Owning a caravan park: keep expenses low and fun high

The caravan parks industry is growing steadily in Australia, and owning a caravan park can be a great business opportunity for people who enjoy a busy and varied lifestyle. And keeping expenses low and fun high is as important for caravan park owners as it is for holidaymakers.

Here are some of the things you should know if you are thinking of buying or managing a caravan park and want to make it a success.

Why are caravan parks so popular in Australia?

Domestic travel has become more popular due to the fall in the value of the dollar, and caravan parks offer an ideal way for people to explore their home country at an affordable cost. This has been helped even further by falling petrol prices, which has encouraged more people to choose caravanning holidays and road trips. In 2017, caravan parks generated a huge $2.1 billion of revenue in Australia.

So, which types of people are choosing caravan parks over hotels and other forms of accommodation? Caravanners tend to fall into two categories:

  • Holidaymakers – these are people who choose one caravan park as their holiday destination and stay for the duration of their holiday. Typical examples are families and pet owners looking for a rewarding holiday experience.
  • Travellers – these tend to stay in a number of different caravan parks along the route of a road trip. Travellers can be any age, but there is a growing trend for “Grey Nomads,” who are Baby Boomers taking a year out in retirement to travel around Australia by road.

A successful caravan park needs to be able to cater to customers across all age groups. In order to do this, it is important to know the top three reasons why customers choose a particular caravan park over others. These are:

  • price
  • atmosphere
  • extra facilities

This is why keeping expenses low and fun high is central to the success of your park.

What elements make a good caravan park?

There are a number of essential elements that a caravan park should have in order to be successful. You need to consider these when you are thinking about buying a caravan park.

1. Location

People who enjoy caravanning holidays want to experience the natural environment. Your park should ideally be located far enough away from the city to provide a quiet, rural atmosphere, where people can see the stars in the night sky without the ambient light of an urban setting.

However, many of your customers will also want the convenience of shops, restaurants and other amenities, so it helps if there is a city within easy driving distance.

2. Onsite facilities and social opportunities

A good caravan park should offer a number of ways to enjoy nature, such as walking, cycling and opportunities to spot wildlife. But remember that you will be catering for a wide range of different ages and social groups.

Younger customers are likely to want sports facilities such as a swimming pool or tennis court, while your older guests might be more interested in bingo or trivia. Families will appreciate a playground and possibly even a kids’ club.

A café or restaurant has the potential to be welcomed by everyone, and it also helps if there is a central space where people can meet, socialise and find staff if they need to, such as a clubhouse.

3. Nearby attractions and activities

People will get more enjoyment from a caravan holiday if they can take advantage of everything the local area has to offer, rather than just staying onsite. Let them know about the attractions that the surrounding area offers, such as tourist attractions in a nearby city or water sports in a coastal location.

You can even consider providing guided tours or a shuttle service to help people access all the local amenities.

4. Maintenance and upkeep

This is one of the most important elements of a successful caravan park. You need to make sure all your facilities are kept clean and in good working order, your landscaping is tidy, and any issues are resolved as quickly as possible.

Think about your reputation at all times, as word-of-mouth recommendations are extremely important in this industry, more so since online reviews such as Tripadvisor have arrived.

5. Security and safety

Make sure your park is enclosed and well lit, to deter unwelcome visitors. You can make people feel safer by employing security staff onsite and letting customers know where they can find them in an emergency.

What type of person buys a caravan park?

The most important thing is to love the outdoor lifestyle and be passionate about providing an excellent level of service. Your customers will want you to get to know and remember them if they book frequently, so it helps if you have experience in leisure or customer service.

Running a caravan park is a role with many different responsibilities. You must be a hands-on, quick decision-maker who can put things into practice straight away and respond to a wide variety of situations. Being extremely organised is also helpful, as it enables you to plan more effectively.

The hours can be long, especially in peak seasons, and the financial rewards are moderate. Remember, you will have to take into account a number of costs such as electricity, water rates, land tax and charges, as well as wages for your staff. You can expect to make approximately $70,000 a year from managing a caravan park. However, this is a flexible and highly enjoyable career for anyone who loves the caravanning lifestyle.

If you are interested in buying a caravan park and would like more information, please contact us.

Chris Rowe & team

With a strong appreciation of what constitutes a successful accommodation business sale, I’m able to recommend a sale price for your business; whether its a hotel, motel, resort, backpackers, caravan park, or management rights , at optimal market value. During my time as a broker, I have sold in excess of 100 properties around New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory. On average, I can take a property from ‘Listed’ to ‘Sold’ within 30 days.

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