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Good Sam’s Bray Debuts New Business Venture

February 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Sue Bray

Sue Bray

Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) and the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest recreational vehicle owners’ organization, announce that Executive Director Sue Bray is leaving to form her own consulting business, Sue Bray Consulting, (www.suebray.com). Bray’s new business will focus on and utilize her expertise in marketing, managing and operating membership clubs and events.

Affinity CEO and President Mike Schneider made the announcement stating, “Sue has dedicated her 33-year career to enhancing our members’ experience through excellent membership benefits development and service. Much of Good Sam’s phenomenal growth over the years can be attributed to Sue. We wish her the very best of luck in her future endeavors, and I’m proud to announce that the Good Sam Club will be one of her first clients. She now has the opportunity to expand her outreach, public relations and development functions for the club as well as providing her expertise to other organizations. We are fortunate Sue will remain available to the members for the foreseeable future.”

Bray joined the Good Sam Club, a division of AGI, in 1976 as chapter activities director. In 1979 she was named executive director of the club, and became an Affinity vice president in 1980. During her tenure with the Good Sam Club, the organization grew from less than 200,000 members to nearly 1 million families today.

Bray spent most of her career with the Good Sam Club developing partnerships and benefits for members, including the popular trip routing service, an RV financing program, a member credit card, and was deeply involved in the design of the club’s popular emergency road service. She marketed and managed club events, including Affinity’s annual event, The Rally, which attracts upward of 8,000 guests each year and provided editorial direction for Highways, the club’s monthly magazine.

Bray managed the Good Sam Club’s participation in several major charity initiatives, including the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Dogs for the Deaf and Hole in the Wall Camps. She also managed its legislative and lobbying efforts, which she’ll continue to do on behalf of the club and its members.

In 2009, Bray was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.— one of the youngest members and only the ninth woman selected for the RV industry’s most prestigious honor.

Also included among Bray’s initial clients is the Venice Beach House (www.venicebeachhouse.com), an upscale inn located beachside in Venice Beach, Calif., and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Affinity Group Promotes Pair to VPs of Production

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Barb Hammer

Barb Hammer

Bob Dawson

Bob Dawson

Barb Hammer and Bob Dawson have been promoted to vice presidents of production at Affinity Group Inc. (AGI). Both have served as production directors, Hammer in Minneapolis and Dawson in Ventura, Calif., each with particular expertise that complements the other, according to a company announcment.

In recent years, Hammer has taken on an expanded role, providing oversight to many of Affinity’s print products and managing corporate relationships with print and paper vendors. She recently concluded a successful contract re-negotiation with World Color, AGI’s primary printer.

Dawson has continuously expanded his influence over AGI’s move to digital processes and formats. His early work in the pre-press area saved substantial money for Affinity, and his more recent work in the white-hot digital editions area promises additional returns for the company.

Hammer’s career encompasses 27 years of magazine publishing experience, the past 19 with Affinity/Ehlert. She has been production director since 1998. Prior to joining Ehlert, Hammer was an art director for MSP Communications in Minneapolis and a graphic designer for Advanstar Communications.

She holds a graphic arts degree from Alexandria Technical College and an associate arts degree from Bethany Lutheran College, both in Minnesota.

Dawson’s career with Affinity began in 1994 in the IT department where he provided Macintosh support and was a publishing systems analyst. He moved to the magazine production department in 2000 as a pre-press specialist and became production director in 2004. Prior to Affinity, Dawson worked as a photojournalist and graphics editor for several newspapers, including the Ventura County Star.

Dawson holds a  bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Jose State University.

AGI is the parent company of RVBusiness magazine and WWW.RVBUSINESS.com.

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Affinity Group Announces Strategic Financing

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Affinity logoAffinity Group Inc. (AGI), the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, My Ex Bf Ditched Me How Can I Get Him Back services, media and events, announced today (Dec. 17) that is has entered into a non-binding letter of intent with a private equity firm to fortify its capital structure. The transaction will provide $70 million in new funding and award the firm a future economic interest in Affinity.

“This new source of capital will allow Affinity to reinvigorate its growth strategy and put the company on a more secure financial footing going forward,” said Mike Schneider, CEO of Affinity. “In spite of the severe downturn in the RV industry this last year, we are pleased the company has come through this difficult period and will now be able to grow with the industry’s anticipated recovery.”

A multi-media company, Affinity is well known for managing several membership clubs including the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ organization, in addition to operating numerous consumer and business websites, publications and shows for RV, powersports and marine enthusiasts.

The company also owns Camping World, the largest after-market retailer in the RV industry, with over 75 locations throughout the United States.

AGI is the parent company of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM.

My Ex Bf Ditched Me How Can I Get Him Back

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Coast to Coast Resorts to Host 2010 Camping Conference

November 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Coast to Coast Conference logoCoast to Coast Resorts, the industry leader in private membership camping, has announced its plans to hold the 2010 Coast to Coast Conference on Feb. 16-18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The Coast Conference aims to help grow the industry by promoting best practices for sales and marketing initiatives to developers currently selling memberships, developers interested in restarting their membership sales activities, and new developers interested in entering the industry, according to a news release.

Several key topics will be addressed, including insights and ideas to improve sales and marketing at the resort level, secrets to success used by the leading developers in the industry and utilizing new technologies to make sales and marketing more effective. Attendees will learn ideas and practices that can make an immediate and positive impact on the bottom line.

“The Coast Conference is designed to help grow our industry by focusing on sales and marketing strategies specific to private membership camping,” said Bruce Hoster, Coast to Coast president. “We believe the private membership campground industry has the right product, at the right price, and at the right time to meet changing consumer demands for high quality campground experiences.”

Full conference registration is available for $299 through Dec. 15, $100 off the original rate of $399, and includes a welcome reception, main stage presentations, breakout sessions, two networking breakfasts and a lunch on Wednesday. Pricing is per person and does not include hotel reservation. A la carte pricing is available for networking and breakout sessions.

For more information or to register for the 2010 Coast to Coast Conference, visit www.coastconference.com.

Since 1972, Coast to Coast Resorts has been the industry leader in bringing RV enthusiasts access to some of the finest “members-only” CampResorts in the country. Coast’s primary focus is to make it possible for people who purchase memberships at private CampResorts to maximize their destination and vacation choices. To fulfill this mission, Coast to Coast has created an internationally recognized network of hundreds of affiliated private CampResorts, enhanced with hundreds of Good Neighbor Parks/Best Parks in America, forming a network of beautiful properties where nearly any vacation experience can be found.

Coast to Coast is a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of RVBUSINESS.COM.

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Affinity Events’ Sports Shows See Strong Sales

October 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

affinity3The Affinity Events division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) has welcomed the winter season with back-to-back successful powersports shows. The 16th Annual Big East Powersports Show, Oct. 2-4 in Syracuse, N.Y., and the 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo, Oct. 10-11 in Denver, Colo., both boasted increased attendance and strong sales.

The Big East Powersports Show, sponsored by Camping World and Snow Goer magazine, featured the latest snowmobile and ATV models from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha alongside aftermarket products, open and closed trailers, clothing, accessories and resort information. The excitement surrounding the debut of the 2010 sled models along with attractive prices on gear and accessories led to a 7% increase in attendance from last year’s show.

“Enthusiasm was evident and energy on the show floor was high as attendees shopped the new models and found great deals on everything they need for the coming winter season,” said show manager, Laurie Hallowell. “The exhibitors were thrilled to see such large, enthusiastic crowds and all agreed that the success of the show is a positive sign of things to come in 2010.”

Robin Ingles, owner of Ingles Performance of Phoenix, N.Y., agreed. The company celebrated its 14th year of participation in the show and reported strong sales and increased booth traffic this year. “The show attendees were excited to get back on their sleds,” Ingles said, “and our sales were better than they’ve been in over two years.”

The Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo, also sponsored by Camping World and Snow Goer magazine, took place  at the Denver Merchandise Mart and saw the second best attendance in the history of the event. The chilly temps and snow showers on Saturday did not deter the crowds from visiting the Expo to see the newest 2010 snowmobile models and shop the popular Swap Meet Extravaganza. In fact, the line to participate in the Swap Meet formed three hours before the Expo opened.

“The snowfall added to the atmosphere of the show,” said show manager, Dianne Seymour. “The attendees were excited at the thought of another great snowmobiling season and it showed. Our exhibitors sold more than they have in years.”

Tom Gaither, senior VP of Affinity Events, pointed to the close relationship Affinity Events maintains with powersports enthusiasts as the main reason for the continued success of the shows. “Our connection to ATV and Snow Goer magazines gives us an intimate understanding of the powersports world. The enthusiasts who attend the shows are our friends. We know and love the powersports world as much as they do,” he said. “That continued relationship we maintain with the show attendees, combined with the great variety of local exhibitors featuring new products and services continues to generate amazing interest from local powersports enthusiasts.”

 AGI is the owner of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com

 

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Affinity Gives New Look to Woodalls.com Website

October 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

140-1Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, today (Oct. 1) unveiled a new look for Woodalls.com, an online resource providing relevant RV and RV camping information to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Woodalls.com is specifically designed to help users make informed decisions in several key areas — locating private and public campgrounds that suit their RV and tent camping travel needs, locating RV rentals both on-site and over-the-road, staying informed and entertained with destination articles and finding interesting things to see and do while camping, according to a news release.

The result of this new website enables visitors to easily access Woodall’s impressive database of campground information without a log-in.

“It’s easy to get lost when looking for the right campground, whether you’re a fulltime RVer or new to the lifestyle. Our intuitive, user-friendly search tools make finding what you’re looking for quick and easy. From driving directions using Google maps to on-site amenities, Woodalls.com is the one-stop site to find what you need for your next trip,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of Woodall Publications and Affinity Guest Services. “While our North American Campground Directory has been a resource to RVers for nearly 75 years, we feel that giving our customers direct and online access to this great information in the age of technology shows we are committed to serving our customers in multiple mediums.”

Woodall’s also sets itself apart from all other campground directories by having a unique dual rating system. One rating is assigned to the facilities at the park. The other is assigned to the availability of recreation. This unique system is especially important to those enjoying the RV lifestyle with lengthy big rigs that require larger spaces at campgrounds. Weekend family camping trips are also easier to manage as far as searching for recreation is concerned. The more Woodall “W’s” means more recreational development.

This re-launch is just the beginning of a phased approach to a more robust website that is scheduled to roll out over the course of the next 6-12 months. While Woodalls.com provides a completely free service, registering as a Diamond Club member allows visitors to save their searches, access money-saving areas of the site, and receive special pre-publication and product offers. Soon Diamond Club members will also be part of a new online RV and camping community.

Woodall Publications, RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM are AGI holdings.

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CBS TV’s ‘The Mentalist’ to Go RVing This Season

September 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Simon Baker of CBS drama "The Mentalist"

Simon Baker of CBS drama "The Mentalist"

Two RV companies’ products will be getting some quality air time on an upcoming episode of CBS Television’s popoular show, “The Mentalist.”

The Good Sam Club was contacted recently by CBS/Warner Bros. to provide a variety of vehicles for the show at a location shoot on Tuesday ( Sept. 15), according to Sue Bray, executive director of the club.

The club’s parent company, Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), provided two test trailers manufactured by Peterson Industries Inc., Smith Center, Kan., and Northwood Manufacturing Inc., La Grande, Ore.

AGI also supplied a boat, ATVs and motorcycles.

Warner Bros. is going to make a donation to Hole in the Wall Camps in exchange for the vehicles AGI provided, Bray noted.

“The Mentalist” revolves around a celebrated psychic-turned-detective (Simon Baker) who has a powerful gift for observation and investigates crimes for the California Bureau of Investigation.

RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM are AGI holdings.

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AGI Parent Company Reports Q2, 6-Month Results

August 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Affinity Group Holding Inc., parent company of the Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), reported its financial results for the second quarter and six months ending June 30 in a 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the SEC filing, revenues of $129.9 million for the second quarter of 2009 decreased by $17.8 million, or 12.1%, from the comparable period in 2008.

Membership services revenues of approximately $39.2 million for the second quarter of 2009 decreased $3.4 million, or 7.9%, from the comparable period in 2008. This revenue decrease was largely attributable to a $2.3 million reduction in member publication advertising revenue and reduced membership file size for the Coast Club and Golf Card Club, an $800,000 reduction in revenue from member events, a $500,000 decrease in other ancillary product revenue and a $400,000 decrease in marketing fee income for vehicle insurance products. These decreases were partially offset by increased extended vehicle warranty program revenue of $600,000 resulting from continued policy growth and strong renewals.

Media revenues of $9.4 million for the second quarter of 2009 decreased $6.1 million, or 39.3%, from the comparable period in 2008. This decrease was primarily attributable to a $2.8 million reduction in revenue in the outdoor power sports magazines related to decreased advertising revenue, a $2.3 million reduction in RV related publications, primarily attributable to decreased advertising revenue, a $500,000 reduction in consumer show revenue due to reduced exhibitor attendance and a $500,000 reduction in advertising revenue related to the campground guides.

Retail revenues of $81.4 million decreased by $8.4 million, or 9.4 %, from the comparable period in 2008. Store merchandise sales decreased $4.6 million from the second quarter of 2008 due to a same store sales decrease of $4.0 million, or 6.5%, compared to a 15.0% decrease in same store sales for the second quarter of 2008, and discontinued store revenue of $2.2 million, was partially offset by a $1.6 million revenue increase from the opening of seven new stores over the past eighteen months. Same store sale calculations for a given period include only those stores that were open both at the end of that period and at the beginning of the preceding fiscal year. Further, mail order sales decreased $400,000, installation and service fees decreased $900,000 and supplies and other sales decreased $2.5 million.

Costs applicable to revenues totaled $81.4 million for the second quarter of 2009, a decrease of $8.9 million, or 9.8%, from the comparable period in 2008.

Membership services costs and expenses of approximately $24.6 million decreased $1.9 million, or 7.2%, from the comparable period in 2008.  This decrease consisted of $600,000 of reduced member magazine costs, a $400,000 reduction in wage-related expenses, a $400,000 reduction in marketing costs related to vehicle insurance products, a $300,000 decrease in member events costs related to reduced revenue and a $200,000 decrease in other ancillary product expenses.

Media costs and expenses of $7.4 million for the second quarter of 2009 decreased $4.0 million, or 35.0%, from the comparable period in 2008 primarily related to a $1.7 million reduction in magazine expenses resulting from decreased circulation and production costs, a $1.5 million reduction wage-related costs, a $600,000 reduction in consumer show costs related to reduced revenue and a $200,000 reduction in costs related to campground guides.

Retail costs applicable to revenues decreased $3.0 million, or 5.7%, to $49.4 million primarily as a result of the decrease in retail revenue. The retail gross profit margin of 39.3% for the second quarter of 2009 decreased from 41.7% for the comparable period in 2008 primarily due to new, discounted “value pricing” adopted on over 1,000 products.

Selling, general and administrative expenses of approximately $33.1 million for the second quarter of 2009 decreased $7.2 million compared to the second quarter of 2008. This decrease was due to a $6.1 million decrease in retail general and administrative expenses consisting primarily of decreases in labor and selling expenses, a $700,000 reduction in wage related expenses, a $600,000 expense reduction in the consumer shows group relating to discontinued consulting agreements and management fees and $300,000 in other general and administrative expenses. These decreases were partially offset by an increase of $500,000 in professional fees.

Income from operations for the second quarter of 2009 totaling $8.2 million decreased $3.9 million compared to the second quarter of 2008.  This decrease was primarily due to reduced gross profit for retail, media and membership services operations of $5.4 million, $2.1 million and $1.5 million, respectively, partially offset by reduced operating expenses of $5.1 million.

Six Months Results

For the second months ending June 30, revenues of $235.0 million decreased by $37.8 million, or 13.8%, from the comparable period in 2008.

Income from operations for the first six months of 2009 totaling $13.0 million decreased $5.3 million compared to the first six months of 2008.  This decrease was primarily due to reduced gross profit for retail and media operations of $10.9 million, and $7.2 million, respectively, partially offset by reduced operating expenses of approximately $11.8 million and increased gross profit for the membership services operations of $1.0 million.

Loss from operations before income taxes for the first six months of 2009 was $2.3 million, or an increase of $2.4 million from the first six months of 2008. This increased loss was attributable to the $5.3 million decrease in income from operations and $2.9 million of reduced non-operating items mentioned above.

Net loss in the first six months of 2009 was $3.0 million compared to $500,000 for the same period in 2008. 

AGI is the parent company of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM.

 

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Coast to Coast Sponsoring $15,000 Sweepstakes

July 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Coast to Coast Resorts is launching a new “Free Camping for One Year Sweepstakes” promotion in conjunction with Camping World Inc. 

The grand prize winner will receive up to a $15,000 valued prize featuring a year’s membership in Coast to Coast RV Club and enough Coast to Coast points for a free year of camping at the membership network’s CampResorts across the country. The promotion kicks off July 7 and ends July 27, according to a news release. 

Entries are available at all Camping World SuperCenters nationwide. Participants may also mail their entries postmarked by July 27 via a 3.5-by 5-inch card with their name, address (no post office boxes), date of birth, e-mail address and telephone number to Camping World, P.O. Box 50965, Bowling Green, KY 42102. ATTN: “FREE CAMPING FOR ONE YEAR SWEEPSTAKES” Marketing Dept. 

“We wanted to find a way to give back to the RVers and outdoor enthusiasts this year and are excited to give one lucky winner the chance to experience our network of more than 450 beautiful resorts across the country,” said Bruce Hoster, president of Coast to Coast Resorts. “We are equally as excited about working with Camping World to help promote the membership camping industry.”

A Coast to Coast membership makes it easy to travel safely and comfortably throughout North America, with hundreds of affiliated RV resorts in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Member benefits include a subscription to Coast to Coast magazine and access to a number of travel services, with additional benefits that include cabin and condo rentals, trip routing and dining and leisure discounts. Coast to Coast offers RV Tripsetter, a web and phone reservation system, which provides a simple way to reserve a space. Many membership RV resorts offer additional features and amenities like boating, fishing and golf. 

Coast to Coast was established in 1972 and is owned by and affiliated with Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the nation’s largest provider of outdoor clubs, services, media and events that service the safety, security, comfort and convenience needs of the North American RV and outdoor enthusiast market. 

RVBusiness magazine and www.RVBUSINESS.COM are owned by AGI.

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S&P Reinstates Affinity’s “CCC” Credit Rating

June 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Following a review of the new capital structure at Affinity Group Holding Inc. and its operating subsidiary, Affinity Group Inc., Standard & Poor’s Rating Services today (June 22) raised its rating for AGI back to “CCC.” 

On June 19, the rating service had lowered its corporate credit rating on the Ventura, Calif.-based company to “SD” (selective default) from “CCC.” 

AGI is the parent company of RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com.

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