While we have likely seen the worst of COVID-19 pass, the seemingly consecutive natural disasters Australia has suffered since the late 2019 bushfires and the rising rate of inflation are causing some caravan park operators to continue to feel the pinch.
There are some 1400+ caravan and holiday parks, largely small independent parks, within Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s (CIAA) network, many of which need continued bookings to allow them to continue to recover.
Since the start of the pandemic, caravan and campers have reduced their ‘average length of stay’ from 4.2 to 4.01 nights, while ‘average distance travelled’ per trip saw a reduction from 996km to 857km. These changes in consumer behaviour have impacted accommodation occupancy and revenue, particularly for those not in destination locations or which are away from metropolitan centres, with travellers opting for shorter trips closer to home amid the uncertainty of interstate travel and health concerns. In fact, in recent times more than half of caravan and camping trips were three nights or less, with two to three night trips holding the largest share (43%), while long-haul trips (15+ nights) had fallen to 20% of total caravan and camping nights compared to 27% pre-pandemic levels. It is worth noting that the reduction of this segment doesn’t only impact operators, it also impacts regional economies, communities, and associated supply chains.
As the peak national industry body, CIAA is committed to contributing to the recovery of domestic tourism for the benefit of the Australian caravan and camping sector and the broader Australian economy. Upon identifying the particular challenges park operators were facing after the state borders reopened in late 2020, it was clear that there was a need to drive the sector’s recovery through stimulus activities.
CIAA not only needed to motivate consumers to take up travel again, but to incentivise travel further and for longer periods. Moreover, this objective had to be achieved quickly, since operators particularly in highly desirable but transit locations, were working with depleted funds following two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions. In a bid to support the sector and drive off-peak bookings, CIAA launched a ‘Road to a Million’ consumer stimulus campaign; designed to aid recovery within the caravan and camping sector. The campaign encouraged campers to book caravan park accommodation and/or rent an RV during the promotional period (1 June – 31 October 2022) through offering them the chance to win a million dollars. The longer you stayed and the further you travelled the more entries you received
The campaign ended with over 75,000 individual entrants registering their caravan park stays, representing 328,000+ nights in market. Of the entrants who took part in a consumer experience survey; 68% said the campaign will likely influence a further booking this year, 33% said it influenced a winter holiday they otherwise might not have taken, and 18% said they booked additional nights. For perspective, up to $335 in visitor expenditure is generated for every extra night stayed.
Additionally, 19% said they travelled further due to the campaign, which was reflected in ‘distance travelled’ during July immensely increasing compared to pre-pandemic levels, with trips greater than 2000km now accounting for 27% of all trips, versus just 19% in 2019.
The campaign’s objective to raise up the sector has resulted in meaningful and powerful returns thanks to creative strategy, the united efforts of the 17 industry organisations and companies involved, and each of the individual caravan parks driving the campaign on the frontline. It is a wonderful testament to the character of the industry when such traction can be realised by working together under a shared vision for the benefit of both the industry and regional tourism.
Chief Executive Officer