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Small Towns, Big Experiences: Enriching Campgrounds with Local Culture

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For the May 2024 version of the MC Hospitality Highlights report, we’re focusing on the burgeoning trend of experiential travel, specifically examining how campgrounds can benefit from integrating local cultures and small-town visits into their offerings. This report collates both quantitative and qualitative data, including a survey from Cairn Consulting Group and numerous interviews across the U.S. and Canada, to provide actionable insights for campground operators. It emphasizes the growing desire among guests to immerse themselves in authentic local experiences during their stays.

The benefits of embracing local cultural experiences are manifold. Campgrounds offering these experiences can enhance guest satisfaction by providing a deeper, more authentic engagement with the local area, which distinguishes them from competitors. Such offerings also increase the likelihood of longer stays and repeat visits, boost the campground’s reputation, and support the local economy. Additionally, they contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and provide a platform for meaningful community interaction.

The types of cultural experiences that guests seek include food and culinary events, arts and crafts fairs, and historical tours, among others. These activities cater to a diverse demographic, although they are particularly popular with older generations and those combining work with travel. By aligning with these preferences, campgrounds can tailor their offerings to meet the specific desires of their guests, thereby enhancing the overall experience and deepening guests’ connection with the locale.

The report outlines a variety of specific cultural immersion experiences that campgrounds could offer, such as local music events, volunteering opportunities, and engaging with local artisans. These activities not only enrich the guest experience but also foster a genuine appreciation and understanding of local traditions and community life, further embedding the campground into the fabric of the local area.


Key Insights:

  • Providing opportunities for guests to engage with local culture significantly enhances their satisfaction, making their visits more memorable. 
  • 68% of guests who are likely to seek out experiences that include visits to small towns and immersing themselves in local culture are women, and 58% are couples traveling without children.
  • Offering unique cultural immersion experiences helps campgrounds stand out from competitors, attracting guests who seek enriching experiences beyond standard lodging.
  • Campgrounds that facilitate cultural immersion contribute to the local economy and cultural preservation, helping sustain local businesses and artisans. Such efforts resonate particularly well with households earning under $75,000, comprising 60% of this guest segment.
  • Guests engaged in cultural activities are more likely to extend their stay and return in the future, especially if they develop a strong connection with the local culture. 
  • Work + pleasure travelers make up a substantial portion (78%) of small-town guests.
  • Engaging with local artisans and cultural activities not only supports the local economy but also enriches the guest experience, offering a window into the region’s heritage.
  • Developing a campground’s reputation as a culturally sensitive and community-supportive establishment attracts a socially conscious clientele and enhances brand loyalty.

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