When we first started camping, and I was making all the reservations, you paid for the rig. There was one price for the site- so tent sites were cheaper than big rig sites. This always made sense to me, and I never had a problem with this method. Some places still do this, and they get my loyalty.
Then we started seeing one price for a “family” and fees for guests. While I understand that campgrounds do not want people using the facilities for free while others are paying for them, the first time I encountered it really made me angry. I was trying to get ahold of my in-laws in the days before cell phones. I had to drive all the way over to their campground, and pay $5 to go leave them a note. I was there all of 10 minutes, and only drove my little car on the roads in and out. I was livid. Needless to say, I am not a fan of fees for “guests”.
In recent years, I have been seeing fees for any family over 4 people. Apparently, that is the allowance for a family now. Pardon me for having too many children. While I can see that more children use more water and electricity perhaps, but most kids while camping are just playing and running around. They are generally not using electricity nor do they want to bathe.
Today I was making the last of the reservations for our trip to New England, and came upon a new fee schedule. This one says that the rate is only for 2 people. You now have to pay and extra $2 per child per night. I said I only had 2. This place I would not consider a family friendly campground. Camping is apparently now for baby boomers. I would say though that my 5 children use significantly less water electricity and septic in our travel trailer than any two baby boomers. I love my in-laws, but they are more likely to have multiple devices going, my MIL loves to iron things, and I know some of those big rigs have TVs and even fireplaces! We did not have a TV in the trailer until last year, and still rarely turn it on (movie nights when it is raining is about the only time).
Perhaps some campgrounds need to remember that they are not an airline that can get away with charging all those little fees. If you are not making enough money, then raise the overall rate, but don’t say your rate is one thing, and then charge me for each person. Think of the all inclusive resort fee structure, not the cheap airline that makes people angry. (Side note, I recently purchased a “$55” ticket that ended up costing me closer to $200 after all the fees.)
How to stop this? Today when I was making the reservation (and they called me after I emailed them) I told them that I was not happy with the fees for each child. I said I thought it was wrong to do it this way and it should be one fee for the CAMPSITE. He said he would make note of it.
If you decide to go to one campground over another because of the cost, then you should be able to tell what the actual cost is! We changed plans when we found a KOA near Niagara was $125 a night. I want to know what the full cost is up front. The funny thing is, this is the cheapest night we will spend out on our trip (even with the per child/dog, etc fees), and yet the one that angered me the most. Maybe campground owners need to think about who their customers are and how to encourage them to come stay at their campground. A little customer service and a reasonable fee structure would go a ways toward encouraging the next generation of campers.