Editor’s Note: The following release comes from Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).
Last April, President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative at a White House Conference in Washington and charged the secretaries of the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda which would strengthen the connection between Americans and the outdoors.
Over the summer, senior administration officials held 51 listening sessions and received over 105,000 comments, sharing ideas about approaches to protect U.S. lands and waters, connect Americans to the outdoors and to our natural heritage and to empower local communities to protect and restore the places they love. ARC has played an active role in this effort, leading the campaign to highlight the link between health and the outdoors and promoting innovative partnerships.
The report, originally due in November, will be released next week by the President in the East Room of the White House, on Feb. 16. We’ll be there.
The report follows the release of the President’s FY2012 budget proposal. That would indicate that there are some new initiatives included in the AGO report. Hill reception to new spending is likely to be guarded – but we are hopeful that the AGO proposals are based on ways the Great Outdoors can boost regional economies and reduce healthcare costs.
A multi-agency effort spearheaded by Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC); orthopedic surgeon and former Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) media spokesman Dr. Michael Suk; and family physician Dr. Daphne Miller to educate healthcare providers about the value of physical activity in the outdoors is underway.
“It is common for medical professionals to counsel patients to increase activity,” said Dr. Suk in a news release. “Yet these experts lack the tools to help patients find nearby, safe open spaces and actually get outdoors.”
Recent research shows marked benefits to outdoor activity, including:
- People with nearby access to a park or open space were 50% more likely to maintain a routine of walking.
- Outdoor exercise can improve mental health, particularly among young people.
- 40% of cancers and other diseases of a sedentary, indoor lifestyle can be eliminated by people becoming more active outdoors.
- 74% of adults are not meeting their daily needs for exercise.
RVIA research indicates that RVing helps promote physical activity. Nearly three-fourths of RVers (74%) say they are more physically active on RV vacations than other types of vacations, and 81% say their children are also more physically active when traveling by RV. Popular outdoor activities with RVers include hiking, walking, biking, canoeing and kayaking.
The group published a report titled “Park Prescriptions: Profiles and Resources for Health from the Great Outdoors” that provides 13 case studies demonstrating effective programs for encouraging people to increase their outdoor activity.
The initiative brings together representatives from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality, as well as an array of outdoors and medical groups who are working to prepare a report for President Obama, which is due November 15.
James B. Summers, a prominent force in the early days of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and an esteemed voice for the RV industry, died Sunday (Oct. 3) in Columbia, S.C. He was 89.
Summers’ death came on the eve of the RVDA’s Convention/Expo in Las Vegas, an event he helped to originate more than 30 years ago.
“With Jim’s passing, RVDA and the RV industry have truly lost one of our great leaders,” said RVDA President Mike Molino. “He established a number of RVDA programs in government relations, dealer-manufacturer relations, and professional development that will serve as a lasting legacy to his memory. Jim was a valuable mentor to many, a dear friend and great American.”
Following an 18-year business career in the RV industry, Summers joined the RVDA as its executive vice president in 1976 and remained there until his retirement in 1986. This 10-year period saw the consolidation of RVDA’s two offices to the Washington, D.C., area and creation of the first RVDA convention, according to the archives of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum.
“These two moves truly brought RVDA into national prominence. He accomplished this with very little money in RVDA’s treasury,” noted Dave Altman, in his 2001 nomination letter on behalf of Summers for induction into the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Summers was subsequently inducted into the Hall in 2002.
Undaunted by the oil crisis of 1979, which nearly killed the RV industry, Summers worked with David Humphreys of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and helped create the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) to bring the many voices of outdoor recreation together to make the case that outdoor recreation is essential to the health and well-being of the nation and its people.
Summers helped channel the ideas of volunteer leadership into creating a Management Education Program for RV dealers. Under Summers’ tenure, RVDA and the Spader Cos. signed several agreements to bring education to dealers. The most notable arrangement was for the administration of RV Dealer 20 Groups.
He helped establish a communications network of state directors, and he reached out to dealers in Canada and arranged for an exchange of representatives at board meetings.
Summers created “Legislative Leadership Conferences” to help dealers understand the political arena.
When Summers retired, the association established the James B. Summers Award in his honor and made him the first recipient.
Summers retired to Columbia, S.C., in 1986 to pursue his primary passion of golf fulltime. Having been taught the game at the age of 6, he continued to play avidly well into his 80s. He married Elizabeth J. (Betty) Daratt in 1948. They remained devoted companions for nearly 62 years. He also leaves a son, James B. Summers Jr. (Sherry) of Libertyville, Ill., and three grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Donations in Summers’ memory may be directed to Hamilton College Annual Fund, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY, 13323
Summers was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1943 and served in the Navy during World War II. He served 27 months at sea aboard the USS Hogan, a high-speed destroyer mine sweeper. He participated in six invasions in the Pacific.
Following the war, Summers began a long career in sales and the transportation industry at Oneida Products in Canastota, N.Y. In 1959, he accepted a position as general manager of Superior Coach Corp. in Lima, Ohio, rising to vice president of sales and group vice president, marketing of its parent company Sheller Globe Corp. He helped build the company into the largest school bus, funeral car and ambulance manufacturer in the world and established its motorhome division.
In 1974, Summers left the corporate world and joined with two colleagues to start a new company, NBS Inc which designed, manufactured and sold a variety of novel household products. Two years later, he moved to Washington, D.C. to become the executive vice president of RVDA.
Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, said today upon learning of Summers’ death, “Many of us were greatly saddened by the news of Jim Summers’ death. Jim was irrepressible, committed to the RV lifestyle and the Great Outdoors and a champion of teamwork to take on the projects that would make a difference. He was centrally involved in the recreation community’s response to the energy emergencies of the 1970’s and a champion for the creation of the American Recreation Coalition, to unify interests ranging from NASCAR and the RV industry, ski areas and Disney, recreational boating and park concessioners to argue at the highest levels of government that people need recreation, and the government shouldn’t try to decide on whether some forms of recreation were better than others. His energy, his positive outlook, helped build a team that not only protected recreation from threats of gas rationing and penalty taxes but opened the door to an new era of recreation promotion involving scenic byways, better campgrounds on federal lands managed by concessioners, a warm welcome to RVers and others who wanted to be volunteers in parks and better funding for interpretation and visitor centers. He was equally at home talking with RVers are rallies and members of the president’s cabinet – because he was a passionate believer that the Great Outdoors was great for Americans of all ages, all backgrounds.
“Jim’s spirit remains with us in awards presented in his name and our vivid memories. He was one of the original members of the American Recreation Coalition board of directors. We’ll miss him, for sure.”
According to a new national survey from The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and America’s Byways, 70% of Americans are planning on taking at least one road trip this autumn, and a combination of stable gas prices and abundant scenic routes should contribute to opportunities for weekend road trips or getaways.
The survey, completed by Kelton Research, also finds that most travelers want their journey to be something that is beautiful and unique, not just another trip on a superhighway. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people (80%) would opt for a scenic, touring drive rather than driving directly to their destination. Unlike summer road trips, which focus on the destinations, fall getaway trips are built upon the overall experience of the journey.
“Our survey showed that 97% of Americans planning a fall road trip agree that their overall comfort is the key to enjoying it, so we joined together with America’s Byways to unveil a list of the ’50 Most Comfortable Touring Drives,’” said Gary Medalis, general manager for Goodyear consumer tires. “These top 50 touring drives encompass comfort and scenery to enhance the trip and are all within reasonable distance of major metropolitan areas.”
“This fall, for not a lot of money, travelers can skip the superhighways and exit to the smaller roadways to experience some of the best roads America has to offer,” said Derrick Crandall, spokesperson for America’s Byways and president of the American Recreation Coalition. “While there are hundreds of fantastic drives along America’s Byways, we worked with Goodyear to create a list of some of the best, providing Americans with what they told us they are looking for – comfortable, nearby drives that provide scenic and unique landscapes.
The list follows”
- Delaware River Scenic Byway – New Jersey.
- Merritt Parkway – Connecticut.
- Great Lakes Seaway Trail – New York, Pennsylvania.
- Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway – California.
- Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway – California.
- San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway – California.
- Historic Route 66 – Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma.
- Lincoln Highway – Illinois.
- Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway – Delaware.
- Historic National Road – Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia.
- Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina, Virginia.
- Journey Through Hallowed Ground – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway – Virginia.
- Millstone Valley Scenic Byway (New Jersey).
- Baltimore’s Historic Charles Street – Maryland.
- Woodward Avenue Automotive Heritage Trail – Michigan.
- Red Rock Scenic Byway – Arizona.
- Stevens Pass Greenway – Washington.
- Chinook Scenic Byway – Washington.
- Mountains to Sound Greenway – Washington.
- Grand Rounds Scenic Byway – Minnesota.
- Florida Keys Scenic Highway – Florida.
- Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway – Florida.
- A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway – Florida.
- Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail – Florida.
- Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway – Colorado.
- Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway – Colorado.
- Ohio River Scenic Byway – Ohio, Illinois, Indiana.
- Amish Country Byway – Ohio.
- Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail – Ohio.
- Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route – Illinois.
- Mt. Hood Scenic Byway – Oregon.
- West Cascades Scenic Byway – Oregon.
- Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway – South Carolina.
- Natchez Trace Parkway – Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi.
- Connecticut State Route 169 – Connecticut.
- Nebo Loop Scenic Byway – Utah.
- * Loess Hills Scenic Byway – Iowa.
- Woodlands Trace – Tennessee, Kentucky.
- Selma to Montgomery March Byway – Alabama.
- Flint Hills Scenic Byway – Kansas.
- Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway – Kansas.
- Talladega Scenic Drive – Alabama.
- Alabama’s Coastal Connection – Alabama.
- Las Vegas Strip – Nevada.
- Death Valley Scenic Byway – California.
- Route 1 – San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway – California.
- Santa Fe Trail – New Mexico, Colorado.
- Turquoise Trail – New Mexico.
- Lincoln Heritage Scenic Byway.
Additional results from the survey revealed 49% of Americans would sacrifice their GPS units, while others (32%) would sacrifice music and good gas mileage (29%) to experience a comfortable drive. Americans would even go to extremes to guarantee a satisfying, comfortable drive on a road trip – with 30% responding that they would endure the pain of stubbing their toe, or enduring a bee sting (18%), or even a root canal (6%).
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs approximately 69,000 people and manufactures its products in more than 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world.
America’s Byways is a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) have joined 69 outdoor recreation organizations in the Coalition for Recreation in the National Forests to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to allow more outdoor recreation on lands controlled by the agency.
With the Notice of Intent announcing the planning rule process giving scant attention to the issue of recreation, the large and diverse group of recreation organizations wrote to Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell to express their collective concern and to request a meeting for the purpose of explaining their concerns and offering specific recommendations for rule revisions, according to a news release. As a result of that letter, a meeting with Tidwell and top agency leadership will take place on Sept. 27.
“The recreation community position is clear,” said Richard Coon, RVIA president. “Recreation is a key use of national forests under several federal laws. Further, recreation is a primary contributor to the economic viability of communities throughout the nation. And, finally, outdoor recreation in national forests is also an important factor in overcoming lifestyle threats to our national health caused by lessened physical activity.”
The recreation community is also calling upon the Forest Service to include in the rule direction to national forests to be more proactive in managing recreation, and in seeking out partners able to assist in managing and enhancing recreation – including state agencies, organized recreationists and businesses. This proactive approach would reduce needless and inappropriate conflicts among recreational activities in the forests resulting from inadequate planning and management.
For further information on this issue, contact American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall, who is heading up the Coalition for Recreation in National Forests, at email@example.com or (202) 682-9530.
The RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, scheduled for Oct. 4-8 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., comes at a crucial time for the U.S. economy in general and the RV industry in particular as both work their way out of the tough recession of 2008/2009.
On one hand, the industry’s rebound has exceeded expectations in many ways, especially for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers aligned with the right towable recreational vehicle brands. On the other hand, however, the aftershocks of the Great Recession are obviously still with us in terms of unemployment, stock market fluctuations and a general discomfort among many Americans with regard to the general state of the economy.
And while most Americans assume that the worst is over, many of the nation’s durable good manufacturers – including RV builders — are still looking to bridge their way to the next year and the next level of recovery and to find a comfort zone in this new post-recessionary age.
“There is a consensus we have to recalibrate our definition of what is a good business environment,” said Mike Molino, president of the Fairfax, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), lead sponsor of October’s annual Con/Expo. “We’re not going to get back to the 400,000-unit years any time soon. We’ll probably never return to that. The next couple of years will be tough, but doable. If dealers stay within the cash structure they have, they will survive. The consumer will come back — slowly. We won’t see a significant increase (in sales) until there is more certainty (about the state of the economy). I’m not so sure the election of 2010 will bring more certainty. That might just bring more confusion.”
But Molino, generally a realist, does tend to see the cup half full.
“The dealers who are still in business, for the most part, are the ones who will survive,” he maintained. “The dealers coming to the convention are in good shape. The shakeout is well on its way to being complete. But it’s not totally over. Dealers are telling me they have inventory but are paying more finance charges on the inventory they have than they used to, and retail financiers are very stringent on who they are lending money to, so the ability to buy a recreational vehicle, the threshold for buying, is higher and the ability to buy is a lot lower.
“Another dynamic is that there is uncertainty among businesses, both large and small, and that drives employment, and employment drives the mentality of the economy,” Molino continued. “When a consumer is hearing levels of unemployment we currently have (around 10%), it’s still not conducive to them going out and buying an RV, even if they can afford to get a loan for an RV. Until unemployment goes down and employment rises, we will have some issues.”
A New Era for the Industry As Well as RVDA’s Con/Expo
The RVDA is tackling this new era head-on with a refreshing revision of the annual convention, which is co-sponsored by RVDA of Canada and the RV Learning Center.
A crowd of between 475 and 550 U.S. and Canadian dealers, with total registrations of about 1,100 attendees, is anticipated for the five-day event.
“I think it’s going to be the best convention ever,” adds Molino. “We’ve got a very, very active committee under (Convention Chairman) Peter Albano. Between him and my staff and the volunteers on the committee, I think they have put together the most pertinent program for dealers and the management level of staff I’ve ever seen.”
As ever, of course, there will be an aggressive educational component including workshops on everything from wholesale and retail financing options to new inventory management strategies and how to reach new customers through innovative marketing communications. And the 2010 convention will again feature an exhibit hall filled with the RV industry’s leading OEM and supplier companies offering products and services to help dealers improve profitability.
But attendees will notice significant changes, starting with the brand committee meetings, closed door sessions in which dealers meet as a group with representatives of the recreational vehicle brands they carry. RVDA’s “Partners in Progress” brand committees, among other things, will work on important dealer-manufacturer issues and address results of RVDA’s Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI).
“We’ve restructured the brand committees meetings, so they come early in the session,” Molino explained. “We tried to make it so there is no conflict between the committee meetings and anything else they want to do. I think it will enhance the experience for the dealers, especially the manufacturers.”
Before he took on the assignment of chairing this year’s convention committee, Albano confides, he talked with many dealers and asked them what they wanted with regard to the convention. “They said that we need to change and get some new blood into the system and see how we’re running the sessions, break it up and make it new,” Albano, owner of American RV in the Memphis suburb of Olive Branch, Miss., told RVBusiness. “We’ve worked very, very hard at doing that.”
Former Interior Secretary Kempthorne Will Keynote
Albano predicts that convention attendees will especially enjoy the remarks of former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who will serve as keynote speaker at the first general session on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
“Secretary Kempthorne has a track record of developing innovative approaches to meet the outdoor recreation needs of RV travelers and other outdoor enthusiasts,” Albano said. “As a long-time motorhome owner, he is enthusiastic about the future prospects for our industry. He will provide an inspiring message for everyone who makes their living in the RV business.”
Kempthorne continues to champion outdoor recreation and is an active RV traveler and motorcyclist. As Secretary of the Interior during the George W. Bush administration, he brought fundamental relational changes in the environmental, conservation and outdoor recreation arenas.
During his service in the U.S. Senate, Kempthorne led successful efforts to create a sustainable funding source for building and maintaining trails and to promote balance between resource protection and outdoor fun – which is among the reasons he received the 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award in 2008 from the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).
A second general session, on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 7, will feature an “RV Outlook Panel Discussion” for which panelists will include Ron Fenech, president of Thor Industries Inc.’s RV Group; Craig Kennison, analyst with Robert W. Baird, Inc.; and Pete Lannon, GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance.
Tom Walworth, president of Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., will chair the discussion, which will focus on minimizing risk factors with RV floorplan loans, a manufacturing outlook on the future of RV product development and distribution, financial markets and the impact the issues will have on the dealers’ bottom lines.
“This session is sure to be extremely informative for everyone attending the upcoming convention,” said Albano. “It will provide some important steps that dealers can take to reduce their risk and successfully meet the financial challenges we are all facing today. The Convention/Expo Committee secured an outstanding group of RV industry experts to participate in this event.
RVBusiness HostsTop 50 Dealer Awards Festivities
RVBusiness magazine (and RVBUSINESS.com) will host its 3rd Annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards during a Wednesday, Oct. 6, reception and dinner at the Rio hosted by Affinity Group Inc. President & CEO Mike Schneider and keynoted by conservative political commentator and author Ann Coulter.
While the award eligibility has been expanded this year to include recreational park model dealers – just as it was expanded last year to include Canadian retailers — the awards format will include five Blue Ribbon retailers and one individual receiving the Altman Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Go RVing Coalition Convenes at Con/Expo
Concurrent with RVDA’s convention agenda, the pan-industry Go RVing Coalition will convene 8-11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the Rio’s Tango Room to continue discussions of topics raised during the coalition’s last meeting June 8 during RVIA Committee Week in South Bend, Ind. This will likely include campaign planning, 2011 funding levels and development of the Go RVing consumer leads prioritization system approved by the coalition in June.
Along with recent shipment and retail data, the coalition will rely on a new University of Michigan RV market forecast and new ad tracking research. “Go RVing’s 2010 ad tracking research will be complete, giving us a better handle on the impact of our media mix and the Ambassadors of Affordability creative,” reports Gary LaBella, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the coalition’s staff liaison.
Additionally, LaBella says results of the new study of Go RVing leads over the past three years will be reported by The Richards Group, the coalition’s Dallas-based agency. “This study will enable us to better prioritize leads, to provide more information to users about the specific products and price ranges consumer are considering, the lifestyle attributes of our leads and which media are most effective in delivering them,” he said. “All of this information will be helpful to future Go RVing media and creative planning as well as industry marketing efforts.”
Courtesy of Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), comes this interesting fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in the recreation field is doing markedly better than other leisure and travel segments.
Look at the accompaning chart to track how employment in the fields of air transportation, recreation and lodging have evolved over the past year.
In general, recreation employment retreated less during the recession and has come back more quickly than the other two industrial segments.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon was in attendance as a delegate at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors on Friday ( April 16) at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., where President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
Coon joined leaders representing the recreation, sporting, conservation, farming, ranching, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from the nation’s 53 states and territories. He participated in his role as vice chairman of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).
Coon applauded the new initiative saying, “America’s public lands and green spaces are favorite destinations for the nation’s millions of RV enthusiasts. This new effort will help protect these natural treasures, encourage more outdoor recreation, and improve access to these areas. We look forward to working with President Obama on this effort.”
The Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative calls on the secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to lead the Initiative, in coordination with the departments of Defense, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Education and the Office of Management and Budget.
The Initiative will support a 21st century conservation agenda that builds on successes in communities across the country, and will start a national dialogue about conservation that supports the efforts of private citizens and local communities.
“Since President Theodore Roosevelt held the first White House conference on conservation in 1908, we as Americans have taken extraordinary steps to protect our land, water, wildlife, and history for future generations, but today the places we love face new challenges that require new ideas and new strategies to solve,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative will start a much-needed dialogue about conservation in our country so that we can hear directly from Americans about the places they care about and how they are working to protect them. This is about listening, learning, and finding common-sense ways to support the good work that is happening in communities across the country.”
“Today, with 80% of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for people to have access to outdoor space. Just as we cherish our childhood memories of hiking and sledding, fishing and camping, and just as we enjoy spending time outdoors with our families, we must guard these places and traditions for new generations,” said CEQ Chairwoman Nancy Sutley. “Through this initiative we hope to identify new opportunities to work with Americans on a modern approach to conservation that begins at the ground level, and to reinvigorate the national conversation about our outdoors.”
“President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative will play an important role in confronting the serious challenges our natural resources face today: climate change, air and water pollution, landscape fragmentation and loss of open space,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This effort will bring Americans from across the country together to look for new approaches to protect our national treasures. And it will highlight the importance of working across ownership boundaries to restore and conserve both private and public lands in a way that recognizes that conservation and economic vitality are inextricably linked.”
Editor’s Note: Derrick A. Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, shared these comments on a story posted Monday on the RVBUSINESS.COM website quoting Gina Martin Adams’ forecast of consumer attitudes Nov. 10 at the National Marine Bankers Association Annual Conference in Hilton Head, S.C. The Wells Fargo Securities economist said today’s American consumers are changing. “You will lose those consumers in 2010 and 2011 if you think they are the same consumers that you sold to from 2003 to 2007,” she said.
I think that Gina Martin Adams’ forecast about consumer attitudes for the next several years is likely to prove correct. There is a new realism about stability of assets, in homes and in the stock market and a real aversion to being too debt-laden. And this has important – and positive – implications for the RV business. Unlike high-end leisure purchases of overseas trips, cruises and luxurious resorts, money spent buying an RV isn’t lost. The RV is available for additional uses – weekend getaways, accommodations while visiting family that beat sleeping on couches and staying in hotels, tailgating and next year’s grand adventures.
But the real lure for RV sales is what an RV unlocks. For just $10, any American over the age of 62 can purchase a lifetime of free entry into our national parks and hundreds of other great places, including national wildlife refuges and national forests. These federal lands cover one-third of the nation and offer hiking, fishing, picnicking, swimming and other water sports, wildlife viewing and more. They are connected by more than 150 national scenic byways – great places for RV travelers. And the $10 fee is for all of the passengers in the RV, whether they are 62 or not – so bring the grandkids. And camping in national parks is a bargain, too.
If an RV prospect is not 62 –no problem. The same unlimited access for all of the passengers in an RV or other vehicle is just $80 annually – the America the Beautiful Pass.
Bottom line is that the RV industry can capitalize on consumer sentiments and the focus on value. Our message is remarkably like that used successfully by Wal-Mart for the past 18 months: Save money. Live better.
Good slogan for the RV business any time, but especially now.
RVs will be featured at a forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Interior in cooperation with the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) in downtown Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, according to a news release from the Recreation vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Winnebago Industries Inc. will provide its new high-mileage Class A Via motorhome for tours by government officials including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. RVIA President Richard Coon will join ARC President Derrick Crandall to brief the secretaries on RV travel and innovations as they tour the motorhome.
The Via is the first Class A motorhome built on the imported Dodge/Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis.
The event will include remarks by LaHood and Salazar, who are expected to speak about the continued popularity, importance and benefits of outdoor activities on public lands including RVing in this economy. They are expected to recognize RV product innovations, which will be represented by the green RV on display, as part of a more eco-friendly, fuel- and cost-efficient RV industry taking shape.
“This is going to be a tremendous opportunity to share our industry’s story with two key officials in the Obama Administration,” said Coon. “Secretary Salazar already is familiar with RVing, having spent almost two weeks traveling through Colorado in a motorhome during the 2008 presidential campaign. He also understands that jobs in factories in Indiana and elsewhere depend upon the public being interested in visiting parks and other places, and being welcomed there to enjoy outdoor recreation.”
“Secretary LaHood heads an agency that is vitally important to the RV industry,” he continued. “The Transportation Department is now leading the way to help promote livability in our communities, protecting and expanding our ability to move to and from where we live, work and play. Their programs have also increased the public’s access to America’s Great Outdoors with a vast network of federally-aided roads, from Interstates to scenic byways.”
The Department of Interior forum, “Stimulating Economic Vitality and Resource Conservation in Gateway and Tribal Communities,” will focus on how to balance the need for economic growth with conservation and protection of natural resources during a time of severe economic challenge. Attendees will include leaders from gateways and tribes, state and local governments, the tourism and recreation industries, and federal lands and other agencies whose policies have an effect on these communities.