The 2023 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE2023), hosted by OHI and formerly known as the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), held informative sessions towards creating greater value within the outdoor hospitality industry.
This event, extending until November 9, is uniquely designed to foster collaborative learning, networking, and professional growth, with a special focus on campground, RV park owners, and outdoor hospitality operators.
One of the standout sessions at OHCE2023 was led by Tiffany Gholston, who delved into the crucial theme of “Navigating Your DE&I Journey to Create Greater Value.”
Gholston underscored the fundamental importance of data in any new venture, urging industry professionals to understand their current customer base and their aspirations for expansion.
“Any new initiative that you’re trying to do is to get data. You got to better understand who your current customer base is and the current customer base that you’re often trying to expand,” Gholston told the OHCE2023 attendees.
She pointed out that the key to growth in this industry lies in creating positive guest experiences. According to her, just as campgrounds and outdoor sites sell magic, peace, and escape, the ultimate goal is to provide exceptional customer service that leaves a lasting impression.
“Creating a positive guest experience is key to your business growth,” she added.
Gholston further broke down the DE&I concept from a business standpoint, underlining the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As per Gholston, diversity, in this context, refers to attracting a variety of people from different backgrounds while equity signifies ensuring every guest enjoys a fair and similar experience, and inclusion means extending a warm welcome to all. creating an inviting environment for everyone.
For Gholston, the integration of DE&I initiatives into the business model offers multiple benefits. Most notably, it contributes to revenue growth by expanding the market and attracting diverse customer groups. These initiatives also foster greater employee engagement and enhance retention by cultivating a culture of inclusivity and equity within the organization.
“Not only do they see revenue growth, but they also see greater employee engagement because they feel included, they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Employee retention. Having DE&I initiatives within your organization also helps you to retain more employees,”
Gholston also shed light on the primary generations currently being targeted in the outdoor hospitality industry. Middle-aged adults (40 to 61) are at the forefront, followed by seniors (age 62 and up), primarily baby boomers, and young adults (aged 20 to 39), encompassing the substantial millennial generation, which is currently the largest generation in the United States.
She highlighted that each of these generations presents unique characteristics and purchasing behaviors, highlighting the need to tailor marketing strategies accordingly. Gholston urged industry professionals to consider accessibility and inclusivity for visitors with disabilities, citing her own experience as a heart disease survivor and the need for facilities like defibrillators.
Incorporating DE&I principles is more than a social commitment; it’s a strategic approach to bringing diverse groups of people into the fold, enhancing their experience, and ultimately strengthening the industry.
Featured image from Modern Campground.