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  • Writer's pictureDigital Liz


RV travellers love choosing their own camping sites. Why? Because our brains think we have a better chance of surviving.

Dumaresq River Freedom Camp, Texas QLD, 2022 GOLD winner

According to behavioural psychologists, humans equate having choices with having control. Our survival instincts trick us into believing that control will keep us safe. As we think control equals choice, we continue to seek out things that offer choices.

This can aid every tourism operator, as we’ll see in a minute.

What’s even more surprising is that this survival quirk means that we don’t always choose an option that makes the most sense. In fact, we will typically make a choice that indirectly gives us even more choices. And it turns out, this trait is not a purely human fallibility.

Columbia Business School’s Sheena Iyengar, in her book ‘The Art of Choosing’, showed that rats given an option between a direct route or a more complex path to a food source chose the latter. She also demonstrated that both monkeys and pigeons preferred ‘choices’, with both animals choosing a multi-button-pushing alternative to gain a reward when they knew that a single button push would result in the same prize!

How can this knowledge help you?

It’s simple: wherever possible, give visitors choice. Even if it’s only between two sites, two ticketing options, two times or two rooms.

And it does not matter if you feel that one is inferior for some reason because your guest will silently thank you for being given a measure of control – a subconsciously perceived greater chance to survive!

We wanted confirmation that what psychologists say about our desire for choice is true, and so we asked our followers. While the responses were not huge, the conclusion certainly was big. At the time of writing this GNAT CHAT, 84 percent said they preferred to be given a choice of site.

The Best Grey Nomad Freedom Stay award recognises those RV stay operators who take this choice one step further.

It is open to Council RV parks, community stays, farms, van parks, roadhouses, footie fields, clubs etc that give travellers the freedom to choose their own campsite.

So if you run a place where there are no allocated sites, then this is the award for you. And it does not matter if your stay options are user pays, by donation or free.


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