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CalARVC Site Features GuestRated Review Functions

August 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

calarvc-logoThe California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) has added the GuestRated review function to Camp-California.com, which gives consumers the ability to rate their camping experience, according to a news release.

“Consumers can now rate private campgrounds and RV parks throughout California using a survey tool that coverts their responses to letter grades,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the Auburn-based CalARVC, which manages Camp-California.com.

Private parks can be rated on their service quality, property condition, campsites and restrooms. “Overall grades are assigned to each park that has been surveyed,” Sipe said, adding that the number of surveys completed for each park is also displayed.

Sipe said the rating system, developed by Murrieta, Calif.-based GuestRated.com, was added to Camp-California.com this summer in response to consumer demand for an independent rating system for private parks throughout the Golden State.

“The letter grade system is a powerful marketing tool for parks with high scores since Camp-California also offers consumers the ability to sort parks by their ratings,” Sipe said. “Of course, it also provides an incentive for parks with lower grades to address areas of consumer concern if they want to remain competitive with their peers in the industry.”

Consumers can review campgrounds and RV parks they have visited by clicking on the “reviews” tab, which appears at the top of the screen after they click to see detailed information about the private park of interest to them. The rating form provided by GuestRated.com will then appear on the screen.

Sipe said more than 3,200 surveys have been completed for roughly half of the campgrounds and RV parks listed on Camp-California.com and those numbers will increase significantly as word spreads about the new ratings function.

The ratings capability was one of several upgrades made to Camp-California.com this summer by Orange, Calif.-based Friend Communications Inc., which manages and hosts for CalARVC.

Other improvements include the creation of subdomains on the site, which make it possible for consumers to bookmark park listings for future reference. The computer coding in URLs throughout the site has also been replaced with recognizable keywords to make it easier for consumers to find parks listed on Camp-California.com when they conduct Google searches or searches with other Internet search engines.

Parks listed on Camp-California.com can also be sorted by location and by the amenities or recreational activities they provide. They can also be listed alphabetically or by their ratings.

“We are continually fine tuning Camp-California.com to make it more user friendly and to give consumers the information they need as quickly as possible,” Sipe said.

For additional commentary, statistics and sources on the latest camping trends in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in California or for leads on parks in your news coverage area, contact  Sipe at (530) 885-1624 or (530) 906-4592 (cell).

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Fleetwood Works to Secure Financing

April 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month, Riverside, Calif.-based RV maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. has received the court’s go-ahead to pay what it owed utilities, workers compensation benefits and employees, among other items, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The company also has been granted permission to honor its warranties and dealer incentives — good news for the company and the company’s largest dealership, Lazydays RV Supercenter in Tampa,  Fla., which has $15 million worth of Fleetwood inventory on its lots and $1.2 million worth of warranty claims on its books, according to statements at a recent bankruptcy hearing.

What remained uncertain as of late last week was the company’s efforts to obtain debtor-in-possession financing — a key that would allow Fleetwood to continue operating while officials try to find someone to buy the company.

A budget submitted in court filings forecasts the company’s sales and expenses from March 15 through June 14. According to the budget, Fleetwood expects to sell $81 million worth of products in that time.

But the company’s purchases, payroll, operating costs and more would cost it $103.3 million.

Fleetwood also needs $8.7 million to secure a bond to build military housing at Fort Bliss in Texas — part of a multi-million Defense Department contract.

The difference could be paid with debtor-in-possession financing — essentially a line of credit to keep it operating while a buyer is sought.

That’s where Bank of America, which has been a lender to Fleetwood, stepped in to offer an $80 million line of credit. However, it proposed charging Fleetwood $2.4 million in closing fees.

Hamid Rafatjoo, an attorney representing creditors, called the fee “outrageous” during last week’s bankruptcy hearing.

Wording in the more than 200-page financing proposal also indicated that the bank or Fleetwood could raise the $80 million credit limit at will without informing anyone else, Rafatjoo said.

“The committee isn’t going to support giving away the entire business to the bank,” he said.

A final proposal is due to the court by April 21.

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FMCA Officials Pleased With Turnout in Georgia

March 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The turnout was pretty impressive this week at the Georgia National Fairgrounds for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 81st International Convention March 15-19 in Perry – especially given all the economic variables in play.

“We are pleased with the turnout,” said Don Signs Your Ex Girlfriend Wants You Back Eversmann, FMCA executive director. “A significant number of our members are here. We are running about 2,700 families, and we expect some more to register before the event is over.”

Indoor exhibits, boosted in part by local day passes, were busy Monday on opening day. Outside exhibits were inundated by rain – it invariably rains in Perry, one of FMCA’s favorite convention venues – while a sea of motorhomes surrounded the site in the rolling hills of Georgia. This year marked the sixth time that FMCA has hosted a rally in Perry.

FMCA depends on about 800 volunteers, with members often donating four to eight hours, to coordinate the event in Perry.

“Perry is a dynamite location,” said Eversmann. “And they continue to improve it. Right now, they have major construction going on and we are looking forward to coming back.”

Eversmann said that attendees seemed to be looking beyond the backdrop of a tenuous American economy.

“I think they are hoping like everybody else that it’s (the recession) going to be short-lived and turn around and our industry will get its feet back on the ground quickly,” he said.

The turnout, if anything, is a reminder of the resilience of the American RV consumer, he maintained.

“Yes, we’ve been hearing good news from other RV shows and we are very pleased with this event and the number of people who have joined us here,” Eversmann said. “And we are looking forward to Bowling Green (July 20-23).”

Signs Your Ex Girlfriend Wants You Back

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RVIA Trying to Spur Participation for Key Shows

March 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The health and welfare of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) two key annual shows were part of the agenda Wednesday (March 11) during a series of seminars hosted by RVIA at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.

RVIA executives noted that the California RV Show, Oct. 16-25 in at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., and the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show, Dec. 1-3 in Louisville, Ky. are top-of-the-mind right now because of the financial punch they bring to the national trade association.

Given the economic environment, there’s cause for concern, said RVIA President Richard Coon. “Both shows were off considerably this year because of the economy again, and they both need to be refreshed, and so we’re changing those around a little bit,” said Coon. “We’re talking to members about our shows and, quite frankly, trying to encourage them not to pull out. I think what most members probably don’t realize is that 65% of the funding we need to run the association comes from the money we make on those two shows.”

The 2009 Louisville Show will most assuredly be smaller in terms of exhibitors right now, given the rather depressed state of the market. But how much smaller won’t be known until March 23, the deadline for manufacturers to reserve show space. The RVIA board meets March 27 in Chicago and plans to send its space requirements onto the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) staff by April 1.

“In this climate we don’t anticipate selling the kind of space that we sold last year,” noted Mike Hutya, vice president of meetings and shows for RVIA. In fact, Hutya expects at least a 35% space reduction. As space demands shrink, according to the current plan, the Broadbent Arena would be the first venue dropped from the show. Next, the RVIA Show Committee would look to drop space starting in the older, west wing area and move eastward as necessary, she said.

“But we’re working on ways to add value to the show to make it a more valuable experience both for our exhibitors as well as attendees,” she said. “In that vein, during the last show day – typically not the heaviest traffic day – we will add a very high business content seminar. The speaker or speakers, because we may go with a panel, should have some name recognition and be very credible in their field. We want them to deliver information that when the attendees walk out of that room, they say to themselves, ‘I learned something.’”

Meanwhile, the committee is looking to “aggressively market the show,” something it hasn’t hadn’t done all that much of in the past. And the committee is looking to diversify the attendance by appealing to dealers in the marine and outdoor power sports industries and lenders such as credit unions.

Meanwhile, RVIA is revamping the California RV Show, the $500,000 ad budget for which remains intact. However, Hutya said, RVIA will “stretch” those advertising dollars to the max. “The California Show will be totally new – new look, new sound and new ads,” said Hutya, adding that RVIA plans to reduce radio and TV advertising and focus more on the Internet with cross-links to RV-related websites.

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CT Coachworks Adds Rooftop Patio to Class A

March 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

CT Coachworks LLC, a small builder in Riverside, Calif., has introduced the Siena Suite, a 35-foot Class A motorhome with an 8-foot by 18-foot rooftop patio covered by a manual A&E awning. “It takes only three to four minutes to set up and is a good place to get above the crowds,” said sales representative Bruce Mullen. Built on 22,000-pound Workhorse W-22 gas-powered chassis, the double-slide floorplan is one of three in the Siena lineup. Access to the patio, equipped with a removable indoor-outdoor carpet and water, cable and 110-volt electrical outlets, is via a 33-pound aluminum ladder that stores on top of the 14-foot-long living room slideout. Patio rails fold down in the travel mode. Amenities in the vacuum-bonded fiberglass-and-aluminum Siena Suite include residential appliances, solid surface countertops and stainless steel sinks. MSRP: $131,232

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