After two days of pre-conference activities, the annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) officially gets under way today (Nov. 30) in Savannah, Ga., according to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management.
Held at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, ARVC’s Conference and Expo will bring together campground owners and operators from across the U.S. for three days of varied activities all designed to help them operate their campgrounds and RV parks.
Mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-60s are expected for most of the week.
“Where Outdoor Hospitality Meets Southern Hospitality” is the theme for the all-new event. The change will be apparent, as the education component has been doubled with an eye on a new name.
“We have completely revamped the program,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC CEO.
Woodall’s Campground Management reported that the newly revamped conference, offering 43 educational seminars and tracks for various experience levels, also employs a new, more affordable rate structure for attendees. And for those interested in breaking into the outdoor hospitality sector or in opening a park, ARVC’s conference seminars and networking opportunities provide an introduction on how to get started.
“We’ve completely revised the educational program and have created tracks and opportunities for all levels involved in the outdoor hospitality industry,” said Barb Youmans, ARVC senior director of administration and education. “We’re really looking forward to unveiling the new program at our conference.”
The new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program has five track levels beginning with “outdoor hospitality candidate,” which enables start-up entrepreneurs to dive in and explore all the industry has to offer. The other levels include “outdoor hospitality associate,” “generalist,” “professional” and “executive.” Each level is specific to the experience and role involvement within the operation.
The keynote address for the general session and opening luncheon today will be offered by Tim Richardson, author of “How to Tap into the Great Wealth of Brain Power!” and the Putnam-published book “Transformation Thinking.” Richardson will show attendees how to think innovatively with their staffs.
Expo attendees will be able to browse the 120,000-square-foot expo hall in search of the latest products, services and technologies, with more than 150 exhibitors displaying their wares. The expo will open Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Based in Denver, ARVC is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.arvc.org.
How do you provide customer service that is so good that your guests do more to promote your park than your ongoing marketing and advertising efforts?
“It’s not rocket science,” said Tim Richardson, a customer service expert who will be leading a seminar at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Trade Show Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Savannah, Ga., sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). “Most people intuitively know what they need to create an exceptional guest experience. However, we all get busy or forget some of the basics that make service really standout.”
To correct this problem, Richardson is going to talk about how to create systems that ensure campgrounds staffs provide exemplary customer service to every guest, drawing from his experience working with the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where he was responsible for guest relations training, leadership and team development for nearly 800 employees. His work led to the resort obtaining AAA’s coveted Five Diamond Award, which they have received every year for the past 10 years.
“Your guests are your greatest source of PR and advertising,” he said in a news release. “It’s far easier to get a repeat customer than to earn a new one.”
In this day of Internet access, he added, park operators are well advised to keep their guests happy so that they don’t post negative commentary about them or their park on the Internet.
“Most people are computer savvy enough that they are going to research your campground online before they visit. You want your guests writing positive comments. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen when a guest has an average experience. To earn positive feedback, your campground needs to stand out,” he said.
Richardson, who regularly leads training seminars on customer service, will provide examples of out-of-the-ordinary things park operators can do to enhance their guests’ experiences.
His will be one of 43 educational seminars at the upcoming conference, which takes place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
Other seminar topics will include 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. It will also feature the campground industry’s largest trade show, with vendors showcasing the latest products and services for park operators across the country.
Based in Denver, ARVC is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.arvc.org.
Campers want entertainment. Management wants profits.
So how do campground operators discover the sweet spot where these two goals meet and create staff training models that meet both ends?
That will be the topic of Karen Brucoli Anesi’s seminar on human resources training at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which takes place Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Savannah, Ga., according to a news release from the conference sponsor, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC)
“I’m going to ask them to apply information differently so staff changes how they see their jobs and their performance,” said Anesi, a regent and instructor of guest relations and conflict management at the National School of Campground Management, who co-owns Lock 30 Woodlands RV Resort and Campground in Lisbon, Ohio.
One of the things she’ll discuss is formalizing and reinforcing “lessons of the day” through team huddles. “This isn’t significantly different from what Walmart uses to pull ‘associates’ together with a cheer when they send their diverse slate of teens, senior citizens, mid-level managers and seasonal part-time help all down the same road together to sell bananas, skateboards, snow tires and shampoo,” Anesi said.
“Every campground has that which unites its staff in the overall mission. Yet training seldom embraces that. I’m hoping my class will be able to demonstrate the value of playful, recreational, ongoing staff training.”
And if the human resource challenges at your park need more than a different approach to staff training, you might also be interested in attending Dr. Becky Winkler’s seminar on team development.
A Charlotte, N.C.-based organizational psychologist, Dr. Winkler plans to demonstrate exercises that can help staff members improve their communication with each other without hurting each other’s feelings or creating tension in the work environment. One of the biggest problems in any business, she said, is a lack of communication or a failure to communicate effectively. Dr. Winkler’s session will empower park operators to improve communication among their various team members.
Held at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, ARVC’s Conference and Expo will feature 43 educational seminars, more than twice the number of any previous ARVC conference.
Other seminar topics will include 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. It will also feature the campground industry’s largest tradeshow, with vendors showcasing the latest products and services for park operators across the country.
Based in Denver, ARVC is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.arvc.org.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has launched ARVC Voice, an online members-only magazine that features news stories as well as embedded videos that highlight best practices and innovations in the campground business.
“We’re using cutting edge technology with one of the leading online magazine companies,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO in a press release, adding that the inaugural issue of ARVC Voice was emailed to the association’s members on Monday (Oct. 31).
ARVC Voice, which replaces the ARVC Report newsletter, will be emailed to association members 11 times a year, with a single issue for the December/January period. Each issue of ARVC Voice will be produced by Evanne Schmarder, a videographer and digital marketing expert who previously reported and edited the ARVC Report.
“ARVC Voice is not a newsletter, but an online magazine,” Bambei said, adding that it is being produced in a flipbook format using Zmags software. “This format is very easy to read, easy to navigate and very intuitive,” he said. “We think ARVC members will be pleased.”
While ARVC Voice is delivered in an electronic format, individual pages, sections or the entire issue can be saved, downloaded and/or printed. It also has a built-in search function to enable members to search for particular words or phrases.
Advertisements are hyperlinked to each advertiser’s website, which is a desirable benefit to companies interested in marketing their products and services to campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country, Bambei said.
Schmarder said each issue of ARVC Voice will be developed to provide news stories that are not available elsewhere in print or online publications serving the campground industry, with a heavy focus on human interest stories and best practices about ARVC members themselves. It will also contain useful information about member benefits, green initiatives and the latest information involving government affairs issues of interest to private park operators.
“While media experts claim electronic publishing is clearly the most efficient and widely adopted method of trade industry communication today, we recognize many members still like a printed version from ARVC. For that reason, we are committed to sending our members three printed issues of ARVC Voice in 2012, recapping a collection of the best content from the previous four months. Look for this first printed issue next spring,” said Bambei.
“We are asking ARVC members to consider shooting video at their parks focusing on their own unique innovations and breaking news,” Schmarder said, adding that a section of ARVC.org is being developed where members can upload content they would like to be considered for publication in ARVC Voice.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has negotiated an agreement with DIRECTV and its nationally certified service dealer, Just In Time Communications Inc., to provide satellite television service to ARVC member parks at vastly reduced rates.
“The prices we have negotiated on behalf of our members should be welcome news to the campground industry,” ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei stated in a news release. “The monetary value of this benefit alone far exceeds the cost of ARVC membership. In fact, just one month of savings from this agreement would more than pay for annual ARVC dues for a typical 100-site park.”
ARVC’s agreement with DIRECTV/Just In Time features numerous benefits, including: customized channel lineups; free equipment; competitive pricing; simple 12-channel option; seasonal black-out periods; and installation rate of $999 for parks with existing video systems.
ARVC will be working with Just In Time Communications to streamline the scheduling of all satellite television installations and conversions. ARVC members are encouraged to contact Derek Dick at (800) 395-2267 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain more information or to schedule an appointment for an installation or conversion.
Just In Time representatives will also be attending the upcoming Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in Savannah, Ga., with full equipment racks on display to help answer any questions park operators may have.
“This is an exciting period for ARVC members and everyone is encouraged to compare the pricing of this new deal with their current contracts to determine individual savings,” Bambei said, adding that additional member value programs for ARVC member parks will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Good Sam RV Park & Resort Network announced its sponsorship of the “Low Country Dinner Boil” at the 2011 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo presented by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), according to a press release.
The ARVC conference runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa and is the annual meeting of the campground industry. The “Low Country Dinner Boil” event hosted by Good Sam RV Parks & Resorts will be held on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westin and will feature dining and musical entertainment.
“I am excited about the upcoming dinner event that Good Sam RV Parks & Resorts is sponsoring at the annual 2011 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO and chairman of Good Sam. “Good Sam plans to take an even larger role in the campground industry, and this sponsorship is just the beginning of that effort. We have some exciting announcements planned at this dinner to aggressively grow the Good Sam RV Park & Resort network over the coming years and to dramatically increase the business our affiliated parks receive from our Good Sam members.”
ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei said he welcomes the sponsorship of the Good Sam RV Park & Resort Network, which has over 1,600 campground members, many of which are also members of ARVC. “Good Sam Parks clearly appreciate the value of the educational seminars, networking opportunities and the campground industry’s largest tradeshow, which the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo provide,” Bambei said.
For awhile, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) thought it had the perfect “surprise” visitor for its upcoming national conference in Savannah, Ga.: a Supreme Court justice who camps.
According to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management, ARVC CEO Paul Bambei said a plan was being formulated for Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to visit the convention, which opens Nov. 28 in Savannah, and address the assembled ARVC members.
Thomas was born in the Pin Point community near Savannah and is an avid camper, vacationing with his wife Virginia in their 40-foot Prevost bus that’s been redone by Marathon Coach.
But a last-minute conflict will prevent Thomas’s visit, Bambei confirmed to Woodall’s Campground Management this week. WCM contacted the Supreme Court to check on Justice Thomas’s schedule but hadn’t heard back for comment.
Bambei seemed to take the letdown in stride, without going into details about how the Thomas visit fell through. No substitute “surprise” visitor is being lined up.
The convention runs through Dec. 3.
The hoped-for Thomas visit was at the center of a minor spat in August between ARVC and Brian Schaeffer, executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). Schaeffer touted that he could arrange for Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry to speak at the ARVC conference. ARVC turned down Schaeffer’s offer, saying it wished to remain non-political with its guest speakers.
However, Bambei indicated at that time, “We have someone just as big in mind who’s not running for office and is an RV enthusiast.” Though not identifying Thomas by name in August, Bambei sounded confident that the deal to book Thomas could be sealed.
Jennifer J. Schwartz, a marketing expert with over 20 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies, has been hired as the senior director of marketing for the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC).
“We’re very fortunate to have Jennifer on our team,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO. “She has the experience needed to help us continue to develop strategic partnerships that bring value to ARVC members across North America.”
Schwartz, a Colorado native with a passion for camping, fishing, hunting, hiking and skiing, said she is excited about the opportunity to work with the campground industry. “This is the first time in my life I’m doing something that reflects my personal passion for camping,” she said, adding that she typically camps 20 to 30 days a year with her family.
Schwartz has held high-level marketing positions throughout her career, including vice president of marketing communications for Adelphia Communications; vice president of acquisition and upgrade marketing for AT&T Broadband; vice president of marketing promotions and sales for AT&T Broadband; and director of customer communications for Media One. She also spent three years managing new programs for the American Water Works Association, a national trade association for municipal water utilities. She worked as a strategic marketing consultant before joining ARVC this week.
Schwartz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She replaces Kera Tomlin, who left ARVC earlier this month to pursue other interests.
Things haven’t been going that well the past couple of years for Lee and Mike Weliczka of Aqua Vista Campground in Petersburg, N.Y.
According to an ARVC press release, last year, a freak windstorm uprooted and demolished 150 trees and totaled several trailers and 12 cars at their upstate New York campground.
This year, Hurricane Irene flooded 71 of their 156 campsites, and literally washed 20 of their campsites into the Little Hoosick River.
“Some people who have been camping with us for 25 years lost everything,” said Lee Weliczka, adding that the succession of disasters has taken place on top of a slow economy and just as the couple is starting to raise a family.
“This has been a very stressful period,” Weliczka said, adding that she and her husband are hoping to regain their enthusiasm for the campground business when they meet with other park operators Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in Savannah, Ga.
While the Weliczkas have been members of ARVC for many years, they have never attended the annual conference and expo, largely because they’ve been too busy or haven’t seen the need. This time, it’s a different story.
“We’re really hoping for the conference to help us get reinspired about the campground business and to get suggestions from other people about the things they have done,” Weliczka said. “We need to be reinspired and to reignite our passion for the industry.”
The Weliczkas, in short, see the conference providing not only campground specific education they cannot easily obtain anywhere else, but opportunities to build networking and support networks from other park operators in New York and across the country.
The Weliczkas are among the 10 campground owners who received scholarships from the ARVC Foundation to attend this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which takes place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
The Conference and Expo will feature 43 educational seminars, more than twice the number of any previous ARVC conference, and will cover widely diverse topics ranging from the latest trends in park and employee management 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. It will also feature the campground industry’s largest tradeshow, with vendors showcasing the latest products and services for park operators across the country.
But beyond the education and tradeshow, Lee Weliczka is eager to simply speak with other park operators in a national forum.
“I find I learn by talking to other people,” she said. “I want to learn about the new things coming out and learn how people do things.”
Weliczka said she is also eager to learn how other families run their parks, and balance their business with their personal lives.
For more information about this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, visit www.arvc.org.
The following is a position statement by National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) President Paul Bambei on the acceptance of public parks as non-voting members.
The purpose of this email is to clarify ARVC’s position on its acceptance of public parks as non-voting members.
During a Special Called Board meeting that took place on 6/7/11, permission was granted to pursue a marketing campaign targeted at all non member parks.
The motion that was approved, as excerpted from the minutes of this 6/7 Board meeting that was shared with all BOD members afterwards, read as follows: “5. Request Board approval for remainder of monies from VA building sale (after $300k investment sic,PB) to be allocated with Excom approval for two- phase direct mail membership drive: 1. In states with no formal campground membership organization; 2. Will also work with existing state partnerships on a second direct mail piece to increase memberships in affiliated states and co-operating states or in non affiliated states that may have a formal campground membership organization.
A motion was made to approve the remainder of the monies from the VA building sale to be used as operational funds for the association for 2011. It was seconded and passed.”
In essence, permission was granted to market to all non member parks. There was no distinction between publics and privates, because ARVC Bylaws have for many years welcomed public parks, ie Under Section 2, Subsection D. Non Voting Membership: “Public Sector Member shall be a public agency operating a campground, RV park or cabin facility on the federal, state or local level.”
This was further reinforced in a 1994 Memorandum of Agreement (to see the agreement click here) between ARVC and the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), the same organization we engaged with this past summer when they wanted to take part in the non member free trial. Clearly, the former Chairman of ARVC, Conrad Dumke from Florida, understood the importance of collaboration over dissention back in 1994 and acted to solidify the two organizations.
Given all the above, ARVC has a bound duty to accept public parks as non voting members and for the good of the camping consumer, wants to live by the principles established in that MOA written 17 years ago, the ARVC bylaws, and the Board approval granted 6/7/11.
Today, there are several states enjoying the fruits of collaboration. California, Colorado, Maine, Virginia, and Maryland are among them. Just this past weekend, Mari Garland, co-President of the Colorado Association (CCLOA) and owner of Junction West Campground, enjoyed wonderful overflow business referred by her nearby state parks during a huge wine festival in her home city of Grand Junction, CO, because she decided to work with, not against, the public parks in her state.
However, we know 50 years of poor relations in other states might take time to heal and doesn’t happen overnight, if ever. For this reason, we have stated over and over, if your state chooses not to collaborate with public parks, we at ARVC will respect that wish. We will not interfere by inviting public parks as direct members if you are an Affiliated State and do not wish to accept publics, and we will stay out of your business on this sensitive issue. To date, we have received such requests from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, New York, and Florida. If you wish to be added to this list, please let us know and we will respect your decision totally.
I hope this clarifies ARVC’s long-standing position. Regardless of your state’s provincial position, what matters most is that we continue to have clear and positive communication on this, and all issues facing our industry.
I look forward to a continued working relationship, communicating always, so that our industry and our Association moves forward for the benefit of all its members.
And now, a final word from ARVC Chairman, David L. Berg:
The private park just up the street that belongs to your state association and/or ARVC is also in direct competition with you, yet there are no issues of them paying dues to your state or national association. Why? Because we are all in the same business, camping. Some private parks have lots of amenities, and some have few, but there is a customer for every type of park. Because you do what you have to do to make your park the very best it can be, and advertise wisely and promote camping and your park. Your goal is filling your sites with happy campers.
If we ignore public parks they are not going to go away, you can be certain of that. Yet, if we continue to allow them in our national association as we have for so many years, we can work together whenever possible, and not only collaborate on promotion of camping, but we can show them where they need to raise their rates to cover all expenses.
This is becoming much easier with the times we are in, in fact, in Rhode Island, they have raised their rates twice in the last two years and are now above that of many private parks due to state budgets being slashed. A site in Rhode Island public parks is now $35 a night plus the $10 booking fee for the first night total cost of $45 for a non resident, and $35 for every night thereafter, and that is for a site with no services! Now that is good for private campgrounds!
States like Maine and others have had all of their state parks as members of their state association for many years. Those parks pay the same exact dues as all of the private parks do. That has provided a great boost for our dues income as well as improving our working relationship. We have partnered on projects and have even had free passes to state park recreations areas (non camping areas) given to all of our private member parks to give to our customers to save them entrance fees.
This working relationship has been a win win situation for us both. We got past the days of old, set aside our differences, and realized that working together for the common goal of promoting camping was good for everybody involved.