If you spend much time listening to chatter at happy hour, you would form the opinion that touring caravanners are unlikely to stay at caravan parks with jumping pillows and water playgrounds. It is considered unfair to subsidise the costs of these features, when caravanners rarely use them.
Marcus and Kay Kitchen have invested a lot of time and money over the last couple of years renovating the large swimming pool in their Top Tourist Park at Kurrimine Beach in North Queensland, and adding a playground and large water park.
We were surprised to find on our recent visit that there was no corresponding increase in powered site charges for caravanners. During the touring season, the site fees at this coastal park remained at $34 per night or $210 per week (less TTP discount if applicable).
A discussion about this with Kay revealed the Kitchen's counter-intuitive thinking. Having the water park has made the park more attractive to families in the school holidays, particularly in summer when there are few touring caravanners.
However, a park which is more heavily oriented to the family market, and less attractive to touring caravanners, will have low occupancy through school terms, particularly in winter.
Maintaining the site fees at their present level ensures that the park remains attractive to caravanners in the peak travelling season. Catering to both markets spreads the park income more evenly over the year, covering on-going expenses like electricity and rates.
Will more park owners come around to this way of thinking in future, as ever more vanners are using free campsites along the coast?