The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) threw private park operators a curve ball earlier this year when it published dramatic changes in accessibility requirements for swimming pool lifts under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to a press release generated by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), new regulations published Jan. 31 gave park owners only 45 days to install swimming pool lifts at their facilities – an “unrealistic timetable given the size of the campground industry and the relatively small numbers of pool lift providers,” according to ARVC.
DOJ officials also gave park operators differing interpretations of the new regulations, with some saying permanent pool lifts are required at every pool or body of water, while others said portable pool lift devices would suffice.
The 2010 ADA Standards gave park operators the option of installing either permanent or portable pool lifts to provide their disabled guests with access to pool, wading pool and spa facilities.
Given these contradictions, and the looming enforcement deadline, ARVC joined forces with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and other groups to call on the DOJ to revise its regulations to make it easier for small and medium size businesses to comply with the new regulations using portable pool lifts. ARVC and its industry partners have also asked the federal government to extend the deadline for compliance with the new regulations by six months.
ARVC submitted its latest comments on the ADA pool lift compliance issue to the Department of Justice on April 4, less than two weeks after ARVC joined its industry partners at a White House meeting to encourage the DOJ to revise its pool lift requirements.
Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, is working closely with the Washington D.C. law firm of McDermott Will & Emery on the ADA pool compliance issue. In a recent Q & A, Sims addressed several key questions involving the history of the pool lift issue, where we’re at today, and what park operators can expect ARVC to do on this issue in the coming months:
Q: Were campgrounds, RV parks and resorts previously required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to make swimming and wading pools and spas accessible for the disabled?
Sims: No. Not until now. The ADA regulations and Standards for Accessible Design that were originally published in 1991 set the standard for what makes a facility accessible. And while the updated 2010 standards retain many of the original provisions of the 1991 standards, they do contain some significant differences. They are also used differently depending on whether you are altering an existing building, building a new facility or removing architectural barriers that have existed for years.
Q: When did the U.S. Department of Justice first indicate that portable pool lifts may not be compliant in some circumstances with ADA regulations?
Sims: On Jan. 31 of this year – Just two months before the deadline for compliance!
Q: Why is it important for ARVC members to be aware of these standards?
Sims: These standards can have a direct effect on park’s cost of doing business. This is also a civil rights issue about accessibility. The ADA’s regulations and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, originally published in 1991, set the standard for what makes a facility accessible. While the updated 2010 Standards retain many of the original provisions in the 1991 Standards, they do contain some significant differences. These standards are the key for determining if a small business’s facilities are accessible under the ADA. However, they are used differently, depending on whether a small business is altering an existing building, building a brand new facility, or removing architectural barriers that have existed for years.
Q: Are there other facilities besides swimming pools that are subject to new ADA regulations?
Sims: Yes. The 2010 ADA Standards also set new accessibility requirements for exercise machines and equipment; fishing piers and platforms; miniature golf and regular golf facilities; play areas; recreational boating facilities; and residential facilities and dwelling units.
Q: Campground operators have received conflicting information from federal officials over what the Justice Department really required, particularly on the question of whether private parks could get by using portable pool lifts or whether they would be required to install permanent pool lifts for each swimming pool. Do we know even now what the federal government really required?
Sims: We asked the Department of Justice to revisit and revise its Jan. 31 guidance, which required a fixed pool lift (if readily achievable). The guidance also stated that a portable pool lift is not compliant in some circumstances. In expressing a preference for and requiring a fixed pool lift, the federal guidance is at variance with the 2010 Final Rule, which did not distinguish between fixed and portable lifts. Furthermore, we believe there has been no evidence presented during the rulemaking that demonstrably shows the superiority and necessity of a fixed pool lift. In our experience, a portable pool lift is functionally equivalent to a fixed lift in that it provides entry and exit from the pool or spa. It’s also a more affordable option for park operators in meeting these new requirements.
Q: When did ARVC get involved in monitoring the pool lift issue and intervening on behalf of private park operators on this issue?
Sims: I was hired on Jan. 15, 2011, and became aware of the issue nearly immediately. ARVC hired McDermott, Will & Emery in Washington, D.C. to head up our legal and lobbying efforts in April of 2011. They issued their first “Guidance for ARVC Members Regarding the New ADA Requirements for Pools and Spas” on May 11, 2011. On June 16, they provided additional guidance to ARVC members concerning the term “readily achievable” in Department of Justice parlance. They have since helped us develop an effective grass roots campaign on this issue.
Q: What has ARVC achieved to date on this issue?
Sims: ARVC has been the leader in providing information concerning the new ADA Standards to the campground industry. Working with our coalition partners and our members, we were able to convince U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to delay the implementation of new ADA rules regarding swimming and wading pools for at least 60 days. That means the compliance deadline has been pushed back to May 15th. The Department of Justice also published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which solicited comments on whether or not it should delay the implementation of the new rules for pools and spas 180 days. ARVC organized a letter writing campaign to provide NPRM input on behalf of campground owners to insure our common voice was heard.
Q: What other business groups are working with us on the ADA issue?
Sims: We are working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the American Resort Development Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the National Apartment Association, the National Multi Housing Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, and the World Water Park Association. There is strength in numbers and that is how we have been able to leverage ARVC’s voice.
Q: What did ARVC request of the Justice Department in its April 4 letter?
Sims: We stated that our members are very strong supporters of the spirit and intent of the ADA. However, we noted that the technical assistance document or “guidance” published by the Department of Justice on Jan. 31 is confusing, at variance with the 2010 Final Rule, and problematic for those of us who fully intend to comply with the ADA’s requirements. We, therefore, called on the Department of Justice to revisit and revise its Jan. 31 guidance. We noted that the department had failed to consider the financial burden permanent pool lift requirements would place on our members, not only for the equipment itself but for the required electrical bonding under the National Electrical Code and for the reconstruction of pool decks. We also noted that the installation of fixed pool lifts also requires building permits and construction work that can take additional time, and that places public accommodations at risk of being sued for non-compliance. In any event, a sufficient supply of fixed pool lifts is simply not currently available, according to a representative of pool lift manufacturers who met with Obama administration officials on March 26. We also urged the Department of Justice to make clear that public accommodations may store portable pool lifts and make them available after determining at check-in whether a disabled patron wishes to use the accommodation’s pool or spa. Additionally, we urged the Department of Justice to allow public accommodations to share portable pool lifts among pools and spas. In fact, such a requirement could make more pools and spas accessible to disabled patrons.
Q: What happens now?
Sims: The Department of Justice is considering nearly 1,400 comments that were submitted on the topic of extending the compliance date for 180 days, which leads us to believe the extension may be attainable. However, many advocacy groups for the disabled have argued that the compliance date should not be extended at all. Meanwhile, ARVC and other organizations are continuing to argue that the Justice Department should not require fixed pool lifts and that portable pool lifts should be compliant. Legislation has also been introduced in Congress to delay the implementation date and to the allow the use of portable pool lifts. But passage of such legislation seems unlikely. ARVC members should, therefore, continue to make their voices heard to their representatives on this issue. This will be a key topic ARVC members who are attending the National Issues Conference in Washington, D.C .on May 9 will be addressing in private Congressional meetings.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is urging park operators to contact their congressional representatives and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) before April 4 to voice their concerns about ADA pool lift requirements.
“ARVC and other groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Hotel and Lodging Association – met with key administration staff on Monday (March 26) to express our concerns,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO. “While we appreciated the opportunity to discuss the hardship this recent Department of Justice guidance would impose on our members, there was no indication that the administration would revisit the DOJ’s view that fixed pool lifts are required. We fundamentally disagree with that DOJ conclusion, which is at variance with the final regulation promulgated by DOJ in 2010.
“As a result, we need to redouble our efforts, and that means having as many park operators as possible write letters to the Department of Justice and to their congressional representatives to voice their concerns about the new pool lift requirements.”
Bambei has sent emails to ARVC members across the country asking them to write letters before April 4, which is the deadline the Department of Justice has set to receive comments on the pool lift issue. Comments can also be submitted online by clicking here.
ARVC is urging park operators to request that the DOJ delay enforcement of its proposed pool lift requirements for six months. The association is also urging its members to request that the DOJ change its January 2012 guidance and permit public accommodations to utilize either fixed or portable lifts, and allow those with more than one pool or spa to employ one portable lift between those bodies of water as needed to accommodate patrons.
“Many of our members find that the proposed requirement for a permanent pool lift is excessive given the limited demand for such equipment. The installation of permanent pool lifts also introduces a new category of risk and liability for other pool users that the Department of Justice has not taken into consideration,” Bambei said, noting that the ADA pool lift requirement is out of sync with previous ADA compliance requirements. “More time is also needed for parks to comply with the new rules and to purchase the equipment they need.”
Park operators can learn more about the ADA requirements by visiting www.ada.gov.
Early-bird pricing ends March 31 for the first Spring Seminar Series sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
The event is scheduled for May 16-17 at the Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center in Denver, Colo.
All sessions support the Outdoor Hospitality Education Program (OHEP) and CPO program, according to an email blast sent out this week to ARVC members.
Seminar fees are as follows:
• Early Bird – $169 ends March 31.
• Regular – $199 ends April 30.
• Late – $229 after April 30.
• Regular – $399 ends April 30.
• Late – $499 after April 30.
Fees include entrance to all seminar sessions, seminar materials, breakfast and lunch each of the two days and an evening reception.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) will join its industry partners Monday (March 26) in a White House meeting to discuss misunderstandings involving new pool lift requirements that have been proposed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to a press release, ARVC will be represented at the meeting by the Washington D.C. law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, which will voice private park operator concerns about the proposed requirements it feels are out of sync with existing ADA requirements for other amenities in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts.
ARVC and its industry partners have complained to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that they have received “conflicting guidance” and interpretations of the new pool lift requirements from state and local enforcement offices around the country. “There appears to be tremendous variations in interpretation by these local officials, many of whom are under the impression that DOJ intends this Guidance to apply only to new construction,” ARVC and its industry partners wrote in a March 13th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice Department officials.
On March 15, Holder approved a 60-day extension of the compliance date for new ADA pool lift requirements following an aggressive letter writing campaign orchestrated by ARVC and other business groups. Holder also signaled the department’s willingness to consider a six-month month extension on ADA pool lift compliance while issues involving the proposed regulations are being discussed.
Al Johnson, who chairs ARVC’s Government Affairs Committee, said the association will continue to provide park operators with key talking points and other information to use in their correspondence with congressional and DOJ officials in connection with the pool lift issue. ARVC officials also plan to discuss park operator concerns about the proposed pool lift requirements in face-to-face meetings with congressional representatives in May.
“We’re making progress in getting our voices heard,” said Johnson, who noted that ARVC’s concerns are shared by a coalition of powerful business interests, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Resort Development Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the National Apartment Association, the National Multi Housing Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the World Water Park Association.
For more information on the ADA requirements and the extension of the compliance deadline by the Department of Justice, visit www.ada.gov. Based in Denver, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. Visit www.arvc.org for more information.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) plans to seek a six-month extension of new pool lift requirements that have been proposed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“While we fully agree with the intent of the act, we’re going to make the case that the proposed pool lift requirements are out of sync with existing ADA requirements that apply to other amenities in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts,” said Al Johnson, chairman of ARVC’s Government Affairs Committee, which is leading campground industry efforts to postpone enforcement of the proposed ADA pool lift requirements.
ARVC’s board has directed the Washington D.C. law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to submit comments to the Department of Justice (DOJ) by April 4, which will outline private park operator concerns about the proposed pool lift requirements.
ARVC will also continue to provide its members with key talking points and other information to use in their correspondence with congressional and DOJ officials on this issue, Johnson said, adding that ARVC officials will discuss park operator concerns about the proposed pool lift requirements in face-to-face meetings with congressional representatives in May.
“ARVC is going to continue to lead campground industry efforts on the ADA pool lift issue and will do so in concert with our industry partners,” Johnson said.
ARVC’s industry partners include the American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Resort Development Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the National Apartment Association, the National Multi Housing Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the World Water Park Association.
Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder approved a 60-day extension that will push the compliance date for new ADA pool lift requirements following an aggressive letter writing campaign orchestrated by ARVC and other business groups.
For more information on the ADA requirements and the extension of the compliance deadline by the Department of Justice, visit www.ada.gov. Based in Denver, ARVC is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. Visit www.arvc.org for more information.
Editor’s Note: Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), today (March 1) issued the following “Call to Action” for all ARVC members.
ARVC, in conjunction with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), is requesting its members to contact the Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, and their Congressional offices to urge they weigh in on the issue of seeking restoration of common sense interpretation of pool and spa entry requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The industry message to the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress is:
• Extend the March 15 Compliance deadline which will leave many operators in technical violation of Federal law and thus open to litigation and fines.
• DOJ needs to approve portable lifts that will allow operators to quickly provide access to pools for travelers with disabilities while safeguarding children and costly lift equipment.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an overly burdensome interpretation of the pool entry requirements, forcing many operators to scramble to meet the March 15 implementation deadline for pool lifts. DOJ noted that all pools and most spas will need an affixed lift to be made available any hours the pool is open to the public. Operators who have purchased a portable lift under an earlier understanding of the 2010 ADA Standards will need to replace these lifts or find a method of affixing them to the pool deck.
ARVC provided a recommended template letter for contacting Perez, which can be e-mailed to him at email@example.com. This same template can be used to send a similar letter to members of Congress.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced on Wednesday (Feb. 29) a new member benefit program in partnership with Club Car, a leading manufacturer of golf cars and utility vehicles.
According to a press release, ARVC members can now receive 25% off the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) for Club Car’s signature 4-passenger golf car, the Precedent i2 Villager 4, as well as 15% to 20% discounts on 28 other types of electric and gasoline-powered vehicles, both new and factory refurbished, within the Club Car product line.
“This program brings tremendous value to campground operators who need golf cars and utility vehicles for guest service, park maintenance and housekeeping activities,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO, noting that discounts on a single vehicle can be worth the cost of several years’ of ARVC membership.
“We are honored to have been selected to join the elite portfolio of partners supporting ARVC and confident that our expansive line of high-quality vehicles will create exceptional value for ARVC members,” said Ryan McClellan, manager, Strategic and Government Accounts, Club Car.
Club Car is offering two- and four-year warranties for each vehicle sold through the discount program. Additionally, through the extensive network of local Club Car dealer partners, ARVC members can obtain service and attractive financing terms for both vehicle purchase and lease.
ARVC’s discount program with Club Car is the latest in a series of exclusive member benefit programs that ARVC has negotiated with nationally recognized product and service providers to private park operators.
Private park operators can find the closest Club Car dealer by visiting www.arvc.org and clicking the Club Car Member Benefit Announcement, then select the nearest dealer link. ARVC members are required to provide the local dealer with their ARVC ID number along with a copy of their arvc membership certificate. To receive the arvc ID number and your current arvc membership certificate, please contact Derek Dick at 303-681-0401, ext. 116.
A generational change is under way in the nation’s snowbird population. According to a press release, sounds of the “Big Bands” are increasingly being replaced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Foreigner.
And while Sunbelt RV resorts still have plenty of bridge tables, today’s health conscious snowbirds are more likely to engaged in water aerobics or water volleyball, playing tennis or bocce ball or riding their bicycles or hiking on nature trails.
“The Baby Boomers have arrived,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), the Denver-based trade association that represents the outdoor hospitality industry. “And RV parks and resorts are responding by providing a greater variety of activities and entertainment. Some have even established health and wellness centers.”
Art Martin, activities director for the Fountain of Youth Spa and RV Resort in Niland, Calif., has seen the generational change unfold before his own eyes. “When I took over as activities director 15 years ago,” he said, “we had 20 activities a week. Now we have 86 activities a week.”
This winter, Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Calif., is offering more than 200 different activities, plus a greater variety of activities and entertainment than most small towns, including dances, dinner shows and every flavor of musical entertainment
“We are getting a lot of new RVers because of the concerts and events,” said resort manager Michael Carle. “They definitely want to be active.”
Some RV resorts are also offering on-site spa and wellness center services.
Consider the Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, Calif. Three winters ago, the resort opened a wellness center led by Anna Morris, a holistic health practitioner and expert in Ayurvedic massage who trained with Deepak Chopra and Dr. Vasant Lad, two of the nation’s premier experts in holistic health medicine. Morris is joined by Amy Baay, a licensed massage practitioner, and Betty Patterson, a licensed acupuncturist who also does herbal medicine and teaches classes in Qi Gong, an energy building exercise with slow body movements.
The growth in activities and entertainment is helping many RV resorts to increase their occupancies this winter season.
Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, said his business is way up from last year’s figures, with a 20% increase in RV site rentals and a 27% increase in park model rentals. He said the park is “fully booked” for February and March.
He attributed the increase in part to the resort’s new indoor pool and wellness center, which was completed in time for the winter season. “It’s just insane,” Deputy said. “I’ve never seen so many people working out in the resort.”
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the ARVC Foundation announce the first Spring Seminar Series as an extension to its already popular Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo held in November and the National School of RV Park and Campground Management held in February.
The first Spring Seminar will be held May 16-17 in Denver.
“We’ve scheduled the series mid-week so that campground operators can get back to their parks in time to prepare for the weekend,” Barb Youmans, ARVC’s senior director of membership and education, stated in a news release. “Seminars will end at 2 p.m. on Thursday, making it easy to catch an evening flight.”
ARVC’s Spring Seminar Series features nine seminars:
• “Protecting Your Park From Perils” with Mark Maciha of Northern Arizona University. As part of this seminar, park operators will fill out a needs assessment that helps them determine areas of potential risk in their campgrounds. Maciha will work with park operators to develop a plan to reduce health and safety risks in their parks.
• “Happy Campers,” a seminar that teaches park operators how to communicate expectations to staff and ensure that those expectations are met every day so that guests achieve the highest levels of customer service.
• “Business Cents” with Mary Arlington of MMCC Inc. Arlington will help park operators learn how to optimize customer satisfaction within the business capabilities of their organization and develop a plan to achieve needed business modifications that are identified in the session.
• “Risky Business,” a session that helps park operators learn how to implement effective risk management practices.
• “Great Expectations” with Ron Williams of Travel Resorts of America. This session will teach park operators how to set standards for their business as well as how to monitor and maintain service levels.
• “The Social Stampede” with Barb Krumm and Rachel Beckerman of Ocean Lakes Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C. This session provides basic instruction in Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. Park operators will learn how to use these tools and incorporate them into their business strategy.
• “Cash Cow” with Bud Styers and Associates and Smokey Hollow Campground in Lodi, Wis. Styer will teach park operators how to identify creative ways to raise revenue by providing additional services, activities and products.
• “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions,” a seminar that helps park operators assess the various technologies that are available to help them attract more business. This session will show park operators how to make the best decisions for their business.
• “Let’s Go Shopping” with Janine Roberts of Tradavo, a wholesale supplier of foods, beverages and sundries to small format retailers. Park operators will learn how to manage the retail space they have while creating an appealing atmosphere and making more money.
Registration includes all seminars and materials, as well as, breakfast and lunch both days. Discounts are available for those who register before March 31. Special lodging rates are available for seminar participants at the Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center. For more information, visit www.arvc.org/seminarSeriesMain.aspx or call the ARVC Education Department at (303) 681-0401, Ext. 118.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has negotiated an exclusive member benefit with Ford Motor Company that could save ARVC members thousands of dollars with vehicles they lease or purchase for their businesses or personal use.
The benefit, available immediately to ARVC members, includes a non-taxable rebate off the guaranteed dealer invoice worth thousands of dollars that they can use at any time, so long as they are ARVC members.
“We’ve never offered a benefit like this before,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO, adding that this benefit alone is worth 10 to 20 times’ the annual cost of ARVC membership for a typical 100-site park.
In most cases, net purchase prices with the ARVC member discount will be 15% to 20% below the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and applies to nearly every car, truck, or van in the Ford product line for 2011-12.
The Ford Motor Company discounts are the latest in a series of exclusive discount programs that ARVC has obtained for its members.
Other new benefits include an exclusive discount program with Just In Time Communications, Inc., a national distributor for DIRECTV, to provide satellite television service to ARVC member parks at rates that can save park operators tens of thousands of dollars a year, depending on the size of their park.
ARVC has also secured a preferred provider agreement with Skyline Corp., which now provides ARVC member parks with significant savings on towable travel trailers as well as park models, which are custom designed for use as rental units. Combined with existing agreements with long time member benefit providers such as Evergreen Insurance, John Deere, Suburban/Ferralgas/Amerigas LP, Sherwin Williams, and many others, a member’s savings can be significant over the course of a year.
Based in Denver, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. More information is available at www.arvc.org.
Tents for Troops (T4T), the nationwide network of RV parks and campgrounds offering complimentary camping to active military and their families, added 40 new park participants following a presentation at the National Association of RV Parks and Campground’s (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Savannah, Ga.
According to a press release, park owners/operators in attendance were able to learn about program details from founder and park owner Charlie Curry. Several U.S. Marines, including Staff Sgt. Joaquin Montada, Staff Sgt. John Echenique, Sgt. Benjamin Harrelson and Sergeant Matthew Griener, manned the T4T booth to help sign up new participants for the program.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the comments, feedback and registrations we received at the ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Expo,” said Curry. “This exposure gave us the opportunity to talk about Tents for Troops, confirm that there are no obligations for park owners to commit sites during their busiest periods, and communicate the gratitude our troops have expressed for this program.” He added his sincere thanks to ARVC for supporting T4T as well as our troops and for the opportunity to be present at the conference.
Several park representatives spoke with Curry and took information back to their parks for further consideration. Curry expects quite a few more parks to join the network after the New Year as a result of the expo.
New park participants are being added to the T4T website daily with the total number of participating parks at nearly 200 and growing. To complete the registration form visit www.TentsforTroops.org, and submit it to Curry at TentsforTroops@aol.com or via fax at 360-274-5390.
Park operators who attended the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recent Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo in Savannah, Ga., said they expect to save thousands of dollars as a result of the association’s latest member benefit programs for products and services ranging from park models to satellite television service.
ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei told conference attendees that the association is close to finalizing an agreement with the three music licensing companies that could translate into significantly lower licensing fees for participating ARVC members, whose businesses would be put on a “do not contact” list – ending the harassment from music licensing companies that park operators have complained about for years.
“Just the music deal alone is worth it for everybody to be a member of ARVC,” said George O’Leary, a longtime watchdog of ARVC’s Executive Committee since serving on the association’s board from 2001 to 2006.
Speaking to park operators at ARVC’s annual breakfast meeting, O’Leary publicly commended Bambei for his efforts to develop valuable member benefit programs. In an interview, O’Leary noted the association’s new agreement with “He Lifts Me,” a seller of ADA-approved pool lifts. “A savings of $800 per park is possible,” O’Leary said, adding, “It would not surprise me if membership in our state and national associations increased by 20% to 40% in the near future.”
O’Leary also publicly lauded Bambei’s decision to purchase more affordable office space in Centennial, Colo., near Denver, instead of more expensive office locations in Castle Rock and Larkspur. ARVC’s decision to move its headquarters to Centennial early this year saved the association more than $300,000.
O’Leary, who owns the two Rincon Country RV Parks in Tucson, Ariz., also complimented the ARVC board for hiring Bambei, who started work Dec. 1, 2010. “I have great confidence in Paul Bambei,” O’Leary said, adding that he believes the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is on the right path under Bambei’s leadership.
Bambei, for his part, told conference attendees that he remains focused on developing a series of member benefit programs that far exceed the cost of ARVC dues.
These programs include a preferred provider agreement with Skyline Corp., which now provides ARVC member parks with significant savings on towable travel trailers as well as park models, which are custom designed for use as rental units. Former ARVC Chairman David Berg said the savings from a single park model purchase can offset the cost of ARVC dues for as much as 20 years.
ARVC also recently signed an agreement with Just In Time Communications Inc., a national distributor for DIRECTV, to provide satellite television service to ARVC member parks at vastly reduced rates that can save park operators tens of thousands of dollars a year, depending on the size of their park. Bambei said over 150 parks have already signed up for the satellite television benefit program.
“People are really going to get a different outlook on the association as they become aware of these new programs,” said Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., who noted that new programs give small parks and large parks discounts they couldn’t normally achieve on their own. Deputy alone expects to save at least $5,000 or $6,000 a year in music licensing fees after ARVC’s new music licensing program is finalized.
“The word needs to get out about how valuable these programs are,” Deputy said.
Donald Sears, co-owner of Clare-Mar Lakes Campground in Wellington, Ohio, said the new programs are beneficial to park operators. He added that the educational seminars at the Nov. 30- Dec. 2 Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo were among the best he’s ever attended. “We’ve owned the campground for over 40 years and I’ve been to all of the conventions for the last 15 years, and this is probably one of the better formatted conventions I’ve seen yet,” he said.
Bambei said paid registrations for the Savannah convention were up 32% compared to last year’s figures, a growth figure Bambei attributes to park operator interest in learning about ARVC’s new member programs as well as park operator interest in attending the industry’s largest tradeshow and attending new education seminars on business topics that haven’t been offered before.
Next year’s Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Tradeshow is scheduled for Nov. 28-30 at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Bambei said efforts are underway to change the dates of the annual convention in subsequent years so that it doesn’t conflict with conventions held by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and other RV and campground industry conventions.
Forty-four campgrounds, RV parks and resorts earned all around “A” grades in the fourth annual consumer satisfaction survey of campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, according to a news release.
The top parks were announced Dec. 2 during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which took place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
More than 30,000 camping and RV enthusiasts participated in the online survey, which evaluated guest experiences at campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated with ARVC.
“Consistently earning an overall ‘A’ grade from guests is difficult, and our 44 winners this year represent less than 2% of all of the nation’s campgrounds. But what is even more impressive is that 12 of this year’s winners have also received this award four years in a row,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of GuestRated.com, the Murrieta, Calif.-based company that conducted the online survey.
“Consumers should take the time to check out the ratings that are posted for each campground on www.GoCampingAmerica.com because that’s the quickest way to tell which parks are best meeting – and exceeding – guest expectations,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO.
The 44 parks earning “A” grade this year include:
• Acres of Wildlife Campground in Steep Falls, Maine, a three-time winner.
• Anaheim Resort RV Park, Anaheim, Calif., a first-time winner.
• Ashland Resort, Northfork, W.Va., a two-time winner.
• At Rivers Edge RV Resort, Brookings, Ore., a first-time winner.
• Brookdale Family Campground, Meadville, Pa., a first-time winner.
• Buffalo Lake Camping Resort, Montello, Wis., a two-time winner.
• Buttonwood Campground, Mexico, Pa., a four-time winner.
• Camp A Way, Lincoln, Neb., a first-time winner.
• Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park, Nathrop, Colo., a three-time winner.
• Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Md., a three-time winner.
• Cross Creek Camping Resort, Delaware, Ohio, a first-time winner.
• D & W Lake Camping and RV Park, Champaign, Ill., a two-time winner.
• Dogwood Acres Campground, Newville, Pa., a four-time winner.
• Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort, Panama City, Fla., a first-time winner.
• Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg, Pa., a three-time winner.
• Gold Country Campground Resort, Pine Grove, Calif., a first-time winner.
• Hidden Valley RV Park, Von Ormy, Texas, a first-time winner.
• High Plains Camping, Oakley, Kan., a four-time winner.
• Kalyumet Camping & Cabins, Lucinda, Pa., a first-time winner.
• Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort, Waymart, Pa., a three-time winner.
• Kozy Rest Kampground, Harrisville, Pa., a four-time winner.
• Lake George RV Park, Lake George, N.Y., a four-time winner.
• Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nev., a two-time winner.
• Magnolia RV Park & Campground, Kinards, S.C., a two-time winner.
• Meadowcliff Lodge & RV Resort, Coleville, Calif., a three-time winner.
• Mill Creek Ranch RV & Cottage Resort, Canton, Texas, a four-time winner.
• Misty River Cabins & RV Resort, Walland, Tenn., a four-time winner.
• Moose River Campground, Saint Johnsbury, Vt., a first-time winner.
• Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Pa., a three-time winner.
• Myrtle Beach Travel Park, Myrtle Beach, S.C., a first-time winner.
• Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C., a four-time winner.
• Pecan Park Campground, San Marcos, Texas, a first-time winner.
• Pioneer Campground, Laporte, Pa., a four-time winner.
• Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, Pismo Beach, Calif., a two-time winner.
• Pontchartrain Landing, New Orleans, La., a three-time winner.
• Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine, a three-time winner.
• Rose Point Park, New Castle, Pa., a first-time winner.
• South Haven Family Campground, South Haven, Mich., a four-time “A” grade winner.
• Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Mich., a four-time winner.
• The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, Calif., a two-time winner.
• The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine, Texas, a four-time winner.
• West Canada Creek Campsites, Poland, N.Y., a three-time winner.
• Willow Tree Resort, Longs, S.C., a three-time winner.
• Yellowstone Holiday Campground, West Yellowstone, Mont., a first-time winner.
The GuestRated.com national online survey program was launched in 2008 in collaboration with ARVC.
Consumers are invited to submit their own reviews of private campgrounds and RV resorts they have recently visited by logging on to www.GoCampingAmerica.com and clicking on the “Review a Park” tab. Survey results will eventually be posted on the GoCampingAmerica website.
For more information about the online survey program, please contact Bob MacKinnon of www.GuestRated.com at (877) 707-7080 or Paul Bambei of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds at (303) 681-0401.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of private parks during its annual industry awards competition as part of the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Savannah, Ga., according to a press release.
The highest honors, called the “Park of the Year” awards and sponsored by Good Sam, were given to campgrounds, RV parks and resorts based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service. Winners included:
• Nashville Country RV Park, Goodlettsville, Tenn., Small Park of the Year
• Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Kozy Rest, Harrisville, Pa., Medium Size Park of the Year
• Buttonwood Campground, Mexico, Pa., Large Park of the Year
• Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mega Park of the Year
The parks that made exemplary efforts to become environmentally friendly received the association’s “Plan it Green Award.” The winners in this category were:
• Guadalupe River RV Park Campground & Nature Trails, Spring Branch, Texas, Small/Medium Park Category
• Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Large/Mega Park Category
On the marketing front, awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. Award recipients in this category included:
• Maryland Association of Campgrounds, Small State Association Category
• New Jersey Campground Owners Association, Medium State Association Category
• California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Large State Association Category
Top performing state campground association executives were also recognized for their efforts, including:
• Rob Halcrow, Tennessee Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, State Executive Director of the Year
• Vicki Cole, Ohio Association of Campground Owners, State President of the Year
Mark Anderson, Steve Albrecht, Jo Ann Mickelson, and Karl Littman were all recognized for exemplary service as outgoing members of the ARVC board , while Tom Kilmer of Suburban Propane was recognized as, “Supplier of the Year” for going the extra mile on behalf of its customers and the campground industry.
The winners were announced during an awards ceremony Friday at the expo, which took place at the Westin Savannah Golf Resort & Spa in Savannah.
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.