The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) celebrated its annual conference and trade show in Savannah, Ga., with a 35% to 40% increase in registrations over last year’s figures, according to a press release.
The Nov. 30-Dec. 2 conference, held at The Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa included 43 educational seminars, a trade show with more than 100 vendors, networking and cracker barrel sessions, an industry awards program, an election of new officers as well as important updates by top ARVC officials regarding the association’s key achievements in 2011, which include the establishment of new member benefit programs that can save park operators thousands of dollars a year.
These programs include:
- A recently negotiated satellite television deal with Just in Time Communications Inc., a national distributor for DIRECTV, which can save ARVC member parks thousands of dollars a year in satellite television costs.
- A new preferred provider agreement with Skyline Corp., which translates into thousands of dollars in savings on park model and travel trailer sales to ARVC-member parks in the U.S. and Canada.
ARVC Past Chairman David L. Berg noted that the savings from these two programs alone far offset the cost of ARVC dues.
In fact, the savings from these programs, combined with the relocation of ARVC’s headquarters from Larkspur, Colo., to a new and more affordable office in Centennial, Colo., near Denver, prompted George O’Leary, one of ARVC’s most vocal critics, to stand up during the association’s annual breakfast meeting and publicly commend Paul Bambei, who has spearheaded these and other initiatives since he became ARVC’s president and CEO last January.
“I wholeheartedly endorse the hiring of Paul Bambei. I think he is a plus for ARVC,” said O’Leary, who owns 1,600 sites at his two Rincon Country RV Parks in Tucson, Ariz.
In addition to managing ARVC’s relocation into a new office and launching new member benefit programs, Bambei told conference attendees that he has also restructured ARVC’s staff, hiring former ARVC Chairman Jeff Sims to the new position of director of membership and government affairs and promoting Educator Director Barb Youmans to a new position of senior director of administration and education, making her second in command of the organization. Bambei also recently hired Jennifer J. Schwartz, a seasoned marketing expert with over 20 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies, as the association’s new senior director of marketing.
Other new initiatives under Bambei’s leadership include the hiring of the law firm of McDermott, Will and Emery to take over ARVC’s public affairs activities in Washington, D.C. The association has also hired Evanne Schmarder to produce ARVC Voice, a new electronic newsletter that includes embedded videos.
Bambei said ARVC Voice is using the power of video to focus on best practices in ARVC member parks, human interest stories about ARVC members as well as testimonial stories about the savings that result from ARVC’s member benefit programs.
While Bambei and Berg provided significant updates on ARVC’s achievements, conference attendees spent most of their time attending seminars and the trade show.
Seminars focused on a variety of topics, from 20 groups 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.
The trade show featured more than 100 vendors, including Indianapolis, Ind.-based Yurts of America; Pacific Yurts, Cottage Grove, Ore.; Athens Park Homes of Athens, Texas; Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries; Ocala, Fla.-based Chariot Eagle; Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet; CheckBox Systems LLC, Gray, Maine; and RMS North America, a La Jolla, Calif.-based reservation systems provider.
Several vendors said they were pleased with the show, and noted that the response from park operators was stronger than last year.
“This show was much better than last year,” said Wade Elliott of Preston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group, which supplies pedestals and other electrical equipment to campgrounds, RV parks and resorts. “Many more people came by the booth. (I had) many more orders than last year. I also would say that people seemed much more enthusiastic about their business and the industry. I was very happy with the turnout compared to last year.”
David Kozy, vice president and director of operations for RV, Home & Marine Solutions, which markets Nature-ZYME, an environmentally friendly line of holding tank treatment products, was similarly upbeat about his company’s experience at the show. “We wrote several orders late in the day Friday,” he said.
New Board Elected
In other business, ARVC members elected a new slate of officers for the association, including Chairman Rob Schutter of Leisure Systems Inc. in Milford, Ohio; First Vice Chairman Marcia Galvin of Normandy Farms in Foxboro, Mass.; second Vice Chairman Michael Gelfand of Terra Vista Management in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Secretary Terry Munoz of Thousand Trails-Lake Conroe in Willis, Texas; and Treasurer Patrick O’Neill of Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Fla. The past chairman is David L. Berg.
New ARVC board members include Mark Wineman of Kalyumet Campground in Lucinda, Pa.; Saundra Bryn of Desert’s Edge RV Village in Phoenix, Ariz.; and Tim Deputy of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla.
Other campground industry meetings also took place concurrently with ARVC’s annual convention and tradeshow, including meetings of Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP), which includes state campground association executives from across the country, as well as an update meeting involving affiliates of Best Parks in America (BPA).
Beverly Gruber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA), received a certificate of appreciation from ARVC for her 28 years of service to the outdoor hospitality industry. She has attended most of the ARVC conventions since her first in 1983 in New Orleans.