The ARVC Business Forum convened June 7-8 in Alexandria, Va., to begin working on what it feels could become the basis for a five-year strategic plan for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Chaired by Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of Woodall Publications Corp., the Forum drew key representatives from the RV park and campground sector who serve in an advisory role to the national association.
Their assignment coming in was to begin working on the strategic plan to move ARVC forward, suggest where realistically ARVC could be down the road and to map out strategic planning goals and timetables.
Emerson and Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO, ran the meeting.
“The input from Business Forum members in crafting a five-year Strategic Financial Plan for ARVC was phenomenal,” Emerson told Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM). “We are fortunate to have members who are willing to share their business and industry insight and knowledge to ensure the growth and success of ARVC. Paul Bambei has shown great leadership in steering the association and the Business Forum on finding non-dues, revenue-generating opportunities. It was a great meeting and I appreciate the time the Business Forum members devoted to this important topic.”
In summary, the gist of the meeting was to identify opportunities for ARVC – increase membership, find non-dues revenue opportunities and look at partnerships. Members also talked about the need to make changes to the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo to better meet member needs and to make it more affordable so more members can attend.
“Many of the things in the five-year plan are just extensions of business principals that have already been put in place but will now be managed and improved upon,” Bambei told WCM, who declined to discuss many Business Forum specifics until he’s had a chance to report back to the full ARVC board.
Bambei said the five-year plan should not be taken lightly. “That is a practice every company I have worked for has done religiously. There was no long-term strategic financial planning that was leading ARVC down the right path,” he said.
“We spent about a day and a half really pouring through the assumptions how our revenue, expense and capital expenditures are related to ARVC. We tried to frame it in a way where each line item was forecast over a five-year period using percentage drivers we all felt comfortable with and were realistic. It’s a great exercise because you get a variety of thoughts and opinions on a multitude of things that drive our business.”
“The other thing that I think is really well-timed for ARVC is the board has initiated strategic committees that are delving into some really important issues. Hopefully that opens the doors to allow better relations between ARVC and the states to go after business in tandem. It has to be in tandem. We’re really forcing the issue. We’re trying to build the bridge and make it rock solid so that partnership builds and thrives.”
One of the basic goals of the Business Forum was discussion on how ARVC can grow its membership from the present 3,300 park members. It’s about a third of the nearly 10,000 privately owned campgrounds in the U.S., and Forum members agree ARVC should find a way to attract new members.
“We weren’t passive about it,” Bambei said. “Everybody felt to be a thriving organization we need to grow. We’re not going to sit on our hands.”
Toward that end, Bambei says ARVC is currently doing some promotion among non-members. “Many of the 10,000 are in non-affiliated states. We want to go directly and try to attract them,” he explained. “We want to build a base in each state and help them form their own state organization that eventually becomes affiliated with ARVC.”
Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of governmental affairs, will be the point man on that effort but all ARVC staff will join in, Bambei said.
Further, ARVC is trying to build membership in affiliated states as well.
“We’re aggressively going after it right now,” he added. “We’re involved in a non-member campaign. A direct mail piece is being mailed to thousands of campground owners throughout the U.S. We know thousands of them are out there and we’re attempting to grab them. It comes down to educating them on the benefits of ARVC, which I maintain is one of the best-kept secrets in the country.”