Welcome to Western PA Camping and RVing Blog from Meadville KOA Campground - Northwestern PA Fun Family Camping and Cabins Zone!
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Why Are Visitor Fees Charged At Campgrounds & RV Parks?
No matter which campground that campers choose to
stay at, if they have friends or family living in or near that area, chances
are, they’ll want to visit them.When
guests arrive at the campground, they are often charged a visitation fee, and
many are surprised by that.Below, we’ve
listed some reasons why visitor fees are necessary.
facilities can only handle so many people at a time. It isn’t that campground owners
don’t want visitors. On the contrary, we
love you to invite people to come visit.
We love to have people see and enjoy our parks. We take great pride in them. However, additional people place an extra
burden on the facilities. There are the
obvious additional expenses of toilet tissue, paper towels, cleaning supplies,
attendant’s labor, garbage bags, and more.
The prices of these supplies have sky rocketed with increased petroleum
prices. We have to recoup those costs.
campgrounds receive hundreds of visitors a month, which can translate into
thousands of visitors a season, which translates into huge extra expenses for
the campground. The less obvious
long-term expense is that expanding facilities is a huge investment these days
and in order to maintain the facilities a campground has, they have to stay
within the capacity boundaries for which their water and sewage systems were
designed and for which they are permitted.
Water system quality, pool samples, and sewage testing are required by
the state to the tune of thousands of dollars a season. All for good reason, as they are designed to
keep the public’s drinking water, swimming facilities, and ground water
safe. However, when extra burdens are
cast upon those facilities, the costs to maintain and operate them increase as
well. If the testing of those systems is
that expensive, imagine the increased operating expenses for them as well.
State and local laws, set
occupancy, and facilities are only permitted for so many people accordingly.
Design load and licensing of campgrounds or the facilities is similar to
the ‘seating capacity’ license you see in food services, however recognize that
because a campground does not have tables and chairs that limit occupancy, it
must be done in another fashion. The state
issues sewer treatment permits based on the total number of campsites and
number of people per campsite, times the average water usage per campsite. That is why the number of people per campsite
and the total number of campsites is limited.
When the campground is full, an extra 8 people is another campsite. Multiple that by several campsites, and the
idea of overflowing sewer systems should come to mind.
In addition, the
visitor rates aren’t normally set on the person who uses the facilities the
least, but on the average cost of the visitors to the campground or RV park. The campground owner assumes that your family
will participate in activities and events, enjoy the entertainment provided,
and or utilize the swimming pool, and other facilities and amenities. These business owners know that their visitor
rates go up dramatically on holiday and special event weekends. The numbers of visitors increase because we
have special activities and events; have better entertainers or entertainment
and more things to do.
In some states, laws require that every
visitor to a private outdoor hospitality property register, regardless of
intent to visit residents or use the facilities. State health department require that business
owners can identify all in residence and visiting in case health issues arise. User pay fees are the fairest way to cover
the costs of those inherent costs, and should a health risk arise, to identify
the users at risk.
Security is always a concern.
Campgrounds, like anywhere else, can be a target for thieves, child
predators, etc. So tracking who is in the park helps to reduce the chances of
theft, child abductions, among others.
It provides more security for both your family and possessions.
Emergency Preparedness is essential! What if the campground had to be evacuated in the
event of a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado?
How would the campground account for who was on the premises and who
might be missing?
Parking extra vehicles
is another issue. In most
campgrounds, real estate is a premium.
So, too many cars per campsite quickly become a congestion and safety issue. Most campgrounds limit the number of vehicles
per campsite to one or two for safety reasons and rescue vehicle access. Therefore, the campground needs to provide extra
visitor parking areas to relieve that congestion and ensure access for emergency
vehicles. That means that there is a
clerk that has to assign the visitors tags, provide access to the park, a campsite
map to help the visitor to find the folks they desire to visit, and finally
directions on where they are to park.
All of these materials and the employee’s time is an additional increase
to the cost of operations to the business.
Be a courteous camper! No one wants to be camped next to a mob. If you’re planning a family reunion, birthday
party or another celebration of some sort, ask about using a pavilion or
facility so as not to intrude on your camping neighbor!
increase a campground’s liability insurance costs. The rates for a campground’s liability
insurance are based on the risk assessment and the number of people who occupy a
campground during a season. The higher
the number of occupants in the RV Park or campground, the risk increases accordingly. In addition, some insurance carriers argue
that visitors are more likely to be injured because they are unfamiliar with
their surroundings, may not be aware of all the rules or safety policies at
campgrounds, and are less likely to be dressed appropriately for the camping or
outdoor experience. All of these things
place the visitor at an increased risk for an injury.
privately owned and operated campgrounds aren’t subsidized by tax dollars like federal,
state, and county parks. Even at most of
those campgrounds, there is an entrance fee, and then camping fees on top of
it. They charge for visitors too. It’s called day use fees.
Read the back of your visitor's tag! Many
campgrounds, offer a full refund if you're only there a short time (less than
an hour). You just take the time-stamped tag back to the office
and they'll refund your visitation fee if you were there in less than that
amount of time.
State Laws define unlawful trespass and theft of services. Visitors or
users of any private property that have not identified their purpose are
considered trespassers, and are subject to trespass laws, and or theft of
service charges. In some states, this is also called defrauding an inn
keeper. These laws help protect
campgrounds from thieves, vagrants, etc.
Trying to cheat or defraud a campground owner as to how many people you
have camping with you or visiting you can land you in hot water with the
law. Please don’t do that! It’s not only
more honest and the right thing to do, it’s the law. Please don’t place a campground owner in the
position of having to have you arrested for unlawful trespass, defiant
trespass, and/or theft of services.
Visitor’s fees, as you can see, are necessary. There are additional costs associated with
visitors. It isn’t fair to pass those
costs on to all the campers. That is why
most campgrounds charge the people receiving those services (i.e. the visitor)
for the services rendered.
So the next time you hear
someone complaining about a visitor’s fee, or worse yet encouraging another
person to cheat or to avoid paying a visitors fee, remember that it is you, the
RVer or camper, who will ultimately pay for that visit. At the end of the business year, when the
numbers come in, and that owner looks at the bottom line from that camping
season, the campground owner will have to set their rates for the next season to
offset their losses. In other words,
they’ll have to raise the campsite prices accordingly to pay for those extra supplies,
extra tests, extra labor and extra maintenance.
So when visitors cheat, they aren’t cheating just the campground owner
and breaking the law. In the end, they
are cheating the American consumer, and in this case, that is you, the camper.
Tim & Robyn Chilson, own
and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.You can contact Robyn at 814-789-3251