Swimming pool, mobile homes, restaurant… the ingredients of a (very) profitable campsite

Champagne! At the beginning of June at the reception of the Robinson campsite, in Marseillan in the Hérault, Patrice Pichery is smiling. Its domain, ideally located facing the sea with direct access to the beach, will go from three to four stars. “We have just received confirmation, says this boss who carries the Camping Paradis banner. This is the reward for all our efforts. »

For this season alone, this manager has invested more than 300,000 euros in the purchase of new mobile homes and chic chalets, 270,000 euros for a children’s aquatic area, but also 100,000 euros for a fitness area and a children’s club, not to mention the Boulodrome and green spaces… Reckless? Not really. Last year, the campsite, which achieved 1.5 million in turnover, generated 10% net profit! What reassure the bankers.

This is the law of the genre in the flourishing world of campsites. To attract ever more demanding customers, professionals are constantly investing in quality equipment and moving upmarket. With the key to more expected profits. According to data from the accounting firm BDO, very specialized in the sector, where a one or two star campsite on the coast – a more profitable area than the countryside – will generate on average an already very correct Ebitda of 32%, a four or five stars will climb to 44%. “The size also influences, underlines Olivier Gautron, partner of the firm. Investors are even more eyeing large lots with more than 300 pitches. »

The slots ? Not surprisingly, accommodation is the main resource for campsites. Back to Marseillan. It represents 85% of turnover here. In 1963, when Patrice’s grandfather uprooted vines to get started, the 2.5 hectare plot was just used to accommodate tents and then caravans. Today, more than half of the places are occupied by mobile homes. The annual income gap speaks for itself. “From 3,600 to 3,800 euros per year for a ‘naked’ pitch against 8,900 to 18,000 euros for the mobile home”, details the current manager. Certainly, their purchase has a cost. But once amortized over seven years, the mobile home continues to be rented with almost 100% margin. And the more chic it is, the more expensive it is to rent.

Essential in the economic equation of land, rental is not the only source of income. To pamper their holidaymakers, all the beautiful campsites offer a bar, snacks to take away or even sit-down catering, which is more sophisticated. A good idea, customers often having little desire to move. But this can sometimes be difficult for operators who are not very keen on the business. Admittedly, the gross margins are close to those in town restaurants, around 65%. But the cost of raw materials and seasonal workers in the kitchen and in the dining room weigh heavily, especially since menu prices cannot rise too much.

New detour to Marseillan. Patrice Pichery has solved the problem by putting his RestoO’Cruso on lease-management since last year. Less advantageous financially but less stressful too. “Before, when we had to make pizzas in addition to everything else, we worked eighteen hours a day with my wife. It was exhausting. And let’s not talk about the hassle of recruiting. “This year, we had several interviews with young people for the bar. They didn’t even respond to our proposal! Behind the bar, it is therefore always Madame who regularly welcomes the thirsty.

And there are a lot of people for a drink, especially when the entertainment sets the mood. Games, dance evenings, karaoke… No successful camping holiday without partying. On this point, the successful sites know how to put the package. During the day, with animators hired for the season. In the evening, hosting shows. For his part, Patrice Pichery has an advantage: he has joined the Camping Paradis franchise, which incorporates all the codes of the famous TV series.

Expensive, of course, with a royalty of 6% of turnover plus affiliation and image rights. But effective in attracting crowds, including fans of the famous “Fiesta boom boom” choreography, launched three times a day. And every week, a “Paradis stars” concert with former glories of song also delights fans. “We pay 1,200 euros for an hour of show”, specifies the manager, who estimates the gain in turnover at 15%.

What vacationers also like a lot is to enjoy the swimming pool. To satisfy them, the biggest sites rely on vast water parks with giant slides. If it cannot compete in size, our Marseillan operator does not skimp either so as not to disappoint its customers. In 2016, he already paid 780,000 euros for 250 square meters of aquatic space. Next year, he will install a slide 19 meters long and 7.5 high for the trifle of 160,000 euros. A model from MaiWaterparks for connoisseurs, a Turkish brand renowned for its good value for money. “Some, huge with tube can exceed one million euros. But this is too expensive for us. »

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The Domaine Les Ranchisses campsite has seen big

Located in Ardèche, LesRanchisses is a beautiful five-star run by Philippe and Véronique Chevalier. It generates 3.1 million in turnover for approximately 15% of net profit.

  • Hosting: 2million turnover

Two-thirds of revenue comes from the rental of 115 mobile homes, 99 pitches and 36 accommodation belonging to tour operators. Turnover of mobile homes: from 9,500 to 16,000 euros per year, against 1,800 to 3,500 euros for bare pitches.

  • A new pool of 2 million euros

Built in 1994, the aquatic area has expanded over time. This year, a covered pool of 400 square meters was inaugurated. Of the 2 million euros of investment, the masonry alone weighs 700,000 euros, the dome 300,000 and the filtration machinery 250,000. A spa area with paying treatments and massages is also offered: this does not generate earnings but is beneficial for the brand image.

  • A real home-made restaurant

In addition to a bar and a snack bar, the Chevaliers have chosen a real quality restaurant open to customers from outside the campsite. The recipe for success? An assured presence every evening to supervise the teams. This activity generates around 80,000 euros in profits each year.

  • 30,000 euros show budget

In addition to five seasonal entertainers looking after children and teenagers during the day, the campsite hosts evening shows by clowns, magicians and musical groups in high season.

  • An essential service: the grocery store

Bread, croissants, milk or regional products. An extra grocery store is another essential in a campsite. The gross margin (45%) is moderate because it is just an add-on service.

  • Up to 65 CDD and 12 CDI in high season

With 1.2 million euros, payroll is the main cost item. Cleaning (270,000 euros) comes first, followed by maintenance and gardening (210,000), cooking (190,000) and finally reception and accounting (166,000).

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