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MC Fireside Chats - November 3rd, 2021
3rd November 2021 • MC Fireside Chats • Modern Campground LLC
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This week on MC Fireside Chats, presented by Modern Campground, we'll be discussing the latest industry news in our open discussion format with our panel of industry leaders who will appear once every month with us!

*Casey Cochran, Director of Business Development at Campspot Software

*Randy Hendrickson, Founder & CEO of United Park Brokers

*Scott Foos, CEO & Owner of Horizon Outdoor Hospitality

*Sandy Ellingson, RV Industry Consultant

*Kurt Repanshek, Founder of National Parks Traveler

*Mark Koep, Founder, and CEO of CampgroundViews.com

*Angela Hylton, Project Manager at Insider Perks.

Transcripts

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Good morning, everybody.

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Welcome to another episode of MC Fireside Chats.

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My name is Brian Searl with Insider Perks and Modern Campground here as

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always with my co-host Cara Csizmadia from the Canadian Camping & RV Council.

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We are super excited to have another open discussion show for you.

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For those of you who don't know or who are tuning in for the first

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time, the first Wednesday of every month is our open discussion show.

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We have a bunch of regular panelists who were on the show.

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Sometimes they get busy and sometimes they don't.

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So we've got a couple who are missing today, which we'll cover

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in a second, but we do have Mr.

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Casey Cochran from camp spot, Sandy Ellingson, who is an

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RV industry consultants.

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And overall, what is your actual title, Sandy?

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I feel like we don't have a company for you, Sandy Ellingson, LLC.

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I'm supposed to be retired.

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So we just said RV industry advocate and just help out where I can.

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My goal is to bring the entire ecosystem of the industry together.

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And so that's what I'm focusing.

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Nice.

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I feel like he'll get on.

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With Randy, he's retired three or four times already, too, so never are you

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trying to anyway, but, so we got Randy Hendrickson here from United park brokers

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and a bunch of other things he's been in the industry for about 75 years, something

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like that 40, 30, whatever it is.

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Anyway, wizard of all things.

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Angela Hilton project, man.

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From Insider Perks and then obviously we already introduced Cara.

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So I think what we'll start with this open discussion right, is it's

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because we get diverge anywhere.

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It's just what's happened in the last 30 days or so.

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So let's just go around and briefly introduce yourself for those of you

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who don't know or who are tuning in for the first time we are missing Scott

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foods who normally is joining us from horizon outdoors and management company.

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We're missing the sub-arc cap who came down with a stomach bug.

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We hope he feels better.

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And then we're missing Kurt from national parks, traveler who is

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actually traveling today hopefully to someplace really cool that he's enjoying

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much more than being on the show.

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So we'll have those back as part of our regular panelists, but just go

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around the room, introduce yourself, and then maybe touch on one thing, one

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or two things maybe that has happened to you over the last 30 days that

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you feel like our audience should maybe know about or pay attention to.

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And then we can spark a discussion from there.

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Casey, you want to start first?

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Sure.

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Yeah, last three days.

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So this is obviously the time of year from like a software standpoint.

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Oh, the onboarding season gets crazy.

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A lot of parts are realizing either we should take reservations online for

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the first time, or if you've already taken something, there's a lot of,

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changeover and things of that sort.

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But one thing that we're noticing significantly over the last 30 days

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is the attention to getting your rates set well in advance for next season.

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The amount of advanced reservations for next season is insane.

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And we have many parks that are already above 50% occupancy for next summer

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as they just closed last weekend.

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So you're seeing a massive influx in advanced reservations.

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And along with that, strongly suggested by us is to address address your cancellation

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policies and address some of those rules and in advanced rules that you want.

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Instead of allowing a one day reservation to come in on the 4th of July on a set.

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For, since we're so far in advance put a F a three-day minimum rule in

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there, or put a seven day minimum rule over those certain holiday

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weekends that, are going to be full.

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We know they're going to be booked up.

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Now you might as well get the most ideal reservations that are

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coming in for that time period.

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And so advanced reservations, having your rules and pricing set already for next

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season, we've seen as being a huge uptick in because of the amount of reservations

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we're proactively trying to touch base with every park with 50 or 6,000 it's

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quite the task, but we're trying to touch base with every one of them to say, Hey,

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if you don't have your pricing in for next season, please take advantage of the

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fact that so many people are booking in advance and your inventory is so valuable

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make your cancellation policies relate that to make sure that they're strong

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enough that people aren't taking advantage of weather changes or shifts in plans

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that there should be a penalty to that inventory being gone for some people,

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if someone books it right now, And then really just doing as much as they can to

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explain upgrade just subtle little things in their listings and stuff like that,

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just to drive that many more advanced bookings, but that's been the big thing.

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The other cool thing that we've seen is more and more people are starting

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to try subtle things like dynamic pricing where they're saying, okay,

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what if we just put in one little rule on the 4th of July, where once we get

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to 50% occupancy, we're going to raise that price up five bucks and then.

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Three weeks later, our occupancy for those site types on the

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4th of July is already at 50%.

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And now, our prices are $5 and it's not affected our pricing.

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Let's add another one, right?

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It's almost like a kid eating a piece of candy on Halloween.

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They want the next piece.

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And of course, when it comes to money going in their bank accounts

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and in revenue going up that's those are good pieces of candy, right?

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So that's been, the biggest thing is honestly, it's onboarding is really

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busy right now, but the parks that are on really getting prepared, I think

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much earlier than maybe some parks that are hyper done, ever done before.

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See, this whole thing fascinates me.

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And for those of you who don't know, we don't script this in advance.

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I didn't ask Casey what he was going to say or any of the other people, what

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they're going to say as far as their one idea goes, but we were just having this

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conversation with clients on the phone.

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And I want you don't care to jump in and things like that from when she ran

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her park, but we were talking to some of our clients on the phone and they

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were they were asking us how far in advance do we open up reservations?

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How far in advance do we set our prices?

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Because there's a traditional, at least among the park owners who have

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owned parks for 10, 15, 20 years.

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Things are changing dramatically as far as online reservations and how

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far in advance they're opening and all the things that you talked about.

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Casey.

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And this particular group of people who own multiple campgrounds were

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telling us they used to sit down or they did sit down with our national

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supervisors and go site by site and look at each Campground at each location

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and decide how much to raise each site.

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And that doesn't allow for that advanced reservation because by

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the time they get that done, it's maybe January or even into February

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before they can open up those things.

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And so I told them like just set your rates like 30 or 20 or $30,

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or however many percent like some raise it some crazy amount.

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And then when you do your study back it down, if you need to, but

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let the people who are willing to pay that money book in advance.

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Okay.

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And I think that's, it's just indicative of the way things are trending.

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This, when I first started running a Campground, things were very reliant

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on my manpower, sitting at the desk, answering the phone, answering

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emails, and that has hugely shifted.

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And it's one of the biggest benefits.

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To utilizing products like cases is you can automate so much of this now

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that it allows you to it stops you from being limited to a timeframe.

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You don't need to sit at a desk and process through all

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those reservations anymore.

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And, I get that some folks have concerns about that, but I think

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time and time again, proper use are really showing some pretty significant

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successes with trusting in those algorithms and those products to just

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optimize their operations in that way.

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We're seeing that too.

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For a lot of parks too, you don't need to really scare parks into saying you have

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to jump head first into free water, right?

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Like you have options to say we know like these, our waterfront sites

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are always busy, but I'm a little bit hesitant on the other 90%.

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And do it with 10 sites or do it with 12 sites or do with 15.

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Like you don't have to necessarily dive the entire way in.

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You can dip the toes to some extent, just to test the waters and see,

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overwhelmingly you're gonna, you're probably gonna see the results at every

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other camp that can pro that has done it a scene, but you also don't have to,

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you can still run your Campground the way you've always done it for years.

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Cause obviously it's been successful, obviously you've

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done well for yourself doing it.

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So even taking some baby steps and subtle things, and we've had people that are

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on for the fourth and fifth year that they're just doing, they're just doing

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dynamic pricing for the first season.

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They've been big advocates forever on campus, but I'm like, you're not

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using like one of the main things that's helped drive and that's okay.

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Like it's Perks.

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It's perfectly fine.

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We have hundreds of campgrounds that, we're antilock site fee for

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years and they find maybe we'll turn it on for these site types.

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And it's that's fine.

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Like I said, baby steps that the technology's there.

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You know how you want to use it.

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You don't, you're still in control of your part.

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Yeah, you don't have to rely on these manpower specific tools for this, right?

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You can you can be completely in control still, just, you just have to wrap your

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brain around that happening in a different way than it's all always been done,

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which can be tough, but a valuable tool.

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What do you think Randy, with all your years of experience?

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Like when are you telling, I know, I think you own a couple parks now.

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Don't you?

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Am I wrong?

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I do.

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So what are you doing at your parks then?

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Dynamic pricing.

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And how far in advance you're doing these things?

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Yeah, yielding SiteLock fees all the above.

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And the big reason for that is we in my former life, in my former company,

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I was very reluctant, initially be a first mover on yield management

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or something like SiteLock fees couple years, by the way, the feeling

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was because people talk to people.

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I didn't want somebody storming the front desk and saying

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they're paying more than I am.

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The world has changed.

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And a yield management is the way of the world.

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And there's a lot of people that were the same thinking that I was

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many years ago, which was, I don't want to be the first one to do that.

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What, guess what?

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This is 2021.

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The dynamics have changed.

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The consumers changed.

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Spending habits have changed.

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Expectations of parts has changed.

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The level of amenities provided my parts has changed.

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People are very happy to pay for an experience.

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They're not talking to each other about how much they pay.

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They're talking about the experience they had at where they chose to stay.

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Fundamental game-changer and I'm going to, I'm talking to 180 degrees

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over even just a few years ago.

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So the more that this is more and more ubiquitous, I think a good

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Campground operators are recognizing this is just the way it works and it

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has nothing to fear or be afraid of.

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And the results can be absolutely tangible.

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And in some cases, other worldly, depending on the property dependence

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in case you would know far better than I, but depending on the park,

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that kind of lift that can come out of that is just really astronomical

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drops right to the bottom line.

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So it's just a matter of proper managing your inventory properly, managing your

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rates, letting the software, do the work and reaping the benefits for it.

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And the truth of the matter is non had any consumers approaching our front

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desk folks and saying I'm really mad because paid five bucks less than I did.

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Doesn't happen.

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They are more concerned with the experience they're having in the park.

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And that really is what they're talking about.

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They're talking about what they went to see and do the places

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they went, the people they met, it's a different culture entirely.

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And so for any, really for anybody to Casey's point, he was in the field of

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owning and operating your property.

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If you're not doing it now, give it a shot, embrace it, figure

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it out, see what you can do.

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You're not a slave to it.

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Technology works for you.

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You're not working for a technology.

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So when you understand and can manage technology to your

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advantage, it's a competitive advantage with a tangible result.

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I think consumers, sorry.

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Oh, go ahead.

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Go ahead.

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I was just going to say, I think consumers perception about fees and

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things like that have shifted as they've gotten more and more used to

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booking hotels and airline tickets and all of those things that it's just

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understood concept specific to pricing.

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So that's probably not true across the board, but a lot of.

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I don't understand that fundamental kind of principle.

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I think, and just one more thing on that.

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If I made something that's really helped the adoption of yield management, the

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sidewalk fees is the overall quality of the resorts elevating to a very

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high degree over what they were some years past, in years past, it was

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more of a commoditization, right?

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The site here is the same as the site here.

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It's going to be the same blank, same with whatever like that.

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But with such a more of an emphasis on the experience and better fit and finishes

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and amenities within the Campground and the experience as a whole elevating.

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That's why you see price coming down as the criteria and experience elevating way

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beyond that price becomes secondary to the experience and to, to a large degree,

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I think that's the credit of the industry as a whole for upgrading their parks,

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upgrading their facility and providing a better experience for the consumers.

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You think about this?

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This whole last year, I, we, I'm still forced at times to stay in hotels.

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And the entire year I think the pools have still been shut down.

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Like I still haven't found a hotel.

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We'd go for travel for my kids sporting events.

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They were, they're still closed, like with so those things still aren't open.

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And whereas campgrounds, I mean their pools are open, right?

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Even staying in a hotel, there's the disadvantages, there are not only

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you're cooped up inside, but I so these experiences that campgrounds offer, like

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the amenities is as small as they are, as big as they are, there's value to that.

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There's significant value to that.

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And just the general concept of saying, I use this example all the time.

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It's if I have my kids, I want to be at a certain place.

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If I don't have my kids, I want to be in a different place in sense

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of where that's at in the park.

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And 10, 15, 20, $30 is not even remotely top of mind when it comes

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to the value of that time that I'm spending wherever I'm going.

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These are vacations, right?

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These are the, what we work all week for.

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And so when you're there again, that's, you we've talked about this too, as far

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as just add-ons and anything you can upsell because this is their time to spend

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it, it's when you're going to Disney, you're blowing up $40 Mickey mouse,

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tiny, stuffed animal, $30 quirky leg.

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Like you're ready to do that.

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Cause that's your vacation.

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That's your time.

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With that's the reason you're working for us to get to enjoy that time.

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So people are prepared to spend money on this, just fortunately, so many

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consumers realize how much better it is spending in a Campground than it

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is at a hotel or at, these three parks or whatever, when it's just chaotic.

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It's 110 degrees.

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It's a lines.

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There's crying things everywhere.

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It's wait a minute.

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Why would I rather be outside where there's a pool?

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There's a playground.

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There's golf carts.

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There's trees, there's sun, there's all these things that are just provide

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so much more happiness and joy.

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Then a box didn't room with a closed pool with someone rude at the front

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desk, getting in your spot at your room, your box room as quickly as possible.

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So yeah, I want to get Sandy's thoughts on this real quick, cause maybe even

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putting you on the spot, Sandy, but just, I know you do a lot of work with RV life.

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So first introduce yourself, tell us cause this is you're part of

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our regular panel, but this is your first show with us as a panel.

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So just introduce yourself, tell us who you are, what you do in the industry.

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And then if you can speak to maybe the consumer side of what we're talking

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about, what if, from your talking talk to like with RV bloggers and things

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like that, and you do a lot of work with Andy and RV life and just maybe

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speak to that from the consumer.

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Absolutely.

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My name is Sandy Alexson.

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I had a consulting company for about 30 years.

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I had 60 programmers working for me.

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So basically I spent my time herding cats and it was a lot of fun.

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And, but then my husband and I decided we were ready to retire and

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spend more time than our motor home.

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So we went full time.

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So we were full-time on the road for about six years.

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And in that time I fell in love with my campgrounds.

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I realized that my campgrounds were very much like a lot of the

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nonprofits I had worked with.

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And literally I went from not working to turning around one day going, oh my

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gosh, I'm helping a hundred camp rounds.

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I'm not charging a penny, but I'm working full time.

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And I was happier than I'd ever been in my career.

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And so that in the industry, while I work with a lot of people in the

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industry, my heart is my Campground.

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And so that's really where I like to feel.

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My goal is to create a more creative environment and a more proactive

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environment between manufacturers and suppliers dealerships and my campgrounds.

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And so I work a lot on initiatives to do that.

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And I work on, I'm working a lot of new things with the industry itself, just

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to help Campground, because I feel like there's so much value to our mom and

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pop campgrounds and that they just need a little help to get over the edge.

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And a lot of this is with just education.

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Exactly what we're talking about.

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When we start using things like dynamic pricing, a lot of them are scared today.

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And three years ago, I think was the first time I had a part that asked

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me about dynamic pricing and they were absolutely scared to death.

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They thought for sure if they implemented it, it was going to, it was

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going to run off all of their guests.

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And so we implemented it and I said, we're going to monitor it.

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Every single reservation, watch real close.

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And in the first 100 reservations where the rights change multiple

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times during those reservations, not one person called to complain.

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And that was no matter whether it was on a phone call, which we've given some basic

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instructions on how to handle a phone call and what to say when you were taking

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the reservation versus online, not one.

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So all the fears that they had never appeared.

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And I think it's really important to mention that dynamic pricing

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not only could increase the right, but it could decrease the right.

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So if you've got a lot of gaps, you're less than 50% occupancy, it can

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automatically reduce that right for you.

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And so you don't even have to worry about it, then it's still

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working for the Campground.

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And for myself as a, as I RV, I look for those gap times and I look

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for the parks that I know are using dynamic pricing because I know

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that's where I could get the best.

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Yeah.

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So it's the same thing.

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If you are looking for a hotel room or an airfare, the days

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that it's the slowest, when Dubai and that's when you go to shops.

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So there's some benefits from the Concentra side to dynamic pricing as well.

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And again, it benefits the Campground, cause you're filling

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up spots that may not be filled.

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They're normally you're lower occupancy date, so you're not reducing your

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right on the best weekend of the year.

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So that's that's where I am.

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I totally agree with everything.

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Casey is saying about getting ahead of things, trying things

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at your own pace so slowly.

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And the other thing has been so great.

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Yes.

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W while kg would have been mad at a lot of ways, it's been really great

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for some of my can't brands, because it's given them the courage to try

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things I would have never tried before.

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And it's given them the technology the R the ability to embrace the technology,

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that's going to allow them to do it.

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So a lot of times, even now, when I ask them to do something, that's a little

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bit out of their comfort zone and outside Blanco and everybody else does.

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And it's true.

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Almost every change we need to make can somehow go back to something.

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I really consider an improvement that came about because of COVID.

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But when you say that everybody gets it, COVID changed everything.

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And so it's not like a negative blame.

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It's look, this is the environment and the world we're living in now, and this

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is the motivation for these changes.

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And everybody just understand.

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So speaking from the consumer standpoint specifically, right though.

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I know you work with Campground.

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I definitely want to talk about that and I really appreciate all that you gave in.

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But from a consumer standpoint, I know you just went to the

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Albuquerque balloon Fiesta.

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You met a lot of consumers there, you were talking to a bunch of

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bloggers and things like that.

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And we tried to have you on the show, just a bad internet connection,

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and then working with Andy and all those properties, that RV life

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that are mostly consumer facing.

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Do you have any sense of what Casey is saying?

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Is that holding true with the consumers?

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Are they looking to book earlier than they have before, or the

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we're looking at the 18 to 35 year old demographic they're

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booking window is 14 to 16.

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And what that means is they're going to sit down in December and look at

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their entire next year of travel.

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And they're going to book it all before January ever arrived and

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where they're going to book it as the places that are the easiest to

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find and the easiest to book online.

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That's the demographic we need to satisfy.

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That's where we're finding a lot of dissatisfaction.

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We don't want all these new RV years to come in.

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They bought these new rigs, they're excited about Camping and

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then they can't find the side.

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And so we know what they put it up for sale because they're used to

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technology and they won't camp grounds to be able to offer that technology.

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And so that's what we're finding.

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A lot of talking to people is asking about, when is this coming or when

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is that coming at the balloon Fiesta?

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We had such an amazing time because.

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It was such evidence that the RV industry and the consumer are so

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tightly knit to the Albuquerque Olympia sta we really, we know we there's

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over a thousand volunteers that are our videos that show up every year.

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There's more RV or participants than in any other category.

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And now it's funny because we've got multiple Campground chains

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that are actually looking to create their own envelopes, their own

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balloons for next year's Fiesta.

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And going the new consumer, the new camper likes to meet the

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industry where they're already at.

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They don't want to be asked to come to them.

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And it's another one of the big things in some of the studies

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we're doing is finding that.

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They're not as inclined the new camper to, to go to a rally where we're trying to

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sell them something or promote a product.

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They want to go to Moab to go side by side riding.

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And then they want to meet other RV years and other people there.

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And when they have those opportunities to create those experiences and to meet

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people that will, they will do that.

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And they are not afraid at all of dynamic pricing of advanced reservations.

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And they love the idea of being able to go to places and search

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multiple sites without being restricted to just one Campground.

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The idea of being able to search for a location versus searching for a

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Campground is huge on their bucket list.

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Yeah.

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I That's why we, honestly, that feedback is, it's spot on to what we

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thought to standing in the center.

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With all the new kind of campers.

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That's why we created the marketplace that we did was essentially for that exact

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reason was to say, it's funny, there's two fold, there's the consumer end.

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And then there was like the dealers, when we started first showing them the

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marketplace, we're all super excited because they're like, we're going

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to sell so many more classes because the biggest issue has been, someone

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buys this big rig and then they come back and they're like this thing that

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I can't, this doesn't fit anywhere.

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I can't get into these places.

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So they were super excited to just be able to search through, a bunch

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of different campgrounds that we have on the marketplace and actually find.

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That fit, that size rig.

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And then the same thing that Sandy was saying from the consumer side

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is that the idea of searching and clicking on a Campground.

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That again, if you know about that Campground, you're clicking on it,

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you're booking it, that's 98% of bookings take place, but it's that

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other 2% that they don't know about your Campground, having it in some sort of

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aggregate to be able to search based on location, based on rig size or just

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based on amenities in some capacity is something that we felt was missing in

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the industry to get more people doing exactly what Sandy said, people are doing.

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Camping, instead of getting frustrated that they can't find someplace and

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then saying, okay, I'm just going to rent this out or I'm going to sell it.

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Yeah it's interesting you say that because that's the exact kind of,

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research in, in, in information that we felt with why it was made

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sense to put together a marketplace.

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Okay.

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And another one of the initiatives I'm working on that relates to

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consumers, but ties in the industry and the technology that we're using.

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Yes, there is an extreme need to change the language of the Campground industry.

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And so we all know that if we go and we look at a website and it says it is a

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resort, if we've been Camping for a long time, we know it may not be a resort.

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And at the same time, it might say a Campground and it is so much more than

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just what I consider a basic Campground.

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We're never going to change the names of all these parks.

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But what we can do through technology is utilize and source definitions and

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assignments of types by the consumer.

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So with tools like Campground reviews and Campground views with Marquette and

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those kinds of things, we can literally ask people are doing their booking their

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reservation or making mean booking their posting their comments on their stay.

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We can ask them, how would you rate this?

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And if we have predefined definitions that they can understand, we

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let them choose from that.

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And so by that, by doing so the next time somebody else searches and it

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says, AAA resort they can look down and see what other people have rated it.

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Is it the Campground?

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Is it a resort?

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Is it an RV park or is it a neighborhood?

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Those are the primary four categories that we're looking at right now.

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And we've struggled and I would love to hear some feedback and, if you

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have comments or whatever, you take that on there, I believe there's

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a difference between a 55 plus retirement park and a neighborhood.

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And a neighborhood is a park where primarily people live there year around

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80% of the sites are full-time people, nothing wrong with that, but that's not

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a Campground to the younger consumer.

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It's an, it really is a neighborhood.

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Is people living there, they come and go, they go to work.

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It is not a Camping experience that the average camper is looking for.

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And so by being able to define those clearly when that new camper

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makes that reservation at that heart, that looks like it's a park

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experience or a Camping experience.

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And then they get there and it's a neighborhood they may bounce.

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And that pretrial.

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And so we predefined and told them, this is the kind of Campground

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you're going to, and that again, will just improve the experience.

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Overall.

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The flip side of that is as we age out of traveling, some of us are looking

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for those places where we might want to stay full time, year round, whether

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it's a 55 plus with all the amenities and it's just part-time or it's

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someplace we want to live year-round.

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So that's another one of the initiatives that we're working on to really help

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consumers and that consumers are pushing up through social media, through comments

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and Chats there, you can read it everyday.

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They'll say this was not a resort.

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It didn't have blah, blah, blah.

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The reason they're complaining it's because nobody set

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the expectations correctly.

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It's probably a great park.

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The expectations just weren't set correctly.

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That's another thing we're looking at with consumers.

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This is all interesting to me and I definitely, I want

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to hear Randy's opinion.

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I love this because I'm sure he's got some wise words and some things to say

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here, but before we get to Randy Angela.

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You're shaking your head.

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Randy, you always have wise words.

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I don't know how wise, but words.

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Yes.

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Okay.

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We'll take those too.

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That's all I have.

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Let's talk to Angela real quick though, because two things real quick, Angela,

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from a marketing standpoint, one is we're talking about these dynamic pricing and

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how far in advance to set the rates and so touch a little bit on like how you would.

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Kind of calm those fears for, from a consumer standpoint as far

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as website design goes, right?

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W how you display rates when you display rates, the wording,

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you use things like that.

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And then maybe if you want to just touch a little bit on what Sandy was talking about

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how you're representing your park through your name or photos or things like that.

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Yeah.

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Something else too, that I just wanted to touch on.

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When you're, when people are worried about the feedback that they're going to receive

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because of the dynamic pricing and to Casey's point of people are not talking

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to their neighbor, I paid $5 more a night.

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We see literally thousands of reviews every month across all of our clients

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of, K ways and jelly Stone's in large management groups and independent parks.

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And I can honestly say I've literally never seen a single review where someone

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has said I paid $5 more than my neighbor.

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I've never seen a single review complaining about.

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Dynamic pricing.

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And we all know that if they are unhappy with something they will let

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us know is so I, I just think that speaks to, I think sometimes it's a

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fear that owners create on their own because it's something new and it's

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up, I try to territory for themselves.

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And yeah.

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And then in terms of how you could display things on your website

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and setting the guests expectation before they are on your property.

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Making sure that your website's really easy news that it's user friendly.

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Like user-friendly easy to navigate.

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Things are labeled really clearly and having really nice pictures.

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And that goes with the pictures that you use in camp spot too.

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Nobody wants to see a small picture from your cell phone, that's cropped and it's

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crooked and, things are in disarray.

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People want to see really nice, clear images, and you can use

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this across your social media.

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You can use those across your website in your booking system.

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And so while it might seem like an investment up front which a good

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photographer is, so cheap expense.

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However, the return that you'll see on that, because you can use it across

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all these platforms and you can set really great expectations before people

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are stepping foot on your property.

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And I just, I think it goes so much further than people think that it does.

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I should say, I just want to say, I used to have a partnership with

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a photographer at my Campground, and I would give them like a in

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exchange for however many images.

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I would give them so many nights of Camping a year.

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Idea.

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Yeah.

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Capturing photos throughout different seasons and stuff like that.

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And if you can, yeah.

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If you can update photos, like on the, as fall is coming and you happen to

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have some photos that get the colors.

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People get drawn into that stuff if it's summer and you show, I like it.

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I like the visual of an empty pool, better than like a pool pack with 400 kids.

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But either way again, if you're playing on the idea of, if it's hot, you want

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to see a pool, if it's starting to get cool, you want to see fall colors

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and you want to see campfires and you want to see things like that.

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So I love that idea of, of of having someone where you're doing, just

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getting photos once, there's seasonality to this and that's relevant, right?

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Yeah.

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I don't know, I don't know how Brian, it's probably a dollar or two to

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swap out all photos on your websites.

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You do for people, probably nothing expensive at all, but either way,

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when they get those on there and they swap them out, it is pretty, pretty

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straightforward to swap those images out.

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And it works like it, it's a real benefit that people want to see, especially if

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you're speaking the language of this.

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I think, go ahead.

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I'm sorry.

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I think it's really important to, for properties.

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I think sometimes they are concerned.

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I don't want to show my park in a season that we're not open, but I also

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think that consumers are interested to see what your park looks like.

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You're rounded, especially on social media, making sure that you're showing

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the developments that you're doing, even in the off season, showing those really

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beautiful snow covered lake pictures or the wildlife that's visiting your

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property, that they don't get to see.

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And I think that it helps tell more of a story.

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It helps draw people in, it makes them more interested and it's not the same.

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You're not seeing the same pool pictures, the same cabin

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pictures over and over again.

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And I just, you and your property, it tells it what section of human

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that instead of just authenticity and people are craving authenticity

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as evidenced by Instagram.

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Totally.

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And it's not always.

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Professional pictures are absolutely beneficial.

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And I highly encouraged them, especially someone that's familiar with taking

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pictures of landscape, simply because they know what angles are most flattering

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for different types, and sizes of buildings and those kinds of things.

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But making sure that you're not just taking pictures of a completely empty

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park, we know peak season, it's so busy and you don't have time necessarily to

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coordinate, to have someone come in, but you don't want to take pictures of all

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of these empty sites where the trees are half dead and the leaves have fallen off.

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And that might be an okay picture to share on social media.

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You're wrapping up your season, closing the park, but from a visual standpoint,

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when you're trying to sell those sites in the summer, you want it to look lush

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and green and full, like people are enjoying their stay at your property.

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And I just, yeah, so professional pictures can go a really long

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way, but also if you have someone on site that knows what they do.

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With their phone, you can take some really nice pictures and be sharing those

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in real time throughout your season and carry that into your off season too.

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So people could get excited for booking their next day when you reopened.

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And if you're not, if you're not on the phone, taking phone reservations

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all day, you'll have plenty of time to go out and learn photography.

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We actually put out like a guide on taking your own Campground photographs, like when

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the golden hour was, if you're just using your phone, what angle to take that on?

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Just because it's, it is it's so relevant.

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It's incredible the amount of additional bookings that happened

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with good photography and good Burbridge it's the data is insane.

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If they're not out there doing that are not out there, if you

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don't have time to capture some of those moments, again, there's

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technology that can help with that.

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So you can make time to capture some of those.

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Yeah.

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And then another great tip for Campground too, because they all feel so overwhelmed

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right now is to start with your category.

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You don't have to have a picture for every single site to start off with, start with

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just one picture that represents your premium backend or your pull-through.

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And I always say, don't take your absolute best and don't take your work because

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it's all about setting expectations.

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So if you take a picture of that absolute best full through site in

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all your others, aren't quite as good.

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Now you set the expectation that they're all going to look like this, right?

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So you take a good middle of the road picture just by category

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and just start by showing them.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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The way that you display your property on social and on your website, it all ties

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into your branding and being consistent.

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And it's setting the guests expectations.

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We talk about this with our clients all the time.

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You're setting the expectations before someone's even made a booking before

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they've set foot on your property.

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And if you are posting pictures and sharing things that misrepresent

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the overall of that site type or the overall of your property will,

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when they get there, they're going to be pretty disappointed and it's

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probably going to lead to a bad review, and then you're going to have

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to deal with that headache later.

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It's just making sure that you're sharing consistent things that are true,

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what you really offer so important.

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We debated this quite heavily internally on for the marketplace.

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Do we allow part.

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That didn't have either a certain level of photography on there because we knew

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that's what the consumer wanted to see.

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Or do we allow a parks?

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They don't have any photography.

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Do we allow them those listings on there?

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Because the last thing we wanted to present to the consumer was the search and

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then a bunch of non images, that wouldn't be what the consumer ultimately wants.

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So we ended up deciding to allow those parks to go on there.

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But it's incredible how little, or how less they get clicked on.

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It's like the need is so overwhelming that, with photography that's,

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that's ultimately, what, the first thing that people are clicking on.

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So like we decided to allow it just in case like, but almost to do it.

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To encourage these parks to say, look like, you're showing up, exactly in

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the area that this person is looking for, but you're not getting any clicks.

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They don't know what it looks like.

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They don't know.

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They don't have any idea what the what it is.

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And so you might have the best price or the best.

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And maybe the best part, but if they don't know it's tough for

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someone to commit to that booking.

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So something else that ties into what Casey said at the beginning about

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setting your rates and doing that well in advance before your seasoned people are

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starting to book and that sort of thing.

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We've had a lot of clients coming to us especially the larger groups,

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looking at their budgets for next year and also independent parks that

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are re-evaluating their budgets.

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And I think that if you can tackle your rates and get a hold on what

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those are going to look like and base it off of, especially if you have

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a comprehensive system that you're tracking reservations in, then you

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can really see a good snapshot of your projections for the next year.

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And that helps you set your budget.

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It helps tell you what you can really afford to do in the off season.

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And it helps to tell you what kinds of things you can do

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throughout your season as well.

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And it ties into all of that.

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I think, some to throw into the mix here One of the things that I

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think is just extremely critical.

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Absolutely monumentally critical.

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When you talk about expectations.

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If I tell you that my resort is a resorts, you're using that definition and I'm going

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to tell you about, it's going to make you 10 years younger and a better dancer,

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and your life has been improved in ways.

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You never thought your grandchildren will see you more often.

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Set expectations realistically, but even more importantly, I'm sorry.

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I don't mean to interrupt you Randy, to check your train thought.

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Are there parks that TPP teach me how to dance and make me

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look 10 years on you, Brian.

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I don't think there's any help forthcoming.

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I'm sorry.

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I had to try it.

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Okay.

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I'm sorry.

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Continue.

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By the way, you're in good company, using an example, I think consumers largely

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defined in their mind what they consider to be a campground and RV park or an

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RV resort based on their definitions.

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And I don't know that there is a universal reference that would have wide add

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up adaptation because someone's going to always vary from that one case in

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point would be, if you just bought a Campground, that's called lazy river

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Campground, and it is resort in every step of the way, but it's Campground by

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name and you don't want to disrupt that brand that you're continuing to call it

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lazy river Campground, even though it might be five star Hilton all the way.

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So a Campground itself to me, doesn't really define what the property is, but

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related to that, the best thing that anybody can do is be very realistic on

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your website and describing precisely what you are and what experience

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you offer and be truthful about it.

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One case in point, when you think about glamping, what is glamping?

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Yeah.

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I For me, that could be very primitive, dry Camping.

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That could be glamping.

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That could be like a soft sided tent that could be comfortable Camping,

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which could be something different than there could be glamping,

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which may mean four-sided structure with internal plumbing or whatnot.

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When you say what exactly is.

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Nobody can define that, but the consumer, however, let's say you're on your

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property with glamping, all alternatives, you have a primitive tent set up, then

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you've got the soft sided canvas set up.

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Then you've got the luxury park models.

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If you can describe the experience of each of those and say for the more primitive

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mind, we've got more Rook outdoors, living off the land type of tent type of thing.

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For those who want to step into the lap of luxury, we'll have the meal brought

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to you and you're foresighted, I'd open window gazing over a canyon, but if you're

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telling what that experience is, the consumer's going to tell you if that's

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primitive, camping, or if that's glamping or if that's upscale or luxurious, they're

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going to apply their own adjectives to it.

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But the best thing you can do is tell them exactly what experience they can expect.

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Because as consumers, we don't want to be told something.

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And be presented with something different don't oversell, don't undersell.

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And I think quite frankly, that's where a lot of website construction could be

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greatly enhanced by the truth-telling elements and by good writers who can

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coach them about tell me if I was staying there, what would it be like?

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What's it like for me, let's tell that story about what somebody is going to

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expect when they get there and be honest, don't make it the fountain of youth

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and don't undersell it, be truthful and tell them what they're going to get.

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And you're going to be prosperous because expectations will be met or

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exceeded versus falling short of.

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And so Sandy had w to that point, I've always wanted what you wanted.

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And I got, I wish it's and I think there are some definitions on can come

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up with that are broad in general.

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The practical application for my experiences, even if I have a

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definition of Campground versus RV park, it's not going to change what

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I do in my park to either adhere to that or be different from that.

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It's good as a general guideline.

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I completely agree.

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And I wish we had more of it.

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I applaud the efforts, but in the end of the day, just it's devil's advocate.

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Doesn't the consumer really decide if it's an RV resort for them or Campground field.

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And that's exactly why we're not trying to get the Campground

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to change names or to comply.

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This is more of just a way of identifying.

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There are four very clear definitions.

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We took about surveys of about 10,000 people to get them to

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select the right definition.

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And then when we roll this out and we will not roll it out until we have

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the right partners to roll it out to, but we want to roll it out with those

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people who are the largest aggregators of the like Yelp and Campground

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reviews and all of those, because they're getting the highest tracks.

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So that we get the most people to actually say this again is just opinion

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based on clear definition, right?

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What do I think this is?

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Would I define it as one of these four things?

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And it's interesting after all the work we did going through it,

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they really are very different.

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You would not, there's no way you wouldn't name anyone ABO you wouldn't

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get confused between the two.

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And they're all very honoring, which is what I love because we

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have a lot of different parts.

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Not everybody likes the same kind of park.

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My son, if it's not a free through stamped pad, somebody is gonna ask

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for him with a golf cart, set up his rig for him that he's not going there.

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My husband and I, we want to go into more like the national park.

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We really prefer the gravel flat gravel coming in a few trees, a lot of neighbors

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village to build our own campfire.

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Doesn't have to be fancy.

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We don't even need a pool.

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We just want neighbors that we can communicate with and talk with about

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our experience while we're Camping.

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And that to us is the best Campground.

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But again, so that's my opinion for what I like, but I can clearly

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find one of those definitions.

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So I'll give you guys up today on how we roll this out, because I do think that.

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Again, one of the issues we face with the future is defining enough known

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and desired site for the individuals.

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And so the none part is for those of us working in technology, to

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be able to help our parks get the right technology in place.

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And then the desired part is the part that helps us to define the

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expectations so that whoever that user is, their desires are being met.

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Their expectations are being.

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And I've, for me, I agree Sandy.

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And would you agree also the best thing I think we would all agree, the

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best thing anybody can do when they're marking their park is be honest.

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Tell the truth and show accurate representations of what it is.

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I don't want to be told that these things are going to be beyond worldly experience

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for me than then find out it's wedged between two freeway overpasses and they

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excluded that photo from their website.

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I just want to know what it is.

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Tell me the truth and you'd be rewarded for honesty by all.

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I'll stay with you if it meets the criteria.

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But that's one of the things that I've seen a little bit too often.

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It's a little bit too much storytelling and not so much travel Almanac.

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Here's what we got and here's why we think it's valid.

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Yeah, and be honest and that kind of view to the majority of consumers, right?

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You're never going to please, everybody we've talked about

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images and things like that, right?

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Angela talked about blurry images.

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You talked about excluding the one from freeways.

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I'm sure there is like a club of people who love to stay between freeways, because

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it helps them sleep better at night, but that's not 99.8% of your consumers.

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And so most of them are going to look for those false shots

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that Casey was talking about.

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Most of them are going to look for the personality that Carrie was

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talking about the authenticity.

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And so if you bring that all together and try to please the majority of that

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demographic, you're going to find a lot of success combined with honesty.

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Completely agree.

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Did I touch on what you were saying, Sandy?

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I'm sorry.

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I know I cut you off.

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We were just lagging.

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Absolutely.

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So how much kind of thought goes into this?

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I know Carrie, you haven't known depart for a couple of years, but just from

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an arc owner's perspective, is this on your radar to do these extra things?

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Are you too busy?

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Do you have to bring in a third party?

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I think that's a pretty, that's a tough question to answer for everyone, but I

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can say yeah, from my own perspective certainly for me it was a priority.

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And I was Fairly well versed with things like social media

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and those kinds of things.

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So I, on a daily basis, I'm out wandering in the park and doing all

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kinds of things left, and center.

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So to grab a quick shot of something.

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Cool.

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As I'm doing that is, was pretty second nature to me.

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And so I had lots of content that way which I typically used in social media.

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But certainly that professional level quality of not only

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photos, but also videos.

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So tours of what my bathroom facilities and stuff look like on video were

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really valuable cool lifestyle.

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We used to have live music events and stuff.

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A 32nd video with some fun stuff.

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There was fairly easy to get recorded.

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That stuff takes some equipment, but yeah, I think you do have to

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prioritize it or hire a third party.

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It certainly has to be a significant part of your.

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Your operational strategy, you simply can't convey the things we're

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talking about, that authenticity and honesty and all of those things

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without visual representation of that.

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And it's not a guess anymore, right?

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Casey's got data.

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Koa has got data.

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I'm sure Harvick's done studies on data and the state associations too, that

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not only people are looking for these photos, but as Casey said, they're

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looking more on the aggregate sites too.

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Yeah.

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They're booking more, the revenues higher, the ROI is better.

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So that the amount you're going to spend to have this professional photographer

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man, or take the time out of your day, whatever you want to do is pales in

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comparison to the potential Bennett.

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Yeah.

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You know what really worked well for me, I have to say also I had several

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staff members who were between 16 and 20 years old, who, they were same thing.

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They were out there to here's a couple of cameras take some shots.

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They weren't all great, but there certainly was stuff in there

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that I could use while they were out in the boat, in the park.

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And that stuff was really valuable to me too, that professional

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photography was a massive investment.

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But building a big portfolio of content, that's consistently fresh and

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visually representative is really bad.

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Yeah.

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If I could tie something else in there a few weeks ago, we had a great

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conversation on the show about teamwork and the concept of expanding your team

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beyond just the folks that you work with to outside vendors, to get you to

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where you want to be, the things like photography or writing the description for

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your website are good examples of that.

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And one thing that I've seen.

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The industry changes by the month, by the day, by the week.

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Anyways, we all know, but one thing that's become more ubiquitous in

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recent history is the willingness of existing owners or new owners

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to realize they don't know it all.

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Can't solve it all and are looking to others to find out who's the best.

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So in other words, I own a park and I want to say I need good photos.

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Am I the best person?

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No.

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Then I need to find who is the best person to make them part of my team, because

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they're telling the story of my property and that intern ensures my success.

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I think a lot of owners and operators are getting much more savvy to the idea that

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they can't be the be all end all solution, and that they strengthened themselves

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by leveraging their vision through other people who can help them towards that.

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I've seen more third party collaboration, even in the brokerage and on the buying

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and the operating of pro properties for people who are new to the industry of

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standing back and letting ego stand aside and saying, I just don't know where else.

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I know what I don't know, who can help me understand how to get where I want to get.

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And Casey, I don't know if you've seen that from your end as well, but

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I've seen a lot more collaboration and inclusion from very smart

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people saying, I need help.

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Who's the best at this.

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And that is everything from photography to website to software

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implementation to everything.

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Yep.

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Yeah, no spot on.

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Yeah, absolutely.

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Again, depending on the size and scale, absolutely.

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Okay.

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In that instance where you're working with somebody fresh and new, who that

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fresh perspective of your park that those fresh eyes certainly can see your property

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in a way that you just can't right.

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They, their their perspective is different and that can be really engaging on a

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photography and videography side as well.

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You central actually.

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Yeah, I would agree.

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Yeah.

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I think he touched a little bit on Randy, a really key point.

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And that is what are the goals of your park?

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What's the strategy, because if you don't, if you don't understand

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what it is you want to accomplish, all you're doing is busy work.

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And it's a whole lot more than just posting a picture and putting a link

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and signing up for this service.

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It's all about what are you trying to do?

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Who are you trying to attract?

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Do are you trying to fill this gap days?

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You want to increase your occupancy?

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Do you want to increase your revenue?

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All those things impact how you do what it is that you do it.

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And so often again, especially with smaller parks, that aren't

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part of larger groups that have people to help guide them.

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They are doing things because they think they're supposed to do them and they

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really are having absolutely no impact.

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So I actually visited a part.

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They just had 41 sites.

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Older park, none of their sites were more than, they really couldn't

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accommodate more than about a 36 foot rig.

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And they were in the process of trying to update all their electrical, but

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most of their electrical was still 30 up in good shape that only 30.

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And so they were out there trying to market and get big rigs to come in and

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trying to attract all these new people.

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When they one, they couldn't fit them in there.

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The two that two, they thought were the RV ears of today and they were accurate.

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So what I did, I went in and I said, why don't you just flip

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the script, go with what you got.

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And they were in this neat little kind of hippy-dippy town.

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And I said, market as a small rig lake park, 36 feet are left.

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Our last must have.

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And they've increased their occupants, literally with one ad, they increased

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their occupancy up to about 80%.

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They haven't had 80% for years because they had convinced themselves

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that they would never be what they needed to be without hundreds of

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thousands of dollars of investment.

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And so I love what you said, Kara too, about having fresh perspective.

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They hadn't been listening to that same script in their mind so long.

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They couldn't flip it.

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And the other thing too, that it brings in another one of my passions,

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which is proactive communication between the industry and parks.

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Because when I went in and told his car that there were that 65% of every race.

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That was being produced that year was going to be 35 feet or shorter.

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They looked at me and said, you can't know that?

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And I said, yes, I can.

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And they're like, no, you can't.

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I say, yes, I can because I work with the industry and they're

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telling me what they're producing.

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They said their productions a year in advance.

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So we know literally every rig 65% on this, less than 35 feet.

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If parks, none of that, and they have that information in advance,

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they know better how to plan.

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They're not trying to build a park for the 45 foot tag axle.

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They're trying to just put a couple of sides for those guys, but build for

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the volume that's coming out, which is less than very flapping with genius.

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Yeah.

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There's just a, there's a wide variety of consumers out there looking

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to do a wide variety of things.

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And if you can find again, That's a marketing 1 0 1, right?

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Find your niche.

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If your niche is the less than 35 feet.

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Awesome.

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If it's greater than 35 feet.

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Awesome.

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If you can do both great.

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But you've got to, you've got to step outside of the box and kind of

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evaluate yourself and everybody's right.

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Those third-party people are great for that.

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Let's spend, I'm sorry, Brian, just real quick, Sandy.

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I'd love would one of the things I love about what you said is it

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sounded like you gave them the advice of tell them who you are.

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Don't tell them who you're not.

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Who are you and just be truthful about who you are and guess what people showed up.

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They told the truth.

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Kudo.

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That's an awesome story.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Let's spend a, and we're got a couple of minutes left here on the show who

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knew that we were going to take I think we were going to go around the room

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and everyone's going to do an idea, Casey, just hijack the whole show.

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But that's okay.

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It was a great discussion.

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We talked about a lot of good things that timely things, I think for

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the time of year, too, that owners can use, I do want to touch briefly

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on the national association of RV parks and campgrounds conference.

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That's coming up next week.

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I know Casey's going to be there.

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Angela is going to be there.

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I don't think Sandy is going to be there.

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Cause you said you were going to stay home.

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And I know, I don't think Randy is.

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And obviously Cara is not she's up here with me in Canada.

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But Angela and Casey, do you want to talk briefly about what your

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kind of expectations are for the conference what's going on there,

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which you're involved in angel.

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Sure.

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So I'm going to be giving a session on Tuesday about reputation management and

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how to build it, how to maintain it and all of that, all of those kinds of things.

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So I'm really looking forward to that.

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It's my first time.

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So it was speaking at Arvik, I've co-led sessions with Brian in the past.

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So it will be an interesting experience.

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And I'm just looking forward to seeing faces again in

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person, not through screens.

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It's the first time I'll be traveling for work since March of 2020.

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So it will be, it'll be really, it'll be a good experience and yeah.

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Looking forward to seeing friendly faces.

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Yeah.

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We, we have we went a little bit off script this year, normally you

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have to spend a bunch of money to be in the main part of the show.

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Just to be by other people that spend a lot of money to be

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in the main part of showroom.

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So we went a little bit different this time and went off in the corner on our

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own with just a bunch of small booths and just said, it'll be more quiet

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over there and you can actually have a bigger cover, a better conversation than

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being an immense amidst all the chaos.

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So we're throwing a little curve ball as far as how we're

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going about that this year.

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We have a couple of different, small sessions that we're doing.

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I'm more interested honestly, to hear what, what other people are saying

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in this industry that kind of aligns with kind of a lot of the data that

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we have, but yeah we'll be there.

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We'll have a booth we'll honestly we're excited this year.

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We're providing beer and wine the whole time, our booth that we just said, Hey,

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there's a lot of people that that we're working with now that we'd love to just.

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Provide a beer forum and ask how the year was.

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Cause you're gonna have so many positive stories.

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And to us, that's going to be somewhat the rewards.

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So looking forward to meet some new parks and stuff like that, or taking

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this one as a little bit more quiet, a little bit off in the corner.

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And if anyone wants to enjoy a glass of beer, a glass of wine

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we're going to provide that.

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Yeah.

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I personally really enjoy going to all of the different conferences simply

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because I like to hear from park owners, but I also enjoy sitting in

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on different educational sessions that it's other supplier sharing about their

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services and going into greater detail.

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And it's more information than I would ever get from just glancing at a website.

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And even though we can't use 99% of the services that the suppliers provide it's

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great for it's great knowledge to share that with our clients, because our clients

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are constantly asking us things that are not marketing related at all, or in a very

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off the beaten path roundabout way, maybe.

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And it's so it's nice to be able to speak with some knowledge and authority

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when they're asking our opinion on things or trends that we're seeing.

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And so I'm really looking forward to the educational piece and also being able

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to link up with some of our clients that we don't get to see except for talking

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to them on the phone and or through.

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Yeah, we are a, Angela's going to be live from Arvik next week.

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She's going to be running around doing some interviews with

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various people during the show.

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Casey, you're welcome to join.

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If you want to do the same thing, and tell some of your owner's stories, you're using

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camp spot, but also have other things to tell if you would like to do that.

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I know Angela, can I try to get a few other people to join the show as well?

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We talked to a couple in the background here, so I just looking

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forward to reporting from RV.

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We may have a couple of other guests on Chuck about other topics as

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well, but it was excited for that.

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And then we've got the other conventions we have come up here.

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We got Koa LSI has got to show, I think simultaneously there's

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Arctic for Jellystone parks.

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And so yeah, getting back to that big conference season with all the three big

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brands here and I'm looking forward to it.

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Anybody else have anything they want to wrap up with?

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I know we're a couple minutes over here, but we had a really good discussion.

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I'm impressed with how that, you never thought that you could talk about

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setting prices in advance and start that discussion for five minutes.

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And it turns into a whole hour long full of useful information.

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I'll end with a quick, funny story.

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So really quick a park that a lot of people know very well.

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We, they put their first dynamic pricing rule on and they meant to

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just put it on for a weekend and they and they just didn't, they,

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when they first set it up, we told them, you can put an end date on it.

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They didn't want to put it, they just set it up themselves

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and they forgot to take it off.

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And then it ran for a month longer than what they thought it was.

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But it ended up making them an extra 60, a hundred dollars in

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that timeframe that they forgot to turn the turn, the rule off.

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So it was just, it was a funny story it's called and is perhaps

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take this rule off, but it made us an extra 60, a hundred dollars.

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So we're super glad we kept it on.

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So it was fun story.

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That's awesome.

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All right.

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Anybody got anything else they want to close with before

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we wrap up the show today?

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Hey,

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I'm just glad the shows are back.

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I did.

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I went to the taco show and the AGA show.

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They were great.

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Great to see the, all the fellow everybody from the industry back out there, again,

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not going to be at Arvik, but I know you guys are going to have fun, just so glad

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to see the in-person stuff coming back.

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Virtual's great.

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But there's nothing like sitting across the table from somebody just saying, okay.

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Oh yeah, you won't hear any argument from me.

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And I produced virtual conferences.

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I'm really hoping for hybrid events here coming up in 20, 22, especially

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with it where you get that.

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If you want to go in person and do the handshake eye contact, which I do.

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And a lot of people I know do you can do that, but also if you can't travel, you

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have commitments to your Campground or whatever, then you can do the virtual too.

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So that's what I'm looking for.

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To see and come to fruition, but yeah.

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All right.

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Thank you guys.

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

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Next week, as we've already discussed, we will be live from our Rick,

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maybe a couple other guests as well.

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Angela will be representing us.

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So if you want to be on the show then you can find Angela or maybe find Casey at his

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booth at camp spot, or some of the other people who are going to be on the show and

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just say, Hey, I want to be on the show.

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I got a tort storytell.

Speaker:

Looking forward to that as a reminder, we are also available as a podcast later on.

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So Spotify, apple, Google you can listen to us.

Speaker:

They are subscribed to us.

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If you prefer an audio only version while you're driving.

Speaker:

But other than that unless anybody has anything else, we'll see you next week.

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