During my 19 years in the outdoor hospitality industry, I’ve experienced and witnessed countless examples of goodwill, kindness, generosity, compassion and support. Sadly, I’ve also witnessed harsh words of judgment when someone has asked a question that also revealed that they’re not abiding by a law or regulation, and I’ve witnessed ugly backbiting, misinformed rumors, and precisely aimed knife throwing. Such behavior has often led to permanent withdrawals by those who were attacked.
Anytime you need goodwill, kindness, generosity, compassion or support, please know that there are far more of this ilk than the loud and boisterous few who bully their way through their careers.
Let’s focus on some examples of building up. Industry colleagues can do a lot for your bottom line, from saving you from their earlier mistakes to sending you more customers.
Back when online reservations were new on the scene, I met a developer who was designing such a program for campgrounds. I wanted to buy the program yet it had weaknesses for my overnight facility. I was able to expose his team to the needs of overnight campgrounds. The program was then adapted to meet those needs while still satisfying the larger destination parks. Win / Win!
When social media was new I was one of the early embracers. Some of my colleagues began noticing, and soon the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) asked me to teach on how I was using it. My colleagues called me the Social Media Queen, a title I fell into for I certainly hadn’t intentionally walked down that path. Still, I was happy to share what I was doing so others could do the same for their campgrounds.
Before long, my campground was receiving guests who were traveling in my area on their way from eastern states to western ones. You see, my teachings led to relationships and, when a guest of theirs shared that they were heading west, my name then came up.
When someone asked me to run for a seat on ARVC’s Board of Directors, I was shocked. I had no such plans! Still, history has shown that that’s where I ended up (actually, even on the Executive Committee). Those roles introduced me to even more industry colleagues. I then witnessed many colleagues grow and gain through industry relationships.
Did you know that more than once I’ve seen people provide cash to those who were struggling? I was once on the receiving end of that unexpected kindness, and it arrived with a Bible passage: Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
Later I extended the same act to others, while meditating on this passage for them: “… [My colleague] will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.” Deuteronomy 28:12 (NLV)
There’s more. You see, had I simply stayed at my campground and tended to only its operations, I not only would have missed out on countless friendships but my park would have suffered. The park I bought needed a tremendous facelift. During my 10 years of ownership, I took it from one that was being evicted from the Good Sam program to one with ratings that placed it in the top 8% in the country. How? Through my continuing education that I gained by participating in:
- My state association meetings
- My state’s travel industry association seminars
- ARVC’s school and seminars, and
- Countless conversations with industry colleagues.
The park that I bought and the park I later sold weren’t even remotely similar! Actually, it wasn’t even the same place from one year to the next. Between physical changes, policy changes, staff changes, and technology changes, the park evolved day by day and year by year.
How can you achieve more industry support? Well, first one must actually want to connect. Participate in industry meetings, conferences and webinars. Reach out. Oh, and when someone bites you wrong, well, remember to not let the obnoxious few ruin your success. Let it roll off. There are likely another 100 people who are ready to be supportive!
Industry folks stay connected via arvc Exchange, Facebook private messages or groups or friendships, emails, phone calls, text messages and virtually every means possible. But first they must get connected!