El Monte RV recently announced a new wholesale sales program for RV dealers called “Buy Three, Get One Free.”
This program allows a dealer to receive a vehicle on consignment with the purchase of three vehicles through El Monte RV, according to a news release.
“This is a great partnering initiative that will assist dealers with inventory management and cash flow control as we head into the last critical months of the year,” said Jeff Gibson, fleet sales manager for El MOnte RV. “With our extensive rental fleet of over 1,600 Class A and Class C motorhomes, a dealer can tailor his purchases according to the market trends in his area.”
To find out more about this program, visit www.usedrvfactory.net, call Gibson at (800) 337-2157 or e-mail him at email@example.com
Go RVing co-branded sweepstakes with prominent advertising partners reached large online audiences this summer, building RV travel’s appeal with key new prospects, RVIA Today Express reported this week.
Go RVing and Major League Baseball (MLB) paired RVing, the All-American mode of travel, with baseball, America’s pastime, to create the 2010 Ultimate RV Road Trip Sweepstakes in July.
The prize package included a 6-night/5-day rental of an RV provided by El Monte RV (fully decked out with extras), four tickets to see the Giants on Aug. 14, the Angels on Aug. 15, and the Dodgers on Aug. 17, plus airfare for four to San Francisco.
The culmination of Go RVing’s TV and online advertising buy with MLB, the sweepstakes was devised as a means to drive even more consumers from the MLB website to GoRVing.com and to capture sweepstakes entrants as qualified Go RVing leads. “This sweepstakes was an example of how integrating all aspects of online/social media can result in exposure topping 17 million impressions in a four-week period,” said Gary LaBella, RVIA vice president and chief marketing officer.
During the month-long entry period, baseball fans saw the sweepstakes prominently promoted on MLB.com’s home page. Of the fans who clicked on the sweepstakes page link, 48% entered the sweepstakes, nearly double the usual conversion rate for contests of this size. Once an entry was completed, consumers received a thank you message that provided a direct link to the GoRVing.com video page. Those who viewed the video were captured in the Go RVing leads database. An impressive one-quarter of those who visited the sweepstakes entry page signed up as Go RVing leads.
Additionally, the Ultimate RV Road Trip was promoted through an eNewsletter sent to over 1 million MLB.com subscribers. The sweepstakes appeared not only on MLB’s website, but on the homepages of each of the MLB’s 30 teams.
Free social media was also utilized to promote the contest, with MLB sending two Tweets to its nearly 1 million Twitter followers, plus multiple postings on its Facebook Fan page reaching over 3 million fans. Another 10,000 Facebook fans also received reminders about the contest on Go RVing’s page. The program was a fully-integrated online promotion utilizing paid and no-cost outlets.
History.com’s Ultimate RV Experience Sweepstakes
As part of Go RVing’s multi-faceted media buy with History, the Ultimate RV Experience Sweepstakes for a national park RV trip was heavily promoted in the early summer on History.com. Much like the MLB experience, the History sweepstakes was promoted with entry forms and editorial on History.com’s home page, through six co-branded eNewsletters to History subscribers, and through Go RVing’s Facebook page. Nearly one-quarter of the contest’s entrants opted-in to the Go RVing leads database.
As a result of its long-standing relationship with Meredith Publications, Go RVing also sponsored an RV Road Trip Sweepstakes online with Better Homes and Gardens this year. This was the fourth such sweepstakes with Meredith Publications.
The Associated Press and Parenting magazine focused the media spotlight on RVing’s growth with stories that Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) PR team worked closely with reporters to develop, according to a news release.
The AP article, titled “It’s RV Showtime in Elkhart,” reported on the RV industry’s revival from the Midwest RV Super Show in Elkhart. “Things have improved steadily since last year … and, RVIA reports that through the first six months of this year, sales are up more than 87% over 2009,” the piece stated.
The article was picked up by the Chicago Tribune as well as newspapers in Seattle, San Jose, Calif., Louisville, Ky., and South Bend, Ind. RVIA provided the reporter with industry data and arranged interviews.
RVIA also arranged for the loan of an El Monte rental motorhome to a Parenting editor, who chronicled her resulting family RV trip in the article “Plan a Motor Home Vacation.” It appears in the September issue of the magazine and on the publication’s website.
“I had a brainstorm this past summer: RVing,” writes writer and mother Sandy Fernandez. “As other modes of travel have fallen prey to the recession, RVing has held its own. It’s easy to see why: It’s like taking a rolling staycation. Not only can you bring all your favorite things, but you can also keep costs down by sleeping under your own roof and preparing your own food. So, what’s RVing like? We ended up loving the experience. We’d do it again.”
Helpful tips, including Go RVing’s website, were also provided for readers interested in planning their own RV getaway.
The cult event that’s been gaining momentum since it started in 1986 is expected to draw 50,000 people into the primitive Black Rock Desert in Nevada from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.
Part art fest, part culture crawl, part way-off-the-grid retreat, the remote festival about 120 miles from Reno, Nev., that defies description comes with a survival guide to the harsh, waterless site and touts “radical inclusion” as one of its guiding principles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
So where exactly do luxury RVs come into the picture? Joe Laing, director of marketing for El Monte RV, says Burning Man is the company’s single biggest event for motorhome rentals. “Each year we are getting more and more requests,” says Laing, whose company has 60 locations nationwide.
High-rollers: Pay a premium to get a luxury 34-foot Fleetwood Fiesta or 35-foot Fleetwood Bounder stocked with groceries and goodies and tricked out with flat-screen TVs, kitchen supplies, bedding and more delivered to a desert spot. The company then fetches guests from the airport (usually Reno) in an RV and shuttles them to the spot. The price-tag: $12,000 to $15,000. So far, Laing has booked about a dozen luxury packages for the 2010 event. “It’s as good accommodations as you’ll get at Burning Man,” he says.
Other “burners”: Most festival folks pick up motor-home rentals from sites in the Los Angeles area, Oakland (where the rental representative greets them dressed as Elvis in a gold lamé jacket) or a casino parking lot-turned-campground in Nevada. So far, El Monte RV has 300 motorhomes reserved for people going to Burning Man. The price tag starts at $5,890 plus tax for a Class C 23- to 25-foot motorhome that sleeps up to five people. The cost includes one-week rental with a pick-up in Reno.
And what happens when you return the vehicle dirty and dusty from a week on the sand? “As long as they pay to clean them up, we don’t mind,” Laing says.
Editor’s Note: The following story and photos concern a recent promotion conducted at the California State Fair by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). Story and photos appear in the current issue of CalARVC’s Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates.
Kids tossed balloons, families challenged each other to ladder ball games, and friends raced to fill gallon jugs with water…..all games to be played while camping. In the meantime, fairgoers swarmed through the Slingshot RV donated by CrossRoads RV & Happy Daze RV Sales.
Visitors to the display shared their most memorable camping experiences or talked about their upcoming trips. Many people asked for resources on camping information. Passersby snapped their heads as they caught a view of the racks of camping guides and turned around to pick one up.
Long time member, Marble Quarry RV Park, gave away discount coupons.
Park owners, Bill & Karann Milligan of Rancho Los Coches RV Park, Dana & Brian Busch of Canyon RV Park, Aaron Funk of Klamath RV Park and Esther and Janine Osborne of Marble Quarry RV Park worked tirelessly throughout the day sharing their passion about camping. Others came for a day: James Urquhart, Larayne Jeffries from Angles Camp RV & Camping Resort, Meaghan & Rebecca Bertram of The Vineyard RV Park, Liz Johnson & her managers from Kit Fox RV Park. Colleagues shared stories about their parks and operations with each other and created lasting friendships.
Camper Rick was in his element running the games, giving away free camping certificates (the most popular prizes) sharing the value of camping and making family memories.
Diana Legro and her family were thrilled to win a one week El Monte Rental Vacation.
Did we encourage Californians to camp? Did we get kids excited and asking their parents to take them camping? Did we remind families about the benefits of a camping vacation? You bet we did….in spades!
Burning Man, the fabled celebration of art and self-expression in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, creates a big bump in business for El Monte RV Rentals.
Long linked to the Burning Man festival as a supplier of RV rentals to attendees of the event, the Los Angeles-based RV rental firm has learned to prepare for the rush, according to a news release.
This year’s Burning Man festival runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 6. Tens of thousands of participants bring in everything necessary for survival on the playa. Festival goers create “Black Rock City,” with fantastically decorative camping villages and spectacular expressions of art. A “leave-no-trace” festival, Burning Man culminates in disassembling the entire temporary community and clearing away all traces of the festival.
Preparing for Burning Man means planning for water, food, shelter and fuel during the event. Few vendors are allowed within Black Rock City and disposal of wastewater and sewage is tightly regulated by BLM. Recreational vehicles have become popular as festival goers have learned the rigors of life on the desert without adequate preparation.
In addition to renting motorhomes for the event the company offers luxury RV rental packages that include a fully outfitted and provisioned deluxe motorhome delivered to the attendees campsite at the event.
“We begin moving in inventory early for Burning Man rentals to our Burning Man departure campground location in Reno, as well as others on the West Coast. This has become a major camping event, something we many adventurous RV campers want to experience,” says Joe Laing, director of marketing for the nationwide RV rental firm.
Laing noted that area El Monte RV Rentals locations start taking reservations immediately after one Burning Man event for the next year. Festival planners expect that nearly 50,000 people will attend in 2010.
Until this summer, El Monte RV Rentals’ locations across the country found themselves turning away late July customers hoping for August rentals. This year, thanks to the firm’s new purchasing strategy, lucky last-minute rental clients will be driving away in rented RVs, according to a news release.
Keeping adequate rental inventory at more than 50 locations is always a bit of a chess game, according to Joe Laing, El Monte RV Rentals director of marketing. “We know which areas will create the highest number of late summer rentals and begin shifting inventory to meet the need. In years past, however, last-minute rentals for August might not be serviced.”
Laing went on to explain that late-summer vacations are especially attractive to families soon to enter the school year. RV camping is also experiencing a resurgence thanks to cash-strapped travelers unable to afford international destinations.
Timely fleet purchases of new rental units this year have changed the landscape for this giant recreational vehicle rental company. Recognizing an upswing in RV camping earlier this summer, the company stepped up purchasing in time to meet additional late summer rental needs.
“We never like to say ‘no’ to a client, especially since we’re recognized as one of the world’s largest RV rental companies,” Laing said. “We’re happy to see people camping again, and are working hard to supply adequate inventory for their late summer vacations.”
El Monte RV has a prominent role in adopting nationwide standards for RV travel and tourism in China, according to a Chinese news release.
The release comes on the heels of a visit to China by El Monte’s Joe Laing, part of a U.S. delegation visiting the 3rd Annual Hangzhou China Outdoor Lifestyle Show March 4-7 and six months after a sizable Chinese delegation visited the National RV Show last December in Louisville, Ky.
Laing was invited to be part of a 10-person forum addressing Chinese media and government officials on concerns related to the establishment of a viable recreational vehicle industry and its related lifestyle in China. The international group was coordinated and hosted by N-Tours International, a tour promotion firm based in Beijing.
According to this week’s news release, China is to formulate a set of standards for motor touring centers, the China Automobile High-tech Industrialization Commission (CAHC) told a press briefing at the State Council Information Center in Beijing on Saturday (May 29).
“The domestic motoring travel market is huge, with as many as 200 million motorists touring every year, and more than 5,500 service centers scattered nationwide,” Chen Dongsheng, secretary general of CAHC, told the press.
“But the service centers lack adequate infrastructure and common service standards,” he added. “We are taking the initiative to formulate standards to regulate travel centers and create a comfortable environment for motorists.”
Chen said the draft standards would be ready by September. They will cover 11 areas, including hospitality, caravan (RV) sites, service facilities and security.
The standards will apply to automobile clubs, rescue services, parking sites, reception centers and vehicle after-sales services. “We are inviting them to work together to develop the standards,” Chen told China.org.cn.
El Monte RV, a U.S.-based rental company, will help draft the standards. “Recreational vehicles represent a new type of lifestyle in China. You can just drive your house around without worrying about booking accommodation,” said Yang Lin, deputy secretary general of CAHC and general manager of El Monte RV, China.
“Recreational vehicles have great potential in China. We plan to invest about 200 million yuan ($30 million U.S.) to build RV towns where motorhome drivers can stay while touring,” Chen said.
An intelligent booking service platform will also be set up. “With a click of the mouse, drivers will be able to get any information they need, and thus will save them both time and money.” Chen told China.org.cn.
The Chinese have jumped head first into accommodating the growing RV industry.
“What we got from the show is that there are a lot of Chinese people interested in RVing,” Laing told RVBUSINESS.com upon return from his tour. “The question remains how that interest will work itself out. Everyone is unsure how the Chinese RV industry is going to further evolve. The thought I most expressed to them is they should use the American RV industry as a framework or guideline. We have the most successful RV market and the best RV market in the world.”
China has an existing camping population, but it is nearly all tent camping and the existing campgrounds are organized for tenters only. The country also has a selection of national parks and other camping attractions. However, there are less than 50 RV campgrounds in all of China and no network of retailers or RV support businesses or publications.
When Gary and Dottie Williams ordered their MVP RV Inc. trailer in April 2009, complete with nameplates attached to the bunk beds for their grandsons, they expected to get it a month later.
They planned a cross-country road trip, but stayed in hotels instead.
When they took a vacation to the lake, they rented a trailer.
In between April 2009 and April 2010, the Moreno Valley company that was building their trailer shut down its factory like several other RV makers had done, according to The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.
While the company looked for investors and tried diversifying its business by going into the electric vehicle industry, salespeople at Giant RV showed Gary Williams other trailers. He said he couldn’t find anything comparable.
He didn’t need to. Gary and Dottie Williams picked up their finished MVP RV trailer at the Giant RV dealership in Montclair this month.
MVP RV, the Moreno Valley maker of their trailer, didn’t get the funds they needed to build electric vehicles but they found an overseas investor willing to back their RV factory.
“It’s such a great feeling to come back,” said Brad Williams recently in his Moreno Valley office. “We survived.”
Manufacturers and RV dealers are beginning to climb out of the wreckage wrought by the recession much like the industry has done early on during past business cycles when the worst appears at an end.
Would-be campers are hardly stampeding to RV dealers to purchase high-end Class A diesel motorhomes, Class C RVs or even pop-up tent trailers but they are looking, and some are even buying.
“We’re first to get hurt, and the first to recover,” said Tom Powell, CEO of Riverside-based travel trailer maker Pacific Coachworks.
In 1979, preceding the 1980 recession that lasted from January to July, RV shipments fell a staggering 48.9% to 199,200 vehicles sent to dealers.
Wholesale shipments fell another 46.2% in 1980 to 107,200 RVs. By 1981, the number picked up 24.6% to 133,600 units. Despite a recession that stretched from July 1981 into November 1982, shipments increased another 5.2% to 140,600.
With the exception of a dip in shipments in 1985, RV production increased nearly eight straight years until 1989. The recession started July 1990 lasting until March 1991. RV shipments picked up 24.6% by 1992.
With the exception of another dip in 1995, RV production grew again year over year for nearly eight straight years until 2000 when it dropped 6.6%. A recession began in March 2001, ending November. That year RV shipments dropped another 14.4%. But by 2002, it was up 21.1%
The most recent recession started December 2007.
Two popular Inland recreational vehicle makers, Weekend Warrior Inc. and National RV Inc., bowed out early on before the economy started to exhibit true signs of stress.
Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., a longtime RV industry icon based in Riverside since 1963, had managed to navigate recessions before usually emerging a stronger company after other competitors blew a tire. This time though, saddled with too much debt, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2009 selling off the motorhome division to an equity group out of New York that moved all of the company’s operations to Indiana.
Before, Southern California dealers could pick up the RVs they ordered in Riverside. Now some say they pay extra for shipping.
Elsewhere, Monaco Coach Corp. filed for bankruptcy in March 2009. Country Coach Holding Inc. was liquidated late last year.
In 2007, RV makers shipped 9.5% fewer vehicles. The number dropped another 32.9% in 2008, and continued to cascade another 30.1% in 2009 until there were just 165,000 shipped to dealers, the lowest level since 1991.
First to recover
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is expecting shipments to jump 30% this year to 215,900 vehicles.
“When things go down, the RV industry takes it in the gut,” said Joe Laing, director of marketing for El Monte RV which rents ands sells trailers. But it also seems to be one of the first to recover, he said.
Laing said El Monte RV staff noticed year-over-year sales growth since January.
“We don’t know that it means anything,” he said, hesitant to herald economic recovery based on their business. “We’re pretty optimistic that it looks like we’ve come through the worst of it.”
Frank DeGelas, owner of Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores including locations in Colton and Cathedral City, said he dumped older inventory at a loss to clear out his dealerships for new models being released by the manufacturers who remained.
Usually the recovery after a recession is strong and fast. This one, though, is taking its time.
He sold 11 Coleman folding camping trailers in three weeks, a sign that family buyers are looking for an affordable alternative, as well as Class B motorhomes and the larger Class A diesel RVs.
“I think I’ve been helped by my competitors failing,” he said. The pie may not be any bigger, he said of the RV selling market, but he gets a bigger slice now, he said.
DeGelas credits manufacturers who spent their downtime during the downturn designing new features.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, over 30 years, and I have never seen the amount of innovation,” he said of new models from manufacturers like Fleetwood RV Inc., now under new ownership. The Encounter, Fleetwood’s latest model, features a bunk bed that converts into a dinette.
“It’s almost like a ‘Transformer’ motorhome,” he said.
Pacific Coachworks Inc., which survived the lean times after having shut down production in the first half of 2009, developed a trailer with a slide-out outdoor kitchen and in another trailer, a slide-out queen bed.
“When things are going extraordinarily well, there’s not as much impetus to be innovative,” said Tom Powell, CEO of Pacific Coachworks.
The company has 100 employees, about half of the staff compared to its height in 2007.
Powell described new orders as solid, “but it’s not sensational” especially compared to stratospherically successful years in 2005 and 2006.
Powell said he wished more Inland RV manufacturers had survived the recession, that way suppliers would take root in the area too. As companies closed, though, so did suppliers and the cost of doing business for those who remained rose.
His company and others are now building based on orders rather than making RVs with the hope someone will eventually order it.
“I think we all learned to be a little more cautious,” he said.
El Monte RV Rentals makes public exceptionally low priced one-way RV rental special deals to move motorhomes across the country, according to a news release.
As one of the largest RV rental firms in the nation, the California-based company offers incentives to RV travelers who’ll help move their inventory to match seasonal demand. Lucky RV campers might, for example, travel from Miami to New York in April and experience substantial savings.
According to Joe Laing, director of marketing for El Monte RV Rentals, “Motorhome rental firms normally shift RVs from warm weather environs to cooler ones in spring and then reverse the process in the fall. By offering RV rental clients deep discounts on one-way travel, we help vacationers save money while ensuring adequate seasonal inventory.”
Recent one-way specials have included 1,000 free miles and 50% off daily rates for the first seven days. Savings like that have long-time El Monte RV Rentals customers eagerly watching for each season’s one-way specials.
For more information visit www.elmonterv.com.