Pelland Blog

Win by Adapting to External Factors

June 5th, 2016

I have been doing a bit of flying lately, and this has given me pause to think about how both airports and airlines have either adapted to external factors or have been doomed to fail. To survive – and indeed to succeed – any business needs to be aware of changes in its surroundings and to keep a proverbial ear to the ground. You may not be listening for an oncoming stampede of buffalo, but the consequences could be just as dire.

It was not simply the airliners being flown into the Twin Towers that changed the way we fly forever. There were other, much more subtle factors that came into play over time. Let’s examine two issues: reading and restaurants.


In years past, passengers tended to either nap or read while flying. On short flights, the monthly airline magazine and the (now defunct) SkyMall catalog would keep many people occupied. For longer flights (or for frequent flyers who had already read that month’s literature in the seatback pocket), you would find passengers reading books, magazines, and newspapers like The Wall Street Journal. Booksellers were among the busiest stores in the airport terminals.

If you were an airport bookseller, life was good … until external factors came into play. Those started with e-Readers like Kindle, but the real game-changer was when the airlines started offering wi-fi on flights. The same people who were glued to their phones and tablets when on the ground could now remain equally attached at 30,000 feet.


Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, one of my cousins was the manager of the upscale restaurant at Bradley International Airport (my local airport, serving Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts.) In those pre-TSA days, half of the restaurant’s clientele consisted of people who drove to the airport from the Hartford or Springfield areas specifically to dine at The Terrace Room.

Most passengers back in those days probably grumbled about the shrink-wrapped serving trays but were content with eating the meals that were routinely served by their Eastern, Northeast, Pan Am and TWA flight attendants, and airline catering companies were just as busy as baggage handlers. The first game-changer was when the airlines stopped serving meals to the coach class passengers who make up the bulk of each flight.

If they are not being fed in flight, passengers quite naturally turn to restaurants in the airport terminals. Fast food generally rules because it is, by definition, “fast”, at a time when passengers have mere moments to spare after snaking through the TSA screening process. Because only ticketed passengers are allowed into airport terminals these days, there are no opportunities for restaurants to solicit business from folks without boarding passes.

On the other hand, with fewer non-stop flights, restaurants in hub airports like Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago’s O’Hare, Charlotte’s Douglas International, and Washington DC’s Reagan National tend to offer more variety in dining, capitalizing upon sometimes lengthy layovers between connecting flights. One of my favorites is Café Intermezzo, located in Terminal B at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, in Atlanta. The restaurant features fine dining, an extensive alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage menu, and – this is the kicker – a bookstore. Are you starting to get a feeling for how it is possible to adapt to external factors? At a time when standalone airport bookstores are struggling, adding bookshelves to a restaurant wall serve to supplement the dining experience without cannibalizing dining space or adding to the business’s rent.

Is your campground keeping abreast of external developments that can either positively or negatively impact your business? These can include low gasoline prices, highway construction detours, flooding and other extreme weather incidents, the potential onslaught of the Zika Virus, the proliferation of drones (and their potential threat to the privacy of your guests), and overall upturns and downturns in the local, regional and national economies.

As you can see, some of these are positive, others are predominantly negative, and in some cases negatives can be turned into positives. The important thing is not to be caught off-guard but to see these influences coming. Only with that knowledge can you prepare to develop strategies that will allow you to make the best of every situation that is beyond your control.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Find Marketing Inspiration Beyond Your Immediate Surroundings

May 13th, 2009

When I started in business back in 1980, my primary client base consisted on smaller to medium-sized ski areas in the Northeastern United States. We produced collateral advertising for these clients, most of whom were struggling to hold their own, as their clientele increasingly felt that they had “outgrown” the smaller, more local mountains. The problem was that everybody had skied at one time or another at the “big” resorts in Vermont and out West. As disposable incomes increased, leisure time became more highly valued, and it increasingly seemed to make sense to book a flight to the Rockies or Europe. The small ski areas that have survived are mostly the ones that repositioned themselves within this market. They no longer saw themselves competing against the other nearby mountains but against the marketing of the bigger resorts elsewhere in the region or partway across the globe. As time has gone on, they have further redefined themselves, extending their seasons with golf courses and other non-winter attractions. The fact is that they are no longer just competing against the bigger ski resorts but against foreign travel, the cruise industry, and the full range of options that vie for the consumer’s leisure dollars.

When we offered marketing solutions to our clients in the ski industry, we closely examined what was being done at Killington, Vail, Stowe, Sun Valley, Park City, Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole and others, including the big resorts in Canada and Europe. The same thing has happened with our clients in the amusement park and attractions industry, where everyone has visited Disney World and has come back with higher expectations. The same thing happened as well with our campground clients, where every camper has at one time or another stayed at a five-star resort. In every instance, the idea is not to present your business as something that it isn’t, but to present the unique advantages that your business offers that allow it to remain relevant in the overall scheme of evolving consumer expectations. You need to closely examine – and visit – the leaders within your industry, as well as industries that compete for the same consumer dollars. Then come back and see how you can apply the lessons learned to make your business hold greater appeal to both your existing clientele and an expanding base of prospects. In almost every instance, the issue is not size but the quality and level of services that you are able to provide. You know your clientele better than anyone else, so you should know exactly which services are the ones that they will most highly value and appreciate. Offer them those, with a smile and a personal touch!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Special for Campground Owners: Over 25 Directories to List Your Campground’s Website – Mostly for Free!

July 23rd, 2008

The number of links from established websites (including search engines and directories) helps to determine the search ranking of your own site. An extremely small investment of time on your part can immeasurably enhance your site’s search engine position. You’re no doubt familiar with Woodalls and Trailer Life, but there is a growing number of smaller, independent campground directories. In total, these sites can send you plenty of traffic, along with improving your own site’s link relevancy! Most of these sites offer free links and quick submission forms. Directories that only offer paid listing options or do not include online submission forms may not be included in this alphabetized list. Simply take a few minutes to click through the links. Remember to search for your site at each search engine or directory before submitting your site. If your site is already listed, do not resubmit your listing.

All Campgrounds
(Choose your state to add URL)

America On Wheels
This is one of my newest finds. An excellent directory, with hard-hitting reviews.



Campgrounds By City
Your campground is probably already listed, but follow the links to confirm your listing,
submit a listing (if necessary), and to check for consumer reviews.

Leisure and Sport Review Parks
Another new find, with a nice, clean look.

Recreation USA

Recreational Vehicle and Campground Directory

Road Camping

Roaming Times
(Follow the simple procedure to see if you are listed. If not, follow the links to submit the form.)

RV-Coach Online

RV Family Fun
If your park is not listed, click on the “Add Campground” link in the upper right.

RV Mechanic
(Choose your state to add URL)


RV Park Hunter
If your park is not listed, send an e-mail to:

RV Resources

RV Toads Campground & RV Park Directory


The Outback Guide

Travel & Tourism Guides by

(Based in New Zealand, an international directory of travel resources.)

(Another international directory of travel resources.)
There are separate listing categories for “Campgrounds” and “RV Parks”
This first link is for the Campground submission form:
This second link is for the RV Park submission form:
(A Canadian directory of US vacation travel destinations)
(Click your state on map to add URL.)

WorldWeb Lodging & Accommodations Listings
(Select your state and follow the links to see if you are listed or to add your site or correct your listing.)

Two Bonuses: “Pet Friendly” Directories & Wi-Fi Hotspot Directories

Every campground has some sort of pet policy. If you consider your campground to be “pet friendly” by one definition or another, you should do your best to let people know.
(Free listing. Paid advertising options.)
(Free one-month trial listing. Fee if you choose to continue beyond the trial.)

A recent survey showed that wi-fi access is a more important factor than the presence of a swimming pool when choosing a campground. Prospective campers, particularly those who find you online, will go out of their way to stay at a campground with wi-fi Internet access (particularly if it is free). If your campground offers wi-fi, go to the following site and be sure that you’re listed.

Wi-Fi Free Spot
(Free listings of campgrounds offering free wi-fi.)

Particularly in challenging economic times, it is important to not simply sit back and wait for business to find you. Take a proactive role to insure that your campground continues to thrive in both good times and bad.

This post was written by Peter Pelland