More than 250 people representing Canadian RV dealerships, manufacturers and campgrounds attended the fifth Canadian RV and Campground Convention Nov. 5-8 in Victoria, British Columbia.
The event featured three days of meetings, presentations, excursions and entertainment. The multi-day pre-tour of campgrounds on the mainland and the island received high praise.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA of Canada) and the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) sponsored the biennial event.
Held for the first time in a Western province since 2003, the event drew a number of industry representatives who had never before attended the convention, noted Louise Morel, executive director of the convention organizing committee.
“The mood of the dealer body was very positive,” said Eleonore Hamm, president of RVDA of Canada. “This was a tough year to get through but the majority did, and the majority are going to Louisville.”
RVDA of Canada will hold its annual “Canada Night” the night of Nov. 30 at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky., on the eve of the National RV Show.
Hamm noted that dealer participation at the national show was “not much down from the one we held two years ago, which is great.”
The associations presented two awards during the convention: David Dobson of RV World in Fredericton, New Brunswick, received the prestigious 2009 Canadian RV Dealer of the Year Award; and Darren Gelowitz of Village RV in Regina, Saskatchewan, accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his late partner, Bill Ortman, who died earlier this year.
In conjunction with the nationwide meeting, the Alberta, Atlantic and British Columbia RVDAs held their annual general meetings. The new Alberta RVDA officers are:
- President Ross Hodgins, RV City, Morinville.
- Vice President Keith Hanks, Affordable RV, Calgary.
- Treasurer Bill Burnett, Trailblazer RV Centre Ltd., Nisku.
- Past President Darva Macbeth, Woody’s RV World, Edmonton.
- One-year directors are Kyle Redmond, Bucars RV Center, Balzac, and Dean Smyl, Smyl R.V. Center, St. Paul
- Two-year directors are Marty Vellner, Vellner Leisure Products, Red Deer, and Darcy Turgeon, Carefree RV & Coach Ltd., Edmonton.
The RVDA of British Columbia elected the following officers:
- President Gord Bragg, Hub City RV, Nanoose Bay.
- Vice president Colin Yaretz, South Thompson RV Ltd., Kamloops.
- Treasurer Chris Clarke, Traveland Leisure Vehicles, Langley.
- Past President Ian Moore, Big Boy’s Toys, Nanoose Bay.
- Two-year directors are Chris Swann, Go West, RV, Coquitlam; Jason Bell, Chemo RV, Quesnel; Ward Fraser, Voyager RV, Winfield; and Rob Williamson, LMG, Kamloops.
- One-year directors are Brian McHale, SAL Group, Langley; Darren Johnson, First Canadian, Victoria; and Ruth Neubauer, BMO Bank of Montreal – Retail Dealer Finance, Burnaby.
The Atlantic RVDA postponed its officer election to a later date.
Campgrounds Camping Canada also held its annual meeting during the convention.
The 2011 Canadian RV and Campground Convention will likely be held in the East at a location yet to be determined, Morel and Hamm said.
The fifth Canadian RV and Camping Convention will take place Nov. 5-8 at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA of Canada) and the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) sponsor the biennial event.
Approximately 300 people representing Canadian RV dealerships, manufacturers and campgrounds are expected to attend the event, which features workshops, a trade show, campground tours and nightly entertainment.
“We always have fun at these conventions,” said Louise Morel, executive director of the convention organizing committee. “Unlike some conventions where attendees ‘spread out’ after hours, this group stays together. Everybody is there, together, 24/7. It makes it more intimate. You get to meet people and socialize with them. It’s a good time to talk with dealers and campground owners from other parts of the country. They really do learn from each other.”
Seldom has that need to network been more important than this year, following the economic downturn, which though not as dramatic in Canada as in the U.S., has still been felt by many in the industry.
“It’s been a tough economic time for everybody,” Morel said. “We are more focused on regrouping and looking toward the future as everybody is.”
There are bright spots.
“From what I’ve heard, campgrounds have done very well,” she said, noting that, like in the U.S., many Canadian campers have chosen to stay closer to home. “Most of the campgrounds I’ve talked to were sold out most of the season, even though the weather didn’t cooperate, especially in the East.”
Meanwhile, RV manufacturing is down in Canada this year, and dealer sales have been spotty, again, depending upon the economic prosperity of a given province, she said.
Still, as of early October, 80% of the RV dealers who attended the last national convention, in 2007 in Ottawa, Ontario, have registered for this year’s convention, Morel said, which she considers to be a good sign for the future.
Organizers have lined up five keynote speakers for the event. They are:
- Jim Carroll, international futurist, trends and innovation expert and author of “Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast” and “What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.”
- Michael Campbell, British Columbia’s most respected business analyst. He is best known as the host of Canada’s top-rated business show — “Money Talks” — heard across the country on the Corus Radio Network. Each week Campbell and his guests track financial trends to help listeners find ways to maximize their investments.
- Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, America’s leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel, leisure, hospitality and entertainment clients. The agency represents clients in every category of the travel industry through seven offices across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. The firm’s Research & Brand Strategy Group is regarded as one of the most respected sources of insights into the emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of North Americans.
- Michael Vickers, popular speaker, entrepreneur, educator and author. His dynamic, humorous and insightful sessions coach thousands of professionals to grow individual and organizational performance. His success is completely built on his personal experience. A consummate entrepreneur, he is a graduate of his own franchised retailing enterprise, a manufacturing and distribution company and a highly successful publishing venture.
- Rick Antonson, president & CEO of Tourism Vancouver, British Columbia, which was very instrumental in procuring the winning bid for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver. He knows first hand how ideas are born and then how partnerships develop to take a concept from just a dream to reality.
Five Professional Workshops
In addition, professional workshops lined up are:
- On the topic of “Trends, Economic Value and Future Opportunities of the RV and Camping Industry,” presenters are Joss Penny, BCLCA executive director; Michelle Carr, manager of Outdoor Sector Development, British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts; and Chris Bower, general manager, NK’MIP RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia.
- Randy Sobel, Sobel & Associates, a marketing, training and consulting company to the automotive retail sales industry, will present two workshops, “How to Increase your Profits by $1,000.00 per Sale! (Changing times require changing techniques)” and “New Product Selection Techniques: Manage Inventory and Increase Gross Profit!”
- Ted Davis, vice president of product development for DealerTrack Canada, will speak on the topic “Using Technology Solutions to Increase Efficiency and Profitability in Your Dealership.”
- Will Slattery will speaker on the topic “IntensiFI’… is all about F&I.”
Campground Tours Offered
Conventioneers will have two opportunities to attend campground tours this year.
The first tour begins before the convention. From Nov. 3-4, participants will visit four British Columbia campgrounds — Fort Camping at Fort Langley, Burnaby RV Park in Burnaby, Riverside RV Resort and Campground in Whistler and Living Forest Oceanside RV & Campground in Nanaimo. The fee of $399 plus tax includes travel, lodging and meals.
The second tour is a free, all-day event (8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.) on Nov. 5 and will be a visit to Oceanside RV Park in Saanichton.
The campground tours have been part of the convention since the inaugural event, in 2001 in Quebec City, Morel said.
Not only campground operators, but also industry suppliers and dealers attend the tours, Morel noted, as it affords everyone a chance to see campground operations in other provinces.
20-plus Vendors at Trade Show
The trade show, featuring more than a score of industry vendors, is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 in the Victoria Conference Center, which adjoins the hotel.
Besides Thursday’s all-day campground tour, nightly entertainment includes:
- Thursday, 6 to 8 p.m., opening reception.
- Friday 5 to 10 p.m., cruise in Victoria’s inner harbor aboard the 135-foot Queen of Diamonds. Dinner will be served aboard the elegant cruise ship while music and a casino will keep passengers busy as they glide past the sparkling lights of Victoria.
- Saturday, dinner with entertainment by The Timebenders show band.