50% now,” he said. Randy emphasized that RVs are not just for camping but can also be used for traveling and accommodation while traveling around the country and that this trend is driven by demographic and customer behavior changes. Casey mentioned the impact of the shift to remote work on many businesses and the need for companies to adapt to this change in terms of finances and logistics. “Now, I think all of us would agree that we’re big components of remote work. But if that was to change, then I think you could maybe see, okay, this could affect our midweek stays even, you know, further because there’s not as many people that are able to do kind of that flexible workspace,” he said.

Recurring Guests

Mark Koep
Founder & CEO
CampgroundViews.com
Randy Hendrickson
Founder & CEO
Intrepid Group
Casey Cochran
VP Business Development
Campspot Software

Special Guests

Episode Transcript

Brian: Welcome everybody to another episode of MC Fireside Chats. My name’s Brian Searl with Insider Perks here with our amazing panel of open discussion guest, minus a couple who [00:01:00] apparently haven’t quite made it back into the normal routine after the holidays. We were super excited to have Mark Koep here from Campground Views.

Randy Hendrickson from the Intrepid Group and a bunch of other things, fatality, whatever, new Randy’s starting this week. I feel like the list continues to grow, but great guy. Super excited to have his knowledge here. And then of course, Casey Cochran from Camp Spott, VP of Business Development marketplace and software, all kinds of stuff going on over there too.

Gentlemen, how was your Christmas? Let’s just start there. Like, what did you guys do? What’d you get up to? Any fun? 

Mark: I actually took 10 days off, didn’t turn my computer on for 10 days straight. It’s the first time I’ve done that. I don’t even know how long, so I’m back. 

Brian: Let’s have a competition. I’m really competitive cuz it was 12 years for me before I took my first vacation.

Mark: Really? Yeah. No, it’s been less than 12 years, so Yeah. 

Brian: Yeah, I went away for like a day or something. Right. But before actually 

Mark: yeah, definitely. But like actually taking time off. Yeah. That was the first time I’ve done that in a very long time and it was refreshing. It was nice. And the only problem is [00:02:00] I came back to a load of emails and follow ups and all that type of stuff, but yeah, that’s the fear of any business owners taking, you know, many owners can relate to this.

You don’t get time off, like, what is that? You don’t get any to, you know, people are calling, people are coming in you know, in the end though, you need a break, you know? Yeah. 

Brian: Well, for sure you do. Yeah. I think that was my, like, unless, like I took a break, I don’t know what, a week before Christmas I came back, but I went to Europe for 12 days and did the whole Christmas market tour and stuff like that.

And I actually like that setup. Like, I like taking the vacation. I didn’t know it until I did it, but taking the vacation before Christmas, because during Christmas what I found out is nobody wants to talk to you. So you can actually put your head down and get work done instead of answering emails and Chats and questions and phone calls and stuff like that.

But the reason it took me 12 years to get there is for the same reason almost all other small business owners have, is that I didn’t have the staff to cover me while I was gone. 

Casey: . Yeah. So yeah, we did, I mean we decided this year just for the timing of it with Campspot and I think we’re at maybe, I don’t know, it’s right around like 125 or [00:03:00] so employees, something like that.

But we decided to give everyone that, that week off in between and that was very nerve wracking for us, except for support. We kept a minimal support team on. We knew we would need, there’d be some, but even that even in that timeframe you know, lessons learned probably like we probably need to have our full support staff on basically 24 7 right.

There. Just, there isn’t the ability for it to shut down cuz not all parks do. But even for our, the rest of the team and the staff having that week of, and I always go back and forth, like, is it better to like completely tap out or like, is it, do you keep like, just like a toe in.

And just so you can put out just some minimal flyers here and there, so you come back to nothing. And I did a pretty good job this year of I never, like, never get rid of my phone and I never not reply a little bit, but in this case I like really did disconnect. Nothing too crazy stayed in town, but it, it was great.

It was really refreshing. I think a lot of people [00:04:00] needed that too. I’m always jealous of the camp runner that we talked to. They’re like, like the week that their part closes, they’re like, you’re not gonna hear from me again for three months cuz I’m gonna be in Florida, talk to me again in February, talk to me again in March.

And I’m always like, gosh, you know. 

Brian: Honestly, like they deserve that though. 

I would not trade putting up with campers for four to six months to just have a couple off to do whatever. No, that’s not an equal trade. They’re bureau . 

Randy: I’m the Lone Ranger here. I decided to get some work done. 

Brian: I was working too, Randy, like, I just, I took my vacation 18th 

Randy: You know the truth of the matter is for the Intrepid group, everybody kind of shut down from our team and Riley. So it was a very busy year for everybody in at Intrepid Group. a lot of family time for the team members, which is absolutely fantastic.

It’s what it’s all about, especially this time of year concurrent with that because real estate [00:05:00] kind of slows down completely. You know, there’s kind of a blackout window from December 15th to January 10th it seems like. , whether real or imagine people kind of go away and shut down and rightly obviously.

So that gave Michelle Oliver and I some time with Fatality to get more of our launch ready to go for that company. And because there wasn’t a torrent of emails, it was actually pretty productive time. But the highlight of the holiday season for me was lots of time with the biggest star in my life.

My daughter who’s lots of family time, and that’s what that really is, what the season’s all about. So that was my number one highlight. Lots of time with my daughter cuz that’s where it all begins and ends for me. 

Brian: Family’s, I mean, super critical. I mean, I’m up here in Canada. I didn’t get to go back to the States to spend it with my family, but I spent it with my girlfriend’s family and over Christmas and stuff like that.

You know, wherever you can get it and, you know, take it, it’s all precious. But I agree. Like I agree with Casey. Just going back to your thing, cutting completely. I tried it both ways and I think what I found works for us is letting our [00:06:00] biggest, and I know it’s different with 2000 part work for Right, but letting our biggest clients know that we’re gonna be shutting down for a week and a half.

And most of ’em are like, well, we’re not gonna be in the office anyway, just like Randy said, right? The 15th through the 30th kinda thing. But if you set that expectation, set up auto responders, set up voicemails, then like, who’s gonna really, who’s gonna have the nerve to come yell at me and say, how dare you let your team have a week off after they work the hard?

Like, who’s gonna say that? I mean, there’s really nothing they can say that. 

Casey: Yeah, no, there’s, yeah, there’s, yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s, you whether they agree with it or not, as long as you can com communicate it right and say, Hey, this is, you know, this is what we’re doing.

And you know, and get as much done in anticipation of that as possible. We did a big push, you know, the last, really the last two and a half months. Kind of a little bit revolve on this, but not specifically, but just, Hey, get your rates in for next year. You know, don’t wait until you know the 31st to like, Hey, I wanna have my rates in for the first to go live [00:07:00] next year.

Like, get those in well ahead of time and time it out. That way you don’t have to go live necessarily. Then police have all that stuff in for next year. Cause it was wild, even in that week of reservations that you saw outside of a couple unique ones there, even from like a reservation standpoint, people weren’t booking as many things during that timeframe either.

Then as soon as like the first hit, it’s like floodgates opened up, you know, not granted, that can get skewed from a lot of the city and county parks where there’s these big, you know, they don’t have reservations for like three months and then of a sudden they turn those on and that can skew some of that.

But overall you just kind of saw that, you know, everyone kind of, and I think based on like the last couple years, I think more and more you’re gonna find people saying, justifying that time to be like, you know what? I’m unplugging I’m taking it off. Cuz everyone in the world at this point I think probably agrees that everyone needs it.

Brian: No, and that’s the thing. And they deserve it. Right? So it’s different. Like, and I told this to people I talked to today. It’s different for me. I’m the owner. I signed up to do it. Randy’s the owner, he [00:08:00] signed up to do it. Mark’s the owner, he signed up to do it. No offense, you’re the outlier here, Casey.

But you know, I mean in some ways you did because you’re an executive at the top, almost the top of the company, right? But for the rest of the people who are regular workers whose contributions are invaluable to the success of the company and the day-to-day, they didn’t sign up to work on Christmas or the extra hours that we work and so they deserve it.

Casey: Kudos to you guys. 

Mark: Well, and that, you know, leading that leads into the conversation for the owners. That’s the big thing that’s happened the last two years and us leading into this year, is finding people who are willing to work, number one, and the people that are willing to work, doing a good job. And so a lot of owners are facing that.

Looking into this next year is, you know, how do I do that? How do I find good qualified people who will actually dedicate themselves to working and, you know, really driving it forward. Randy, you’ve got a lot of experience with that. I mean, what’s your tips for people to actually find folks that are, that fit?

Both of those are willing to work and willing to doa good job working. 

Randy: . You know, it’s a great question mark, and [00:09:00] something I’m pretty passionate about. The, ultimately, I think if an employer is faced with a challenge of finding good people a great thing to do is look first to their culture and their company and how they express their values to their staff.

There’s a lot of reasons why people stay at a job or take on a job or leave a job. A lot of that has to do with, do I feel involved in the culture of the company? Do I have a voice? Is my voice being heard? If I have feedback for management, will they listen to that? And when you can look at your culture and really say, we want to empower our staff to make good decisions, give them the tools they need to succeed, encourage feedback.

Literally taking off the name tag and forgetting title and. and let’s all figure out how to make this business better and more involved for everybody. I think it’s when you kind of treat it as a mill of people come in, people come out and hire them at their replacement wage. That’s where you have the biggest disparity between quality of staff and just number of staff.

But you really kind of go [00:10:00] back and look at your culture with really open eyes and say, who are we? Would I want to work for me? What would I do differently to make my place better to work for? Often the company culture is gonna attract the best talent with the greatest longevity, and it’s really been proven in my case, decade after decade when you really are culture first and make sure the employers are valued as part of something that’s a living, breathing entity that increases your odds of finding great people exponentially over just wage or just benefit package.

Casey: Yeah. We’re just having that conversation today a little bit in a different tone, but. just about setting like expectations, right? Like just for someone understanding what is the reality of that day-to-day job, right? And you can paint, it’s I mean, it’s so easy to like paint this picture of like, what, you know, what the job is, but then what is the reality of it?

What is the day-to-day aspect, right? Of course, we’re always preaching and pushing like automation and doing as much of that to take some of that manual like labor that might not be necessary, that most people don’t necessarily enjoy doing anyways. You want to automate as [00:11:00] much of that as possible. But we’ve just found, you know, setting the expectation of what that is and the reality of that role from the jump and making sure that aligns with what that person’s, you know, either good at, wants to do or wants to be a part of.

Yeah. Is, yeah. We’re just having that conversation today. So it’s a funny topic. 

Brian: It’s. Go ahead. 

Randy: Yeah, 

It’s also interesting, I mean, there’s a number of studies I’ve read over the years that people don’t always stay with the company because of the company brand itself. They stay because of the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor.

And when you think about that, kind of makes a lot of sense, right? Because they’re not reporting to the brand every day, they’re reporting through immediate supervisor. So there’s also kind of a top down thing. I think the culture is paramount, absolutely paramount. Being honest and telling, like you said, Casey, just exactly what is this?

People want you to be honest with them, just straight up, honest with them about what it involves, what’s good, what’s bad. How we can help and whatnot, but there’s also training opportunity for mid-level [00:12:00] management of resort managers to make sure that they have those same skills to impart to their daily staff.

If you’re a multiple park owner, for example, that mission can get lost unless it’s being implemented every day at the property level by a really talented GM who can keep that same culture consistent throughout. That’s how peop, that’s the power of retention. It’s not always the brand itself, but where I go every day and who I report to do they reflect those same values that I hold dear.

To me it’s enormous training opportunities, especially in this day and time when employees are hard to find and guess. Satisfaction expectations are through the roof. To really go staff first, it all begins with staff and the culture you create for them. That translates to the guests. It’s just mono from heaven when you can do that well.

Brian:

Well, so here’s the interesting thing though, and we’re dancing around this subject a little bit, right? And we always do, when we ever talk, when, regardless of who’s in the room or who’s having the conversation about, This employment situation, because yes, we can say, and I agree with you a hundred percent, it ha it’s implemented at my company very heavily.

You know, the culture and the [00:13:00] interaction and all the things that Casey and Randy just talked about, because I believe in all that stuff. But I’m also a company that works for hundreds of campgrounds. Know, Casey’s a software company that works for 2000 campgrounds. If you scale it down to a mom and pop RV park in many cases, because of the demand and the drive to consistently lower prices and to make things cheaper, it becomes much, much harder for them to provide those extra benefits and extra wages that some of their competitors, and they have larger resorts or hotels or Walmart in the area can provide.

Yeah. And say, well, we can sit here and preach that stuff, but it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. 

Casey: I think what Randy hit on, I think is important, right? Because you can always, I mean this is, comes down to just. , any culture book you read or whatnot, like money matters in some capacity, right? At the end of the day, people need to make ends meet.

Yeah. And they need enough money to survive. And there’s that threshold of what that is now, what they’re willing to do for that amount or whatever the case is, you can dance around that. [00:14:00] But to me, I think there’s a, an opportunity for campgrounds, and I think we, we touched on this before, but where there’s opportunity or where there’s, you can utilize, and again, this isn’t too nice cuz every company does some capacity of this, but where there’s incentive that can take place.

To me, there is a, there isn’t an opportunity for Campground owners that may be struggling to hire because it’s like, Hey, I can’t pay someone $25 an hour right off the bat, or I can’t pay someone 80 grand a year right off the bat. I need to justify this. And then eventually, if they do really well, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But there’s so many things within, like, to your point, Brian, like the mom and pop Campground that maybe isn’t, you know, corporately ran or funded and things of that sort, or those dollars and cents that have to add up. , incentivizing the right work, the right behavior that also incentivizes and brings revenue to your park, to me is a real lever to pull on for owners because it’s crazy.

Like [00:15:00] it’s, we’re trying to run the data on this and I, I don’t have this here, but maybe get it, but like, the number of managers that actually make the decision on what technology they’re going to use is really high. Right? Like these owner, a lot of owners are giving the keys to this park in, in, in some capacity.

This is a software that we’re gonna choose, that we’re gonna use to run really everything at the park, right? I mean, it’s doing, it’s touching just about everything outside of obviously the culture in the, in what that, that park and that manager provides. So with that being said, with that much going on in there, to me there is an opportunity for parks to say, okay, I have the ability to incentivize the right behavior financially along with culture, right?

Along with the work environment, things of that sort. And to me, I mean, money in some capacity only speaks so far, but in order to attract or to get things to that point, I think there is an opportunity there. Whether you say, Hey, we’re gonna share a percentage of our lock site revenue.

We’re gonna [00:16:00] share a percentage of increased occupancy, we’re gonna share a percentage of add-on revenue. We’re gonna share a thing of firewood bundles. Like something there that says, Hey, this is what I can pay you now. But I want to give the ability for the right behavior. And if it’s gonna help the park overall, I want you to be a part of it.

Right. Not everyone can just say, Hey, I’m gonna make you an owner operator right off the bat. But you can do subtle things in between there that gets closer to that point as long as you’re incentivizing the right behavior. Right. And sure. I think there is some things toy around in there with. 

Brian: I mean, we did that at the beginning of our company when we were, you know, when we worked for, I mean, it was me for seven years, right?

But when we worked for a hundred campgrounds, like whatever the number was, five or six years ago, right? Like, we didn’t have the money that we have today. Because we hadn’t expanded into all the different services, and obviously we had 75% less sparks than we were, right? And so we had to hire people based on that.

We had to say like, listen I can pay you this much. I want pay you this much. We’ll get there because if you help me grow the company, I recognize the [00:17:00] ROI that you’re bringing me through your smile or your customer service. So the way you word your emails or all the things that you’re doing, the willingness to work an hour, even when I’m after overtime when I’m telling you don’t work, but you’re doing it anyway.

And so yeah it has to grow with those things. And certainly my argument is not that it can’t be done, my argument is that it’s not as quite as easy for those smaller RV parks to do it as, as somewhere else. The culture is. 

Mark: And the big thing there, Brian, is a lot of smaller parks have used traditionally and still many do use work campers, right?

. So in exchange for a site, and I think it’s been really well vetted for them. They know the risk they’re taking on. Now. It’s hugely risky if you’re a non-federal park to bring in work campers because you’re opening yourself up to labor and wage violations and all the stuff that goes with that.

And this current generation of campers are different than the ones before. The ones before, Hey, I had a retirement. I’m cool. I’ll do a trade of site. You’ve got folks now that, and I’m talking to these owners and they’re saying, yeah, they’re opening up the conversation with Yeah, work camp, but [00:18:00] what’s the salary gonna be?

Right? So they’re coming in with that mindset that they’re getting paid. It’s not an exchange of… 

Brian: But to be perfect guys, they should have that expectation. 

Mark: Is that fundamentally changes the math problem that the park is dealing with? Right? So traditionally it was just an exchange of site.

Now they’re looking at an expense line that’s. Salary and it changes the entire bottom line of the park. And you know, I’m agreeing with what you’d said originally, Brian, is that there is a challenge for, you know, parks usually that are under about a hundred sites, you know, a large portion of the mom and pop parks.

There’s that challenge of how do I get somebody qualified in here and pay them? And then Casey, what you’re alluding to, I love that solution, which is you’re offering ways for that employee to make more money by incentivizing them to sell more firewood or upsell or whatnot. And I’m, those are, that’s a good solution to this potential problem.

But, you know, I do know it’s a problem again this year for many park owners is finding qualified people to get in there. [00:19:00] 

Randy: Yeah. You there’s another couple of layers to this as well that I think are pretty important. I would submit to you this I think that whether you’re a small park or a large park, Culture is, doesn’t depend on the size of the park.

Culture depends on the size of the mission, it depends on the goals you have for your staff. For years I’ve preached to people just buying a park before you start throwing park models in there. Allocate some of that to staff retention, staff bonuses and retaining the best talent. If you’ve got a lot of shiny new park models in your park or tents or what have you, like that and your front desk staff keeps churning and there’s a new phase every day.

And if they’re higher, the lowest rep placement point on the wage scale. If you don’t have the best people and pay them, well, that’s an investment with an expected roi. Your payroll doesn’t have to be a sunken cost. It is an investment in the future of your business and then your different revenue stream.

I would argue start with staff first and then go amenitize your property. Cuz you can [00:20:00] have the best park models out there, but you can scare people away. But you know, even further to that, I think, so that, that’s 0.1. Culture transcends any size of any property. But what Casey was saying that there was a study I read not long ago that’s reasons why people stay at a job Wage was number five.

It was after culture of the company. Feeling involved, being part of decision processes. It’s not always about money. You can get paid more bucks at one place, but if they treat you like an automaton, a robot, you’re not gonna be happy. But if you show up and everybody’s happy to see you and your owner’s doing something that says, I appreciate you and I value you and here’s how I’m gonna demonstrate it to you.

The wage is really not gonna be that important of a thing. It’s gonna be important. It matters. Everybody has to live, but it won’t be the determining factor whether you stay or go. But one final point to what Casey said, which I absolutely love incentivizing all staff at, at all.

Brian: Oh, did we lose Randy? You guys still hear [00:21:00] me? Yes, I can still hear you. I think he’s making an excellent point and hopefully he comes back, but I think that’s kind of what, like, I agree with him. I don’t think that culture requires, you know, you to be a big business or, and I think you can certainly accomplish that at any size business, whether it’s an RV park or you know, a two person team or whatever else.

But the problem is that’s a lot to do with retention. You can say and talk about all the culture that you want, but it’s really the wage and the benefits that get ’em in the door. And they might stay for a lower wage if the culture exists. But it’s kind of, it’s not quite as black and white as it, yeah. 

Mark: And add in that, you know, there’s parks that are in very rural areas, right? So your potential employee pool is reduced, right? The amount of people that are willing to drive to your park and work there is reduced. And yeah. You that, that adds into it also. Yeah, 

Casey: I went, I did an exercise with my team this year.

That was, I’ve never done before, but I got, I felt like we got really good results from it and I make sure I prefaced it by saying, [00:22:00] I can’t guarantee to fix all this, but I want to be aware of it. And the exercise was, Hey, I wanna understand what your least favorite part of your job is. I want you to really think long and hard.

What is the least favorite thing that you do? When, you working for me specifically or working within camps? Spott. And I wanna identify it. I wanna understand, I want to know it and I want see if I can fix it, right? I wanna see if we can make it, make you do less of it, or if we can shed light on it and if there’s a solution there.

And again, you know, to this point, money matters, you know, but it, like, it definitely wasn’t like the number one thing, like my least favorite thing is the fact that I’m not getting paid enough. There was very specific things in those day-to-day activities that again, aren’t all fixable, right?

But it was interesting exercise cuz every single person that I had had said something a little bit different, but some of, there was some consistencies in there. And so then again kind of rallying [00:23:00] around that and saying, okay, is there something I can do to make whatever the least favorite part of your day-to-day is better?

I can’t promise that I can assure them, but I at least be aware of it. Right? And if I’m aware of it, maybe that can help us you know, get to a better spot or I can allocate less of your time doing that because someone else might do it. You know, we always equate it to something like cold calling in sales, right?

Certain people dread doing certain, like things like that. Certain people don’t, some people love it. Yeah. So it’s like, let’s figure that out. And let’s either allow you to do more of what you enjoy doing or less of what you don’t. And it was a good exercise. I was really happy with it.

I could see it equating at a park cuz if someone’s showing up every day and they don’t want to talk to people every single day, but they’re upfront doing the check-in stuff, it’s like, well, either let’s automate check-in to make that person’s life better or let’s get someone else greeting and let’s get you up to do it. 

Randy: You guys, just a couple quick more thoughts. Am I back now? ? Yes. Hotel wifi, my friends. Just a couple things to put a bow on what I was saying [00:24:00] earlier, Casey, to your point about incentivizing staff with some kind of remuneration for goals hit and whatnot like that, the interesting thing to me is, yes, that’s monetary, but isn’t it more than that, isn’t it?

isn’t that ownership or management saying it? It’s the fact that we want to do this that matters as much to the staff member as maybe that extra a hundred dollars bills. The fact they’re saying, we recognize achievement and want to compensate that, that, again, is really more culture than remuneration in my estimation.

The other thing I was gonna say is that, again, to your point, know, would I think one thing that we’ve done well over the years is when we retain somebody, is just what you said, Casey, what do you dislike and what do you best at? If somebody doesn’t really like guest interaction, but they’re better at something else, then you backfill around that.

But when you try to force somebody into something that they’re not great at, it’s doomed to failure. You know, there’s an old book, I forget the name of it right now, [00:25:00] but it says that the biggest thing you can do is not try to put in what’s been left out. You try to draw out what’s been left in.

So don’t make them who they’re not, play to who they are and make that valuable. There’s a thousand ways to do it, but it comes back to culture. Recognizing, listening and hearing who they are and recognizing they are the backbone of your business. You don’t exist, but for your staff. 

Brian: For sure you’re right.

There’s a thousand ways to do it. It just depends on do you want to tackle it? Do you care enough for your culture or for your business or for whatever the reason is that you personally, your opinion you should care about. Right? But one of the things that shocked me, like I just it has nothing to do with Camping, but we went to Europe and we, every restaurant we went into in Germany, every single waiter we had was a 50 plus year old man.

And I sat there and I said to my girlfriend, I was like, I can’t remember ever in the history of my life ever being weighted on by an elderly gentleman at a restaurant. Ever. Can anybody else, like, cuz I can’t. [00:26:00] But it’s totally different over there because their wages are different. The tip system is different.

The benefits are different, and I’m not suggesting that’s the way to go here, but it can be done a different way. 

Casey: I think understanding when and upon that hire, I think it’s always interesting because, you know, if you’re hiring someone that needs to be very fluid and flexible and they need to be, wear many hats, identifying someone that embraces that, enjoys that right up front.

I mean, we’ve gone through, I feel like multiple stages of that, even at Camp Spot and even other businesses that I’ve owned in the past was like, in the beginning it’s like, Hey, you’re gonna wear a lot of hats. You know, you’re gonna go to where the need is and if you enjoy that you’re gonna be able to really embrace this.

But then there gets to a certain point where you start to be like, well, now we need you to really hone in and define and own this space. And for a lot of people, that’s a scary transition, right? I don’t want to just do. Even though I’ve done really good at it and I’ve proven that’s why I’m getting [00:27:00] put to this position.

I don’t wanna just do this one thing all day. I like to embrace the change and things of that sort. And that’s always a unique thing too, because, you know, as someone comes in, maybe they’re doing a little bit of everything and then they do a good job with one thing. When you say, okay, I’m gonna have you only do this cuz you’re killing it, then they might be like, well no, I, I got Joey out of these 10 other things too.

Un you know, understanding that type of person is always a unique thing when hiring as well is, you know, do you like having a very defined role and knowing what your day-to-day is every day? I certainly don’t, but I know a lot of people do and you know, you wanna hire a role according to that, right?

Like that says, yeah, I like things very clear. You know, an exact job description. I’ll know exactly what I’m doing and I’ll do a good job at it. Or it’s like, hey, I like that gray area and I want to go to where there’s need and I wanna fill roles. I think that’s probably why a lot of people end up starting a business is cuz they go, there’s no way someone’s gonna tell me what to do each and every day. I’m gonna figure out what I’m gonna do with myself. But yeah, that is an interesting thing about hiring

Mark: Yeah, I was raising my hand too, [00:28:00] Brian that’s me also. You can’t . 

Announcement: Yeah. 

Mark: My team knows that. They’re like, darn it, mark, would you just do what you said you’re gonna do? I’m like, no, I’m gonna do three other things, 

Casey: Opportunity, man, opportunities there. It’s impossible to turn it off.

Brian: Anybody who knows me will tell you my organization is gone. Like, I’m not organized at all, so I’ll tell you I’m gonna do something, or I’ll sit down and I’ll do this for this week and I won’t get to it because 74,000 other emails will come in, or I’ll change my mind, or I’ll watch 300 AI videos over Christmas break and decide to learn that when I didn’t need to or whatever.

Right. And yeah, I, I like the ability to be flexible and change my mind, and as long as you’re taking care of what you need to take care. . 

Mark: RVIA released their their wholesale sales numbers today , and they’re down 50 per over 50% year over year. But something that was interestingly pointed out by some owners in the Facebook group is that Class B shipments are [00:29:00] actually up year over year.

So all other segments are way down and Class Bs are up. But it was interesting that data point in my mind, it kind of dovetailed to the other, like big news that happened over the holiday break that kind of got mixed up in the holiday break, which was China completely eliminating all their covid restrictions.

You could, and if you’re Chinese, you can travel anywhere. And the big data point that I saw in that was travel and tourism specifically, that all the tourism operator. Holy smokes. You’ve got all these Chinese now that are looking to travel. And so in my mind, you know, I’m dovetailing that off of this drop in RV sales, how’s that affect us this year?

And all of a sudden we’ve got this massive international market that, and one of the countries that they named as they wanted to go to was the United States. And obviously that draws into the national parks is a big draw for a lot of Chinese tourists and so forth. So those two data points just it goes to this idea that just because RV sales are dropping we’re in the same industry, but we’re a completely different vertical within that industry being the campgrounds and [00:30:00] RV parks.

And how does that look this next year? And so I was kind of throw the question at Casey and Randy’s Casey first you said your bookings, you saw a bump after January 1st At Campground we see the same thing. It’s downhill to December 31st, then immediately back uphill through August. And we’re seeing, we’re already seeing that data right now showing, you know, are you seeing an increase in international bookings and have you, are you measuring that at all. 

Casey: Yeah, I haven’t dove in specifically since the beginning of the year on the international. It’s a really interesting point. I mean, I’d be be curious to see like if there’s any type of general metric that can tell that. That’s always interesting to me because again, I mean I don’t know if that’s gonna open up more, you would assume potentially more rentals.

Right. So I mean I still think, like, to your point, let’s say RV sale, let’s say they are down. Is that reason for parks to, to worry? No, in my mind I would still say no because there’s a couple different reasons. At a very basic level, whenever I drive, like across the country in some capacity are just driving in general, [00:31:00] the amount of RVs and trailers that I see parked at someone’s house, it’s like mind blowing at some point.

I’m like, where are all these, where are all these going? Cuz it’s like in some cities and counties and places you’re going through, there’s like sometimes more than one in every single driveway or like parked in their yard and I’m like, there’s so many of these things everywhere. Like where are they all coming from?

So at some point someone’s gonna use them. So even if there is this influx of international travel, you’re assuming the rental aspect of things is going would go up. And with that you would assume places to stay you know, are gonna are gonna go up too, right? I mean, so yeah. I’m not too worried about the, I mean, I would, if I was a dealer, right?

If I’m an RV dealer, I would probably be worrying a little bit. But as far as like a Campground, just the volume of trailers that are out there are so excessive. 

Brian: Yeah, I know you didn’t call on me, mark, but we did have this conversation actually on the December 21st show with Philia who was on here for RV d a, just very [00:32:00] briefly.

Okay. And he said, you know, that yes, RV sales are down, but what they’re really doing is normalizing from 2019 over pre pandemic. Right. And maybe that’s a buzzword, maybe it’s not. I tend to believe him based on the numbers that I’m looking at. Cause you can see they’re up still over 2019, even though they’re down 50% now.

But he did say, you know, regardless of RV sales dropping, there are 2 million new RVs on the road. Right? Yep. Those are gonna. So RV sales, I don’t think is indicative of anything that’s gonna happen in 2023, I think. But not RV sale. 

Randy: RV sales have never been indicative of the Camping industry. It’s indicative of the RV manufacturer industry, but not the Camping industry.

There’s a big boom in sales, obviously post covid with everybody coming back out of their caves and whatnot. But I mean, let’s face it, if you bought an RV a couple years ago, do you have to buy one this year? It’s gonna last you a few years. So you’re not buying one this year, right? Cause you already did it the year before, but now you’re Camping does just, you didn’t buy one.

I think the more interesting macro trend within the data, [00:33:00] however, is as Mark pointed out, class Bs and truck campers and park models. up. Now park models are quite different. They’re an accommodation versus an RV, but they’re called an RV. So they’re tracked as RV sales. You see that number going up because people are buying those for accom, for accommodations as they do more of the experiential hospitality dispersed hotel model type of thing.

But I think that the bigger thing to look at is the class a’s the, you know, the travel trailers and whatnot that’s down and there’s a reason for that. Class Bs, who’s buying a class B? A class B is gonna be the younger generation. It’s gonna be a Gen X, Y, Z, whatever you want to call it. But that’s a trend in travel period.

So it’s not as big. It’s easier to maneuver. It gets the more places, more of the off-road type of thing. Right. The overlanding type of thing. Getting to more remote destinations, you don’t want a 40 foot class A to do that. You wanna be mobile, you won’t be able to park it in a hotel parking lot if you want to.

So it makes sense that Class Bs and truck campers have just been kind of through the roof. So on a on, on a number of [00:34:00] sales volume, There’s still quite a bit behind the other categories, but as a percentage, that’s the trend line I’m looking at. It’s going to remain that way in my estimation. Class BS and truck campers will continue to dominate this sort of a trend line because of demographic changes of purchaser changes of consumer behavior changes.

It all speaks to something that the industry should pay very close attention 

Brian: And disposable income that they have too. 

Randy: Oh no. Some Class Bs are right up there with some of the big, with some of the big boys too because you can hundred grand on a Class B.

But it, that again speaks more to, if you get a $170,000 Sprinter van, Mercedes Sprinter van versus 170,000 thousand dollars, 40 foot travel trailer, they’re going to buy the Sprinter van. So at that economic price point being neutral, they’re choosing a different type of vehicle. That’s something to watch.

Brian: They’re going Camping, right. And sorry [00:35:00] Casey, but that impacts where they’re going, Camping, because they can take that van, as we talked about to BLM land and state parks, much easier than they can to the larger IRV Resorts. Not saying, we’ll, they can’t, 

Mark: and hotels as Randy noted, right. They can. Yes. So the idea behind a Class B is that flexibility you have to either camp or stay in a hotel or use it as a portable toilet, right?

I can make some food on the road as I’m driving somewhere or whatnot, or taking it to soccer games or whatnot. 

Brian: Guys from Tesla about how you can pop it up and use it. Yeah. So continue. Sorry. 

Randy: Yeah. So consumer preference is consumer behavior. It’s not a trend. It’s not even so much about economics.

It’s what does the industry look like going forward? And we’re seeing it, we’re seeing it prove out numerous articles, num, numerous data points just the sales themselves. That is the way the industry is going. And I really think it’s ostrich syndrome, putting the head in the sand to think it’s otherwise Class Bs.

Look for ’em. I mean, that, that’s just what’s coming and it’s gonna keep coming. 

Brian: And I’m sorry, mark, I didn’t mean to cut you off if you had something else to say. ? 

Mark: No, I think I’m good. Casey’s the one that’s been sitting here waiting to 

Casey: . I was gonna say, [00:36:00] I mean, I’ve always been a pretty positive outlook on everything, like Camping wise, right?

There’s been a bunch of stuff, economy, things of that sort, slowdown of RVs, blah, blah, blah. I mean, to me, maybe the only thing to tentatively keep an eye on with the economy and work is that it’s still pretty common for many companies to basically got forced into remote work. And I think a trend to potentially keep an eye on is if that starts to shift, right?

Like if more and more the larger employees are gonna start regulating people coming back to an office. I think it’s pretty farfetched to some extent but you certainly could, right? If these big companies are realizing that productivity is simply better if they have them in our office, they’re gonna realize that and they’re gonna regulate it, right?

Even if it comes with some of the shortcomings of it. Now, I think all of us would agree that we’re big components of remote work. But if that was to change then I think you could maybe see, okay, this could affect our midweek stays even, you know, further, because [00:37:00] there’s not as many people that are able to do kind of that flexible workspace.

I think we’re a ways off from that, but that could be something I could see in 2023. If you see some of your bigger companies really regulating that back, probably there’ll be some sort of trip trickle down effect. Could that affect maybe some midweek stays? You know, potentially then? 

Brian: That’s for sure gonna happen and I’ll go out on a limb and say that, I’m not saying it’s gonna be 2023, but what’s gonna happen is the labor market will stop having so many job openings and then as the recession continues or starts, or however you want to say it is right now, I expect it to get worse in 2023.

Then as the, it becomes not more of an employee friendly market and an employer friendly market, then they’re gonna have the ability, not saying all them will, but a lot of them will have the ability to say like, oh, well we’ve always wanted you to work in the office. Now we can and we not have to worry about you quitting as much.

Yeah. 

Casey: Yeah. It’s hard to hire like, and regulate an office. I mean, unless yeah, unless you’re stuck with that throughout. [00:38:00] You know, we’ve pulled all of our whole employee in base two and it’s it’s tough to kind of go to that remote option and then regulate it back. Look, it’s a scary position for an employer to basically, you know, say, Hey, we’re gonna go to this route cuz we know it’s better productive, we know we get more da.

Yeah. It’ll be interesting. 

Brian: That goes to your culture too, right? Campspots culture and Intrepid group’s culture. Campground views culture inside of Perks culture because if you have good culture and you create a situation where you value your employees, then your employees will be willing to work for you just as much at home as they are in the office.

Cuz they care. 

Yeah. 

So why Musk is pissed off? . Oh, can I say, sorry, I don’t know if we’re censored on. 

Randy: It’s your buddy . 

Mark: Get the Facebook group flag now. 

Brian: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is what it is. He can’t get his people to work for him because he is not a nice boss, at least on the surface, based on what we hear in the [00:39:00] media.

Right. Obviously, I don’t know the man personally, but I feel like somebody would step up to his defense if it wasn’t true. 

Casey: You’ve officially been banned from Twitter,

Randy: He really cares. You know, there’s some other stuff I think you know, for 2023, just kind of looking down the road and gauging by. Very recent trends. I mean, as we all know, the industry changes in Morse by the day, right? I mean, what used to be a one year forecast becomes, what’s it look like by five o’clock?

I mean, literally . 

Mark: three day management plan. Randy, that’s my whole mantra now, 

Randy: right above brother, I’m right there with you. I’m right there with you. Sometimes it’s a three hour business plan, right? But there are some macro trends that I’m really paying a lot of attention to. One, I think is is collaboration.

There’s actually three Cs, I think, collaboration, community and communication. So on the collaboration front, I think there’s gonna be continued more trend of businesses that formally thought of themselves as competitors [00:40:00] collaborating and realizing their strength in numbers and their strength in coming together to provide even better services for more people.

And there’s always gonna be a new company starting up, but I think collaboration is certainly kind of in the spirit of what’s been happening. We’ll continue and not under the bus here, Casey, but I think you could certainly speak to that. Col community aspects. Th This is not a shameless plug, but at fatality, Michelle, Oliver and I are really focused on community.

Because when you think of experiential hospitality and somebody goes to a property, it’s not just about what they’re going, what, where they’re gonna stay. It’s about what they’re gonna do within that community. I think properties, reaching out to local, cooperating businesses to build a sense of community, so you’re not just staying at one place, you’re staying with several businesses.

You just happen to be…

Brian: oh, we lost Randy again to the hotel wifi. Can I just slide this in here? What, before he comes back and say like, I love his, this is not a plug for anything, but here’s exactly what I’m gonna talk about and why you should pay att. Oh, sorry, Randy. You’re back. I didn’t say anything. You [00:41:00] didn’t hear. 

Randy: Hampton Inn Brothers 

Brian: now, go ahead. 

 

Randy: I’ll try to talk fast before I lose my signal again. But you know, community is really huge and we’ve talked about it many times before selling the zip code, right? So you’ve got this property and people are staying with you, but. That’s not the beat all, end all. It’s not the end destination.

What is there to see and do? How can they interact? Where are the walking trails? Where are the golf courses? Where’s the best restaurant? Where are the museums? The more you can act as a concierge and package the entire zip code for your guests, that is what experiential hospitality is all about.

Hoteliers are doing that. The Campground industry is doing that. I think you’re gonna see a lot more of that because people want to belong to community. It’s not everybody wants to get off the grid, sometimes not saying that isn’t the case, but community or belonging with like-minded people and like-minded businesses is becoming more and more important.

So I think you’ll see a lot more properties reaching out to engage local community businesses as part of what they do to provide a great experience for their people. And I think [00:42:00] communication is the other the third C in that whole thing. And that’s really that’s communicating your culture to your staff.

That’s communicating your value effectively to your guests and being honest about who you are and who you’re not, and not over promising what you are as a property. Truth telling. People just wanna know what’s up. They just wanna know what the deal is, telling the truth about your brand and what you are, and making sure the guest is experiencing what that brand promise is.

So those are my three Cs. I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon. It’s not a paradigm shift either. It’s a continuation of a logical flow, the way the industry is progressing, in my opinion. 

Mark: Makes sense. It makes, you know, the last one, the that’s the most challenging thing for especially private park operators is the understanding that their guests want the truth about their property.

And so that, that’s like the big battle on our end. Right. Obviously, our technology shows it for what it is. Right. And that’s the, actually, the biggest battle we get was, I don’t wanna show people what my place looks like. Well, they’re gonna [00:43:00] find out when they get there. Right. And you know, being able to communicate exactly what they’re getting into and what they’re gonna go do.

I completely agree with you on the marketing stand. Randy, the best way to get guests in your park is to be honest with them, show ’em what they’re gonna get, and then share ideas about what they can do around the park. They don’t necessarily need to take it and do it, but just knowing that’s available to them is key.

I mean, it’s like, I, we traveled for 12 years as full-time, our viewers, I always got a chuckle out of it, and it was it’s true across the country. We’d go into an area and I would ask somebody, Hey, what’s a cool thing to do around here? They had no idea, or, you know, there’s a really unique spot nearby.

I’m like, Hey, have you ever been to that? No, I’ve lived here for 10 years. I’ve never been there. Right. It, but the availability of it is what they kind of adhere to is like, I could go do that cause it’s right here, but they never do. You know, same thing for an RV park. If you can show ’em what they’re gonna get so that they can make a logical decision about where they’re gonna stay, and then ex express and share ideas of what they can go do in the area, you’re gonna get more [00:44:00] people in your park.

Yeah. 

Casey: Well, you’re talking, I mean, you’re talking about just basically identifying your park, right? If you’re a resort, then you don’t want them to leave, right? You’re the amenities, right? You want them there all day and you want them spending their time and their money at that resort, right?

You’re bringing them in for that purpose. If you don’t have all those amenities, you don’t have all those things, well, what are the experiences outside of there? Because this is a place, whether it’s a clean bathroom, it’s a place to sleep, or it’s a place for peace and quiet until you go out and experience all these other things.

So again, embracing where you are what is the surrounding, what your park has or what you want it to have. Does it make sense to have a, you know, a fully amenitized park in the middle of, you know, a highly amenitized city, right? I don’t know. It could, but again, understanding that as far as what their you know, what your surroundings offer, I think is obviously very relevant to what type of park you’re gonna promote it being.

Randy: Absolutely. It’s so essential. Casey, I’m a big believer in that whole thing. And you [00:45:00] know, also the, just the truth of your brand or your, when you say on your website that you’re this, and this, back to the truth telling thing, if your guests show up and they don’t experience what you’ve said, you are, you’re in bad, you’re in bad trouble.

Yeah, you’re in really bad trouble, so you can’t say you’re this unbridled erase oasis where you’ll become 30 years younger, a better dancer and independently wealthy. That’s kind of a bad idea for your website. If you say it’s very quiet. We don’t have a lot, but the city sure does. To your point, Casey, you’re still selling an experience.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Be honest. Tell ’em what they are and make sure that you’re listening to what your guests say that you say you. 

Mark: And to add on that, and Brian able to jump in this sausage from the digital marketing standpoint, one of the biggest things I’ve noticed and what we’ve been seeing with our clientele is a shortening of the attention span of consumers.

Like, you know, the U2 shorts, the tos, the Facebook shorts have, just like people are now watching two second [00:46:00] videos, right? So like that attention span has gotten really short. So your ability to communicate to them about who you are and what you are is getting very small. Like it’s a logo now, right?

That’s the messaging. What do you see, Brian, what are your thoughts 

Brian: there? 

 I’m gonna totally disagree with you. So I agree with you that the attention span in some cases, by measurable data is getting smaller. But I think that’s because the content people are consuming sucks. And that’s what they’re putting out.

There are people who will sit there and watch 13 hours of Queens gambit on Netflix straight through the attention span is there. You just have to create things that actually matter to them that they wanna watch. Good point. And whether that’s content with social media, whether that’s tweets or whether that’s videos, or whether that’s 360 tours from Campground views or whatever.

It’s an experience like Randy does a good software system that they can make a reservation on. You just have to hold their attention. The attention’s still there. 

Mark: That’s a really good point, Brian. I, that’s a real, I haven’t heard that point made. That’s a really good point because we did a test with a influencer who had, they mil, they put out a video RV related on [00:47:00] TikTok and get a million, million and a half views, and they wanted $10,000 for one promotional post in one of those little videos.

And we started doing an engagement analysis of what type of engagement to get, and 90% of the comments on their video were, why am I looking at this? What’s this about? Who are you, what am I seeing this for? Right. To your point, people are just swiping on TikTok, you know, the next video and the quality’s not there. So you might have views, you don’t have engagement. 

Brian: Yeah. Right. So that’s all, it’s all, it’s always been and will forever be about attention, period. Getting someone’s attention and holding that attention, that’s the most valuable thing you can possibly have, whether it’s through photos or your website or your tweets or your interaction or your customer service, or how you treat people or how you treat your employees and what their attention is toward you.

The gold standard of everything is attention, and that’s what marketing has always been and will forever be. 

Randy: Just, well, attention is content and content has to be engaging like we’re all saying here. But, you know, there’s a, the, and Brian, you and I have talked about this before, is that it’s the [00:48:00] funny stuff about numbers, I mean, if I had 10,000 followers for ex fatality for example, and they were all just drive-bys than what have I really done?

I’d rather have 15 engaged clients who valued the service than a hundred thousand people that say, oh, I saw that, you know, content drives. That’s what drives your revenue. Engaged people not masses of numbers, but who’s. Consuming your services . 

Brian: Ultimately revenue. And we’ve said this for years to clients.

I don’t care if you have a million followers on Facebook, if nobody’s clicking book now to reserve on Campspot or whatever else, right? Who cares, right? I don’t care. 

Casey: I would tend to agree a little bit more. I mean, I agree with both. Mean, I was in the mark corner in the sense of like, attention is so quick if you can grab someone’s attention, right?

I mean to, to your point, Brian, Netflix, right? They throw out a teaser that automatically plays for 10 or 15 seconds and you hope that [00:49:00] draws in to, to commit to that 13 hours. But there was a study, I read some article on this at some point. I probably read it for 15 seconds if I’m going into what we’re talking about.

But cause the idea of how many ti, how many people actually go to Netflix and never actually watch. They just scroll through content, but they never commit to any of them. So like, Hey, I got an hour to relax and sit down. And you spend 45 minutes of that just searching through. 

Brian: I do that when I have a chance to sit down and watch tv.

My girlfriend does that. I actually bought my girlfriend. There’s this thing on Uncommon Goods if you wanna go look it up. It’s a little dice thing where you can spin, like roll three dices and decide what category of movie you’re watching you know, whether it’s a comedy or whatever else. Yeah. They sell something like that.

It’s like 10 bucks at Uncommon Goods. Shameless production. Yep. But you’re 

Casey: not the getting the commitment. Right. You can get, you know, the flash the quick. 

Brian: But that’s the thing is Netflix still has their attention and so whether it’s an ad supported platform or they’re paying the monthly fee, [00:50:00] or they put a banner ad there, they still have the attention and they can still use it and monetize it.

Mark: Looking at 2023, Brian what’s coming down the pike from Modern Campground? What are you working on 

Brian: From Modern Campground? Yeah. I don’t know. Like I got lost in starting three new businesses in 2023 over the Christmas break. , I did, I’m sorry. I did I can’t tell you anything about it, but there anyway I don’t know, modern, like Modern Campground, we’re still plugging we’re using, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, you know, before the show started.

Like we’re using a lot of the artificial intelligence tools to make us more efficient. Casey touched on that with automations and things like that, that allows some of our team to, you know, I don’t necessarily need 40 writers like the New York Times as, or whatever they have anymore. Obviously we’re not putting out the same level of quality of content that the New York Times is.

I’m not comparing myself to them, but I want to hire the best people. I want to have who I need. I don’t want to cut staff because I’m automating, but I wanna let the staff I have, [00:51:00] do the things they love to do. Which makes them happier. They produce better content. It’s a full circle thing with culture and everything else.

So just focused on that, saving some people time, some stress and being able to do more things with less resources from Modern. Campground specifically. 

Mark: Casey, what’s Camp Spot got for 2023? 

Casey: Yeah, we still got, I mean, we still got a lot on our plate. You know, just I think this year when I was talking with a couple people at trade shows, I mean, for us this year, I mean, we’re still gonna grow, but I think there’s gonna, we’re a lot bigger attention this year to kind of focus on our the core group that, that we have.

We’ve operated a big part of our development on kind of what we need in order to get right. Like we, we’ve operated a lot within that and we learned a lot this year. You know, just the volume of parks is saying, let’s get the parks that we have now. Let’s get those subtle things right. Like for us, it’s always been really intriguing for us to build kind of like the next biggie [00:52:00] big flashy feature.

Something that’s gonna, you know, truly impact either the industry or impact revenue in some capacities. And we still want to allocate, but a majority of our resources have always kind of gone majority going to that. But then there’s also this concept of just, we call it simplifying the basics, right? What are those subtle day-to-day things that we could tweak and change that take sometimes take an excessive amount of development to just do the smallest little tweak, but it makes a big impact on 2100 campgrounds.

And we’re at a point, I think, this year where we’ve decided, as a, as an LT team we’re gonna, it’s not necessarily taking a step back. It’s essentially we’re gonna, we’re gonna start a dr, we’re gonna allocate resources to address those things. We’re gonna, we want to focus on simplifying, which isn’t fun and flashy to talk about.

It’s really boring to talk about in, in terms of like, Hey, this is the next big thing coming, as opposed to like, yeah. Our Airbnb integration’s gonna wrap up in a week. And this integration, the MailChimp got this. So we’re focused on integrations, but we have a big focus this year on simplifying the basics, [00:53:00] right?

We have enough clients that deserve that now to say, Hey, some of these day-to-day things that, that we have and we need we want to see those. And that’s when we’ve done all the polling and all the surveying. It’s like, Hey, love this, love that we’re making, this love we’re doing this.

Would love if you could just, know, do this subtle thing. And so this is the year of us basically compiling all that, lining it up as far as on volume and addressing them. So it’s not the fun flashy thing that, that I usually like to talk about, but I think it’s necessary to, 

Brian: yeah, necessary is what’s necessary.

I mean, I feel like I was probably gonna say something that seemed more smart, but I lost track of thought. Randy, go ahead. 

Randy: Yeah. So on, on this end, I, I. Honestly guys, for as long as I’ve been in the business, I don’t know, a time, I’ve been more excited about what’s happening in 2023. With the Intrepid Group, just yesterday we had kind of an ad hoc team meeting on some specific deliverables we wanted to address.

And ironically, some of it is what we’re talking about here today. We wanted to work on our [00:54:00] 15 second message to be able to. To convey value of our brand and how we do business with a potential client or potential seller in advance of the larger two minute version where we can talk more about the supporting detail, why those 15 seconds matter, if that makes sense.

So we’re working on our communication about how to distill down who we are, what we do, why we’re different into a very compressed dialogue that reflects our values and our deliverables. And that was probably about the most productive call we’ve had with the Intrepid team members literally in the last couple of years.

And we’re implementing some system-wide changes for efficiencies on the backend with a number of tools to make us just better, more responsive and better at what we do. And again, it all comes. Down to communication and who are we in delivering that in an effective way. The flip side of Intrepid Group is, of course, fatality, the new company.

And just as a reminder, it, like in one sentence, fatality is like a bridge between the brand promise and the brand perception among the guests [00:55:00] via conversation and not surveys. So it, it’s done verbally to understand what the guest is saying and how the brand is being pledged and kind of be that bridge between those to help the brand better understand guest expectations.

And that actually ties right back into the Intrepid group because anything we do with Ex Fatality for a client is potentially an intrepid customer. Any intrepid client or sale could translate back to ex Fatality. And we’ve got a number of great industry folks that have signed on and backed the Mission behind Ex Fatality.

That’s on our website. Hi Casey. You’re one of them. And so I’m just really excited. You know, it, it’s kind of like for a guy like me who’s been around a while, when you get to see a lot of dreams come to fruition with the best people in the world, I couldn’t ask for better people to work with.

Michelle with fatality. It’s fun to watch what she’s doing with her company, Intrepid with our team members. We’re just building on the things that are good to get better at what we do deliver better value. And it all comes back down to how[00:56:00] 

Brian: oh, right at the end he was gonna give his Cliff hang Emmy award-winning thing.

Go ahead, give us the thing. We need to decide if you get an Emmy or not. 

Randy: I don’t know where I lost you, but I work with great people and we’re doing good stuff. How’s that? 

Brian: That’s the whole theme of our conversation, right? It is hanging on the great people that you work with.

Casey:

Yeah. I guess another 2023 thing that I’m interested in, we saw a lot of, I saw a ton, we had a lot of new parks, like new park builds that signed on 2021 and 2023. And so there’s just a lot of campgrounds getting built. Right. And there was a lot of campgrounds that would’ve liked to have gotten built that couldn’t get built just because of construction and zoning and materials and things of that stuff.

Brian: New Years being out of stock. 

Casey: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I’m really interested to see this year for those that have either committed to [00:57:00] space, we’re thinking about a new build or those that are, you know, trying to wrap these up. Because there was a lot of new parks but I think there was a lot of new parks coming in with maybe a little bit of.

Expectations, basing numbers off of 2021 and you know, assuming, you know, certain occupancies from averages of reports, but it took 15 years to get that type of occupancy. You’re gonna make 

us have a three hour show. Look at Randy. He’s gonna go nuts. 

No, I know. I’m just teeing him up for next time. , anyways I think it’ll be interesting for 2023 to see new park development.

There’s gonna be a lot, I mean, I know of probably 75 or a hundred parks that, that we have that we’re anxiously waiting for them to, you know, cut the ribbon and open up. And I’ll be curious to see if 2023 is still gonna have a lot of new builds, right? Like, is that gonna be as relevant as as it was I think over the last couple years cuz there was a lot of new parks getting built.

Brian: [00:58:00] I think if you haven’t started in broken ground, I think there’s this significant number of people I’ve talked to at least who are. Canceling their development, but they’re saying, wait a minute, maybe we can get a little bit lower financing if we wait three months or six months, or whatever else. I’m not saying that’s across the board.

Just saying that’s an opinion based on some people I’ve talked to doesn’t absolutely impact everybody. But that may be something that we- 

Casey: Oh yeah, if cap rates change a little bit too, maybe it makes a little bit more sense to buy something that’s already there. You know, it’ll, I’m just interested to see we know the parks are gonna sell, right?

I mean, there’s gonna be, there’s still be a high amount of parks that are selling and change of ownership and we’ve seen a ridiculous amount of that. I’m just, yeah. I’m curious to see if the new park build you know, if that will kind continue. One thing that’s been really cool to see is the amount of expansions in current parks.

I think that’s been really cool to see. But even again, there, that could change based on, you know, a year’s number if I’m, you know, planning on adding 60 sites based on numbers from 2020 or 2021. [00:59:00] 2022 would be interesting to see if that, those, that expansion still makes sense. 

Brian: We’ve only got a couple seconds left, but Mark, did you answer the question 

Mark: I didn’t. So 2023 you’ll see two primary things. Number one, you’re gonna see a lot more virtual tours. We just hit 1000. We have 500 in the queue to go live here within the first three to four months the year. We’re gonna be bringing a lot of private parks online with the technology and then within the Facebook group itself, you’re gonna see more of an emphasis on education and information for all these new owners and these new builds and existing owners so they can better operate their parks.

Brian: I have a one good question. I don’t wanna overpromise for you, mark, but what is the name of the robot in Star Wars that has the ball that rolls around? It was in the new Star Wars movie. It not R two D two, but like the ball who can go through, I can’t remember the name of the rope. No idea. You know who I’m talking about though.

You can picture the orange thing in your head. 

Mark: No, I didn’t watch the latest Star Wars movie. 

Brian: Oh, I’m gonna have to Google it now. Anyway. Roll. I gotta Google it now. Rolling. Robot Star War. It’s a catchy name. Like I’m You got a BBB [01:00:00] eight. BBB eight. The robot. Okay. Anyway, he looks like, can I share my screen?

Let’s see. Can I share my screen? Chrome tab Rolling Robot, star Wars. Can you guys see that or do I have to come? No, we don’t see it. BBB eight right there. Okay. Okay, so BBB eight. I don’t wanna overpromise for you, mark, but I’d like a live 360 tour where I can remote control of BBB eight and roll ’em around the Campground and actually see what my site looks like today.

Mark: That would be cool. 

There’s camera equipment out there now that’s able to do lidar mapping of the, of a location and give you a three-dimensional space that you can actually just walk around in. 

Brian: That’s a good idea too. 

Mark: They’re like $80,000 and you know, you can’t get ’em wet right now, but, you know, all this stuff eventually comes down in size and price and complexity.

So yeah that’s where my eyes are. 

Brian: We’ve already discussed you can buy the robots, you can buy the drones to fly over. As long as you have a culture, you don’t even need to pay your employees. I feel like that’s what we took away from it. 

Maybe I missed [01:01:00] one. 

Well thank you guys. I appreciate you joining us for another episode of MC Fireside Chats.

So we’ll see you next week for a glamping special episode. And take care guys, we’ll see you.

Brian: Welcome everybody to another episode of MC Fireside Chats. My name’s Brian Searl with Insider Perks here with our amazing panel of open discussion guest, minus a couple who [00:01:00] apparently haven’t quite made it back into the normal routine after the holidays. We were super excited to have Mark Koep here from Campground Views.

Randy Hendrickson from the Intrepid Group and a bunch of other things, fatality, whatever, new Randy’s starting this week. I feel like the list continues to grow, but great guy. Super excited to have his knowledge here. And then of course, Casey Cochran from Camp Spott, VP of Business Development marketplace and software, all kinds of stuff going on over there too.

Gentlemen, how was your Christmas? Let’s just start there. Like, what did you guys do? What’d you get up to? Any fun? 

Mark: I actually took 10 days off, didn’t turn my computer on for 10 days straight. It’s the first time I’ve done that. I don’t even know how long, so I’m back. 

Brian: Let’s have a competition. I’m really competitive cuz it was 12 years for me before I took my first vacation.

Mark: Really? Yeah. No, it’s been less than 12 years, so Yeah. 

Brian: Yeah, I went away for like a day or something. Right. But before actually 

Mark: yeah, definitely. But like actually taking time off. Yeah. That was the first time I’ve done that in a very long time and it was refreshing. It was nice. And the only problem is [00:02:00] I came back to a load of emails and follow ups and all that type of stuff, but yeah, that’s the fear of any business owners taking, you know, many owners can relate to this.

You don’t get time off, like, what is that? You don’t get any to, you know, people are calling, people are coming in you know, in the end though, you need a break, you know? Yeah. 

Brian: Well, for sure you do. Yeah. I think that was my, like, unless, like I took a break, I don’t know what, a week before Christmas I came back, but I went to Europe for 12 days and did the whole Christmas market tour and stuff like that.

And I actually like that setup. Like, I like taking the vacation. I didn’t know it until I did it, but taking the vacation before Christmas, because during Christmas what I found out is nobody wants to talk to you. So you can actually put your head down and get work done instead of answering emails and Chats and questions and phone calls and stuff like that.

But the reason it took me 12 years to get there is for the same reason almost all other small business owners have, is that I didn’t have the staff to cover me while I was gone. 

Casey: . Yeah. So yeah, we did, I mean we decided this year just for the timing of it with Campspot and I think we’re at maybe, I don’t know, it’s right around like 125 or [00:03:00] so employees, something like that.

But we decided to give everyone that, that week off in between and that was very nerve wracking for us, except for support. We kept a minimal support team on. We knew we would need, there’d be some, but even that even in that timeframe you know, lessons learned probably like we probably need to have our full support staff on basically 24 7 right.

There. Just, there isn’t the ability for it to shut down cuz not all parks do. But even for our, the rest of the team and the staff having that week of, and I always go back and forth, like, is it better to like completely tap out or like, is it, do you keep like, just like a toe in.

And just so you can put out just some minimal flyers here and there, so you come back to nothing. And I did a pretty good job this year of I never, like, never get rid of my phone and I never not reply a little bit, but in this case I like really did disconnect. Nothing too crazy stayed in town, but it, it was great.

It was really refreshing. I think a lot of people [00:04:00] needed that too. I’m always jealous of the camp runner that we talked to. They’re like, like the week that their part closes, they’re like, you’re not gonna hear from me again for three months cuz I’m gonna be in Florida, talk to me again in February, talk to me again in March.

And I’m always like, gosh, you know. 

Brian: Honestly, like they deserve that though. 

I would not trade putting up with campers for four to six months to just have a couple off to do whatever. No, that’s not an equal trade. They’re bureau . 

Randy: I’m the Lone Ranger here. I decided to get some work done. 

Brian: I was working too, Randy, like, I just, I took my vacation 18th 

Randy: You know the truth of the matter is for the Intrepid group, everybody kind of shut down from our team and Riley. So it was a very busy year for everybody in at Intrepid Group. a lot of family time for the team members, which is absolutely fantastic.

It’s what it’s all about, especially this time of year concurrent with that because real estate [00:05:00] kind of slows down completely. You know, there’s kind of a blackout window from December 15th to January 10th it seems like. , whether real or imagine people kind of go away and shut down and rightly obviously.

So that gave Michelle Oliver and I some time with Fatality to get more of our launch ready to go for that company. And because there wasn’t a torrent of emails, it was actually pretty productive time. But the highlight of the holiday season for me was lots of time with the biggest star in my life.

My daughter who’s lots of family time, and that’s what that really is, what the season’s all about. So that was my number one highlight. Lots of time with my daughter cuz that’s where it all begins and ends for me. 

Brian: Family’s, I mean, super critical. I mean, I’m up here in Canada. I didn’t get to go back to the States to spend it with my family, but I spent it with my girlfriend’s family and over Christmas and stuff like that.

You know, wherever you can get it and, you know, take it, it’s all precious. But I agree. Like I agree with Casey. Just going back to your thing, cutting completely. I tried it both ways and I think what I found works for us is letting our [00:06:00] biggest, and I know it’s different with 2000 part work for Right, but letting our biggest clients know that we’re gonna be shutting down for a week and a half.

And most of ’em are like, well, we’re not gonna be in the office anyway, just like Randy said, right? The 15th through the 30th kinda thing. But if you set that expectation, set up auto responders, set up voicemails, then like, who’s gonna really, who’s gonna have the nerve to come yell at me and say, how dare you let your team have a week off after they work the hard?

Like, who’s gonna say that? I mean, there’s really nothing they can say that. 

Casey: Yeah, no, there’s, yeah, there’s, yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s, you whether they agree with it or not, as long as you can com communicate it right and say, Hey, this is, you know, this is what we’re doing.

And you know, and get as much done in anticipation of that as possible. We did a big push, you know, the last, really the last two and a half months. Kind of a little bit revolve on this, but not specifically, but just, Hey, get your rates in for next year. You know, don’t wait until you know the 31st to like, Hey, I wanna have my rates in for the first to go live [00:07:00] next year.

Like, get those in well ahead of time and time it out. That way you don’t have to go live necessarily. Then police have all that stuff in for next year. Cause it was wild, even in that week of reservations that you saw outside of a couple unique ones there, even from like a reservation standpoint, people weren’t booking as many things during that timeframe either.

Then as soon as like the first hit, it’s like floodgates opened up, you know, not granted, that can get skewed from a lot of the city and county parks where there’s these big, you know, they don’t have reservations for like three months and then of a sudden they turn those on and that can skew some of that.

But overall you just kind of saw that, you know, everyone kind of, and I think based on like the last couple years, I think more and more you’re gonna find people saying, justifying that time to be like, you know what? I’m unplugging I’m taking it off. Cuz everyone in the world at this point I think probably agrees that everyone needs it.

Brian: No, and that’s the thing. And they deserve it. Right? So it’s different. Like, and I told this to people I talked to today. It’s different for me. I’m the owner. I signed up to do it. Randy’s the owner, he [00:08:00] signed up to do it. Mark’s the owner, he signed up to do it. No offense, you’re the outlier here, Casey.

But you know, I mean in some ways you did because you’re an executive at the top, almost the top of the company, right? But for the rest of the people who are regular workers whose contributions are invaluable to the success of the company and the day-to-day, they didn’t sign up to work on Christmas or the extra hours that we work and so they deserve it.

Casey: Kudos to you guys. 

Mark: Well, and that, you know, leading that leads into the conversation for the owners. That’s the big thing that’s happened the last two years and us leading into this year, is finding people who are willing to work, number one, and the people that are willing to work, doing a good job. And so a lot of owners are facing that.

Looking into this next year is, you know, how do I do that? How do I find good qualified people who will actually dedicate themselves to working and, you know, really driving it forward. Randy, you’ve got a lot of experience with that. I mean, what’s your tips for people to actually find folks that are, that fit?

Both of those are willing to work and willing to doa good job working. 

Randy: . You know, it’s a great question mark, and [00:09:00] something I’m pretty passionate about. The, ultimately, I think if an employer is faced with a challenge of finding good people a great thing to do is look first to their culture and their company and how they express their values to their staff.

There’s a lot of reasons why people stay at a job or take on a job or leave a job. A lot of that has to do with, do I feel involved in the culture of the company? Do I have a voice? Is my voice being heard? If I have feedback for management, will they listen to that? And when you can look at your culture and really say, we want to empower our staff to make good decisions, give them the tools they need to succeed, encourage feedback.

Literally taking off the name tag and forgetting title and. and let’s all figure out how to make this business better and more involved for everybody. I think it’s when you kind of treat it as a mill of people come in, people come out and hire them at their replacement wage. That’s where you have the biggest disparity between quality of staff and just number of staff.

But you really kind of go [00:10:00] back and look at your culture with really open eyes and say, who are we? Would I want to work for me? What would I do differently to make my place better to work for? Often the company culture is gonna attract the best talent with the greatest longevity, and it’s really been proven in my case, decade after decade when you really are culture first and make sure the employers are valued as part of something that’s a living, breathing entity that increases your odds of finding great people exponentially over just wage or just benefit package.

Casey: Yeah. We’re just having that conversation today a little bit in a different tone, but. just about setting like expectations, right? Like just for someone understanding what is the reality of that day-to-day job, right? And you can paint, it’s I mean, it’s so easy to like paint this picture of like, what, you know, what the job is, but then what is the reality of it?

What is the day-to-day aspect, right? Of course, we’re always preaching and pushing like automation and doing as much of that to take some of that manual like labor that might not be necessary, that most people don’t necessarily enjoy doing anyways. You want to automate as [00:11:00] much of that as possible. But we’ve just found, you know, setting the expectation of what that is and the reality of that role from the jump and making sure that aligns with what that person’s, you know, either good at, wants to do or wants to be a part of.

Yeah. Is, yeah. We’re just having that conversation today. So it’s a funny topic. 

Brian: It’s. Go ahead. 

Randy: Yeah, 

It’s also interesting, I mean, there’s a number of studies I’ve read over the years that people don’t always stay with the company because of the company brand itself. They stay because of the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor.

And when you think about that, kind of makes a lot of sense, right? Because they’re not reporting to the brand every day, they’re reporting through immediate supervisor. So there’s also kind of a top down thing. I think the culture is paramount, absolutely paramount. Being honest and telling, like you said, Casey, just exactly what is this?

People want you to be honest with them, just straight up, honest with them about what it involves, what’s good, what’s bad. How we can help and whatnot, but there’s also training opportunity for mid-level [00:12:00] management of resort managers to make sure that they have those same skills to impart to their daily staff.

If you’re a multiple park owner, for example, that mission can get lost unless it’s being implemented every day at the property level by a really talented GM who can keep that same culture consistent throughout. That’s how peop, that’s the power of retention. It’s not always the brand itself, but where I go every day and who I report to do they reflect those same values that I hold dear.

To me it’s enormous training opportunities, especially in this day and time when employees are hard to find and guess. Satisfaction expectations are through the roof. To really go staff first, it all begins with staff and the culture you create for them. That translates to the guests. It’s just mono from heaven when you can do that well.

Brian:

Well, so here’s the interesting thing though, and we’re dancing around this subject a little bit, right? And we always do, when we ever talk, when, regardless of who’s in the room or who’s having the conversation about, This employment situation, because yes, we can say, and I agree with you a hundred percent, it ha it’s implemented at my company very heavily.

You know, the culture and the [00:13:00] interaction and all the things that Casey and Randy just talked about, because I believe in all that stuff. But I’m also a company that works for hundreds of campgrounds. Know, Casey’s a software company that works for 2000 campgrounds. If you scale it down to a mom and pop RV park in many cases, because of the demand and the drive to consistently lower prices and to make things cheaper, it becomes much, much harder for them to provide those extra benefits and extra wages that some of their competitors, and they have larger resorts or hotels or Walmart in the area can provide.

Yeah. And say, well, we can sit here and preach that stuff, but it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. 

Casey: I think what Randy hit on, I think is important, right? Because you can always, I mean this is, comes down to just. , any culture book you read or whatnot, like money matters in some capacity, right? At the end of the day, people need to make ends meet.

Yeah. And they need enough money to survive. And there’s that threshold of what that is now, what they’re willing to do for that amount or whatever the case is, you can dance around that. [00:14:00] But to me, I think there’s a, an opportunity for campgrounds, and I think we, we touched on this before, but where there’s opportunity or where there’s, you can utilize, and again, this isn’t too nice cuz every company does some capacity of this, but where there’s incentive that can take place.

To me, there is a, there isn’t an opportunity for Campground owners that may be struggling to hire because it’s like, Hey, I can’t pay someone $25 an hour right off the bat, or I can’t pay someone 80 grand a year right off the bat. I need to justify this. And then eventually, if they do really well, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But there’s so many things within, like, to your point, Brian, like the mom and pop Campground that maybe isn’t, you know, corporately ran or funded and things of that sort, or those dollars and cents that have to add up. , incentivizing the right work, the right behavior that also incentivizes and brings revenue to your park, to me is a real lever to pull on for owners because it’s crazy.

Like [00:15:00] it’s, we’re trying to run the data on this and I, I don’t have this here, but maybe get it, but like, the number of managers that actually make the decision on what technology they’re going to use is really high. Right? Like these owner, a lot of owners are giving the keys to this park in, in, in some capacity.

This is a software that we’re gonna choose, that we’re gonna use to run really everything at the park, right? I mean, it’s doing, it’s touching just about everything outside of obviously the culture in the, in what that, that park and that manager provides. So with that being said, with that much going on in there, to me there is an opportunity for parks to say, okay, I have the ability to incentivize the right behavior financially along with culture, right?

Along with the work environment, things of that sort. And to me, I mean, money in some capacity only speaks so far, but in order to attract or to get things to that point, I think there is an opportunity there. Whether you say, Hey, we’re gonna share a percentage of our lock site revenue.

We’re gonna [00:16:00] share a percentage of increased occupancy, we’re gonna share a percentage of add-on revenue. We’re gonna share a thing of firewood bundles. Like something there that says, Hey, this is what I can pay you now. But I want to give the ability for the right behavior. And if it’s gonna help the park overall, I want you to be a part of it.

Right. Not everyone can just say, Hey, I’m gonna make you an owner operator right off the bat. But you can do subtle things in between there that gets closer to that point as long as you’re incentivizing the right behavior. Right. And sure. I think there is some things toy around in there with. 

Brian: I mean, we did that at the beginning of our company when we were, you know, when we worked for, I mean, it was me for seven years, right?

But when we worked for a hundred campgrounds, like whatever the number was, five or six years ago, right? Like, we didn’t have the money that we have today. Because we hadn’t expanded into all the different services, and obviously we had 75% less sparks than we were, right? And so we had to hire people based on that.

We had to say like, listen I can pay you this much. I want pay you this much. We’ll get there because if you help me grow the company, I recognize the [00:17:00] ROI that you’re bringing me through your smile or your customer service. So the way you word your emails or all the things that you’re doing, the willingness to work an hour, even when I’m after overtime when I’m telling you don’t work, but you’re doing it anyway.

And so yeah it has to grow with those things. And certainly my argument is not that it can’t be done, my argument is that it’s not as quite as easy for those smaller RV parks to do it as, as somewhere else. The culture is. 

Mark: And the big thing there, Brian, is a lot of smaller parks have used traditionally and still many do use work campers, right?

. So in exchange for a site, and I think it’s been really well vetted for them. They know the risk they’re taking on. Now. It’s hugely risky if you’re a non-federal park to bring in work campers because you’re opening yourself up to labor and wage violations and all the stuff that goes with that.

And this current generation of campers are different than the ones before. The ones before, Hey, I had a retirement. I’m cool. I’ll do a trade of site. You’ve got folks now that, and I’m talking to these owners and they’re saying, yeah, they’re opening up the conversation with Yeah, work camp, but [00:18:00] what’s the salary gonna be?

Right? So they’re coming in with that mindset that they’re getting paid. It’s not an exchange of… 

Brian: But to be perfect guys, they should have that expectation. 

Mark: Is that fundamentally changes the math problem that the park is dealing with? Right? So traditionally it was just an exchange of site.

Now they’re looking at an expense line that’s. Salary and it changes the entire bottom line of the park. And you know, I’m agreeing with what you’d said originally, Brian, is that there is a challenge for, you know, parks usually that are under about a hundred sites, you know, a large portion of the mom and pop parks.

There’s that challenge of how do I get somebody qualified in here and pay them? And then Casey, what you’re alluding to, I love that solution, which is you’re offering ways for that employee to make more money by incentivizing them to sell more firewood or upsell or whatnot. And I’m, those are, that’s a good solution to this potential problem.

But, you know, I do know it’s a problem again this year for many park owners is finding qualified people to get in there. [00:19:00] 

Randy: Yeah. You there’s another couple of layers to this as well that I think are pretty important. I would submit to you this I think that whether you’re a small park or a large park, Culture is, doesn’t depend on the size of the park.

Culture depends on the size of the mission, it depends on the goals you have for your staff. For years I’ve preached to people just buying a park before you start throwing park models in there. Allocate some of that to staff retention, staff bonuses and retaining the best talent. If you’ve got a lot of shiny new park models in your park or tents or what have you, like that and your front desk staff keeps churning and there’s a new phase every day.

And if they’re higher, the lowest rep placement point on the wage scale. If you don’t have the best people and pay them, well, that’s an investment with an expected roi. Your payroll doesn’t have to be a sunken cost. It is an investment in the future of your business and then your different revenue stream.

I would argue start with staff first and then go amenitize your property. Cuz you can [00:20:00] have the best park models out there, but you can scare people away. But you know, even further to that, I think, so that, that’s 0.1. Culture transcends any size of any property. But what Casey was saying that there was a study I read not long ago that’s reasons why people stay at a job Wage was number five.

It was after culture of the company. Feeling involved, being part of decision processes. It’s not always about money. You can get paid more bucks at one place, but if they treat you like an automaton, a robot, you’re not gonna be happy. But if you show up and everybody’s happy to see you and your owner’s doing something that says, I appreciate you and I value you and here’s how I’m gonna demonstrate it to you.

The wage is really not gonna be that important of a thing. It’s gonna be important. It matters. Everybody has to live, but it won’t be the determining factor whether you stay or go. But one final point to what Casey said, which I absolutely love incentivizing all staff at, at all.

Brian: Oh, did we lose Randy? You guys still hear [00:21:00] me? Yes, I can still hear you. I think he’s making an excellent point and hopefully he comes back, but I think that’s kind of what, like, I agree with him. I don’t think that culture requires, you know, you to be a big business or, and I think you can certainly accomplish that at any size business, whether it’s an RV park or you know, a two person team or whatever else.

But the problem is that’s a lot to do with retention. You can say and talk about all the culture that you want, but it’s really the wage and the benefits that get ’em in the door. And they might stay for a lower wage if the culture exists. But it’s kind of, it’s not quite as black and white as it, yeah. 

Mark: And add in that, you know, there’s parks that are in very rural areas, right? So your potential employee pool is reduced, right? The amount of people that are willing to drive to your park and work there is reduced. And yeah. You that, that adds into it also. Yeah, 

Casey: I went, I did an exercise with my team this year.

That was, I’ve never done before, but I got, I felt like we got really good results from it and I make sure I prefaced it by saying, [00:22:00] I can’t guarantee to fix all this, but I want to be aware of it. And the exercise was, Hey, I wanna understand what your least favorite part of your job is. I want you to really think long and hard.

What is the least favorite thing that you do? When, you working for me specifically or working within camps? Spott. And I wanna identify it. I wanna understand, I want to know it and I want see if I can fix it, right? I wanna see if we can make it, make you do less of it, or if we can shed light on it and if there’s a solution there.

And again, you know, to this point, money matters, you know, but it, like, it definitely wasn’t like the number one thing, like my least favorite thing is the fact that I’m not getting paid enough. There was very specific things in those day-to-day activities that again, aren’t all fixable, right?

But it was interesting exercise cuz every single person that I had had said something a little bit different, but some of, there was some consistencies in there. And so then again kind of rallying [00:23:00] around that and saying, okay, is there something I can do to make whatever the least favorite part of your day-to-day is better?

I can’t promise that I can assure them, but I at least be aware of it. Right? And if I’m aware of it, maybe that can help us you know, get to a better spot or I can allocate less of your time doing that because someone else might do it. You know, we always equate it to something like cold calling in sales, right?

Certain people dread doing certain, like things like that. Certain people don’t, some people love it. Yeah. So it’s like, let’s figure that out. And let’s either allow you to do more of what you enjoy doing or less of what you don’t. And it was a good exercise. I was really happy with it.

I could see it equating at a park cuz if someone’s showing up every day and they don’t want to talk to people every single day, but they’re upfront doing the check-in stuff, it’s like, well, either let’s automate check-in to make that person’s life better or let’s get someone else greeting and let’s get you up to do it. 

Randy: You guys, just a couple quick more thoughts. Am I back now? ? Yes. Hotel wifi, my friends. Just a couple things to put a bow on what I was saying [00:24:00] earlier, Casey, to your point about incentivizing staff with some kind of remuneration for goals hit and whatnot like that, the interesting thing to me is, yes, that’s monetary, but isn’t it more than that, isn’t it?

isn’t that ownership or management saying it? It’s the fact that we want to do this that matters as much to the staff member as maybe that extra a hundred dollars bills. The fact they’re saying, we recognize achievement and want to compensate that, that, again, is really more culture than remuneration in my estimation.

The other thing I was gonna say is that, again, to your point, know, would I think one thing that we’ve done well over the years is when we retain somebody, is just what you said, Casey, what do you dislike and what do you best at? If somebody doesn’t really like guest interaction, but they’re better at something else, then you backfill around that.

But when you try to force somebody into something that they’re not great at, it’s doomed to failure. You know, there’s an old book, I forget the name of it right now, [00:25:00] but it says that the biggest thing you can do is not try to put in what’s been left out. You try to draw out what’s been left in.

So don’t make them who they’re not, play to who they are and make that valuable. There’s a thousand ways to do it, but it comes back to culture. Recognizing, listening and hearing who they are and recognizing they are the backbone of your business. You don’t exist, but for your staff. 

Brian: For sure you’re right.

There’s a thousand ways to do it. It just depends on do you want to tackle it? Do you care enough for your culture or for your business or for whatever the reason is that you personally, your opinion you should care about. Right? But one of the things that shocked me, like I just it has nothing to do with Camping, but we went to Europe and we, every restaurant we went into in Germany, every single waiter we had was a 50 plus year old man.

And I sat there and I said to my girlfriend, I was like, I can’t remember ever in the history of my life ever being weighted on by an elderly gentleman at a restaurant. Ever. Can anybody else, like, cuz I can’t. [00:26:00] But it’s totally different over there because their wages are different. The tip system is different.

The benefits are different, and I’m not suggesting that’s the way to go here, but it can be done a different way. 

Casey: I think understanding when and upon that hire, I think it’s always interesting because, you know, if you’re hiring someone that needs to be very fluid and flexible and they need to be, wear many hats, identifying someone that embraces that, enjoys that right up front.

I mean, we’ve gone through, I feel like multiple stages of that, even at Camp Spot and even other businesses that I’ve owned in the past was like, in the beginning it’s like, Hey, you’re gonna wear a lot of hats. You know, you’re gonna go to where the need is and if you enjoy that you’re gonna be able to really embrace this.

But then there gets to a certain point where you start to be like, well, now we need you to really hone in and define and own this space. And for a lot of people, that’s a scary transition, right? I don’t want to just do. Even though I’ve done really good at it and I’ve proven that’s why I’m getting [00:27:00] put to this position.

I don’t wanna just do this one thing all day. I like to embrace the change and things of that sort. And that’s always a unique thing too, because, you know, as someone comes in, maybe they’re doing a little bit of everything and then they do a good job with one thing. When you say, okay, I’m gonna have you only do this cuz you’re killing it, then they might be like, well no, I, I got Joey out of these 10 other things too.

Un you know, understanding that type of person is always a unique thing when hiring as well is, you know, do you like having a very defined role and knowing what your day-to-day is every day? I certainly don’t, but I know a lot of people do and you know, you wanna hire a role according to that, right?

Like that says, yeah, I like things very clear. You know, an exact job description. I’ll know exactly what I’m doing and I’ll do a good job at it. Or it’s like, hey, I like that gray area and I want to go to where there’s need and I wanna fill roles. I think that’s probably why a lot of people end up starting a business is cuz they go, there’s no way someone’s gonna tell me what to do each and every day. I’m gonna figure out what I’m gonna do with myself. But yeah, that is an interesting thing about hiring

Mark: Yeah, I was raising my hand too, [00:28:00] Brian that’s me also. You can’t . 

Announcement: Yeah. 

Mark: My team knows that. They’re like, darn it, mark, would you just do what you said you’re gonna do? I’m like, no, I’m gonna do three other things, 

Casey: Opportunity, man, opportunities there. It’s impossible to turn it off.

Brian: Anybody who knows me will tell you my organization is gone. Like, I’m not organized at all, so I’ll tell you I’m gonna do something, or I’ll sit down and I’ll do this for this week and I won’t get to it because 74,000 other emails will come in, or I’ll change my mind, or I’ll watch 300 AI videos over Christmas break and decide to learn that when I didn’t need to or whatever.

Right. And yeah, I, I like the ability to be flexible and change my mind, and as long as you’re taking care of what you need to take care. . 

Mark: RVIA released their their wholesale sales numbers today , and they’re down 50 per over 50% year over year. But something that was interestingly pointed out by some owners in the Facebook group is that Class B shipments are [00:29:00] actually up year over year.

So all other segments are way down and Class Bs are up. But it was interesting that data point in my mind, it kind of dovetailed to the other, like big news that happened over the holiday break that kind of got mixed up in the holiday break, which was China completely eliminating all their covid restrictions.

You could, and if you’re Chinese, you can travel anywhere. And the big data point that I saw in that was travel and tourism specifically, that all the tourism operator. Holy smokes. You’ve got all these Chinese now that are looking to travel. And so in my mind, you know, I’m dovetailing that off of this drop in RV sales, how’s that affect us this year?

And all of a sudden we’ve got this massive international market that, and one of the countries that they named as they wanted to go to was the United States. And obviously that draws into the national parks is a big draw for a lot of Chinese tourists and so forth. So those two data points just it goes to this idea that just because RV sales are dropping we’re in the same industry, but we’re a completely different vertical within that industry being the campgrounds and [00:30:00] RV parks.

And how does that look this next year? And so I was kind of throw the question at Casey and Randy’s Casey first you said your bookings, you saw a bump after January 1st At Campground we see the same thing. It’s downhill to December 31st, then immediately back uphill through August. And we’re seeing, we’re already seeing that data right now showing, you know, are you seeing an increase in international bookings and have you, are you measuring that at all. 

Casey: Yeah, I haven’t dove in specifically since the beginning of the year on the international. It’s a really interesting point. I mean, I’d be be curious to see like if there’s any type of general metric that can tell that. That’s always interesting to me because again, I mean I don’t know if that’s gonna open up more, you would assume potentially more rentals.

Right. So I mean I still think, like, to your point, let’s say RV sale, let’s say they are down. Is that reason for parks to, to worry? No, in my mind I would still say no because there’s a couple different reasons. At a very basic level, whenever I drive, like across the country in some capacity are just driving in general, [00:31:00] the amount of RVs and trailers that I see parked at someone’s house, it’s like mind blowing at some point.

I’m like, where are all these, where are all these going? Cuz it’s like in some cities and counties and places you’re going through, there’s like sometimes more than one in every single driveway or like parked in their yard and I’m like, there’s so many of these things everywhere. Like where are they all coming from?

So at some point someone’s gonna use them. So even if there is this influx of international travel, you’re assuming the rental aspect of things is going would go up. And with that you would assume places to stay you know, are gonna are gonna go up too, right? I mean, so yeah. I’m not too worried about the, I mean, I would, if I was a dealer, right?

If I’m an RV dealer, I would probably be worrying a little bit. But as far as like a Campground, just the volume of trailers that are out there are so excessive. 

Brian: Yeah, I know you didn’t call on me, mark, but we did have this conversation actually on the December 21st show with Philia who was on here for RV d a, just very [00:32:00] briefly.

Okay. And he said, you know, that yes, RV sales are down, but what they’re really doing is normalizing from 2019 over pre pandemic. Right. And maybe that’s a buzzword, maybe it’s not. I tend to believe him based on the numbers that I’m looking at. Cause you can see they’re up still over 2019, even though they’re down 50% now.

But he did say, you know, regardless of RV sales dropping, there are 2 million new RVs on the road. Right? Yep. Those are gonna. So RV sales, I don’t think is indicative of anything that’s gonna happen in 2023, I think. But not RV sale. 

Randy: RV sales have never been indicative of the Camping industry. It’s indicative of the RV manufacturer industry, but not the Camping industry.

There’s a big boom in sales, obviously post covid with everybody coming back out of their caves and whatnot. But I mean, let’s face it, if you bought an RV a couple years ago, do you have to buy one this year? It’s gonna last you a few years. So you’re not buying one this year, right? Cause you already did it the year before, but now you’re Camping does just, you didn’t buy one.

I think the more interesting macro trend within the data, [00:33:00] however, is as Mark pointed out, class Bs and truck campers and park models. up. Now park models are quite different. They’re an accommodation versus an RV, but they’re called an RV. So they’re tracked as RV sales. You see that number going up because people are buying those for accom, for accommodations as they do more of the experiential hospitality dispersed hotel model type of thing.

But I think that the bigger thing to look at is the class a’s the, you know, the travel trailers and whatnot that’s down and there’s a reason for that. Class Bs, who’s buying a class B? A class B is gonna be the younger generation. It’s gonna be a Gen X, Y, Z, whatever you want to call it. But that’s a trend in travel period.

So it’s not as big. It’s easier to maneuver. It gets the more places, more of the off-road type of thing. Right. The overlanding type of thing. Getting to more remote destinations, you don’t want a 40 foot class A to do that. You wanna be mobile, you won’t be able to park it in a hotel parking lot if you want to.

So it makes sense that Class Bs and truck campers have just been kind of through the roof. So on a on, on a number of [00:34:00] sales volume, There’s still quite a bit behind the other categories, but as a percentage, that’s the trend line I’m looking at. It’s going to remain that way in my estimation. Class BS and truck campers will continue to dominate this sort of a trend line because of demographic changes of purchaser changes of consumer behavior changes.

It all speaks to something that the industry should pay very close attention 

Brian: And disposable income that they have too. 

Randy: Oh no. Some Class Bs are right up there with some of the big, with some of the big boys too because you can hundred grand on a Class B.

But it, that again speaks more to, if you get a $170,000 Sprinter van, Mercedes Sprinter van versus 170,000 thousand dollars, 40 foot travel trailer, they’re going to buy the Sprinter van. So at that economic price point being neutral, they’re choosing a different type of vehicle. That’s something to watch.

Brian: They’re going Camping, right. And sorry [00:35:00] Casey, but that impacts where they’re going, Camping, because they can take that van, as we talked about to BLM land and state parks, much easier than they can to the larger IRV Resorts. Not saying, we’ll, they can’t, 

Mark: and hotels as Randy noted, right. They can. Yes. So the idea behind a Class B is that flexibility you have to either camp or stay in a hotel or use it as a portable toilet, right?

I can make some food on the road as I’m driving somewhere or whatnot, or taking it to soccer games or whatnot. 

Brian: Guys from Tesla about how you can pop it up and use it. Yeah. So continue. Sorry. 

Randy: Yeah. So consumer preference is consumer behavior. It’s not a trend. It’s not even so much about economics.

It’s what does the industry look like going forward? And we’re seeing it, we’re seeing it prove out numerous articles, num, numerous data points just the sales themselves. That is the way the industry is going. And I really think it’s ostrich syndrome, putting the head in the sand to think it’s otherwise Class Bs.

Look for ’em. I mean, that, that’s just what’s coming and it’s gonna keep coming. 

Brian: And I’m sorry, mark, I didn’t mean to cut you off if you had something else to say. ? 

Mark: No, I think I’m good. Casey’s the one that’s been sitting here waiting to 

Casey: . I was gonna say, [00:36:00] I mean, I’ve always been a pretty positive outlook on everything, like Camping wise, right?

There’s been a bunch of stuff, economy, things of that sort, slowdown of RVs, blah, blah, blah. I mean, to me, maybe the only thing to tentatively keep an eye on with the economy and work is that it’s still pretty common for many companies to basically got forced into remote work. And I think a trend to potentially keep an eye on is if that starts to shift, right?

Like if more and more the larger employees are gonna start regulating people coming back to an office. I think it’s pretty farfetched to some extent but you certainly could, right? If these big companies are realizing that productivity is simply better if they have them in our office, they’re gonna realize that and they’re gonna regulate it, right?

Even if it comes with some of the shortcomings of it. Now, I think all of us would agree that we’re big components of remote work. But if that was to change then I think you could maybe see, okay, this could affect our midweek stays even, you know, further, because [00:37:00] there’s not as many people that are able to do kind of that flexible workspace.

I think we’re a ways off from that, but that could be something I could see in 2023. If you see some of your bigger companies really regulating that back, probably there’ll be some sort of trip trickle down effect. Could that affect maybe some midweek stays? You know, potentially then? 

Brian: That’s for sure gonna happen and I’ll go out on a limb and say that, I’m not saying it’s gonna be 2023, but what’s gonna happen is the labor market will stop having so many job openings and then as the recession continues or starts, or however you want to say it is right now, I expect it to get worse in 2023.

Then as the, it becomes not more of an employee friendly market and an employer friendly market, then they’re gonna have the ability, not saying all them will, but a lot of them will have the ability to say like, oh, well we’ve always wanted you to work in the office. Now we can and we not have to worry about you quitting as much.

Yeah. 

Casey: Yeah. It’s hard to hire like, and regulate an office. I mean, unless yeah, unless you’re stuck with that throughout. [00:38:00] You know, we’ve pulled all of our whole employee in base two and it’s it’s tough to kind of go to that remote option and then regulate it back. Look, it’s a scary position for an employer to basically, you know, say, Hey, we’re gonna go to this route cuz we know it’s better productive, we know we get more da.

Yeah. It’ll be interesting. 

Brian: That goes to your culture too, right? Campspots culture and Intrepid group’s culture. Campground views culture inside of Perks culture because if you have good culture and you create a situation where you value your employees, then your employees will be willing to work for you just as much at home as they are in the office.

Cuz they care. 

Yeah. 

So why Musk is pissed off? . Oh, can I say, sorry, I don’t know if we’re censored on. 

Randy: It’s your buddy . 

Mark: Get the Facebook group flag now. 

Brian: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is what it is. He can’t get his people to work for him because he is not a nice boss, at least on the surface, based on what we hear in the [00:39:00] media.

Right. Obviously, I don’t know the man personally, but I feel like somebody would step up to his defense if it wasn’t true. 

Casey: You’ve officially been banned from Twitter,

Randy: He really cares. You know, there’s some other stuff I think you know, for 2023, just kind of looking down the road and gauging by. Very recent trends. I mean, as we all know, the industry changes in Morse by the day, right? I mean, what used to be a one year forecast becomes, what’s it look like by five o’clock?

I mean, literally . 

Mark: three day management plan. Randy, that’s my whole mantra now, 

Randy: right above brother, I’m right there with you. I’m right there with you. Sometimes it’s a three hour business plan, right? But there are some macro trends that I’m really paying a lot of attention to. One, I think is is collaboration.

There’s actually three Cs, I think, collaboration, community and communication. So on the collaboration front, I think there’s gonna be continued more trend of businesses that formally thought of themselves as competitors [00:40:00] collaborating and realizing their strength in numbers and their strength in coming together to provide even better services for more people.

And there’s always gonna be a new company starting up, but I think collaboration is certainly kind of in the spirit of what’s been happening. We’ll continue and not under the bus here, Casey, but I think you could certainly speak to that. Col community aspects. Th This is not a shameless plug, but at fatality, Michelle, Oliver and I are really focused on community.

Because when you think of experiential hospitality and somebody goes to a property, it’s not just about what they’re going, what, where they’re gonna stay. It’s about what they’re gonna do within that community. I think properties, reaching out to local, cooperating businesses to build a sense of community, so you’re not just staying at one place, you’re staying with several businesses.

You just happen to be…

Brian: oh, we lost Randy again to the hotel wifi. Can I just slide this in here? What, before he comes back and say like, I love his, this is not a plug for anything, but here’s exactly what I’m gonna talk about and why you should pay att. Oh, sorry, Randy. You’re back. I didn’t say anything. You [00:41:00] didn’t hear. 

Randy: Hampton Inn Brothers 

Brian: now, go ahead. 

 

Randy: I’ll try to talk fast before I lose my signal again. But you know, community is really huge and we’ve talked about it many times before selling the zip code, right? So you’ve got this property and people are staying with you, but. That’s not the beat all, end all. It’s not the end destination.

What is there to see and do? How can they interact? Where are the walking trails? Where are the golf courses? Where’s the best restaurant? Where are the museums? The more you can act as a concierge and package the entire zip code for your guests, that is what experiential hospitality is all about.

Hoteliers are doing that. The Campground industry is doing that. I think you’re gonna see a lot more of that because people want to belong to community. It’s not everybody wants to get off the grid, sometimes not saying that isn’t the case, but community or belonging with like-minded people and like-minded businesses is becoming more and more important.

So I think you’ll see a lot more properties reaching out to engage local community businesses as part of what they do to provide a great experience for their people. And I think [00:42:00] communication is the other the third C in that whole thing. And that’s really that’s communicating your culture to your staff.

That’s communicating your value effectively to your guests and being honest about who you are and who you’re not, and not over promising what you are as a property. Truth telling. People just wanna know what’s up. They just wanna know what the deal is, telling the truth about your brand and what you are, and making sure the guest is experiencing what that brand promise is.

So those are my three Cs. I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon. It’s not a paradigm shift either. It’s a continuation of a logical flow, the way the industry is progressing, in my opinion. 

Mark: Makes sense. It makes, you know, the last one, the that’s the most challenging thing for especially private park operators is the understanding that their guests want the truth about their property.

And so that, that’s like the big battle on our end. Right. Obviously, our technology shows it for what it is. Right. And that’s the, actually, the biggest battle we get was, I don’t wanna show people what my place looks like. Well, they’re gonna [00:43:00] find out when they get there. Right. And you know, being able to communicate exactly what they’re getting into and what they’re gonna go do.

I completely agree with you on the marketing stand. Randy, the best way to get guests in your park is to be honest with them, show ’em what they’re gonna get, and then share ideas about what they can do around the park. They don’t necessarily need to take it and do it, but just knowing that’s available to them is key.

I mean, it’s like, I, we traveled for 12 years as full-time, our viewers, I always got a chuckle out of it, and it was it’s true across the country. We’d go into an area and I would ask somebody, Hey, what’s a cool thing to do around here? They had no idea, or, you know, there’s a really unique spot nearby.

I’m like, Hey, have you ever been to that? No, I’ve lived here for 10 years. I’ve never been there. Right. It, but the availability of it is what they kind of adhere to is like, I could go do that cause it’s right here, but they never do. You know, same thing for an RV park. If you can show ’em what they’re gonna get so that they can make a logical decision about where they’re gonna stay, and then ex express and share ideas of what they can go do in the area, you’re gonna get more [00:44:00] people in your park.

Yeah. 

Casey: Well, you’re talking, I mean, you’re talking about just basically identifying your park, right? If you’re a resort, then you don’t want them to leave, right? You’re the amenities, right? You want them there all day and you want them spending their time and their money at that resort, right?

You’re bringing them in for that purpose. If you don’t have all those amenities, you don’t have all those things, well, what are the experiences outside of there? Because this is a place, whether it’s a clean bathroom, it’s a place to sleep, or it’s a place for peace and quiet until you go out and experience all these other things.

So again, embracing where you are what is the surrounding, what your park has or what you want it to have. Does it make sense to have a, you know, a fully amenitized park in the middle of, you know, a highly amenitized city, right? I don’t know. It could, but again, understanding that as far as what their you know, what your surroundings offer, I think is obviously very relevant to what type of park you’re gonna promote it being.

Randy: Absolutely. It’s so essential. Casey, I’m a big believer in that whole thing. And you [00:45:00] know, also the, just the truth of your brand or your, when you say on your website that you’re this, and this, back to the truth telling thing, if your guests show up and they don’t experience what you’ve said, you are, you’re in bad, you’re in bad trouble.

Yeah, you’re in really bad trouble, so you can’t say you’re this unbridled erase oasis where you’ll become 30 years younger, a better dancer and independently wealthy. That’s kind of a bad idea for your website. If you say it’s very quiet. We don’t have a lot, but the city sure does. To your point, Casey, you’re still selling an experience.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Be honest. Tell ’em what they are and make sure that you’re listening to what your guests say that you say you. 

Mark: And to add on that, and Brian able to jump in this sausage from the digital marketing standpoint, one of the biggest things I’ve noticed and what we’ve been seeing with our clientele is a shortening of the attention span of consumers.

Like, you know, the U2 shorts, the tos, the Facebook shorts have, just like people are now watching two second [00:46:00] videos, right? So like that attention span has gotten really short. So your ability to communicate to them about who you are and what you are is getting very small. Like it’s a logo now, right?

That’s the messaging. What do you see, Brian, what are your thoughts 

Brian: there? 

 I’m gonna totally disagree with you. So I agree with you that the attention span in some cases, by measurable data is getting smaller. But I think that’s because the content people are consuming sucks. And that’s what they’re putting out.

There are people who will sit there and watch 13 hours of Queens gambit on Netflix straight through the attention span is there. You just have to create things that actually matter to them that they wanna watch. Good point. And whether that’s content with social media, whether that’s tweets or whether that’s videos, or whether that’s 360 tours from Campground views or whatever.

It’s an experience like Randy does a good software system that they can make a reservation on. You just have to hold their attention. The attention’s still there. 

Mark: That’s a really good point, Brian. I, that’s a real, I haven’t heard that point made. That’s a really good point because we did a test with a influencer who had, they mil, they put out a video RV related on [00:47:00] TikTok and get a million, million and a half views, and they wanted $10,000 for one promotional post in one of those little videos.

And we started doing an engagement analysis of what type of engagement to get, and 90% of the comments on their video were, why am I looking at this? What’s this about? Who are you, what am I seeing this for? Right. To your point, people are just swiping on TikTok, you know, the next video and the quality’s not there. So you might have views, you don’t have engagement. 

Brian: Yeah. Right. So that’s all, it’s all, it’s always been and will forever be about attention, period. Getting someone’s attention and holding that attention, that’s the most valuable thing you can possibly have, whether it’s through photos or your website or your tweets or your interaction or your customer service, or how you treat people or how you treat your employees and what their attention is toward you.

The gold standard of everything is attention, and that’s what marketing has always been and will forever be. 

Randy: Just, well, attention is content and content has to be engaging like we’re all saying here. But, you know, there’s a, the, and Brian, you and I have talked about this before, is that it’s the [00:48:00] funny stuff about numbers, I mean, if I had 10,000 followers for ex fatality for example, and they were all just drive-bys than what have I really done?

I’d rather have 15 engaged clients who valued the service than a hundred thousand people that say, oh, I saw that, you know, content drives. That’s what drives your revenue. Engaged people not masses of numbers, but who’s. Consuming your services . 

Brian: Ultimately revenue. And we’ve said this for years to clients.

I don’t care if you have a million followers on Facebook, if nobody’s clicking book now to reserve on Campspot or whatever else, right? Who cares, right? I don’t care. 

Casey: I would tend to agree a little bit more. I mean, I agree with both. Mean, I was in the mark corner in the sense of like, attention is so quick if you can grab someone’s attention, right?

I mean to, to your point, Brian, Netflix, right? They throw out a teaser that automatically plays for 10 or 15 seconds and you hope that [00:49:00] draws in to, to commit to that 13 hours. But there was a study, I read some article on this at some point. I probably read it for 15 seconds if I’m going into what we’re talking about.

But cause the idea of how many ti, how many people actually go to Netflix and never actually watch. They just scroll through content, but they never commit to any of them. So like, Hey, I got an hour to relax and sit down. And you spend 45 minutes of that just searching through. 

Brian: I do that when I have a chance to sit down and watch tv.

My girlfriend does that. I actually bought my girlfriend. There’s this thing on Uncommon Goods if you wanna go look it up. It’s a little dice thing where you can spin, like roll three dices and decide what category of movie you’re watching you know, whether it’s a comedy or whatever else. Yeah. They sell something like that.

It’s like 10 bucks at Uncommon Goods. Shameless production. Yep. But you’re 

Casey: not the getting the commitment. Right. You can get, you know, the flash the quick. 

Brian: But that’s the thing is Netflix still has their attention and so whether it’s an ad supported platform or they’re paying the monthly fee, [00:50:00] or they put a banner ad there, they still have the attention and they can still use it and monetize it.

Mark: Looking at 2023, Brian what’s coming down the pike from Modern Campground? What are you working on 

Brian: From Modern Campground? Yeah. I don’t know. Like I got lost in starting three new businesses in 2023 over the Christmas break. , I did, I’m sorry. I did I can’t tell you anything about it, but there anyway I don’t know, modern, like Modern Campground, we’re still plugging we’re using, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, you know, before the show started.

Like we’re using a lot of the artificial intelligence tools to make us more efficient. Casey touched on that with automations and things like that, that allows some of our team to, you know, I don’t necessarily need 40 writers like the New York Times as, or whatever they have anymore. Obviously we’re not putting out the same level of quality of content that the New York Times is.

I’m not comparing myself to them, but I want to hire the best people. I want to have who I need. I don’t want to cut staff because I’m automating, but I wanna let the staff I have, [00:51:00] do the things they love to do. Which makes them happier. They produce better content. It’s a full circle thing with culture and everything else.

So just focused on that, saving some people time, some stress and being able to do more things with less resources from Modern. Campground specifically. 

Mark: Casey, what’s Camp Spot got for 2023? 

Casey: Yeah, we still got, I mean, we still got a lot on our plate. You know, just I think this year when I was talking with a couple people at trade shows, I mean, for us this year, I mean, we’re still gonna grow, but I think there’s gonna, we’re a lot bigger attention this year to kind of focus on our the core group that, that we have.

We’ve operated a big part of our development on kind of what we need in order to get right. Like we, we’ve operated a lot within that and we learned a lot this year. You know, just the volume of parks is saying, let’s get the parks that we have now. Let’s get those subtle things right. Like for us, it’s always been really intriguing for us to build kind of like the next biggie [00:52:00] big flashy feature.

Something that’s gonna, you know, truly impact either the industry or impact revenue in some capacities. And we still want to allocate, but a majority of our resources have always kind of gone majority going to that. But then there’s also this concept of just, we call it simplifying the basics, right? What are those subtle day-to-day things that we could tweak and change that take sometimes take an excessive amount of development to just do the smallest little tweak, but it makes a big impact on 2100 campgrounds.

And we’re at a point, I think, this year where we’ve decided, as a, as an LT team we’re gonna, it’s not necessarily taking a step back. It’s essentially we’re gonna, we’re gonna start a dr, we’re gonna allocate resources to address those things. We’re gonna, we want to focus on simplifying, which isn’t fun and flashy to talk about.

It’s really boring to talk about in, in terms of like, Hey, this is the next big thing coming, as opposed to like, yeah. Our Airbnb integration’s gonna wrap up in a week. And this integration, the MailChimp got this. So we’re focused on integrations, but we have a big focus this year on simplifying the basics, [00:53:00] right?

We have enough clients that deserve that now to say, Hey, some of these day-to-day things that, that we have and we need we want to see those. And that’s when we’ve done all the polling and all the surveying. It’s like, Hey, love this, love that we’re making, this love we’re doing this.

Would love if you could just, know, do this subtle thing. And so this is the year of us basically compiling all that, lining it up as far as on volume and addressing them. So it’s not the fun flashy thing that, that I usually like to talk about, but I think it’s necessary to, 

Brian: yeah, necessary is what’s necessary.

I mean, I feel like I was probably gonna say something that seemed more smart, but I lost track of thought. Randy, go ahead. 

Randy: Yeah. So on, on this end, I, I. Honestly guys, for as long as I’ve been in the business, I don’t know, a time, I’ve been more excited about what’s happening in 2023. With the Intrepid Group, just yesterday we had kind of an ad hoc team meeting on some specific deliverables we wanted to address.

And ironically, some of it is what we’re talking about here today. We wanted to work on our [00:54:00] 15 second message to be able to. To convey value of our brand and how we do business with a potential client or potential seller in advance of the larger two minute version where we can talk more about the supporting detail, why those 15 seconds matter, if that makes sense.

So we’re working on our communication about how to distill down who we are, what we do, why we’re different into a very compressed dialogue that reflects our values and our deliverables. And that was probably about the most productive call we’ve had with the Intrepid team members literally in the last couple of years.

And we’re implementing some system-wide changes for efficiencies on the backend with a number of tools to make us just better, more responsive and better at what we do. And again, it all comes. Down to communication and who are we in delivering that in an effective way. The flip side of Intrepid Group is, of course, fatality, the new company.

And just as a reminder, it, like in one sentence, fatality is like a bridge between the brand promise and the brand perception among the guests [00:55:00] via conversation and not surveys. So it, it’s done verbally to understand what the guest is saying and how the brand is being pledged and kind of be that bridge between those to help the brand better understand guest expectations.

And that actually ties right back into the Intrepid group because anything we do with Ex Fatality for a client is potentially an intrepid customer. Any intrepid client or sale could translate back to ex Fatality. And we’ve got a number of great industry folks that have signed on and backed the Mission behind Ex Fatality.

That’s on our website. Hi Casey. You’re one of them. And so I’m just really excited. You know, it, it’s kind of like for a guy like me who’s been around a while, when you get to see a lot of dreams come to fruition with the best people in the world, I couldn’t ask for better people to work with.

Michelle with fatality. It’s fun to watch what she’s doing with her company, Intrepid with our team members. We’re just building on the things that are good to get better at what we do deliver better value. And it all comes back down to how[00:56:00] 

Brian: oh, right at the end he was gonna give his Cliff hang Emmy award-winning thing.

Go ahead, give us the thing. We need to decide if you get an Emmy or not. 

Randy: I don’t know where I lost you, but I work with great people and we’re doing good stuff. How’s that? 

Brian: That’s the whole theme of our conversation, right? It is hanging on the great people that you work with.

Casey:

Yeah. I guess another 2023 thing that I’m interested in, we saw a lot of, I saw a ton, we had a lot of new parks, like new park builds that signed on 2021 and 2023. And so there’s just a lot of campgrounds getting built. Right. And there was a lot of campgrounds that would’ve liked to have gotten built that couldn’t get built just because of construction and zoning and materials and things of that stuff.

Brian: New Years being out of stock. 

Casey: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I’m really interested to see this year for those that have either committed to [00:57:00] space, we’re thinking about a new build or those that are, you know, trying to wrap these up. Because there was a lot of new parks but I think there was a lot of new parks coming in with maybe a little bit of.

Expectations, basing numbers off of 2021 and you know, assuming, you know, certain occupancies from averages of reports, but it took 15 years to get that type of occupancy. You’re gonna make 

us have a three hour show. Look at Randy. He’s gonna go nuts. 

No, I know. I’m just teeing him up for next time. , anyways I think it’ll be interesting for 2023 to see new park development.

There’s gonna be a lot, I mean, I know of probably 75 or a hundred parks that, that we have that we’re anxiously waiting for them to, you know, cut the ribbon and open up. And I’ll be curious to see if 2023 is still gonna have a lot of new builds, right? Like, is that gonna be as relevant as as it was I think over the last couple years cuz there was a lot of new parks getting built.

Brian: [00:58:00] I think if you haven’t started in broken ground, I think there’s this significant number of people I’ve talked to at least who are. Canceling their development, but they’re saying, wait a minute, maybe we can get a little bit lower financing if we wait three months or six months, or whatever else. I’m not saying that’s across the board.

Just saying that’s an opinion based on some people I’ve talked to doesn’t absolutely impact everybody. But that may be something that we- 

Casey: Oh yeah, if cap rates change a little bit too, maybe it makes a little bit more sense to buy something that’s already there. You know, it’ll, I’m just interested to see we know the parks are gonna sell, right?

I mean, there’s gonna be, there’s still be a high amount of parks that are selling and change of ownership and we’ve seen a ridiculous amount of that. I’m just, yeah. I’m curious to see if the new park build you know, if that will kind continue. One thing that’s been really cool to see is the amount of expansions in current parks.

I think that’s been really cool to see. But even again, there, that could change based on, you know, a year’s number if I’m, you know, planning on adding 60 sites based on numbers from 2020 or 2021. [00:59:00] 2022 would be interesting to see if that, those, that expansion still makes sense. 

Brian: We’ve only got a couple seconds left, but Mark, did you answer the question 

Mark: I didn’t. So 2023 you’ll see two primary things. Number one, you’re gonna see a lot more virtual tours. We just hit 1000. We have 500 in the queue to go live here within the first three to four months the year. We’re gonna be bringing a lot of private parks online with the technology and then within the Facebook group itself, you’re gonna see more of an emphasis on education and information for all these new owners and these new builds and existing owners so they can better operate their parks.

Brian: I have a one good question. I don’t wanna overpromise for you, mark, but what is the name of the robot in Star Wars that has the ball that rolls around? It was in the new Star Wars movie. It not R two D two, but like the ball who can go through, I can’t remember the name of the rope. No idea. You know who I’m talking about though.

You can picture the orange thing in your head. 

Mark: No, I didn’t watch the latest Star Wars movie. 

Brian: Oh, I’m gonna have to Google it now. Anyway. Roll. I gotta Google it now. Rolling. Robot Star War. It’s a catchy name. Like I’m You got a BBB [01:00:00] eight. BBB eight. The robot. Okay. Anyway, he looks like, can I share my screen?

Let’s see. Can I share my screen? Chrome tab Rolling Robot, star Wars. Can you guys see that or do I have to come? No, we don’t see it. BBB eight right there. Okay. Okay, so BBB eight. I don’t wanna overpromise for you, mark, but I’d like a live 360 tour where I can remote control of BBB eight and roll ’em around the Campground and actually see what my site looks like today.

Mark: That would be cool. 

There’s camera equipment out there now that’s able to do lidar mapping of the, of a location and give you a three-dimensional space that you can actually just walk around in. 

Brian: That’s a good idea too. 

Mark: They’re like $80,000 and you know, you can’t get ’em wet right now, but, you know, all this stuff eventually comes down in size and price and complexity.

So yeah that’s where my eyes are. 

Brian: We’ve already discussed you can buy the robots, you can buy the drones to fly over. As long as you have a culture, you don’t even need to pay your employees. I feel like that’s what we took away from it. 

Maybe I missed [01:01:00] one. 

Well thank you guys. I appreciate you joining us for another episode of MC Fireside Chats.

So we’ll see you next week for a glamping special episode. And take care guys, we’ll see you.

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