<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RV Park Rating Systems
NOTE: While this is designated as an ARCHIVE FILE, it is retained despite the date of first publication because it offers information of continuing current interest and/or for its historical perspective. Please be guided accordingly.



New RV Park Rating System Needed!

 by Paul Bostwick

[Ed Note: Though written several years ago, this problem appears to be a continuing concern for some RV Park owners, and is thus retained here as a Archive File.]

What do W’s, stars or 10’s mean to you and me? I recently purchased a motor home and for 2 months traveled across the country and back. We always stayed in RV parks, no boon docking for us. We used 3 different reference books to find our next site location using the current rating systems, I still did not know what type of park I was going to find, (mostly I was looking for large, pull-thru sites). Length of sites and/or sites wide enough for all the slide-out configurations is a growing concern plus extra vehicles to park.

First, let me explain I am an RV park owner, and have worked in the industry for 51 plus years. My opinions are based on those experiences. Now, my experiences as a “customer” give me added insight into this area of ”ratings”.

Let me give some examples; a park is rated 5 stars, but has only rock sites with little or no landscaping, however they are in a rural woods or forest setting. They have a pool, which is not heated in winter, and a playground.  The clubhouse has a big screen, but no cable TV or 50 amps electric at the sites. They have a pond for fishing and horseshoe pits, but the bathrooms are a quarter mile from the sites. It’s a 5 star park or at least thats what’s on their sign.

The 2nd park is located in the desert and also highly rated. All sites are concrete pull thru’s with full hookups including cable TV and 50 amp electric. The park is surrounded by a golf course with a catch and release fishing lake. The swimming pool and spas are heated all year. The clubhouse has a work out room, large laundry facility, and tennis courts nearby. However, the on site store is limited to drinks and ice, but has a pro shop for the golfers.

The ratings system gives a brief description, but does not elaborate on the physical aspects or amenities of either park. How will I know which park is right for me?

Traveling across country, we encountered no parks with concrete or blacktop surface for the sites. Most were rock and/or dirt, hookups varied from full to limited. We spent one night in a park’s overflow, an area along the fence with only electric hookup.  One park was all rock not a tree, blade of grass or landscaping, just this flat field of RV’s. The ratings don’t take into account where a park is located, what are its surroundings and the quality of its amenities. In our park, sites are mostly concrete with small green belts between sites and asphalt roadways.

A recent guest to our park completed the customer survey and added the comment he felt we were a large parking lot. However, he admitted he only stayed in State or Federal campgrounds and he was in a pickup camper. I’m sure he would have felt the same way about the park in the desert, but right at home in the mountain park. How can a rating take into consideration what is important to each and every RVer? How can a rating look at all the various types of RV’s and determine how they would fit in each and every RV Park? What makes one park become a resort and another just a campground? How does one size fit all?

The campground and RV park industry are sometimes compared to the hotel or lodging business and there are many parallels. We have chains, (KOA and Yogi Bear campgrounds) we have company owned chains like Equity Life Styles, however we have no product like a Hampton Inns, where every property is the same and offers the same amenities and services.

A web site that features the many factors of a park, which allows us to check them against our needs and wants allowing us to compile a check list  would be a beginning. A much more intuitive web site is needed. The technology is there, we just need an aggressive entrepreneur to put it on the market. You would input your desired location and site requirements and it would tell you which parks could accommodate your needs. If none were found then you would reduce your requirements and resubmit until possibilities would appear.

Currently, the rating companies send out inspectors, who are really a sales force. They rate the parks, but their main purpose is to sell ads in their guidebooks. Every thing they look at is subjective. A Northern California park was downgraded because he couldn’t take large RV’s. The roads leading to his park are to narrow and do not have high enough clearance to accommodate the large RV’s. Our park was downgraded once because our laundry machines were not 2 years old or less, yet were clean and functioning.

With so many sizes and configurations of RV’s today and with an ever-growing list of amenities desired, an easier and more concise rating system is needed. A system that allows an RV owner to decide the services and/or amenities he wants such as site surface, access, pools, wifi, or activities. Change is needed now.

[Ed Note: Our thanks to Paul for sharing these thoughts with our readers. I'm sure many have had concerns about the reliability of rating systems used by major directories.]