Custer State Park Resort Revenue Tops 17 Million

Taking Hospitality to a New Level

For many South Dakota residents and visitors, Custer State Park holds a special place in their hearts. The beauty of natural surroundings provides more than a respite. It's an ideal location for everything from family vacations to weekend getaways, promising long-lasting memories and cherished moments with loved ones. 

When the opportunity to manage the Custer State Park Resort presented itself to Regency Hotel Management, we found ourselves in the position to be part of something great. On January 1, 2006, we added our first state park to our portfolio—and had three months to prepare for opening day. Only our proven processes, knowledgeable and experienced leadership team, and foundation in customer service could breathe new life into an already-established vacation destination.

The Challenge 

Custer State Park Resort is a collection of historic lodges and cabins nestled within the scenic landscapes of the rolling prairie. Despite its overall popularity, the resort maintained profitability over the years, but never really flourished. Untapped potential and the challenges of operating within the confines of seasonality prevented the property from becoming all it could be.

Custer State Park is the crown jewel of the state park system. We saw it as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than just a normal hotel.

Josh Schmaltz, Vice President of Regency Hotel Management and President of U.S. Hotel & Resort Management, Inc.

The Solution

For the first season, challenged by a quick turnaround time and the need for an almost-entirely new staff, we focused on our number one priority: making sure we provided the best experience for our guests. Marketing campaigns elevated the brand and built excitement for the start of the upcoming season. Renovations on the property completed within a short amount of time—without compromising on quality.  

General managers were handpicked from each of our top performing properties to train the resort staff. Once on site, our leadership team worked closely with the staff at each lodge to establish strategies for improving revenue management and operational efficiencies. Integrated systems were put in place to handle property management and simplify the reservation process. Extensive training programs focused on operating as a 4- or 5-star property, raising property-wide perceptions of and expectations for exceptional customer service.

The Result

After one year, Custer State Park Resort saw revenue increase to $8.3 million—up from the previous best year of $7.6 million. And it hasn't stopped since: in 2017, revenue was just over $17 million. 

Since taking over the property, we have increased room nights sold by almost 8,000. We've also reinvested $80 million into the property, building new lodges, cabins, and more, over the past 10 years. Visitation into the park has increased from 1.1 million guests in our first year to approximately 2.4 million guests in 2017. 

Today, Custer State Park Resort continues to flourish. Guests are welcomed by resort and park employees alike who find inspiration in the extraordinary beauty of their surroundings. Seasonality remains a challenge each year, but by focusing on what we do best, we can start each new season knowing that we will excel in customer service and provide a quality experience.

Interested?

Talk to us today about how we can work together and help your property reach its fullest potential.

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