Valuing the Opinions of People
We have all, at some point or another, walked by a survey or comment box at a business. Comment cards are provided, along with a pen or pencil, and everything else needed to get your feedback. Likewise, we have all ignored emails from companies asking us to complete more surveys or thrown away receipts with unique codes printed on the bottom. It’s partially why many of these companies have begun to offer the temptation of sweepstakes, discounts or prizes just for completing one of these. Not because they love giving away items, but because they understand the value that surveys provide.
These companies want to know how your experience was, how you were treated, what you liked or didn’t like as you walked through the aisles. While many people imagine this is just a show, a farce to make people think that this company values your opinion, I would venture to say that a vast majority of these are reviewed very carefully. The belief that they go unread probably stems from the fact that a survey rarely receives any response. You took your time to fill one out, and you would like some kind of confirmation that your time was well spent.
Putting aside the response for a second, there is an excellent reason why these companies want your feedback. There is a desire to know what you think, so they can focus their efforts on being better in that area. Should a majority or surveys come back with similar comments, the company can take action to correct that or prioritize it. You must remember that a majority of reviews will inherently be positive. Surveys are not an attempt to collect a stack of complaints, but rather know how the business can be improved. It is for the same reason that you should survey your campers.
Knowing What People Know
Many campground owners fall into a similar trap. Do you survey your guests? A typical response is that they already know what needs to be improved. This answer is not unique among campground owners, but a common lie we tell ourselves as business owners. You might think you know what needs to be improved, but you have no idea what your guests think needs improved. The only thing you know, without a survey, is what you want to improve on your campground. The few owners who find success following their opinions are usually the ones who camped extensively before owning a park.
There is a fear within this industry that every response will be a negative one. A fear that sending out surveys will result in screaming, cursing, angry guests who provide no value. While these people exist, most campground owners will be surprised to know they are in the minority. If the majority of your guests are writing bad reviews, you have much bigger issues to deal with.
What usually happens is that most of your surveys will be overwhelmingly positive. People will speak highly of your activities, amenities, landscaping and customer service. Inside all these positive comments, you will gain valuable knowledge about what you can improve, though. Methods you can use to grow your business even more. These insights come from happy guests who wish for the second hour of bingo or those who wonder if you could leave your pool open another hour on Friday nights. They come from people who had a fantastic time but think your bathrooms need to be cleaner.
Encouraging Repeat Business
Everything we do in our lives has a cause, followed by an effect. Sending a survey to your campers is no different. We’ve talked about the value of reading the comments they post, but let’s put aside all of that. Let’s circle back to the dozens of surveys that are never filled out or tossed into the trash. The reviews that are almost instantly deleted from someone’s inbox and never opened.
A smart business owner sees just as much potential in an unopened survey as they do in a completed survey. The simple act of sending a survey shows that you care. Unopened or not, trashed or not, deleted or not. Many of the people who receive your email will never fill it out. For a few seconds, though, a thought crossed their mind. It was the knowledge that the campground they just stayed at, cared enough to ask about their experience. The guest felt their comments were not being ignored as they are at other businesses. This feeling alone will make you stand out from the crowd.
You have no idea what kind of powerful impact that can have. A decision to come back and stay again on the return trip home, or a recommendation to a friend. A memory that your campground is willing to open itself up to criticism in the pursuit of being better. This memory results in free marketing and advertisement for your business, without placing an ad. It is a customer service experience that drives loyalty.
Getting Started With Surveys
There is no reason to ignore your campers. You do so at your peril and with the future of your own business in jeopardy. The options for gathering feedback are numerous, and the cost minimal. What kind of survey system you implement, though, should be based on many different factors. Chief among these is evaluating which one will benefit your campground the most.
Printing out comment cards is one of the most widely used methods. You can leave them in cabins, or include them in welcome packets. This choice comes with a few issues, though. We are living in an age where electronic communication is preferred, and the golden age of handwriting has vanished. It takes more effort to convince a guest to write on a card than it does to type on a website. Assuming you do get survey cards back, you must now be able to decipher the words. You must read not only what they said, but be able to discern their email address, name or phone number to reply.
An easier method is to send out surveys via email. If your campground uses a computer-based reservation system, this is typically very easy. You simply need the first name, last name and email address of the people you want to survey. Our reputation management service includes a survey system for free, but there are other methods as well. You can send out emails manually or even use MailChimp or Survey Monkey.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what method you settle on; the key is that you are willing to listen and engage. Your campers will notice, and your business will grow.