Location, Location, Location!

To make a long story short, we had to leave our Florida campsite abruptly. There was a misunderstanding about our reservation, and we were told we’d have to leave a day before Ben had anticipated. We found ourselves on the road at 1:30 in the afternoon, with no plans other than to drive north. I had located a few RV parks up the road, but Ben was of a mind to go as far as he could. By the time we reached Dothan Alabama, we were both pretty tired. I suggested that we could stand to have a meal break, so we pulled over. We were settling in at the bar with our dinner and the World Cup game on the big TVs. Ben, as is his way started chatting with the people next to us. Turned out that they were owners of the Fort Rucker KOA in Ozark, a few miles up the road. In just a few minutes they booked us into their campground, and even drove ahead of us to meet us at the park. As I write this, we’re sitting in a pleasant campground with the TV on, comfortable. We were prepared to boondock it for the night somewhere near Montgomery, but we were already exhausted from packing up the RV in a lashing thunderstorm and then driving in high winds, so a safe comfortable place to spend the night was just what we needed.
Bill and his wife were both surprised that the RV park in Florida wouldn’t accommodate us. “What kind of customer service is that?” he asked. “They wouldn’t even let you dry camp in their parking lot till morning?” The campground in Eastpoint is nice enough, and they really don’t have to work to fill the spots because people are willing to pay for the privilege of camping on the water. Campsites overlook the bay, so the sites sell themselves. If there’s little repeat business, it makes little difference to the management; someone else will show up. They weren’t mean or rude to us; they just didn’t feel an obligation to help with the situation. Contrast that with this KOA we’re staying in. As a disclaimer, I’ve never been a huge fan of the KOA chain, but this one was definitely one of the best I’ve seen. However, it’s not near the beach or big attractions, so the owners put their energy into making people glad they stayed with them. This place had a nice shady dog park too, so we all found something to like about the place. They have a nice park in an area with a few festivals and attractions, but the rest of the time they have to work to get and keep their customers.
It’s a life lesson, I suppose, to always double check your itinerary. It’s also a lesson about how to stay in business. You may have a sure thing on one hand, but at the same time kindness and regard for customers is what will keep you up and running through the tough times.

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