Year-Round Revenue

Your facility takes center stage for three months out of the year. The grass is mowed, the paint is fresh and everything is in its place.

Keeping your camp open year-round can keep staff and property in tip-top shape.

But at the end of the season, many properties lie dormant. Your pride and joy loses its color, the weeds grow, the paint chips and many spaces are askew.

By the time camp rolls around the following year, the general maintenance, repairs, and upkeep can be overwhelming.

The cash flow that you accumulated during the summer has also trickled to a slow drip.

But there is a way to ensure that facilities shine year-round. Operating as a retreat center not only saves money on the operating costs of a facility, but it’s also a way to make money. Depending on the length of time camps are available, a property can easily make thousands of dollars.

Whether the profit earned goes directly back into a facility, toward scholarships, or to the community, hosting retreats offers solutions to problems that linger after campers go home.

In order to host retreats successfully, you must love your camp property all year long. The best way to show your love is to let as many people as possible enjoy the beautiful facilities you have built.

After all, buildings left dormant have much higher maintenance demands than those that are occupied. Small drips are caught before they become floods while chipping paint can be touched up without entire sections needing treatment. In short, problems are identified on an ongoing basis rather than discovered all at once.

If a camp is already hosting retreats, you know that retreat business is no walk in the park. It takes a well-trained staff, financial planning, and absolute commitment to service to be successful.

Switching from the camp world to the hospitality industry requires shifting your mindset about your facilities in an entirely new direction. For example, although utility costs go up with winter retreats, they also supply additional revenue to invest in facilities or scholarships. Additionally, year-round opportunities lead to better staff, which ultimately creates the best foundation for a camp community during the summer and rest of the year.

The idea of serving adults 8 to 10 months of the year can be daunting, but in many ways they are less demanding on facilities than children. Ironically, it may be their complaints about something that kids would never notice that help identify potential crises before they occur, such as broken steps or cracked sinks.

Some directors or boards are hesitant to remain open all year because of the perceived demands on the staff. In reality, not only will you be able to hire stronger employees because they are busy all the time, but like physical exercise–it is much easier when done regularly.

Related posts:

  1. On The Ball Year-Round
  2. Your Year-Round Resource
  3. All-Access Athletics
  4. Resourceful Water Treatment
  5. The Master Plan

2 comments on “Year-Round Revenue

  1. Chris Cameron on said:

    There are a couple of specific financial things to consider.

    1. Meal tax. You don’t pay meal tax for summer camp, but you will need to pay sales tax to the state on your meals, just like a restaurant does, unless each group specifically meets the educational exemption. That exemption is: 1) qualified instructors 2) real educational “classes” that are described 3) mandatory attendance at those “classes” for ALL attendees. You must keep documentation of these things in case of a challenge.

    2. Bed tax. Careful. Hotels in your area must pay “bed tax.” Check out the regulations before your camp begins looking like a hotel.

  2. Gary Forster on said:

    Worst…Advice…Ever. Any experienced camp executive who has looked closely at her costs will tell you that 1.) Year-round guests wear out a facility faster than summer guests (you have less supervision); 2.) Year-round operations have a higher cost than summer (you pay your summer counselors peanuts, but year-round you have comparatively higher food costs, energy costs, cleaning costs, snow-removal, and program supervision expenses); 3.) yet you charge your retreat guests 1/2 of your summer rate (because they won’t pay any more because they have so many other choices at OTHER desperate camps). But all of this would be fine IF your summer program was full. But since it’s not, every hour you spend talking to retreat groups on the phone, planning for them, preparing camp for them, supervising them, and cleaning up AFTER them is an hour (hundreds of hours, actually) that you CAN’T spend filling your summer camp. And that’s the biggest danger, what economists call the “Opportunity Cost” of what else you could have been doing with that time.
    The only reason to do year-round business is because it’s a part of your mission to provide a specific program to a specific group of people. “Anything for a buck” is not a mission statement. It’s a guarantee that your summer program will never fill.

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