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ARVC CEO Paul Bambei Discusses Marketing

May 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), discusses his first three months on the job and the importance of marketing in a video provided by ARVC. Click here to watch the entire 25-minute interview with industry writer and publicist Evanne Schmarder.

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ARVC Touts Great Outdoors Month Camping

April 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC logoJune is National Great Outdoors Month, which is a wonderful time to enjoy fun outdoor activities with family and friends.

And this year, private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated withGoCampingAmerica.com will celebrate the occasion by offering a 20% discount on camping during the first three weeks of June, according to a news release.

“We think National Great Outdoors Month is a perfect opportunity for America’s campground industry to encourage everyone to get outdoors, explore nature and have fun with their friends and families,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

The Denver, Colo.-based association represents more than 3,300 private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, which it promotes through the GoCampingAmerica.com website.

In addition to providing discounts on camping, GoCampingAmerica.com will also provide e-coupons that consumers can use to obtain discounts at Camping World stores and RV rentals booked through El Monte RV, which has agreed to provide 500 free miles plus 50 free miles a day to GoCampingAmerica visitors who rent an RV for at least one week during the June 1-25 period.

GoCampingAmerica.com will feature e-coupons for use at campgrounds, Camping World stores and El Monte RV beginning May 15. However, the discounts will be available June 1-25. Campground discounts will be available only at participating parks and on a space-available basis.

“We encourage campers to use GoCampingAmerica.com to locate the campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are of interest to them and to call at least 24 hours ahead to book their reservations,” Bambei said.

GoCampingAmerica.com is the largest searchable database of privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in the country, which offer fun family activities as well as rental accommodations ranging from safari tents and teepees to cabins, luxury park model cottages, yurts and RVs.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry. For additional information, visit www.gocampingamerica.com.

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ARVC Mounts Major June Camping Promotion

April 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Adtopromoteonweb The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is bringing new  camping customers and new business to the nation’s RV parks and campgrounds with its  June campaign, “Get Outdoors & Go Camping America…It’s Easy!” promotion set for June  1 – 25.

The purpose of the campaign is to encourage young families to go camping during the month of June, Great Outdoors Month, using GoCampingAmerica.com (GCA) coupons for discounts on all things camping and to document their camping experience on video for a chance to win a grand prize, according to a news release.

The web promotion page on GoCampingAmerica.com is not active until May 15.

For more information on the campaign and for a peak at the 20% off GCA park stay coupon, visit: www.arvc.org/june.aspx.

ARVC will be using social media, viral video, marketing efforts and media outreach to drive traffic to GoCampingAmerica.com where consumers can download various offers for discounts on camping. ARVC will be offering a 20% off coupon for all GCA/ARVC member parks. In addition, companies like Camping World, Coleman, El Monte RV, etc. are participating by offering discounts as well. Consumers will be able to download these coupons and try out camping, hopefully becoming repeat customers at your park.

The coupon states that it is only valid June 1 – June 25. It also states that it’s only accepted at participating parks and that the consumer must call the park at least 24 hours in advance to make a reservation. The guest may use the coupon for up to a seven-night stay at your park during that time frame, but they can not use the coupon on an existing reservation.

More information will be available on the video contest portion as the campaign gets closer.

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ARVC Promotion Will Benefit the RV Industry

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei

Editor’s Note: The following column by Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), appears in the April issue of the ARVC Report. It concerns a program for ARVC’s more than 3,000 members but has the potential to have a far-reaching impact on all campgrounds, both public and private, across North America, as well as the nation’s RV manufacturers and dealers.GoCampingAmerica logo

Members will soon be seeing ARVC’s first national campaign aimed at young American families come to life as several promotional components are beginning to fall into place.

Kera Tomlin, ARVC director of marketing, has done a terrific job writing the campaign’s marketing plan – which we are sharing in presentations at the spring state association meetings and conferences where ARVC staff has been invited to speak.

Our general strategy is to use two forms of video media to reach a vast audience:

  • The Outdoor Channel, which has a potential U.S. audience-reach of 35 million outdoor enthusiasts (referred to as “narrowcast audience.”
  • YouTube, the video medium of choice by the younger generation.

The message being delivered to the mass audience by these two media outlets will be consistent – “family camping is easy” (and a cost-effective way to vacation). Industry research has shown that less than 11% of the significant, under-40 age segment of the population owns their own RV and of these, only 1% of those under age 26 are RV owners.

Hence, the creative television and internet video marketing we’ll be deploying will invite viewers to try the convenience of rental RVs, hassle-free cabins or other types of park rental lodging or just pure and simple tent camping. Most importantly, we want families to get outdoors and experience one of the many alternate forms of camping available at our member parks.

The viewing audience will be directed to GoCampingAmerica.com. This consumer site is currently undergoing some major renovations, making it more consumerinteractive and also improving the search methodology to direct visitors to your park. To ensure your listing is as updated and current as possible, over the next two months we are proactively calling every ARVC member in our database as part of this website enhancement. Please allow us the required 15-20 minutes of your time when your call comes.

Once on the GCA website, visitors will be directed to a new GoCampingAmerica “promotion area” which will incent them to take advantage of special pricing, again, designed to make the camping experience easy and cost-effective. We have specifically chosen the campaign period of June 1-25 – typically considered a slower, just-getting-warmed-up, early summer shoulder season for most campgrounds – when site nights need to be filled.

The campaign avoids the last week of June leading up to the busy July 4th weekend.

The online campaign e-coupon available during the promotion offers our target market a 20% multiple stay discount for up to seven nights during the campaign. We particularly hope to drive business during the often-difficult to fill Monday-Thursday period via this offer. To make the deal even more compelling, we are partnering with several nationally recognized RV rental companies to offer fantastic rental discount coupons on our website promotion page.

While this campaign includes many variables that apply to the majority of campgrounds, we realize some park owners may not want or need the business during early June and for this reason, you can simply opt-out of the consumer offer being made from the website.

Finally, there is a huge public relations component to this campaign that will drive awareness and create some great local publicity for ARVC members. Under the guidance of CAMP state executives Rick Abare, CPO (Maine) and Don Bennett, CPO (New York), and working closely with sister associations like Derrick Crandall’s American Recreation Coalition (ARC) as well as ARVC’s own PR consultant, Jeff Crider, there are now 22 states/state executives that are committed to participating in the Great Outdoors publicity initiative.

Coinciding with the June 1-25 promotion and especially during the Obama Administration’s proclaimed “Great Outdoors Day” June 11-12 weekend, participating states will be involved in their own flavor of publicity-attracting events, including several who plan to demonstrate the wonderful world of camping on the grounds of their state capitals.

So now for the big question…will it all work? To me, that depends on several things. For instance, if a majority of ARVC member parks/associations get behind this project, that’s success in itself. There’s always a feeling of accomplishment whenever our associations and mutual members work together for the common good. Getting families outdoors, experiencing all our special brand of outdoor hospitality has to offer is certainly a win as well.

What about the good that could come in the form of new business? I look at site rentals as “perishable” commodities. If folks aren’t renting sites in your park, those rental opportunities are lost and can never be recouped. As a result, one of our main goals at ARVC is to help you seize this business opportunity by bringing customers to your doorstep that might normally never experience your business. In other words, we want to help you reach 100% capacity as often as possible, with you standing at the cash register adjusting for when and when not to take advantage.

The beauty of promotional marketing is that it builds on itself. The more our message is pushed into the marketplace, the more it gets seen and heard, and eventually, the more often it gets acted upon. Our marketing strategy is to develop four of these campaigns throughout the year, all with the goal of shoring up soft, shoulder periods when most parks need help.

Clearly, marketing isn’t the only value behind ARVC membership. There are many others in the form of government advocacy and industry education, however, in the months and years ahead, our promise is to make ARVC marketing value so obvious, you’ll see ARVC membership as the best investment you can make in your business.

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McDermott Will & Emery Next ARVC Lobbyist

March 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC logoThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) plans to retain one of the most reputable law firms in the country to handle its government relations work.mcdermott_logo

ARVC’s Public Affairs Committee, which reviewed the proposals, gave unanimous support of the recommendation on Wednesday (March 23) to retain the Washington, D.C., law firm of McDermott Will & Emery after concluding an extensive two-month RFP process that generated several proposals from government affairs firms across the country, according to a news release.

“The committee was impressed with both the depth and caliber of the proposals we received. But after reviewing each of the proposals, McDermott Will & Emery clearly stood out as the firm that would best meet ARVC’s needs,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.

McDermott Will & Emery will replace McLean, Va.-based King & Gorin, which has worked as ARVC’s government affairs lobbyist for the past decade. “On behalf of ARVC, I want to thank Aubrey King and David Gorin for their dedication and many years of service. They will be missed on many levels, “ said Bambei.

Bambei said McDermott Will & Emery, which is both an established lobby and legal concern with deep research and analytical resources, will begin working for ARVC on May 1. Its initial assignments will include assessment of key national issues affecting ARVC and the outdoor hospitality industry, as well as strategically re-establishing a National Issues Conference involving key face-to-face meetings between ARVC members and their elected officials on the Hill.

Additionally, because of its six-office reach throughout the U.S., the firm will be asked to closely monitor and assist ARVC in assessing the many state issues that affect the association.

Initially founded as a tax practice in Chicago in 1934, McDermott Will & Emery has grown to become the 33rd largest law firm in the world, with more than 1,000 lawyers in the United States and Europe. Its client base includes more than 82% of Fortune 100 firms and 33% of the Forbes 100 Largest Private Companies. The firm has been recognized as a leader in 25 practice areas. Its specialties include environmental law, government strategies, labor and employment, employee benefits and pensions, corporate law, antitrust and competition, safety and health, as well as state and local tax issues. More information about the firm is available at www.mwe.com.

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ARVC Closes on New South Denver, Colo., Office

March 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) closed escrow today (March 9) on a new South Denver office that it will use as the association’s headquarters beginning April 8.

ARVC purchased the Panorama Falls office suite for an undisclosed price. The transaction was unanimously approved on Monday by 22 of ARVC’s 24 board members, with two board members being absent for the meeting, according to a news release.

“It has been a long and arduous process, but I am confident after viewing this office that this is the right property for our new ARVC headquarters,” said ARVC Chairman David L. Berg. “ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei is to be commended for his efforts in this process. The entire board was pleased with the final purchase price, which was less than half of other properties ARVC considered purchasing in recent years.”

Bambei, a Denver native, said ARVC’s new office is located in an attractive commercial area of South Denver with a full array of hotels and restaurants nearby, and is walking distance from the Dry Creek station of the light rail. The office is also 25 miles closer to Denver International Airport than the office building ARVC currently occupies.

“As an investment, I think we got a really good deal,” Bambei said. “We took advantage of the downturn in the commercial real estate market, which is just now starting to show signs of improvement.”

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ARVC Board OK’s Move to New Denver Office

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

At a special board meeting — with all but two board members present — unanimous approval was reached Monday (March 7) for the purchase of a new  headquarters office for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) in South Denver, Colo., according to ARVC Chairman David L. Berg.

The office space in the Panorama Falls building, is located along the busy I-25 corridor just inside the C-470 beltway, easily accessible to the new RTD Light Rail system and close to Colorado’s largest shopping mall and a variety of hotels and businesses within the Denver Technological Center.

The closing is scheduled for Wednesday and follows over two months of due diligence that included a full inspection and value appraisal, an ARVC press release states. After some minor upgrades, ARVC’s staff is expected to move from its current Larkspur office facility on April 8.

“It has been a long and arduous process, but I am confident after viewing the office this is the right property for our new ARVC headquarters,” said Berg. “(New ARVC President) Paul Bambei is to be commended for his efforts in this process and the entire board was pleased with the final purchase price of $367,160, being half of other properties that were under consideration in the past few years.”

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ARVC Cutting Conference Fees for Many Parks

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC logoThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has reduced the price of attending its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo by nearly a third for parks with 250 or fewer sites.

The conference is scheduled for Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in Savannah, Ga.

“I want small and medium-size park operators and their staffs to come and see what they’ve been missing,” Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO, stated in a news release. He said the price reduction was developed in direct response to members who said the high cost of conference registration prevented them from attending ARVC conferences in the past.

Less than 10% of ARVC’s more than 3,000 member campgrounds attended the 2010 conference.

Bambei said ARVC has also reduced conference registration rates for parks that send more than one representative in an effort to recognize and encourage attendance by multiple generations of campground family owners from the same park who have been loyal to ARVC and its state affiliates over the years.

Under the new fee schedule, representatives from parks with 250 or fewer sites that sign up for a full registration to attend the event before Aug. 31 will pay $379 for the first person, a 31% discount from the $550 standard registration rate.

ARVC is also offering to discount registrations by an additional $40 discount for each additional small or medium size park representative who registers for the full registration at the conference before Aug. 31st. This means that parks with multiple representatives would pay only $339 each for their additional representatives.

Bambei said the new fee structure should have widespread appeal across the outdoor hospitality industry, since more than 80% of ARVC members parks have 250 sites or less.

The large park registration fee remains at $449 if registering before Aug. 31 for the first registrant from each large park. However, large parks with multiple registrants will also receive a $45 discount for each additional registrant. That means large parks with multiple representatives would pay only $404 for each of their additional representatives.

“We think our new pricing structure will be very attractive to park operators across the country,” Bambei said, adding that registration fees have been reduced as much as possible, while still ensuring that ARVC takes in just enough revenue to cover its costs in producing the conference.

Bambei said it behooves park operators to sign up for the conference before Aug. 31 because registration fees for all park representatives will revert to $550 per person after that date.

For more information about this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, please visit www.arvc.org.

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ARVC Samples Park Members on ‘Drive Market’

March 4, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

ARVC logoThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and other major travel industry related partners have teamed up with Mandala Research to learn more about the “Drive Market.”

Mandala Research first surveyed the consumer market to learn more about their vacation drive habits and now they are focused on learning more about this particular market from the “Operator” point of view.

In an e-mail, ARVC is asking members to take a few moments to participate in the survey.

“The results will truly help us learn more about this market and in turn will help ARVC in upcoming marketing efforts to bring more business to your park,” ARVC concluded.

Click here to see a copy of the survey.

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ARVC Deems 2010 Convention/Expo a Success

February 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC logoThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has released the results of two surveys it conducted at the 2010 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo held Dec. 1-4 in Las Vegas.

ARVC conducted an exhibitor survey and an attendee survey (primarily focused on educational seminars).

Overall, the results show that this past year’s conference and expo were a success, ARVC stated in a recent ARVC Flash report

Here are some quick findings:

Exhibitor Survey (survey of those companies that chose to exhibit at the expo)

  • 58% thought the foot traffic in the expo hall was either ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent.’
  • 93% rated the expo regarding interested buyers as ‘Average’, ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent.’
  • 67% of exhibitors said they would return to Las Vegas for another ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in the future.
  • 57% of exhibitors said they would prefer to have the expo in a different location every year as opposed to 3.8% of who said they would prefer the same location or 38% who said they would prefer to have the expo in three locations in a three-year rotation.
  • 65% of exhibitors said they would not like to change the time of year that the show occurs.
  • 77% of exhibitors said that they were either ‘Very Likely’ or ‘Definitely’ planning to exhibit at the 2011 Outdoor Hospitality Expo in Savannah, Ga.

Attendee Survey

  • 84% of the respondents signed up for full-registrations at last year’s conference.
  • 79% of respondents said that attending the educational seminars at the Conference was ‘Extremely Important.’
  • 74% said that attending the Conference to stay abreast of the latest industry news was also ‘Extremely Important’ and 64% said that attending the conference to get ideas from other colleagues was a main reason they attend.
  • The majority of attendees, 53%, said they preferred a mix of free on-site events and paid events (on their own).
  • 68% of respondents rated the ARVC conference as either ‘Valuable’ or ‘Very Valuable.’
  • 63% said that they were either ‘Likely’ or ‘Very Likely’ to attend the 2011 conference in Savannah.
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Woodall’s Directory Marks 75th Anniversary

February 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

woodalls75th.horizsig copyCelebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Woodall Publications Corp. is launching a host of new digital products and services to complement its industry-leading campground directory and website.

“It’s cool to be celebrating 75 years,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of Woodall Publications Corp. “It’s not only 75 years as a print title – Woodall’s North American Campground Directory – but look at all the digital stuff we’re doing today. The RV lifestyle lends itself to the technology that’s coming out now. It’s all about the digital world.”

“It’s very exciting. There are some incredible statistics out there about how many people own cell phones and are texting. The younger demographic is ripe for the digital channel and we are ready to deliver it,” she said.

For example, Emerson noted that in 2010 Woodalls had 277,000 people visit woodalls.com via mobile devices. In 2009, that might have been around 5,000.

Virtually all Woodalls’ readers have cell phones and 79% own two or more. Average age is 57, average income is $85,000, average nights annually spent in parks is 57. And those campers, on average, spent $1,500 on their last RV trip.

“We had a 33% increase in the number of visitors to our website in 2010,” said Emerson. “We get 15 million page views in a year, twice as much as our nearest competitor gets. That’s why we’re doing the mobile version of our website.”

Emerson and her staff rolled out plans for the 2012 Woodall’s North American Campground Directory and a host of related programs at their annual “rep” conference, a term referring to the teams that travel North America visiting campgrounds on behalf of Woodall’s, which was held Jan. 17-20 at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel.

The company officially marked its 75th anniversary at a closing banquet attended by an array of industry leaders.

The 27 rep teams, some of whom began their data collection in the field on Feb. 1, were introduced to a host of new cutting-edge digital programs at the Woodall conference to better serve Woodalls’ “affluent, active and tech-savvy” customers, 54% of whom own web-enabled mobile phones.

Packaging its digital assets – mobile and online – is a focus for Woodall’s, allowing consumers to find RV parks and campgrounds through multiple channels and touch points. Many of the enhancements offered on woodalls.com are also available on the mobile application, often optimized for this emerging channel, explained Emerson.

Woodall’s will roll out its first mobile application this spring, which will be available for the iPhone (including the iPad and iPod Touch). This free app will allow RVers to search for campground listings geographically, by name or by nearby attractions. Some of the campground products and features available on the mobile app include:

  • Website Link: A direct link from the application right to your website.
  • Digital Photos: Up to five digital photos with one’s Listing Details Page.
  • Banner Ad: A mobile version of a listee’s state/provincial banner found on the Search Results Page of the application.
  • Front of the Line Exposure: Exclusive Woodall feature that “jumps” your listing to the top of the iPhone Search Results Page in a city of your choice.
  • Video – A video of your park, optimized for viewing on the application.
  • Digital Spotlights: Your story in your own words.
  • Visual Tour: This interactive slideshow is located on the Listing Details Page and “paints the picture” of the camping experience you offer guests.
  • The above-mentioned products will also be available on woodalls.com, as well as:
  • Digital Web Ads: A digital version of a print ad in the campground directory can be activated from the Search Results and Listing Details Pages.
  • Instant Email: Customers can e-mail a campground directly from the Listing Details Page.
  • Social Media: Accesses a campground’s Facebook and Twitter links from the Listing Details Page
  • Rotating Banners: Rotating State/Provincial Banners found on both the Search Results and at the footer of a campground’s Listing Details Page.
  • Blogging Opportunities: Three blog posts to draw readers to a given area.
  • E-newsletter Editorial Features: Reach the inbox of Woodalls’ most engaged users by telling a story in your own words. Campgrounds may choose the months.

“We are so excited and our rep teams are excited to go out and talk to our campground customers about this technology and marketing possibilities we can all learn together,” said Emerson.

The traditional print directory will include full-color state and provincial travel maps, GPS coordinates and physical addresses on select listings and “One Tank Trip” ideas, among other helpful information for campers.

A scannable QR (Quick Response) Code placed in a campground’s ad connects RVers from their offline print ad to their online Visual Tour via their mobile phones.

Cover of 2011 Woodalls North American

Cover of 2011 Woodalls North American Campground Directory

The 2011 edition also marked the first year advertisers were able to incorporate an industry-first, four-color process in the listing section advertisements in the Woodall’s directories. “It’s breathtaking, the colors really pop,” Emerson said. “We know for the 2012 edition there will be even more parks that want to do that.”

The 2012 directory will contain ratings of more than 8,000 privately owned and 6,000 public parks across North America.

Woodall’s is the official directory of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Family Campers & RVers, Camp Club USA and Camping World President’s Club. The Escapees RV Club and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) are also partners with Woodall’s, while Camping Life is its affiliated family camping magazine.

“We are very optimistic it will be a good year for the industry and for Woodalls,” said Emerson, noting that the deadline for data collection for the 2012 directory is Aug. 31. The directory comes off the presses the week after Thanksgiving.

For information, call (800) 323-9076 or visit www.woodalls.com.

Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of Woodalls and RVBUSINESS.com.

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ON THE LINE: Paul Bambei, ARVC’s New CEO

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei is hitting the ground running as president and CEO of the Larkspur, Colo.-based National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), having made his first industry appearances at ARVC’s InSites Convention in Las Vegas in early December.

A marketing and business development expert and entrepreneur who has worked for some well known companies, including Time Inc. and Comcast Corp., Bambei’s extensive business experience, self-confidence and personable nature are said to have made him an easy pick to succeed retiring exec Linda Profaizer at the first of the year.ARVC logo

Bambei (pronounced “Bambi”), whose strengths are marketing and business management, recently co-founded Jookt LLC, the nation’s first high school sports network, serving as its COO for the past four years, producing programs for broadcast television, cable and Internet distribution.

From 2004 to 2006, he was a key advisor to Luxembourg-based Intelsat Ltd., a leading provider of fixed satellites, and he also spent 20 years in senior management positions in the cable television industry, including vice president of operations for Comcast Corp.’s Comcast Media Center in Denver from 1999 to 2003

Bambei, who graduated in communications from Southeast Missouri State University and completed an advanced business management program at Denver University, tells contributor Evanne Schmarder in an ARVC-exclusive Internet interview that he’s eager to improve the trade association’s spirit of team play, to pursue a national marketing agenda and to purchase a new building in the Denver area on behalf of the small business people who make up the bulk of the trade association’s membership.

The 27-minute video, highlights of which appear below, is posted on the www.ARVC.org homepage.

Schmarder: Paul, I understand that you’re an RVer. Tell us a little bit about that.

Bambei: Well, it goes back about 10 years. I happen to be very fortunate in having a wife who loves the great outdoors. She did it as a child and she really convinced me that with our young children this is something that we ought to do, get away from the electronics and the craziness of the concrete jungle in Denver, where I’m from.

So we rented an RV from a local shop in Denver, and that was a learning experience because we didn’t really understand quality of RVs. So, we went to one initially that looked a little bit like what Robin Williams turned in at the end of his RV movie, only we had it at the beginning and it’s (renting) been the way that we’ve taken family vacations every summer since.

The only difference is that now we rent from a vendor who has a very good fleet of RV units. He turns them every year, brings in new, sells them and brings in new models the following year. So we’re delighted that we’re going out in new models, but the passion for RVing is what always counted with us and that’s why we enjoy it so much.

Schmarder: Has it made a difference in your children’s lives?

Bambei: I know it has because we started taking them out when they were three or four years old and initially the thrill was just climbing into the cabover and just seeing the sights from up above the driver cab. Since that time, it’s expanded to “let’s jump in the river and do some fly fishing. Let’s take a hike. Let’s do things we just don’t normally do at home.” So, that’s how it has created that quality of life in them, and I have no doubt when they’re older – let’s say I’m hoping that they own an RV instead of renting one, and are willing to take grandma and grandpa with them.

Schmarder: So let’s talk a little bit about business and your background — marketing and technology, small business owner, entrepreneur.

Bambei: That’s correct. I’ve been involved in both. My early career was spent primarily with large corporations. Time Warner is one that I think everybody will be familiar with, later on Comcast. And, of course, those are cable television corporations, very successful ones. I started in a marketing capacity. I was a director of marketing for Time Warner, corporately and that goes back a few years.

It was the early/mid ‘80s when — for those who can remember back that far – those were go go years… So there was a lot of marketing involved, getting the general public familiar with the features and benefits of a product like cable television.

Schmarder: When you talk about the “go go” years of the cable industry, it reminded me of technology today and how it’s quickly evolving and becoming something that really is important in everybody’s business.

Bambei: There are a lot of things about websites and Internet technology that I learned that I think can be very helpful to ARVC. You know, something as simple as putting a video player on the home page I think could really enhance the experience of the consumer because not only is it entertaining, but it provides sight, sound, motion. It’s a reason for them to keep coming back to see whatever is on the consumer Go Camping America site.

Might be relevant to them, might not be, but hey, it’s going to be entertaining. It’s going to be something they’re going to probably enjoy. And it’s a great vehicle, too, to allow the members to get involved. I heard a lot at ARVC’s InSites convention about how cool it would be to just be able to upload videos about their campgrounds and the things they’re doing that are very interesting perhaps to all the other members in the United States, and what better way to portray that than with a video? So those are things on my short list to try and accomplish.

Schmarder: Well, it sounds like you’ve looked at GoCampingAmerica.com, ARVC’s consumer brand, and I think that I read somewhere that you’ve got a lot of plans for the Go Camping America website, to brand that out and generate a lot of consumer awareness.

Bambei: Well, yeah, you never want to jump too fast in your plans before you listen, and that’s what I tried to do at the convention. But my overarching thought from a marketing perspective is to make that consumer site something that is easily pointed to by other media.

And because I’ve been in the cable industry and I’ve worked with the Travel Channel and The Outdoor Channel and The Fishing Network and National Geographic Channel, I have a gut instinct that if Go Camping America is something that is truly universally appealing to the outdoorsman and young families that there’s a partnership that could probably be struck there. Make it something that ARVC and its members enjoy in terms of broad television exposure through one of those channels or all of them.

Schmarder: So, right now, you’re listening.

Bambei: I really believe that sometimes people get in trouble when they move too fast, and, as anxious as I am to move on some of these ideas, I don’t have all the pieces put together just yet, and that’s the value of listening.

Schmarder: When you addressed the group at the InSites Convention in early December, you talked about your three guiding principals – service, communication and teamwork.

Bambei: Yes, and I’ll focus on communications. It’s one of those strange things that needs to go sideways, up, down, vertical, horizontal and that just doesn’t happen on its own. And I think leadership needs to create that by setting a good example.

I’ve heard in my short time here so far that sometimes a member will call the ARVC office and not get an answer, not get a phone answer perhaps or just not get an answer to an e-mail or a question. Those things can be so damaging to the bridging of this confidence that I think we need to really move forward.

So one of my pet peeves, to be honest with you, is to allow that to continue. I simply won’t, and I’m going to make it very clear to the staff back in Denver that that’s first and foremost in terms of priority. We just have to make sure we’re being responsive.

Communication is not just about being responsive though, it needs to be proactive in many ways. When we have an agenda or something of importance that we know needs to get out, it has to get out. And I’ve heard other stories of people not receiving things that other people have received and I think that’s more or less a database issue perhaps where not everybody is plugged in as they should be. Or maybe some balls are being dropped in Denver that can be carried better.

Schmarder: So, this will be a point of focus for you?

Bambei: Absolutely, it’s my goal to make it better. And you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so there are some very cost-effective ways of tracking things that I want to be able to put in place to show the membership how we’re improving. And I think that’s the grace period that I’ve been given.

It’s also my goal to help our members make a profit. That was my life for 30 years and I don’t necessarily believe that just because I’m now the leader of a non-profit that I shouldn’t be responsible for helping members make money. I feel we can facilitate it in many ways.

One is through the website. I don’t think we need to be an order taker for every member, but I do believe that the website can be a lead generator to create interest on the consumer’s part and physically and traceably show that we are sending leads to members’ campsites.

And that’s the top line of any P&L statement, it’s revenue and I think if they begin to see that we are funneling that kind of business to them and that we are attracting attention in the wider media that the members will approve. And although this is not something that will happen overnight, that’s something that I feel can happen.

So I’m talking about the revenue side of the profit and loss statement. On the expense side, if we’re doing our jobs right at ARVC, we can share some very effective ways to reduce expenses, to pick up very cost-effective capital items that every park in the country uses that can help them save money. So that’s how I plan to do it.

Schmarder: Sounds good.

Bambei: And I should add one other thing: I don’t mean to use the word I so much. This is a team effort.

Schmarder: You also mentioned teamwork as a priority.

Bambei: The final pillar of success in my view is the teamwork that I think is so important. And I really don’t think there’s going to be a problem here at ARVC.

Walking in, I had my doubts to be honest with you, I didn’t know how the factions were communicating and getting along and were willing to roll up their sleeves and work together. Now I feel very good about everybody’s willingness to work together toward a common goal.

And I’m elated that in the first day of the convention, we all sat together —100 plus people came together from all walks of the organization — and agreed basically to set an agenda and work together to make some things happen for states and national. And that, to me, is progress. That, to me, is teamwork. It’s fantastic. So, I’m going to be the last guy to let that ball drop, and I’m working with a very excited and capable executive committee and board of directors that understand the importance of that as well.

I’ve got to give great credit to those ladies and gentlemen who have the foresight to put this squabbling behind us and to do something proactive to start pointing things into the future positively. And I feel they accomplished that, so now we’ll move ahead.

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ARVC Lobbying Parks for Go RVing Pledges

February 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Go RVing logo Editor’s Note: The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has sent out  this appeal to its members to support the industrywide Go RVing campaign.ARVC logo

It is important to continue supporting the Go RVing national advertising campaign through ARVC’s voluntary contribution program. All contributions received from our member parks go directly to help fund this national campaign. It is an inexpensive marketing opportunity for your campground or RV park that helps you tie in with the nationally recognized campaign messages and images.

And best yet, Go RVing has developed a brand new Leads-Plus Program that qualifies the leads that you receive from GoRVing.com. To increase the value of the Go RVing consumer leads to campgrounds and RV parks, and to help users generate more sales, Go RVing has developed a new leads prioritization system.

The new Leads-Plus Program will deliver more highly qualified leads categorized by RV purchase likelihood, helping campgrounds and RV parks follow up more efficiently and effectively. Participation in this optional program also gives campgrounds and RV parks an opportunity to use materials connected to the national campaign.

Here are some highlights:

New Leads – Plus Program

NEW FOR 2011! Go RVing campgrounds and RV parks signed up for the tie–in program can access Go RVing leads via the Internet that are prioritized according to the consumer’s likelihood to purchase an RV. They will be ranked: Highly Likely, Moderately Likely,Likely or Interested in Purchasing.

Go RVing Print Ad-Builder with New Affordability Messages

Go RVing campgrounds and RV parks have unlimited access to an online ad-builder that will allow them to create and customize ads and postcards with Go RVing photos and themes. Once assembled, the ads are available for download on to a computer or disc or for e-mailing to a printer or media outlet, saving everyone time and money.

Digital RV Pictures in Image Bank on GoRVing.com

Go RVing campgrounds and RV parks signed up for the program have access to multiple high resolution images of consumers enjoying a variety of RV products to use in advertisements, yellow pages ads, websites, and other promotional materials.

Go RVing Direct mail Builder

Go RVing campgrounds and RV parks signed up for the program can customize direct mail with Go RVing photos and themes using the direct mail-builder. The direct mail-builder is easy to use and includes suggested letters, themes and visuals.

Online Resource Guide

Go RVing campgrounds and RV parks signed up for the program have access to an online resource guide with marketing and advertising tips to maximize and enhance consumer outreach efforts.

To donate click here.

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ARVC Plans Conference Marketing Overhaul

February 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

New ARVC marketing promotion

New ARVC marketing promotion

The National Association of RV Parks and Campground (ARVC) is overhauling the marketing and pricing of its annual convention and expo in an effort to significantly increase park operator participation in the event, according to a news release.

This year’s event, to be held Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Savannah, Ga., is being rebranded as the 2011 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in an effort to attract participation from vendors who have an active interest in the outdoor hospitality industry, but haven’t previously been involved in ARVC events, said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s newly hired president and CEO.

“We will invite interested parties to register and attend who can make our industry stronger through their alliance, and we will do this without losing the homespun, friendly spirit of the conference that has welcomed so many of our members in years past.”

Conference fees will also be restructured to attract much greater participation, particularly from owners and operators of small- and medium-size parks who haven’t previously attended ARVC conventions.

“I’ve personally learned from recent discussions with small park owners that our registration fees went far beyond the small park owner’s affordability threshold, as evidenced by the fact that only 3% of 2010 conference attendance was represented by parks with 100 sites or less,” Bambei said. “Even larger parks, those with 101 to 250 sites, accounted for only 6% of attendance.”

“As a result,” Bambei said, “I am putting the entire conference rate structure under the microscope to determine what we can reasonably do to attract every park owner who truly wants to come, as well as incent those couples and multi-generational family members who want to come together.”

A new rate structure for the conference will be announced during the second half of February.

The 2011 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo will take place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa.

“Regardless of the new rate structure, one thing’s for sure,” said Bambei. “Anyone even remotely thinking about coming to the conference should register before the pre-registration deadline of Aug. 31 to take advantage of the best, most deeply discounted rates. We will be marketing the new rate structure like never before, including a fun contest you’ll be hearing about shortly that encourages state associations to register as many new and renewal members as possible.”

For more information, please visit www.arvc.org.

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ARVC Touts School for Campground Owners

February 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Campground consultant Bob MacKinnon teaches a class at the national school.

Campground consultant Bob MacKinnon teaches a class at the national school.

Co-sponsored by the ARVC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) and the National Training Center for Public Facility Managers (NTCPFM), the National School of RV Park and Campground Management is a 50-hour, intensive two-year program conducted for one week each year at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W. Va.

The school offers park owners, operators and managers a structured program covering a wide array of management and operations topics, including finance and administration, marketing, customer service, recreation management, maintenance, personnel management, retail and food service operations.

Students are awarded a Campground Management Certificate upon successful completion of their second year. They also earn 25 CPO credits for each year of attendance.

There are only 90 first-year student spaces are available. Registration closes on Feb. 20 or when classes are filled, whichever comes first.

For more information visit http://campgroundschool.org/.

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