BCLCA contracts Align Consulting to undertake an annual survey to ask members about occupancy, trends; upcoming bookings; rates etc., to help us better understand how operators are running their businesses and using practices such as cancellation policies, lock fees, and websites to improve performance and revenues.
89 members participated in January 2021 by completing or partially completing the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association’s fifth annual survey of member campground and RV park operators in British Columbia.
The information quantifies the health of the camping industry and helps BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) deliver services and advocate for change.
A survey of BCLCA members who have 10 or more campsites was conducted in January 2021. In total, 89 operators responded to the survey representing a response rate of 29.9%. The purpose of the survey was to better understand the overall performance of campgrounds in 2020 a year affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Key Highlights of 2020 Survey:
- The average number of bookings at responding properties was down 18.7% in 2020 compared to 2019.
- Occupancy rates dropped from an average annualized rate of 41.9% in 2019 to 33.4% in 2020 which is a decline of 8.5 percentage points.
- Given the travel restrictions associated with Covid-19, it is not surprising that the average market origin dramatically shifted to domestic markets – particularly BC residents. In fact, BC residents accounted for three-quarters (75.2%) of customers.
- Visitors were touring less and staying longer in one location which drove the average length of stay up to 4.5 nights. This longer stay mitigates some of the decrease in bookings.
- Due to longer stays and higher rate yields over 2019, revenues were only down an average of only 4.8% in 2020. This varied dramatically by tourism region with Northern BC suffering the most significant revenue decline, while Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and Thompson Okanagan have both seen positive revenue outcomes.
- Operators who reported doing well in 2020, had moderate increases in gross revenue while those operators who had revenue declines saw quite drastic decreases. Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) of operators reported an increase in revenue in 2020. Among these operators, the average increase in revenue was 16%. In contrast, 40% of operators reported a decrease in revenue in 2020. The average loss for this segment of operators was -35%.
- Over one-third of operators had decreased capacity in 2020 to adhere to Covid-19 pandemic protocols. Somewhat offsetting the decreased capacity, many operators (42%) shifted their site mix to adjust to Covid-19. Most of these shifts were geared toward hosting more self-contained camper/RVs who tend to have higher yields, be in a contained bubble, and are more weather resilient than tent campers for example.
- Looking to 2021, bookings appear to have started off strong, but there is some concern that travel restrictions may result in a high volume of last-minute cancellations.
- Average Maximum nightly rates are up for all site types in 2021 with a Full Service and Tent sites increasing the most (up 5.4% and 5.6%, respectively over 2020 rates).
- Average nightly rates range dramatically by region. The average maximum nightly cost of a Full-Service site, for example, ranges from a low of $40.41 in Cariboo Chilcotin Coast/Northern BC (were combined due to sample size) to a high of $67.04 in the Vancouver Island region.
2021 survey results to be released in April 2022.