I started my career in Virginia State Parks as the Reservation Center Manager. I believe firmly in never asking staff to do something I am not prepared to do so I routinely took live calls from customers. In fact, I did this even after I was promoted outside of the Center (at least until the Reservation Center moved out to the west end and the phone system no longer allowed me to jump into the queue).
I found it very helpful to keep in touch with our customers in that personal service way. Today I have social media to connect with customers but I still miss the direct phone contact.
Camping at First Landing State Park
What I learned from our customers over the years was that for the most part they pretty much had their mind made up as to where they wanted to go camping when they called. The decision was usually made based on campground preferences ("We go to Douthat every year") or because of location ("We want to go to Virginia Beach this year"). If the campground of choice was sold out, it was rare to find a customer interested in camping at another park.
Over the sixteen years I have been with Virginia Tech because they have been providing analysis of our Your Comments Count Surveys and because they are well regarded by the Travel and Tourism Industry (see below for more information).
Relaxing and spending time with family and friends were identified as major
reasons people go camping (Staunton River State Park)
The results of the Pamplin review of studies and research on the subject are not a surprise to me after years of talking to our campers:
- Many factors go into the park selection process but location and amenities that match the camper's preference are the primary factors.
- While price can be a consideration, lower prices do not equate to increased demand and there is considerable support for the concept that price indicates quality so lower prices could result in reduced demand.
- There is significant research that like in many industries more competition in an area increases business for all competitors.
To read a copy of the transmittal letter by Agency Director David Johnson to the Board of Conservation and Recreation, click here.
To read a copy of the Review of Research by Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business, click here.
Access to fishing, hiking, nature, or local attractions were identified as reasons campers select a particular campground (Douthat State Park, Lakeside Campground)
About the Pamplin College of Business
U.S. News and World Report ranks Pamplin as the #46 business school in the nation and 26th among public institutions. Some of the individual programs within the College are ranked even higher. The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, for example, is currently ranked #6 worldwide.
The hospitality and tourism management department actively collaborates with the hospitality industry. There is an endowed Marriott Professorship within the department; funded research is being conducted with the Virginia Tourism Corporation; and, the faculty regularly consults for hotel companies such as Crestline and Hilton. Further, the department’s Corporate Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from nearly all the major North American-based hotel corporations.