‘Here’s why surge pricing is good for grey nomads’

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Surge pricing is on its way to Shellharbour Beachside Holiday Park
Surge pricing is on its way to Shellharbour Beachside Holiday Park

The recent decision to introduce ‘dynamic pricing’ at a popular beachside caravan park in Shellharbour in NSW sparked a bit of a negative backlash in some quarters. Here, Mayor Marianne Saliba, from Shellharbour Council explains the rationale behind it …

I understand there has been disappointment within the grey nomad community about Shellharbour City Council’s recent decision to introduce dynamic pricing to the Shellharbour Beachside Holiday Park, which recently came under the management of NRMA Parks and Resorts.

As a part-time grey nomad myself, I am sensitive to the needs of this valuable group of travellers and sympathetic to their concerns.

My husband and I are part-time grey nomads, travelling around NSW and neighbouring states in a small bus we converted some time ago. We have met some amazing people on our travels and have become familiar with the issues they face.

Getting the right accommodation mix is a constant challenge. It is a fine balance between providing a variety of accommodation options for those looking for it, and providing free short-term parking for people looking for a stopover.

The change to our pricing model is aimed at generating additional revenue to help take pressure off rates for our residents and provide improvements to our public areas for visitors. Dynamic pricing is based on supply and demand and is common these days in hotels, tourist parks, travel, entertainment and retail.

Indeed, our new pricing structure would be consistent with the implementation of dynamic pricing the NRMA uses throughout its network of parks and resorts. The model will increase rates up to 15% on the existing 2020/2021 fees when occupancy levels exceed 60%. But once NRMA branding is in place at the park, NRMA members will receive a 10% discount, capped at $60 in high seasons.

The new model will provide the best rates to customers who book early. If it negatively affects booking trends over the medium to long-term, Council will do a review. In the meantime, Council is preparing a proposal for NSW Government consideration that camping be added to the permissible uses for specific sites within Shellharbour City. This would involve the establishment of free, short-term and seasonal camping areas.

It is an exhaustive process, so we are hoping for a result in the next 12 months. I have personally experienced the benefits of temporary campsites such as these, with some offering 24-48 hour stays. One of the areas we are looking at is Albion Park Showground. The existing amenities and facilities available would be a great place for grey nomads and a variety of other traveller groups to stay for a few days and enjoy our city’s beaches, Lake Illawarra, foreshore areas, rainforests and other attractions. At the same time, the free camping would allow visitors to save money for dining, shopping and other leisure activities.

There are other tourist parks in Shellharbour City and nearby Kiama and the Shoalhaven, but a number of them also have dynamic pricing. See the business paper here. To offer feedback, send an email here.

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26 Responses to ‘Here’s why surge pricing is good for grey nomads’

  1. I hope these price gouging Councils and Caravan Parks will suffer by a downturn of patronage once the Grey Nomads start communicating.

  2. We are full time Grey Nomads, where we check prices for the most reasonable .
    If prices are high like this we will by pass your town and find a reasonable priced caravan park or will free or low cost campsites.
    Putting your prise up will not help you we will find cheaper place where , at your loss and your town retail businesses will miss out too

  3. These caravan parks are revenue generating businesses intended to maximize financial returns, they are not a social service. And yes, I am a grey nomad, would like to see “ basic” parks providing, water, power, dump point and a shower/toilet block, like off season, sports and show grounds, an online booking and payment system.

  4. There are a lot of people that cannot afford to pay these prices. Also a lot that choose not too. For heavens sake they mostly use their own amenities so why the exorbitant prices? Today 20+ campers sitting here talking about this. Not even one of them will ever go back there if this is what to expect.

  5. Will NOT be staying there. I think “they” think because we have a MH we have a lot of money!!!!Wrong!!!! We have an old MH & being on a pension by the time you pay for fuel, water & food there is not enough left for expensive Caravan Parks. Save money, free camp.

  6. Councils have closed free and low priced camps because of winging caravan park operators including council owned parks and this is what is happening, we the grey nomads are being GOUGED

  7. I will not stop at any park that dose this I will move on to the next place that has reasonable prices and spend my money there caravan parks will suffer in the long run trying to make big money

  8. I see greed , and your looking at pushing out the grey nomads for more up market type of visitors . We now stay away from coastal towns due to unaffordability and the country towns need travellers as well , cheaper friendlier and not as squashed together as the coastal towns .one park in our town over looking the ocean has stayed at $35 per night all year around. They were saying last year was their busiest. Goes to show that people are looking for well priced van parks.

  9. We’ll just give Shellharbour a wide berth till they remove their greedy pricing

  10. You have lost another grey nomad, news travels fast within comunities like the nomads. Price rises upon those who like to patronise local businesses on their travells, will not help these towns and their businesses turn around the attrocities of the last 2 years. If anything , you should know that being greedy will only bring despise from the camping and vanner community. Higher fees, lower attendances and proffits, greedy business,
    Lower fees, higher occupation and attendances, higer turnover and proffits. Is it too hard to understand this logic. ?
    Not just with the caravan park, but businesses withing the towns. I am a NRMA memb and wont be visiting that area. Rest assured this will be delivered to all my caravanning contacts.

  11. Just another way to rip money out of the travelers pockets. The stats show the the camping and caravanning community bring revenue to the location. If people don’t visit, then they don’t spend money It is getting cheaper to holiday O/S then camp / caravan in Australia.

  12. No doubt the Mayor and her Councillors are due another pay rise. What better way to subsidise the rise by charging the Nomads and other visitors to the area. A quick look at other similar areas will prove that the increases are fraught with economic danger.

  13. Great spin Marianne but by the look of the comments, no one is buying it. You announced this change in management as “exciting news”. As far as I can see it’s only exciting for the NRMA !

  14. We are grey nomads. We really have no idea from one week to the next where we will be. If the road looks good on the right we take it, if it doesn’t we don’t we move further up the road!
    However that being so, we always ring ahead to price the caravan parks in areas we are travelling. We don’t want flashy water parks and peddle bikes going around and around the park, we want good company, quiet surroundings and a town who wants our business
    Doesn’t look like we will be going back to Shell Harbour, if that’s the way you think of tourists visiting your town!
    At this very moment we are sitting back in a rustic camp kitchen talking with new friends enjoying the same lifestyle we are, and after a big discussion about your ideas of welcoming travellers, I know for certain you have lost not only this group of travellers but those they will be talking to as well.

  15. You are a major I gather you get paid most of us travel on a pension which under the liberals is not rising. So putting up prices just means we stay away. I do live in WA but dont go to rac parks here because they are too much and we don’t want a resort with bouncy pillows etc. So I don’t think come under most grey nomads who travel on a budget.

  16. Dynamic pricing
    Fancy phrase for upping the price
    Capped at 60 a night is still blatant robbery. Someone who is on holiday for week yeah ok they.ll pay it
    Not any traveller who is full time on the road

    • I believe the $60 is not the maximum site price but the maximum discount you will be given as it is stated whilst quoting the discount not a site fee.
      Either way I agree that both the Council and the NRMA are maximising their income particularly with its proximity to Sydney.
      I don’t think they want Grey Nomads

  17. Absolutely absurd, especially for those who have fully self contained set ups. This is just a rip off. People can’t go overseas so have decided to explore this amazing country. What a ridiculous time to implement this. Shame on Council and NRMA.

  18. We started with one price for all. Families paid for a site which included their kids. Next came School holiday rates, then pay extra for more than 2 people per site. The we get Shoulder rates. I am not sure who conjured up Dynamic Pricing.
    “If the park is nearing full I will increase my site fees” does this apply only to new bookings or will it be retrospective for current occupiers. Will the price agreed to when booking held or will it increase if the park has an influx of bookings. Personally we will not stay at any park or any park that is part of a chain that applies Dynamic Pricing.

  19. Not surprised of the increase. When I read the initial article assumed was either NRMA or Big$. Someone has to pay the overheads.
    NRMA is renowned for rip off”s .. one of the highest low cost car insurer and skimpy on claims. Partner was shocked $180 difference to Suncorp for policy. Haggle years ago to get full vertical cracked windscreen replacement yet recently Suncorp,a small crack.. no hassles.
    Always comes down to Freedom of choice thank God we live in Australia.

  20. All this is being pushed by the big multinational park owners. Buying up parks and pushing up prices and winge to local councils if they see someone free camp. Better off staying in a motel.

  21. Simple will bypass the park. Their loss.

  22. Unfortunately, those of us on fixed incomes generally can’t afford high priced parks, although there are a number who can. We don’t need fancy parks with playgrounds or jumping pillows and we don’t ‘trash” the amenities and gardens as is currently happening at some family parks.
    When councils and park owners continually jack up their prices and force us to move on the whole town suffers. Caravanning used to be a low cost holiday, now it is often cheaper to rent a unit nearby.

  23. Dear Marianne Saliba,
    Thanks so much for making the effort to communicate the reason behind the decision to use dynamic pricing.
    Like many others my wife and I like to travel on a shoe string budget. However if we can’t park for free we appreciate places that only charge for water, power and dump point. Everything else we have ‘onboard’. Even if we are able to use our generator it’s cheaper than paying fullprice CP prices. Like you we are only part timers, about 8 months each year for the last ten years.
    Keep up the good work you’re doing and travel safely.
    Rob & Liz

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