Caravan park tells guests: ‘Pay whatever you like!’

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Kulin Caravan Park
Grey nomad Ralph Reece gives the new Kulin Caravan Park initiative the thumbs up! PIC: Gen Whisson

A West Australian caravan park has turned the pricing structure rule book on its head … and told visitors they can pay what they like for a stay! Having long complained about being forced to pay for van park facilities they might not want or need, grey nomads are enthusiastically embracing this enlightened approach.

Kulin Caravan Park in the eastern Wheatbelt hosted nearly twice as many caravans in the week following the launch of the new initiative as it did in the entire month of July.

“It’s really exciting,” said the council-owned park’s caretaker, Joy Adams. “We get grey nomads from all over the country staying here and they seem to love the whole idea … I think word is spreading fast!”

So far, guests have chosen to pay anything from $13 to $30 for a drive-thru powered site at the van park which boasts a new ablutions block. Kulin, which is within an hour of Wave Rock, already has a free 72-hour stopover area for self-contained RVs.

Famous for its Tin Horse Highway drive and annual Bush Races, the message from the farming community of 300 is: “We welcome you with open arms!”

“We wanted to find a unique way of showing grey nomads and other visitors that we do care about them and we do value them and we do want them here,” said Shire of Kulin Senior Project Officer, Gen Whisson. “We understand that some people are travelling on a budget and that’s fine, but we still want them to have a positive experience and happy memories of their time in our wonderful community.”

The ‘You Set the Price’ scheme is centred ‘on the values of trust, generosity and respect’ and – for up to five days – allows tourists to contribute an amount they feel their stay and experience is worth, according to their own financial ability.

“I think people are generally keen to do the right thing but I suppose we will get the odd person coming in and paying 50 cents or something,” said Ms Whisson. “That’s entirely up to them and, even so, they might still buy a couple of cups of coffee in the village and then go away and tell 20 other people about us.”

The initiative has been warmly welcomed by local businesses … and by the region’s tourism marketing organisation.

“Anything that gets people talking and thinking about a holiday in the Wheatbelt is good for the whole region,” said the CEO of Australia’s Golden Outback, Jac Eerbeek.

The Shire of Kulin’s ‘pay-what-you-think-we’re-worth’ initiative was launched on August 1 on a two-year trial basis, but Gen Whisson is confident it’s here to stay. “If it works as well here as I hope it might, we could even see other van parks adopting the same model,” she said. “Wouldn’t that be really cool?”

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