Good Sam Enterprises LLC, an affiliate of Camping World Inc., appears to have hit a home run this past week in hosting a bustling consumer rally Mar. 22-25 at the Phoenix International Raceway that was busier than anything the industry has seen in years.
Good Sam spokesmen report that the total coach count at The Rally – 3,370 units comprising about 7,500 people – was amplified by 9,000 to 10,000 day pass visitors during the four-day event. The result was an impressive crowd that drew heavily from the Southwest region and from an established base of Arizona snowbirds and spring baseball training fans.
Participating in outdoor displays were some 27 manufacturers. The indoor exhibits included about 350 10-by-10 booths, and both areas were sold out, reports Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Good Sam.
Not since a Redmond, Ore., rally in 2005 had Illinois-based Good Sam, then known as Affinity Group Inc., seen traffic like this. “It was a great rally,” said Thompson, whose firm started hosting rallies in 2000. “It’s the biggest rally we’ve had in a number of years. In addition to the 3,370 rigs, we had a lot of drive-ups that came in and, fortunately, not a lot of cancellations. And so we haven’t had a rally like this in years, quite frankly.”
Beyond the social and commercial aspects, and the seminars and frontline entertainment — including Bill Cosby and Martina McBride – the Arizona location was the biggest factor in attracting a crowd, Rally Director Sue Bray maintains.
“It went really well,” said Bray. “People were very happy, and Phoenix is a great destination. We worked really hard to try to do some grassroots marketing to bring in the day traffic. We went around to all the campgrounds and left two-for-one coupons for day passes. We did some TV advertising and we also promoted at the local Camping World stores. That was all stuff that we had not really done before, and so I think it paid off. But also I think that people really want to come to Phoenix and I’m glad that we finally found a place that can accommodate the event.”
Bottom line, Bray agreed, the basic show formula with some tweaks seems to have survived the economic downturn – a fact that might be confirmed in subsequent Good Sam rallies this year as the company expands its consumer-centric rally schedule for the first time from one to three events. Upcoming venues are June 21-24 in Louisville, Ky., and Nov. 2-6 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Good Sam/Camping World Chairman Marcus Lemonis says the biggest difference in opting for a racing facility in Phoenix vs. traditional show sites like Redmond and Perry, Ga., is that they had to build their own infrastructure.
“There was nothing here other than asphalt,” said Lemonis, “and I think we’ve proven that we can go into major metropolitan markets and not only serve the RV community and the snowbirds that were there, but also we were expecting a lot more people over five days in terms of day passes compared to Redmond, which was 2,000, because you have a base of four million people in Phoenix.”
One other noteworthy twist at Phoenix from an industry perspective was the rather surprising participation of rolling stock dealers not affiliated with Camping World RV Sales, a sister company to Good Sam and the nation’s largest RV retailer.
“You’ll notice that the Camping World presence was not that predominant here,” Lemonis told RVBUSINESS.com. “You don’t really see it. There were 19 dealers other than us in Phoenix, and that was a really important priority for me. You know, La Mesa, Lazy Days, Paul Evert’s, McMahon’s, Robert Crist and Orangewood were involved. The point is that this was not a Camping World event. This was a Good Sam event, and they really are different. Yes, Camping World had a (parts and accessories) store (at the Phoenix Raceway), like they do at a lot of events like FMCA rallies, and the Camping World dealership had a display along with 19 other dealers. So, it was really a Good Sam event.”
How did Lemonis, a controversial industry figure who had all but secluded his company from the rest of the industry a year ago, succeed in convincing those independent dealers to participate in a function sponsored by a Camping World affiliate, an arch-rival in effect for several of them?
“We didn’t really talk dealers into coming,” added Lemonis. “We gave the manufacturers our word that it would be fair and free enterprise. They are the ones that actually buy the space. They’re the ones who took the chance. They seemed extremely pleased. At the end of the day, if you (manufacturers and dealers) come and you have a good experience and sell product – whatever your opinion is — you don’t care. Selling RV’s is what matters.”
Thousands of RVers are converging on Phoenix International Raceway today (March 22) for the first Good Sam Rally of 2012, which runs through Sunday.
According to a press release, the entertainment lineup includes two Platinum recording artists; Bill Cosby and Martina McBride. Sha Na Na’s Bowzer will provide the opening night’s entertainment, setting the stage for Ticket to Ride, a Beatle’s tribute band performing covers of the legendary hits.
Rally-goers will also enjoy daily trade shows featuring acres of RVs on display – including a few to test-drive around the track – and hundreds of exhibitors offering a wide range of RV parts and accessories. There will also be daily seminars and tours of landmarks and activities in the Phoenix area, including a spring training game pitting the San Diego Padres against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In addition, Camping World is sponsoring a Match n’ Win game with winners being eligible for thousands of dollars in merchandise. A post-rally tour is slated for March 26-28 at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park that will include first-class accommodations aboard the historic Grand Canyon Railroad.
Good Sam is hosting two other 2012 rallies: June 21-24 in Louisville, Ky. and November 2-4 in Daytona Beach, Fla. For more information visit www.therally.com, or call (877) 749-7122.
Sales rep teams from the newly merged Trailer Life and Woodall’s campground directories are beginning to fan out over North America to gather data for the 2013 “Good Sam Travel Guide & Campground Directory.”
According to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management, this new, hybrid campground directory under the Good Sam brand is emerging from the best of both Woodall’s and Trailer Life directories, representing nearly 130 years of combined industry service and campground expertise.
This new directory will offer higher circulation and even more online and mobile application marketing opportunities to campgrounds and parks. This combined directory will utilize the Trailer Life 10/10*/10 rating system, with some enhancements borrowed from the Woodall’s rating system.
The ratings as always will be based on personal visits by the directory representatives. The 41 rep teams (40 couples and one individual) met Jan. 22-27 at the Flamingo Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., to review plans for the directory.
“We have some great enhancements for our advertising partners planned for our 2013 directory,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of the new combined directory. “Not only will we have more exciting marketing tools for parks to connect with avid RVers and campers, we will also expand our number of field teams to permit them to spend more time working with individual parks on their marketing programs.”
To view the entire article click here.
The first Good Sam Rally of 2012 will be held at the Phoenix International Raceway, March 22–25. Other scheduled 2012 Good Sam rallies will run June 21-24 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., and Nov. 2-4, slated for the the Daytona International Speedway.
Presented by DISH Network, the Arizona event will include a slate of RV seminars, hundreds of RV accessories and row after row of brand new RVs on display. Attendees will also be able to test drive a new motorhome on the Phoenix racetrack.
On tap for entertainment are John “Bowzer” Bauman from ’50s nostalgia band Sha Na Na, iconic comedian Bill Cosby and country music star Martina McBride. Closing night will feature the return of “Ticket to Ride,” a Beatles tribute band that performed at the 2007 Rally.
Other highlights include the ninth annual dog show and parade, and the RV safe driver training program. The six-hour session increases driver awareness, identifies bad habits and helps with RV handling so graduates of the class can get behind the wheel with confidence and expertise.
To get the latest Good Sam Rally information and register click here or call 800-701-1399.
This is a big weekend for Camping World because the Bowling Green, Ky.-based company is playing a major role in two national events on opposite coasts – The Rally running July 14-17 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., and at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway where the company’s Good Sam Enterprises LLC division joins RCR as the primary sponsor on the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Clint Bowyer.
“We are excited to partner with RCR and sponsor Clint in the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, formerly known as Affinity Group Inc. “Clint is an avid outdoorsman who understands our business and our customers. Clint’s parents have been members of the Good Sam and the Camping World President’s Club for many years.”
Out in Oregon, where The Rally’s unit count by last night (July 15) was close to 3,000, things have been going well, according to Camping World spokesmen. On hand for The Rally, one of the nation’s three key national consumer rallies for 2011 (along with the Family Motor Coach Association’s upcoming convention Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wis.), are 361 exhibitors, including 20-plus RV manufacturers, and some 560 motorized and towable display units.
“Camping World had the best sales in one day at a rally they’ve ever had yesterday,” Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for the company’s RV consumer magazine titles, reported Saturday morning. “And guys I’ve talked to at different companies like Newmar, Jayco and Winnebago seem pleased with the initial consumer response early in the game. The early signs are that sales are going to be good for these companies, and the same goes for the indoor displays.”
Good Sam Events Coordinator Sue Bray concurs with the positive assessment, despite torrential rains that surprisingly swept across the area and delayed by an hour a Friday night performance by C&W favorite Vince Gill.
Bray, noting that a Thursday night concert by ‘60’s crooner Bobby Vinton went well, says she’s pleased with a unit count of nearly 3,000 – a decent number, most industry watchers would agree, in the post-recessionary era.
“Yes, we think we’re going to hit more than we had in Louisville in 2010 and more than we had in Albuquerque the year before, but not as many as we had when we were here in ’07 or when we were in Perry (Georgia). We’re pleased,” says Bray, noting that Camping World has three national rallies slated for next year in Phoenix, Louisville and Daytona.
Friday night, Bray added, the club recognized long-term Good Sam Club members by providing them with preferred seating for the Vince Gill performance.
“Marcus (Lemonis) last night talked to the crowd and wound up giving away a lot of stuff,” she said. “For instance, he gave away Pilot Flying J gas cards to people who had driven the farthest. We also presented RVers of the Year Don and Marilyn Buller from Fresno, Calif., with their award and a donation to their project. And Marcus actually is loaning them a fifth-wheel and gas and a Camping World shopping spree as part of what they have won as the Good Sam RVers of the Year.”
“You know,” she added, “one of the interesting things here has been using some social media. We’ve been posting a lot of stuff on the Good Sam Facebook page and, oh my gosh, did we get responses. I mean, as soon as we put it up, somebody’s on it, talking about the rally – you know, mostly people who aren’t there asking questions and that sort of thing. So, we’ve had a lot of chatter going on there.”
On tap today is a show by early rocker Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. Bray says attendees will also attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records standard for the most people simultaneously doing “high fives.”
The event concludes on Sunday evening.
“All things considered,” says Bray, “we couldn’t ask for much better. The weather has been generally gorgeous. People are happy. You know, there is snow on the mountains; you have that gorgeous view of the Three Sisters (mountains). Oregon is really putting on a show for us.”
Affinity Group LLC is exchanging $330 million in senior secured notes issued last year by its predecessor company, Affinity Group Inc., with a new issue totaling the same amount due in 2016, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
On March 2, Affinity Group Inc. converted into a Delaware limited liability company called Affinity Group LLC, which became the obligor under the old notes and is the obligor under the exchange notes.
Affinity Group President and CEO Marcus Lemonis says this required SEC filing (see link below) essentially confirms transactions that occurred late last year. “We filed the registration for the notes that were sold last November,” Lemonis tells RVBUSINESS.com. “The AGI (re)financing was completed last November. This is a followup filing and registration process that happens any time any notes are sold in the marketplace.”
“It’s a post-closing requirement,” he added. “The company was refinanced last November; we’re not raising any new money.”
Lemonis, when asked, said this represents for his company basically good news. “It was good news three months ago,” he said.
Click here to read the entire filing.
With a much stronger focus on and commitment to Good Sam members and their experiences, Good Sam, the nation’s largest RV community, announced today (March 30) a ramp up going forward on their rally activities.
The colossal Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona is gearing up for The Rally March 22-25, 2012, followed by charming Louisville, Ky., June 21 – 24. Historic Daytona International Speedway in Florida will fly the green flag for RVers Oct. 25 – 28 and round out the RV rally circuit for next year, according to a news release.
The Good Sam Rally sponsored by DISH Network is the largest RV gathering in the nation. Thousands of people from all over the country will gather to sing and dance to big name entertainment and legendary country music performers like Vince Gill, who headlines The Rally 2011 in Redmond, Ore., July 14 – 17.
“I really enjoy seeing Good Sam guests compare and contrast RV makes and models they’ve always dreamed of and talk to experts from top RV manufacturers” stated Marcus Lemonis, Good Sam’s CEO. “We want them to learn everything they need to know at dozens of lifestyle seminars, shop till they drop at hundreds of indoor exhibits selling all kinds of gadgets and gear and even bring the family dog along for fun!”
A great time is guaranteed for all who make plans to attend one or all of the three big RV rallies scheduled in 2012 at spectacular venues around the country.
Visit www.therally.com for breaking news on these events.
The Good Sam Rally is a product of Good Sam Enterprises and is powered by the Good Sam Club, Good Sam Ventures, Trailer Life, Woodall’s, Camping World and Coast to Coast.
About Camping World & Good Sam Club
Camping World, www.campingworld.com, is America’s No. 1 source for RVs, camping accessories, RV maintenance and repair, and the Good Sam Club, www.goodsamclub.com, is the world’s largest RV owners association, offering helpful technical tips, vacation planning, extended warranties, magazine subscriptions, roadside assistance and more, to serve the outdoor enthusiast.
Both Camping World and Good Sam Club were founded in 1966 and are partnered together today to offer more to those who love the RV lifestyle, with one-stop shopping and resources for everything RV and outdoor.
Camping World features over 8,000 quality products located at over 75 SuperCenters nationwide, easy online and catalog shopping as well as a wide selection of new and used trailers and motorhomes from top RV manufacturers. Good Sam Club members receive cost-saving benefits and services, plus loads of valuable RV information and travel tips to get them ready for their next adventure. The Good Sam Club also represents more than 2,000 local RV chapters designed to bring RVers together from similar geographic regions for group camping excursions.
Camping World is the title sponsor of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in addition to the Official RV and Outdoor Retailer of NASCAR.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) is launching a major advertising effort to heighten business awareness and support for the GoCampingAmerica website, according to a news release.
“We’re going to be targeting REI and other big retailers and telling them why they need to be partnering with ARVC on GoCampingAmerica.com,” said Marc Cramer, a Florida-based advertising consultant who has signed a two-year contract with ARVC to set up and manage a national website sales operation for the association.
While Cramer’s initial campground industry experience involved designing and developing advertising support for CampGulf.com, the website for Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Fla., he has worked on advertising campaigns for prominent clients, including Microsoft Corp. and Major League Baseball and has designed more than 600 websites along with the associated advertising programs to support the websites for virtually every industry during the past 12 years.
Cramer’s contract was approved by ARVC’s Executive Committee during a series of meetings in late March.
ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer said Cramer’s work is the first major advertising effort involving the GoCampingAmerica.com since its redesign was completed last year.
“With the addition of Marc Cramer as our national sales director on an independent contractor basis, I am looking forward to building the traffic to GoCampingAmerica.com for our members and increasing the advertising sales income to the association to help offset costs of running the website,” Profaizer said. “Marc brings a wealth of capabilities and experience to aid and increase our efforts.”
In addition to helping consumers locate campgrounds by state and by city, GoCampingAmerica.com has an advanced search function that allows consumers to search for parks that offer nearly 40 different types of activities and outdoor recreation, from biking and bird watching to hunting and fishing, golfing and kayaking. Links to information about outdoor recreation, festivals and special events in each of the 50 states are also provided on the site along with helpful information for first time campers, such as “What to Pack” lists and recipes. Links to the state affiliates of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds are also provided.
Consumers can also use GoCampingAmerica.com to quickly find parks that are affiliated with major campground chains, such as Equity LifeStyle Properties, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, as well as the many parks that offer AAA, AARP, FMCA, Good Sam and other popular discounts.
GoCampingAmerica.com has had more than 616,000 unique visitors and 3.2 million page views since it went live last fall.
Waterfield Bank, a Waterfield Group company, today (Oct. 13) announced it has launched the Good Sam Club Banking Center to offer premier on-the-road banking solutions for RV owners and families.
As service provider for the Good Sam Club Banking Center, a press release states, Waterfield will provide customers with safe and secure financial services and access to up to $1 million in FDIC insurance through a single account – far beyond the industry standard.
“The Good Sam Banking Center delivers first-rate, user-friendly financial products and services that are firmly rooted in fail-safe FDIC insurance coverage and nearly a century of banking experience,” said J. Randall Waterfield, co-CEO of Waterfield Group. “Over the years, the Good Sam Club has worked very hard to make sure RV enthusiasts have the best protection on every trip, and now members will have protection of their financial assets through this new banking center created specifically for them.”
The Good Sam Club was founded in 1966 and is widely recognized as an essential part of owning an RV, according to the release. By delivering value to members through information, support and benefits, the organization helps members save money, come together to share experiences and more thoroughly enjoy RVing.
With diversified holdings and a legacy of trust in the industry, Waterfield has successfully established custom-branded banking centers for a variety of organizations including AARP, The Air Force Association, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Rifle Association and others.
Partnered with well-known organizations across the United States, Waterfield currently has an estimated aggregate distribution of more than 90 million members.
All Good Sam Club Banking Center customers will benefit from 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week customer service support. They also will have access to the center`s convenient funds transfer service, which provides the flexibility of transferring money seamlessly between multiple personal and business accounts, including non-Banking Center accounts.
The Good Sam Club is an affilitate of Affinity Group Inc., publisher of RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.COM.
For more information, visit http://goodsambankingcenter.com.