Amidst the towering trees and serene meadows, campgrounds are no longer just a place to pitch a tent and roast marshmallows. They’re evolving into multifunctional venues, catering to a diverse array of occasions – from intimate weddings to corporate conferences.
Camp Aramoni, a boutique campground and event venue, is one such campground offering more than just accommodations. “The property itself was our muse,” Stephanie Bias, communications director, wrote in an email interview with Modern Campground.
Camp Aramoni, a picturesque setting sprawled over a 100-acre site of a bygone brickyard, has artfully blended history with modernity. “We restored the blacksmith’s shop into a beautiful multifunctional space, and built our boutique campground in a meadow where they once dug for clay,” Bias added.
The challenge, however, lies in balancing the diverse needs of guests. Camp Aramoni is keenly aware of this, putting guests’s needs at the center of their focus by imagining themselves in their customers’ shoes.
“We ensure our weddings are held in a separate area and quiet hours are enforced,” she elaborated. “Our highly skilled guest services and events teams work hand-in-hand to make sure all of our guests’ needs are met – and even exceeded.”
When asked about the logistics and operational aspects of hosting various events simultaneously, Bias wrote they rely heavily on their property management system, event planning software, and staff texting app.
“These systems allow us to communicate seamlessly with each other before, during and after an event to ensure timelines are followed, menus are executed and procedures are enforced,” she explained.
“We post our staff schedules far in advance and coordinate regular management meetings to keep up with the ever-changing demands of our clients.”
But this is not the end for Camp Aramoni. To further enhance and expand the offerings of its campground as a multifunctional venue for various occasions, Bias stated that they have plans to add additional accommodations that can be kept open year-round.
“At this time, our campground season runs May-October and our event venue is open year-round,” she wrote. “By adding additional units for winter stays, we can offer more stable employment opportunities, cater to a new clientele and find new opportunities in a new season and market.”
Meanwhile, on the industry front, the managing director of Horwath HTL Todd Wynne-Parry, in an exclusive interview with Modern Campground, provided a broader view on the topic.
He offered a wealth of information on the changing dynamics of campgrounds – from the need to embrace technology and cater to the remote working crowd to the challenges of managing events in outdoor settings.
The rise of the digital age has seen a blend of nature and technology. Wynne-Parry points out the significance of understanding the needs of the Millennial and Gen Z demographics, who are well-versed in using technology and often prefer working remotely.
“Creating communal workspaces allows them to extend their vacation,” he noted. “They don’t need to head home on Sunday; they can work remotely on Monday, perhaps even extending their stay when the costs are lower.”
While the demand for outdoor events and accommodations remains high, campgrounds face their share of challenges, according to Wynne-Parry. One of the primary concerns is ensuring adequate accommodations for large gatherings, such as weddings.
“If it’s a 120-person wedding, it equates to around 60 units. Ensuring there are enough accommodations or alternatives nearby is crucial,” he explained. Another challenge lies in managing diverse groups of campers, especially if a large group hasn’t booked the entire property. This can lead to potential disruptions for other guests.
Wynne-Parry emphasizes the importance of planning, especially when it comes to catering for events. Proper facilities, adequate space for vendors, and compliance with event needs, such as restrooms, are all essential aspects to consider.
Sustainability is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds. Campgrounds, while embracing modern amenities and hosting larger events, must also consider their environmental impact.
Wynne-Parry advises campgrounds to be authentic in their approach to sustainability. Greenwashing, or falsely conveying an environmentally friendly image, can be more detrimental than being transparent about what’s achievable.
Practical steps, like using recycled materials, eliminating single-use plastics, and offering quality, locally sourced food and beverages, can go a long way in promoting an eco-friendly image.
As campgrounds continue to redefine their facilities and offerings, it’s evident that they’re tapping into a burgeoning market of individuals and groups seeking unique experiences. They’re not merely places to stay; they’re destinations in their own right, promising memorable occasions against the backdrop of nature.
The industry’s shift towards multifunctionality is more than just a trend; it’s a testament to the evolving desires of consumers and the innovative spirit of campground owners and industry leaders. As Wynne-Parry puts “I don’t think it’s a temporary shift at all… because I think the demand for outdoor accommodation, outdoor hospitality still remains significantly higher than the supply.”