The Good Sam Club, a recreational vehicle organization with 1.5 million members, is hoping to bring in as many as 500 RVs to bolster attendance for the popular Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair.
The Havasu (Ariz.) News reported that the festival, set for Jan. 17-19, already has 260 RV enthusiasts signed to camp out for the festivities, said Marquita McKnight, an executive director for this year’s event. That exceeds all of last year’s total of 242 RVs camping out, she added.
Lake Havasu Marina has been the main location for people to park their RVs for the previous years of the festival, but with Good Sam organization members coming the overflow Site Six parking lot and an area at Crazy Horse campgrounds are being opened up as well.
“It’s awfully exciting for us,” Parrott said. If Good Sam Club brings in 500 RVs that could mean 1,000 more tickets are sold for the event, he added.
“Last year on Saturday night, we only had a few hotel rooms (available) in town,” Parrott said of the festival now in its fourth year.
And that’s where the idea came from.
Nancy Leamons and her husband Dave were camping during last year’s Balloon Festival with Ed and Laura Thor, the executive directors of Good Sam Club, who live locally in Havasu.
Both couples got around to talking about how the Balloon Festival at its busiest almost fills up the hotels, said Leamons, who now serves on a Balloon Festival subcommittee coordinating the Good Sam Club effort.
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Camping World, the Good Sam Club and Reese are trying to break the world record for Most Marriage Vow Renewals at the “Get re-hitched with Reese at the Camping World/Good Sam Rally” event at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The event will take place in the Chevy Court on June 14 at 4 p.m.
The current record of 1,087 couples was set in 2009 at the University of Miami (Ohio). Mark Gage, vice president of marketing, anticipates that the Camping World/Good Sam Rally event with Reese will beat the current record.
Couples participating in this event must provide a copy of their original Marriage Certificate to be counted in the final world record setting total. Those attendees who are not married are invited to participate as witnesses and join in the fun. After renewing their vows couples will receive Camping World/Good Sam Rally with Reese memorabilia to mark this memorable occasion.
This is all part of an RV rally hosted by the Camping World and the Good Sam Club, and attracts tens of thousands of RV enthusiasts from all over the country.
Syracuse is about 2 1/2 hours from Niagara Falls, and near the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York.
Highways magazine, the “official communication” of the Good Sam Club, the 1.36-million member RV consumer club operated by Good Sam Enterprises LLC, Lincolnshire, Ill., will be effectively discontinued in February.
However, Highways, a quarterly publication that dates back more than 40 years and is now one of only a handful of remaining consumer print titles serving the North American RV industry, will still be available as a quarterly insert in the company’s other monthly consumer RV pubs, Trailer Life and MotorHome.
“Over the past few years our team has worked tirelessly to make positive changes in an attempt to produce the publication that you want,” Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Good Sam Enterprises and its Camping World Inc. affilate, explained in the May/July issue of Highways. “Despite the attempts, it seems that we continue to get constructive feedback that indicates you want something different.”
What club members want is fewer ad pages, more content and, in some cases, electronic delivery, says Lemonis, adding that he remains “disappointed” with the publication and would prefer to deliver club news along with relevant, RV-specific information in TL and MH without “watering it all down with so much advertising.”
“Beginning in February 2014, the current Highways communication will be replaced with your choice of four free issues of either Trailer Life magazine or MotorHome magazine,” wrote Lemonis, whose company recently divested itself of its powersports titles. “While we will no longer produce the standard Highwaysmagazine, we will produce a special Highways Good Sam Club magazine insert section featuring all the content you know and love from Highways. Regular Highways features like Action Line, Chapter Chat, Club Events, Benefit Updates, New Products, Pet Tales, Tech Topics, Photo Contests and more will remain part of the Good Sam Highways insert section.”
The result, Lemonis explains, will be fewer ads and more relevant content delivered free to all club members as part of their club membership. And it will also, according to Lemonis, result in a waste reduction of 754 million print pages annually. TL & MH subscribers are to receive four free issues as compensation for the free distribution.
Sue Bray, a long-time executive for the Good Sam Club, is escalating her independent consulting business, Sue Bray Consulting, according to a press release. As a consultant, the California-based Bray will be utilizing her experience in marketing and developing association membership benefits and producing events.
Bray’s involvement with the Good Sam Club began when she was hired as chapter activities director more than 30 years ago. Shortly thereafter, she was named vice president and executive director of the club. During her tenure, the organization grew from less than 200,000 members to more than 1 million member families.
She spent most of her career with Good Sam developing partnerships and benefits for members, including the popular trip routing service, an RV financing program, a member credit card, and was deeply involved in the design and launch of the club’s highly regarded emergency road service.
Bray was also instrumental in designing and developing many of the Good Sam member benefits and activities, including the Standby Sams volunteer network and discount partnerships for the club’s Smile & Save program.
She managed club members’ participation in several major charity initiatives, including Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Dogs for the Deaf and Hole in the Wall Camps. She also represented RV consumers at federal, state and local levels, dealing with major RV legislative issues.
In 2009, Sue was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. – one of the youngest members and only the ninth woman selected for the RV industry’s most prestigious honor.
Sue Bray Consulting was formed in 2010, and companies utilizing Bray’s services include Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc., RVing Women, the Venice Beach House and the Good Sam Club. Most recently, Bray was charged with expanding the Good Sam Club’s Rally program from one annual event to three successful rallies held in 2012, hosting more than 20,000 Good Sam members.
For more information, visit www.suebray.com or call (805) 981-2951.
The Good Sam Club and its members helped a number of worthy causes at the June 21-24 Good Sam Rally at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center, an event that drew thousands of RVers and 2,033 rigs.
According to a press release, the collective donations resulted in nearly $10,000 from Good Sam members and $33,000 from the Good Sam Club itself. That’s in addition to the $54,973 raised by the club and its members for philanthropic organizations at this year’s previous Good Sam Rally, March 22-25 at Arizona’s Phoenix International Raceway.
“The generosity of Good Sam Club members is amazing,” stated CEO Marcus Lemonis. “The Good Sam Club was started back in 1966 with the concept of our members helping others. It’s obvious that the concept is alive and well today.”
• RVing Accessibility Group: At the Louisville Good Sam Rally, Lemonis announced a $10,000 donation from the Good Sam Club to RVing Accessibility Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping physically challenged individuals experience the joy of RV travel.
• Flags4Vets: Good Sam members at the Louisville event contributed nearly $9,000 and the Good Sam Club donated another $10,000 to Flags4Vets, a group that places U.S. flags on military veterans’ graves.
• Habitat for Humanity and NOMADS: The Good Sam Club donated $13,000 in honor of Good Sam’s RVers of the Year, Joyce and John Williams, with $10,000 going to Habitat for Humanity and $3,000 to Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Services (NOMADS).
• Dogs for the Deaf: Good Sam members donated $10,412 in at the Louisville and Phoenix Good Sam Rallies to Dogs for the Deaf, in addition to $45,000 donated by the Good Sam Club. The Oregon-based program rescues dogs from animal shelters and trains them to assist people with a variety of challenges, from hearing loss to autism.
• Project Linus: Good Sam members attending the Louisville Rally donated 268 handmade blankets, quilts and comforters to Project Linus, an altruistic organization that provides blankets — and a sense of security — to children who are ill or otherwise in need. Members contributed another 567 blankets to Project Linus at the March Rally.
Metro Animal Services: Louisville’s Metro Animal Services towed its mobile clinic and adoption trailer, SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today), to the Louisville Rally, full of adoptable dogs. Six of these dogs found homes with Good Sam members at the event.
Magellan is set to introduce a new device to its line of GPS navigation products specifically designed for RVers.
According to a press release, the RoadMate RV9145 navigator features an extra-large high-resolution 7-inch display and customized routing based on a vehicle’s profile and driver preference. It comes pre-loaded with the Magellan exclusive Good Sam Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Directory; maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico; and, over six million points of interest.
The unit also utilizes Magellan’s exclusive partnership with Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owner’s organization. The Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Directory, a must for RVers, includes their Triple-Rating System on more than 11,700 private campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada. Users can easily find sites that have Wi-Fi and Internet access, accommodate big-rigs, are pet-friendly, give Good Sam Club discounts, and other information important to RVers.
“Our new RoadMate RV9145 GPS navigator is the ideal RV travel companion that can make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable,” commented Stig Pedersen, associate vice president of product management for Magellan GPS. “It was designed with safety in mind, as it provides both customized routes based on the size and demands of the RV, Highway Lane Assist, and turn-by-turn spoken directions that let drivers keep their eyes on the road. To make a good thing even better, the device lets users easily find a Good Sam certified campground and enjoy Good Sam member discounts.”
Magellan said the high-resolution screen makes map viewing easier, especially in a low-lit driver’s area of an RV. It also offers settings and adjusts routes based on a vehicle’s height, width, length and weight. Or, the customizable route feature picks the suitable route based on driver preference, e.g., shortest distance, fastest time, using freeways, or not using freeways. Its multi-destination routing capability allows a user to plan an entire trip in one route.
Magellan’s exclusive OneTouch user interface lets users personalize their experience with instant access to favorite destinations and searches. External devices, such as a back-up camera, DVD player, or an iPod, can be easily utilized through the convenient A/V input.
The Magellan RoadMate RV9145 has an MSRP of $349.99 and is available at consumer electronics stores, mass merchants, and warehouse clubs, as well as online through recognized Magellan distributors.
The Good Sam Club is offering members an exclusive money-saving benefit with the launch of the Pilot Flying J RV Plus Card, according to a press release.
Beginning in 2012, Good Sam Club members can apply for the discount card which will allow them to save on each gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel purchased; 10 cents per gallon on bulk propane purchased, and 50% on holding tank dump station charges at all applicable Pilot Flying J locations across the United States. The recent decision to combine the former Camping World President’s Club and the Good Sam Club into a newly-expanded, upgraded club was a key element in the club’s partnering with Pilot Flying J.
“The extra leverage of our combined member numbers helped make the Pilot Flying J discount possible,” said Good Sam Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis. “Our members have been asking for this benefit for some time, and it is one that we are especially happy to make available to them.
“The price of fuel represents the single biggest expense in most of our budgets as we enjoy the RV lifestyle. Securing discounts on a commodity like fuel is not easy. Finding a provider who has a nationwide network of locations and the facilities to properly serve our members is even more challenging.”
Along with savings on gasoline, diesel, propane and dump services, Pilot Flying J locations offer a wide array of conveniences and services well-suited for RV travelers, including dedicated RV fuel lanes, convenience stores, on-site restaurants, safety and a clean environment for families. As part of the exclusive new program for Good Sam members the companies have co-produced an RV Travel Guide which lists all the participating Pilot Flying J locations and the RV specific services available to members at each location.
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.
Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC today (Sept. 27) announced the expansion of the company’s executive team through the appointments of Jim DeBruzzi as CFO and Zrinka Allen as executive vice president of human resources, social responsibility and communication.
The two companies also announced several key promotions: Tom Wolfe to executive vice president of operations for Good Sam; Tamara Ward to chief marketing officer of Camping World and Good Sam; and Mike Siemens to president of Good Sam Club, the largest RV Club in the world with over 1.3 million members.
Prior to joining the company, DeBruzzi was CFO for Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, one of America’s largest movie theatre chains. He was responsible for the company’s accounting, finance, treasury, risk management, reporting and compliance, M & A, human resources and IT.
Allen comes to Camping World and Good Sam with over 20 years of human resources experience, most recently as director of human resources for Wolters Kluwer where she led the development and implementation of key business strategies focused on talent acquisition and development, compliance, diversity/inclusion and social responsibility.
In her new role, she will focus on streamlining the company’s employee management systems as well as talent procurement. Additionally, she will oversee social responsibility for the company, maintaining the Good Sam Club’s charter established in 1966 of “people helping people.”
“Good Sam and Camping World have always attracted talent of the highest caliber, but this is a whole new level. We are focused on growing the company through precision and experience. As we evolve to the next level we must continue seeking out individuals with proven track records. I am confident Zrinka and Jim will be tremendous assets as we continue to build our company with a focus on profitability and social responsibility,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam.
Wolfe recently served as the CFO for Good Sam Enterprises. In his new position, his primary focus will be on the media business as well as rapidly growing the products and services venture group. Ward’s core focus will be advancing Camping World and Good Sam’s marketing efforts, including expanding its brands. She has been with the company over 22 years. Siemens will be charged with improving the overall experience of the Good Sam Club members, bringing new benefits to the club and improving the retention and acquisition of RVers nationwide. He brings over 25 years experience with the company.
“Marcus and I are thrilled to add new members to our team and announce these well deserved promotions. Over the last year we have worked hard to shed our non-core business and are poised for dramatic growth. It’s paramount to have the right people in the right positions and we have clearly achieved that,” said Brent Moody, chief administrative and legal officer of Camping World and Good Sam.
In a lengthy column in the most recent edition of Highways magazine, Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Good Sam Enterprises LLC (formerly Affinity Group Inc.), outlined changes in the Good Sam Club that include:
• A new fuel discount program.
• More value-oriented insurance, roadside assistance and extended warranty programs.
• A revamped trip-planning system.
Lemonis said the changes are being made at the behest of ”literally thousands” of Good Sam Club members who e-mailed him during the six months since he took over Good Sam’s helm.
”My role is to guide the direction of the club, but it is the responsibility of you and nearly 1 million fellow members to provide the direction,” Lemonis said in the column.
The new fuel-discount program, which is in its final stage of development with an unnamed national travel center, is ”at the top of our priority list” and will be tiered, depending on members ”loyalty” to the Good Sam Club, Lemonis said.
”If we don’t bring you value for your dollar then we have failed,” Lemonis added.
Responding members’ requests to improve the quality of the Good Sam Park network, Lemonis said his mission is ”not only to bring a variety of parks to the network, but to become a better partner to those parks.”
In an effort to get more members to visit Good Sam parks, the company has launched a $5 discount coupon program paid for by the club that can be used at any Good Sam park.
”I also want to drive members to our Good Sam parks and show the support from our membership,” he said.
With regard to Highways, the Good Sam Club’s official magazine, Lemonis said the plan is to increase editorial content. ”The book in hindsight was too heavy with advertising and did not contain enough member content,” he wrote, reporting that an e-mail survey will be sent to members within a few weeks asking for further suggestions about Highways’ content.
A new product — the Good Sam RV Travel Guide — is under development and will be available to members free in early 2012, he reported.
He also promised to reduce the amount of mail that Good Sam Club members receive from the club, although he asked for patience as a new system is established. ”Often times, antiquated systems and philosophies have driven this process,” he said.
In addition to the Good Sam Club, Lemonis also is the head of Camping World and the Coast to Coast membership company.