Through my work in marketing at a daily deal site, ghostwriting for SMB tech companies, and running my own small business, I've developed a passion for supporting small businesses.
And small business owners.
Small business owners are the people Andrew Yang wrote about in Smart People Should Build Things -- people who were bold, determined, and strategic to "make the jump" and work on something that truly makes them happy.
Running a small business is tough, though — and that's why I'm a huge fan of Harvest Hosts.
Harvest Hosts is a website with over 60,000 active users — RVers who would rather make a purchase from small business owners than pay for a campground.
Through Harvest Hosts, I've discovered my favorite-ever beer, honey, and wine. I've toured living history museums and alpaca farms I never would have seen otherwise. I've become a loyal Facebook fan to most of my hosts, and can't wait for my next visit!
Here's how it works:
Small businesses who have space (in their parking lot, on their farm, behind their barn) to accommodate one (or more) RVs for one night can sign up for Harvest Hosts for free.
The expectation is that you allow RVers to camp for one night for free (you can allow them to plug in to power or water for an extra fee, usually around $10-$15), and you can allow them to stay additional nights for a fee (usually $15-$30 for the second night).
IN RETURN, they are expected to spend at least $20 at your establishment — but many end up spending more than that.
For example, if you're a pizza and beer restaurant in Florida, you'll have a lot of couples and families coming in. One couple that orders a beer each and a pizza to share is already spending $34. A family that shares two pizzas, two beers, and two sodas is going to spend about $58.
Image: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram
Golf courses and country clubs are also increasing their revenue through Harvest Hosts — even though a lot of RVers don't golf, they can still pay to use the spa, the restaurant, the bar, the pool, or the gift shop.
Image: Harvest Hosts Lets You Camp For Free. It's Also Keeping Small Businesses From Closing During the Pandemic.
Since it's free to join and you can always delete your listing if it doesn't work out, there's no good reason not to join Harvest Hosts. Especially considering some of these additional benefits:
1. Free advertising.
As I mentioned before, there are over 60,000 RVers on Harvest Hosts. That means 60,000 people will be looking at your business location and description, and many will request a stay with you.
Personally, I've even visited Harvest Hosts I didn't camp with after seeing them listed on the website. Since they're on Harvest Hosts, I know I'll be able to park there. Since Harvest Hosts shows you every business within a set number of miles from your route, it's a great way to figure out where to stop for lunch or a stretch, even if you're not staying the night.
2. Improved social media presence.
Basically half of RVers have a Facebook page, Instagram, or Youtube that's followed by thousands of other travelers. If you've got an Instagrammable business (which, honestly, you probably should have at least one thing worth Instagramming at your business; people are crazy about their social media and will visit just for a photo on your swing or holding your latte art), everyone who visits through Harvest Hosts is going to be sharing images and videos from your business
In this day and age, people do it for the 'Gram. Image: @TheHappyTalent
3. Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews.
If you ask your Harvest Host guests to write you reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor, they totally will. We're so grateful to you for letting us stay, we'll be eager to help you out in any way we can.
4. Repeat customers.
New customers are good. New customers who become repeat customers are even better.
Many Harvest Host users are full-time travelers, and they might never pass your way again. But most have a home base, and they'll come stay with you every time they head out on a new adventure — and again on their way back!
I'm a full-timer, but I've made special trips to re-visit my favorite hosts — and I'm already planning on revisiting others in the next few months.
Image: The Happy Talent
5. Some Harvest Hosts are getting so much new business, they are literally redesigning their business model around Harvest Hosts.
This isn't going to be true for EVERY Harvest Host. It's going to depend on how much space you have (I know one restauranteur in Sarasota who has room for 18 RVs in his back lot, and averages 9 a night — that's 18-36 dinners every night).
It's going to depend on your location. (I know one winery near the Bolivar Peninsula outside of Houston that has 3-5 RVers per night due to their proximity to Houston and New Orleans; they've added water and electric to every spot, and almost everyone who stays pays $15 per night to use the hookup, even though the actual electricity probably costs less than $2.)
It's going to depend on scenery, beauty, and Instagrammability (remember: tons of RVers are also Youtubers and Instagrammers) of your location. (Not that being an ugly, noisy parking lot is going to stop people from staying with you. A free spot is a free spot!)
But many businesses are completely changing the way they operate to accommodate the new business Harvest Hosts is bringing in.
6. It's fun!
I've become Facebook friends with several of my hosts. I've met up with one for mountain biking, and spend another swapping travel and (literal) war stories with another.
I feel like RVers and small business owners tend to get along swimmingly, because we're both weirdos who are doing hard, unusual things in pursuit of the most fulfilling life.
I've been thrilled and honored to get to meet so many inspiring people who quit their "day jobs" to start soap companies, chocolate shops, breweries, and bagel shops, and I'm looking forward to many more conversations on this journey of discovery.
American Dreamers. Image: @TheHappyTalent
If you're even remotely curious about growing your business through Harvest Hosts, sign up today — and if you do, obviously please use my referral link. I'm using 100% of my referral bonuses to spend more money at Harvest Hosts, because I want to help keep a good thing going!
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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