Park Owners Look for Hope at ARVC Confab
Things haven’t been going that well the past couple of years for Lee and Mike Weliczka of Aqua Vista Campground in Petersburg, N.Y.
According to an ARVC press release, last year, a freak windstorm uprooted and demolished 150 trees and totaled several trailers and 12 cars at their upstate New York campground.
This year, Hurricane Irene flooded 71 of their 156 campsites, and literally washed 20 of their campsites into the Little Hoosick River.
“Some people who have been camping with us for 25 years lost everything,” said Lee Weliczka, adding that the succession of disasters has taken place on top of a slow economy and just as the couple is starting to raise a family.
“This has been a very stressful period,” Weliczka said, adding that she and her husband are hoping to regain their enthusiasm for the campground business when they meet with other park operators Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in Savannah, Ga.
While the Weliczkas have been members of ARVC for many years, they have never attended the annual conference and expo, largely because they’ve been too busy or haven’t seen the need. This time, it’s a different story.
“We’re really hoping for the conference to help us get reinspired about the campground business and to get suggestions from other people about the things they have done,” Weliczka said. “We need to be reinspired and to reignite our passion for the industry.”
The Weliczkas, in short, see the conference providing not only campground specific education they cannot easily obtain anywhere else, but opportunities to build networking and support networks from other park operators in New York and across the country.
The Weliczkas are among the 10 campground owners who received scholarships from the ARVC Foundation to attend this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which takes place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
The Conference and Expo will feature 43 educational seminars, more than twice the number of any previous ARVC conference, and will cover widely diverse topics ranging from the latest trends in park and employee management to marketing through social and mainstream media, Google analytics, risk management and prevention, employment and cyber liability issues, as well as electric car charging and other green opportunities for campgrounds. It will also feature the campground industry’s largest tradeshow, with vendors showcasing the latest products and services for park operators across the country.
But beyond the education and tradeshow, Lee Weliczka is eager to simply speak with other park operators in a national forum.
“I find I learn by talking to other people,” she said. “I want to learn about the new things coming out and learn how people do things.”
Weliczka said she is also eager to learn how other families run their parks, and balance their business with their personal lives.
For more information about this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, visit www.arvc.org.