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RVIA Revisiting Emerging Park Model Industry

July 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is an excerpt from a story in Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) examining the evolution of the recreational park trailer industry and its new relationship with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). To read the entire article on the WCM website click here.

Campground owners and operators for a long time have had a good handle on “destination camping,” a concept that evolved from the development of the recreational park trailer (RPT) in the 1980s and blossomed through the expansion of traditional travel trailers into much larger units.

Whether they are called “seasonals,” “annuals” or “snowbirds,” the buyers or renters of these units have become a significant factor for both campgrounds and the RV manufacturers.

To be sure, there has always existed a certain disconnect between the campground industry and the RV builders about destination camping, but that may begin to disappear. Destination camping is finally getting the attention it deserves from its chief beneficiary, RV manufacturers.

This attention became apparent at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Committee Week June 11-13 in Washington, D.C., where the trade group’s ad hoc Destination Camping Committee embarked on a strategic plan to identify the scope of this rapidly growing segment of the market.

Mike Atkinson, director of lodging for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and the lone campground representative on the committee, said this recognition by manufacturers is refreshing. “Having this melding of ideas is a great thing,” he said.

In the long-term, he sees campgrounds who purchase recreational park trailers or park models as rental units for their destination campers will benefit from the marketing dollars and governmental lobbying that RVIA will put into this segment of the industry.

In the meantime, RVIA is playing catch up.

While there is a variety of products that might qualify as destination camping types of accommodations, RVIA doesn’t really know how big this market is or how big it might yet get.

The concept of destination camping, which refers in part to “snowbirds,” RVers who keep their RV on one site all year or campers who rent an RV for a season at a single site, dates back at least to the 1980s and gained traction in the ’90s, according to John Soard, general manager for Fairmont Park Trailers, a division of Fairmont Homes in Nappanee, Ind. “The traditional concept of an RV being used on the road all the time is being circumvented by the customer parking their unit all the time,” he said.

“It’s taken the industry this long to recognize that’s a nice little market segment,” said Soard, who chairs the RVIA’s Recreational Park Trailer Committee and attended the Destination Camping Committee meeting, both of which were held during Committee Week.

Determining the breadth of that market is the focus of a survey the ad hoc committee commissioned through Precision Research, an Arizona-based firm that has done previous work for RVIA. Hard data is needed because everyone has an idea how big that market is but no one knows for certain, Soard says.

To read the entire article click here.

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RVIA Examines Growth of Destination Camping

June 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Destination camping, a concept that’s been around for several decades, is gaining traction among consumers which, in turn, has caught the attention from one of the sector’s chief beneficiaries – RV manufacturers.

During the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Committee Week June 11-13 in Washington, D.C., an ad hoc Destination Camping Committee embarked on a strategic plan to identify the scope of this rapidly growing segment of the market. Manufacturers currently build a variety of products that meet the needs of the destination camper, but the goal of the committee is to examine exactly how big the market currently is, and how big it might become.

The concept of destination camping, which refers in part to “snowbirds” – RVers who keep their RV on one site all year or campers who rent an RV for a season at a single site – dates back at least to the 1980s and became more prominent in the ‘90s, according to John Soard, general manager for Fairmont Park Trailers, a division of Fairmont Homes in Nappanee, Ind.

“The traditional concept of an RV being used on the road all the time is being circumvented by the customer parking their unit all the time,” said Soard, who chairs RVIA’s newly formed Recreational Park Trailer Committee, which also met during Committee Week. “It’s taken the industry this long to recognize that it’s a nice little market segment.”

Determining the breadth of that market is the focus of a survey the ad hoc committee commissioned through Precision Research, an Arizona-based firm that has done previous work for RVIA. Hard data is needed because everyone has an idea how big that market is but no one knows for certain, Soard says.

Many in the industry consider recreational park trailers as the major choice for destination campers. Soard thinks otherwise.

“I am on the higher end of what I think the total number of destination campers is,” he said. “Of all travel trailers out there being built over 30 feet, I think 75% of those are not being towed. I think they’re being delivered and parked in a seasonal site. That distinction makes them destination campers.”

The survey will reach out to 400 RVers and 400 non-RVers. Results are due back by the fall. They’ll also be looking to see how words like “seasonal” and “annual” and “snowbirds” fit with this new destination category.

When that RV, whether it’s a travel trailer, a fifth-wheel or a recreational park trailer, takes on a sense of permanence at a campground or elsewhere, it becomes a vacation home.

“Part of the challenge is to figure out how to keep from becoming painted with the same brush stroke as housing, because they’re not,” he said.

The RVIA isn’t just paying lip service to the destination camping concept. The ad hoc meeting was well attended by RVIA staff, both public relations and legal, as well as representatives of the Pennsylvania RV Camping Association (PRVCA), the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and park model builders such as Kropf Industries Inc., DNA Canterbury RV and Cavco Industries Inc., among others.

Says RVIA President Richard Coon, “So the bottom line is we’re trying to determine the market size, the demographics of people who have created this destination camping – what they like, what they don’t like – and determine the best way to promote it.”

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Gulf Stream Debuts Lodge Series Travel Trailers

February 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Innsbruck Lodge Series trailer

Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Nappanee, Ind., is capitalizing on the accelerating growth in destination camping with the delivery of two top-end floorplans in its Innsbruck and Conquest lines to dealers heading into the spring selling season.

According to a press release, Innsbruck and Conquest, known for smaller, lightweight, high-value travel trailers, are offering Lodge Series floorplans that “give RV dealers an excellent way to profit from customers who want to enjoy long-term resort campground accommodations.”

“Our Lodge Series models offer spacious room sizes, residential-quality furnishings, and high-capacity comfort systems,” says Randy Baskerville, national sales manager for Innsbruck and Conquest. “With 8-foot ceilings, multiple sliderooms, premium hardwood cabinetry and state-of-the-art digital entertainment options, any one of our Lodge Series trailers can be the center of life for an active family for months at a time.”

Baskerville reports that interest in the destination series is growing, confirming reports from campground operators and RV dealers that more and more camping enthusiasts are parking in one spot for months at a time, enjoying the sights, scenery, amenities and relaxed atmosphere of campground.

Lodge Series offers generous room dimensions

The new Innsbruck Model 399DLS features generous room dimensions along with furnishings and fabrics that would fit well in any upscale home. The woodwork is refined with hardwood cabinet doors, glass door inserts, intricate moldings and appealing ways to add functional storage throughout the unit.

A lighted glass-door display cabinet is the focal point in the 399DLS living area. Over 6 feet tall, it is a fitting vacation home for heirloom collectibles and other family treasures.

The five Lodge Series floorplans, all in the 40-foot range, are tailored for families, with kid-friendly bunk rooms, big master suites with queen and king beds, panoramic windows, chef-worthy full-size kitchens and plenty of storage space. Baskerville noted that the units are sharply priced, accommodating families looking for quality and value.

Dealers interested in the Lodge Series trailers and the rest of the Innsbruck and Conquest product lines can contact Baskerville (rbaskerville@gulfstreamcoach.com; 574-289-8787 ext. 5176).

 

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