I would prefer if the RV parks went to a total ala carte system. When we are traveling, I often need just electric for a night and would like to avoid paying for water, sewer, cable tv, swimming pool, etc. Just a pull through and some power. If I want water and sewer, then give me an addon price for those. Prices are indeed higher than they were several years ago, but costs have gone up and you are paying for all of the things people want for "free" like WiFi can cable TV, even if you don't use them.
Pries have gone up substantially this past year. Low-mid $30's seem to be common now and even state parks are often in the low-mid $20's. And prices around $40-50 seem to be getting common near major cities and tourist destinations. As Ned says, they are throwing in more features - full hook-up are common now, as is 50A service, wi-fi and often cable tv too. Frankly I enjoy the 50A FHU, wif and such, but the wallet is taking a beating.
I do not expect to see much ala carte pricing - the trend is the opposite. We workamp most summers and I can assure you that campers by far prefer a package price - they really grumble about extra charges, even for things they ask for. And ala cart pricing for things like CATV, wifi, 50A service, etc. is a nuisance for campgrounds to manage and collect, so they like all-in-one prices too.
Real estate costs, property & income taxes, insurance premiums and regulatory requirements are all on the rise, and steeply too, so there is no end in site.
I've been through more than a few towns where low end motel rooms are often cheaper than campgrounds.
RVing is done in 3 modes, travel (one night at a CG), camping (a few days to a week in one CG), and parked (a month or more in one CG). There really should be 3 prices for the 3 needs as each one is different. While traveling give me a reasonably priced pull through with electric, and maybe water, so I can get in and out with a minimum of fuss and don't have to unhook the towed. While camping for a few days, I will want full hookups but don't need a swimming pool, phone, etc. When parked, I may want everything and am willing to pay for it. Or combine the camping and parked features and give me a cheap travel site when I'm in that mode and don't make me pay for all the things that are of no interest or use to me in that mode. If the campgrounds would offer such an option, it would get a lot of people out of the WalMarts and truck stops. One of the big reasons we like COE parks is they offer minimal facilities (electric and sometimes water) for a very reasonable price. And you usually get a great view as well
Most of the time we only want electric (not 50amp), sometimes water, occasionally sewer. We have the roof-mount Hughesnet so don't need WiFi. We have Dishnet so don't need cable. When we want those extras, we are more than willing to pay for them. We don't like paying big $$$ so everyone can have FHU including 50amp, WiFi, etc. We much prefer the a la carte idea (but consider the recently seen $4 per day for sewer a bit pricey). May be that we're in the minority but then, we usually are.
While I agree with Ned and Wendy that an a a carte campground fits us better, we need to consider that the campground owner doesn't know when he puts in his facilites just what his customers will ask for. They make quite a bit of investment in sewers, water and electric and have to charge something to recover those costs whether we use them or not. I do like the campgrounds that offer full, partial, or no hook-ups and note that they generally don't make the full investment on every site. And if I could stay at a campground with no hook-up for say $10/night, I don't think I would ever consider a Wallmart.
I think there are many of us with that opinion and perhaps some day camp grounds will cater to that.
Today, however, the market response has been to have cheap campgrounds and resort campgrounds, but few that have a mix of no-frillls sites and full service sites. I think the reason is the high fixed expenses of an upscale campground: the maintenance, labor, insurance and capital investment costs don't go down when some of the sites are set aside as low rent areas. The effective way to operate as a low price supplier is to make the entire operation bare bones.
The other way the market has addressed the need for low priced overnight spots is with discount programs like Passport America. Campground owners have learned that RVers tend to use the discount sites when traveling but pick their destination campground based on factors other than price, i.e. location and amenities. This the trend towards offering PA and similar discounts for 1-2 nights only as a means to attract travelers without giving up the revenue generated by longer term guests who use more of the services.
Gary, good point, we're members of both Passport America and Happy Camper and use there member parks whenever we can. At first, the parks weren't always the nicer ones, but lately we've found some very nice parks in those systems. I guess that's the campground industry's answer to our traveling needs.