If you’re not already running Halloween weekends at your campground/RV park, now is the time to consider it. You could be missing out on opportunities for reservations through the end of your season, as well as other revenue generating activities, including special events and store/food purchases. Yes, Halloween weekends take some planning, but families LOVE them as a safer alternative to traditional trick or treating.
We’ve pulled together some planning Tricks and Treats from experienced campground owner so that you can start planning your own Halloween weekend. The sooner you begin your planning, the easier it will be to execute, and the faster you can open up dates to accept additional reservations!
General Halloween Weekend Advice
- Multiple weekends work better than a single weekend. This is not only for efficiencies in set-up and management, and also to give campers more opportunities to join.
- Start small with 2-3 weekends and grow from there
- You don’t need to limit activities to October, use the last weeks of September too
- Communicate with your campers far in advance so they can fully participate with costumes, decorations, candy, etc.
- Consider up-charging or offering a discount after Labor Day
- Adult-only weekend is always a hit
- Hold a Dance Party/DJ (pro-tip: be sure to end 1 hour before quiet hours)
- Host a 5k run/walk with a charge to cover the cost of special t-shirts. Lay out run/walk path within campground and provide map for participants, and it never hurts to add a theme (ex- Pumpkin Run, Zombie Run, Ghost & Goblin Fun Run, etc.)
Trick or Treating
- Consider limiting trick or treat times. Too long and the volume, music, and general chaos can begin to wear out its welcome (1-1/2 hours recommended)
- Release trick or treat times to guests only upon their arrival
- You could open up trick or treat activities to additional guests for $10-15 admission, with a requirement being that they must be associated with a registered site
- Invite all campers to participate in handing out candy, and incentivize seasonal campers with a chance-to-win $500 OFF their annual contract
- Do not allow campers to leave alcohol unattended (ex - don’t leave Jell-O shots out on a table unattended)
- Ask some of your staff to dress in costume and walk among guests, while other staff are assigned to security duty
- Sell plain pumpkins for an “On Your Own Carving” activity or host a contest for Best Jack-o-Lantern
- This was one of my favorite ideas from experienced campground owners: Grow Your Own Overnight Pumpkin. Provide kids with pumpkin seed packets and plant seeds in designated area with a labeled popsicle stick of child’s name; staff place (pre-purchased/grower delivered) pumpkins that evening. Charge of $5, which could include a hayride or ‘pumpkin walk’ to pick up the pumpkins that ‘grew overnight’
- Pumpkin Hunt for kids 6 and under. Fill small pumpkins (real or plastic) with candy and place throughout campground for kids to find, either during designated time or all weekend
- Category ideas: Best Costume (can be broken out by age), Most Scary Costume, Best Group Costume, Best Seasonal Site, Best Overnight Site, Most Creative, Pet Costume Contest
- Make sure to assign each contestant a # for judging
- Designate Judges or use Secret Judges. You could recruit a family/site, a group of Seasonal Sites, or consider sharing photos of contestants on social media and ask for votes in the comments section -OR- for a wider reach, have contestants submit their own pictures to your social media in the comments of a pinned post with their contestant # clearly visible
- Prize Ideas: $20 gift certificate to store, VISA gift cards, free golf cart rental for a weekend, ice cream gift certificate, pizza delivery, etc.
Haunted Trail/Barn – not recommended if you’re just getting started with Halloween weekends
- Borrow or invest in some props, keeping in mind that there is a high likelihood of these props getting damaged
- Calculate cost in staff, supplies, etc. and charge accordingly ($5/person)
- Designate area and limit guest access, do not try to do whole campground
- Instruct staff to not touch guests, and keep their distance from easily startled/jumpy campers as they could react with punches, kicks, etc.
- Open up to public if it makes sense for your park:
- Volunteers from schools/teams could split 50/50 of profits or receive x% of profits back to their team
- Be sure to screen individual volunteers or know/trust them personally, even offering 50% off on weekend camping as incentive
- Consider sharing your activity on social media or community events calendars
Finally, Halloween weekends are a great way for your guests to create friend and family memories, while associating those good feelings with your brand. The kids dressing in costumes today could very likely be future campers that bring their own kids back to your park for years to come!
SVP Marketing & Communications