When we think of RVers, I think we automatically think of those customers traveling in a motorhome and pulling a travel trailer, but I think we should broaden that definition. What if we started defining "RV customers" as customers driving or towing any vehicle used for recreation? Maybe we even call them “recreation customers.”
Of course, this would include those with motorhomes and travel trailers used for camping/living on the road, but it would also incorporate those towing boats, jet skis, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, and any motorized vehicle used for recreation and towed on a trailer.
I suggest this because these customers likely have a lot in common with traditional RV customers in terms of what they need and how they access truckstop and travel plaza offerings. Maybe we should even include customers towing lawn maintenance equipment, race cars, etc., where there are multiple vehicles—one being driven and one being towed) that need to fuel and park.
Last week, Amy Toner, NATSO’s vice president, publishing and digital content and I sat down to talk about how to meet attract and cater to these customers.
I think the real demographic is "E" for Everyone. Even when you drill down to just traditional campers and people in RVs, the age range and demo is likely still quite broad, particularly this summer as more and more families travel by road. I wouldn’t make assumptions here as it likely matches that of a traditional “car” customer.
Most recreation travelers will be traveling in groups, either with friends or their families. We know families, like most customers, value clean, safe facilities.
Billboards on the highway showing cleanliness and family friendliness can appeal to this group.
Advertise picnic tables or a dog park, for example.
Signage for “RVs welcome” or “RV friendly” can also draw in these travelers as they know you can accommodate their equipment.
Also, promote your healthy and non-fast food options. Advertise anything typically associated with family needs, activities, events coming up, etc. that shows recreation travelers that your location caters to those like them.
Recreational Travelers’ Needs
Remember that those traveling with recreational vehicles have some different needs than traditional car travelers and professional drivers.
While food and fuel are always important, RVers often look for:
- An RV dump station
- Large fueling lanes (gas + diesel) that are easy to maneuver and well-marked for larger vehicles/combos
- RV-specific supplies, such as tank treatment, hoses, etc.
- Food items that fit nicely in coolers and small RV fridges, including condiments, milk and juices
- Travel-size or weekend-size necessities, such as laundry detergent, aluminum foil, milk, cereal, etc.
- Stuff for a campfire, including wood, matches, kindling/fire starter, marshmallows and other s’mores ingredients
- Cocktail ice in smaller bags—7 lbs. or smaller—and cooler ice in larger (10 lb. bags)
- Freshwater fill (this is often near or part of RV dump, but it is sometimes on fuel islands)
- Designated parking
- Signage to show where to pull after fueling if they want to run inside
- Long-handled squeegees
- For NATSO members near recreation areas or on the way to them, consider adding information and books and maps for sale about hiking, boating, etc., in that area
- Sunscreen, bug spray, and other water-sports needs
Also, if you carry Ethanol-free fuel, advertise it, especially to RVers. People with generators or with gasoline engines that may not burn through entire tanks of fuel have to worry about ethanol-based fuels turning to varnish inside their tanks. This happened to a friend of mine’s generator tank. In lieu of this, fuel additives like stabilizers, etc., that can prolong the shelf-life of fuel in a tank are also popular options.
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