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Cruel Summer Ahead for RV Parks (and the Entire RV Industry)

Cruel Summer Ahead for RV Parks (and the Entire RV Industry)

Less than one month ago we surveyed 400 RVers regarding the affects of COVID-19 on their travel plans. At the time, 95% of the participants said they “have not canceled RV travel plans due to the coronavirus.”

Boy, how the times have changed.

This week we surveyed over 800 RV enthusiasts and one fact is clear: it’s going to be a cruel summer for RV parks, campgrounds, and the industry as a whole.

Let’s see the results.

RV Park & Campground Cancellations Skyrocket

In 28 days, the percentage of RVers who’ve cancelled RV park or campground reservations (voluntarily or involuntarily) has grown from 5% to 53%.

According to Modern Intelligence, 10 million households owned an RV in 2019. When we apply our findings to this figure, the number of RV households that potentially cancelled reservations rose from 500,000 to 5.3 million.

That’s a staggering number.

The financial implications are huge. Even if each of those reservations were only for two days at $30 a night – the financial loss is $318,000,00 as an industry.

Uncertainty Going Forward

The tourism challenge with COVID-19 is knowing how and when the epidemic ends.

Will the government give certain regions the green light before others? Will national parks re-open simultaneously? Will travelers accept the risk of infection?

Due to the many unknowns, 76% of the RVers we surveyed said “COVID-19 has affected their summer travel plans.”

Multiple State Parks Close Campgrounds

RV Park Forced Closures

The federal government has implemented social distancing through the month of April. However, some local communities are taking bigger steps.

For example, Oneida County located in New York has closed local campgrounds completely until July 1st.

Moab (UT) and Durango (CO) are two RV destinations that have closed to non-residents.

The inconsistencies of regulations across the USA adds to the confusion of booking summer reservations.

The RV Industry Won’t Be Unscathed

In addition to cancelling RV park reservations and putting summer travel plans on hold, RVers are postponing the purchase of RV accessories. Of the 800 RV enthusiasts we surveyed, 34% have put off RV related purchases.

Camping World stock has plummeted over the last month. Over the last 30 days the stock has lost 67% of its value. As of April 4th it has a value of $4.54 a share.

Manufacturers Close Shop

Many of the major RV manufacturers have halted production. This will have an acute affect on Elkhart (IN) – the RV manufacturing capitol of the world.

Financial Stability of Nation in Question

Adding to challenges, the future of our nation’s financial stability is in question. Once we collectively overcome COVID-19, will Americans have disposable income to recreate?

It’s hard to foresee how any of this will play out. Here’s the hard reality – the RV industry should brace for a tough season.

More importantly, RV parks and campgrounds should be ready to adapt and edit their old-school business models and marketing strategies for a new future.

There’s Always Free Camping on Public Lands

Many public lands (BLM, National Forest, etc) remain open. These areas don’t require many employees or social contact.

Once given the green light from local and national governments, free camping might be the first trip many RVers take.

If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

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  1. On the bright side, with so many cancellations, it should be a lot easier to get reservations in campgrounds this summer. On a side note, the sales on my 12 RVing books have gone down about 75% over the last month. Most of the drop has been in the last two weeks.

  2. Cheryl Bacon says:

    I personally think your view is very optimistic, even as “cruel” as you think it will be. I think we are going to see a big change in what used to be called normal. When we finally flatten the curve and keep it flattened, things are not just going to go back to the way they were. This virus has affected every aspect of our lives, from our physical and mental health to the economy torn to pieces. The next decade will be very interesting.

  3. Bob says:

    I’m going to get nasty here say places like Moab deserve to get hit hard. Forcing all non residents to go elsewhere is like renting a bus to forcibly take the homeless and drop them off in another city, making it someone else’s problem! I know I for one will never go and spend one cent in Moab or Durango again.

  4. Snyderman says:

    Great article

  5. Kerry says:

    Yes, a bit harsh. The main reason for Moab’s reaction is a fear of the very limited hospital resources being overwhelmed with non residents. Their economies are based on tourism. It was the last thing they wanted to do. Kerry

  6. Bryan says:

    Great article guys, we’ll written and conceived. Would you please expound on your ideas on parks rethinking their business models please. Thanks.

  7. Boyd Benedict says:

    I can’t say that, but I do think if they are getting federal $$ they should be open to every citizen of the US.. If they don’t want us there, don’t take our money..

  8. patcattin says:

    I have great confidence in America and Americans. Again we will boldly lead the world back into prosperity. This the birthright of all Americans. Born here or not. Once you are here you have joined the family of the world uniting in this land. We are experimenters, we are pioneers, our forefathers new and old got here by grit. It’s not supposed to be easy to get to the best. Once you are here you have a responsibility to God, family, and country. I look forward to the creation of a vaccine for this disease. We will put the wheels back on the great engine of the economy. This is a time for boldness. That is all. I’m retired so I will be doing my part greasing the wheels of the RV industry. Thankyouverymuch.

  9. Sharon says:

    You seem to be forgetting about full time RV’ers. We are a community all our own & traveling from & to different campgrounds. Of course we are not the majority & full timers don’t make up what the vacationers do but we do contribute to the bottom line. Also, several campgrounds are opening their gates to us because we have our own restrooms, showers, etc. However, tenters, small campers without facilities & such are the ones being left out. I would agree that spending of unnecessary accessories can certainly & will wait until things improve. It’s a difficult time for everyone (except the rich) & everyone will have to adapt & modify their situation. That’s called life.

  10. Katie says:

    Here! Here! So very well said!! Americans love their Country, believe in their Country.. We will rebound and all will be right with the World once again. We have spunk and determination…This is a War that we were fighting and we will win…of that I have absolutely no doubt!!