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Bambei Restructures/Strengthens ARVC Staff

January 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) President and CEO Paul Bambei is taking steps to make the association more efficient and responsive to its members with a combination of new hires and a reorganization of existing staff, according to a news release.

Barbara Youmans

Barb Youmans

Bambei’s new moves include hiring former ARVC Chairman Jeff Sims to the new position of director of membership and government affairs, overseeing Derek Dick, who will now serve as membership manager, as well as ARVC’s outside government affairs activity.

Bambei also promoted Educator Director Barb Youmans to a new position of senior director of administration and education, making her second in command of the organization.

“These changes are intended to bring about greater efficiency and much improved customer service and responsiveness to our membership,” Bambei said.

Sims is a natural fit for the new position of director of membership and government affairs, Bambei said, because of his extensive experience in the campground business and appreciation of the many services ARVC provides that can ultimately improve park operators’ profitability.

“Jeff Sims, as a former ARVC chairman and a former park owner himself, brings a very nice blend of knowledge of how ARVC works from the high-level administrative view, call it the executive view, as well as the members’ view of what it takes to run a business and try to make a profit,” Bambei said. “I value both of those in one person very much.”

Sims grew up in the campground business and co-owned and operated Compton Ridge Campgrounds, Lodge & Convention Center in Branson, Mo. He was chairman of ARVC from 1997 to 1999 and served on the ARVC Foundation Board.

Last year, Jeff Sims and his wife, Susie, traveled over 38,000 miles and visited over 1,800 parks to raise awareness about the benefits of ARVC membership. Sims earned ARVC’s 2010 Chairman’s Club Award for this effort, which also put him in a unique position to hear the concerns of park operators across the country.

Sims will spend much of his time as ARVC’s ambassador, traveling and meeting with park operators and campground association officials. “That will be a lot of Jeff’s job: To be out there with his ears low to the ground, listening to what members want,” Bambei said.

Sims, who also has extensive political experience in Missouri that includes a previous run for state governor, will also oversee ARVC’s outside government affairs services.

Later this month, in fact, ARVC will put out requests for proposals seeking government relations counsels at the state level. “It’s really a combination of national and state government relations that matter, with perhaps state being slightly more paramount because these legislative activities occur in our members’ own backyard,” Bambei said.

Internally, Bambei said promoting Youmans to the new position of senior director of administration and education also makes sense, partly to strengthen ARVC’s administrative management, but also to take better advantage of Youman’s experience.

Youmans has more than 30 years of experience in education involving everything from college level teaching positions to teaching and managing corporate employee training programs for major organizations, including OpenWorld Learning, where she previously served as CEO, and ARAMARK Educational Resources (AER), a subsidiary of the company that manages food and beverage and hospitality services for the National Park Service.

“Barb has done an excellent job with the educational function of ARVC,” Bambei said. “She’s a former CEO of a foundation in Denver. She has a very broad administrative and IT background as well. So when I saw the need to improve our customer service to the membership in this office, I saw a wealth of experience in Barb to help me do that. I also thought a number two person should be in charge when I’m not here.”

Kera Tomlin will continue in her current role as director of marketing and communications. Tomlin will also oversee an outside advertising agency for external advertising promotions, while Jeanette Stensgaard will handle advertising for GoCampingAmerica.com, ARVC.org, the ARVC Reporter and ARVC’s Annual Buyers Guide, as well as all ARVC conference and meeting coordination.

Bambei said his next efforts to improve ARVC’s internal management involve improving the handling of incoming phone calls. He said he is implementing systems to measure the volume and type of incoming calls ARVC receives as well as response times. He also plans to hire a part-time customer service representative with a broad range of experience, including accounting, bookkeeping and creative website experience.

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New ARVC CEO Talks About RVing/Camping

December 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei, new president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), sat down for an extensive interview with RV park and campground industry writer Evanne Schmarder during the recent InSites Convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

Bambei is an avid camper and RVer and talks about his RVing experiences in the early part of the interview.

Click here to watch the 27-minute interview.

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New ARVC CEO Talks About RVing/Camping

December 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei, new president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), sat down for an extensive interview with RV park and campground industry writer Evanne Schmarder during the recent InSites Convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

Bambei is an avid camper and RVer.

Click here to watch the 27-minute interview.

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Woodall’s ‘Top 10’ Campground News Stories

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

These, of course, are not regular times. These are post-recessionary times — emphasis on recessionary — when the U.S. is digging out of a tough situation. And, as you know, we’re still digging, more so in some areas of the country than others.

Yet, as sister publications RVBusiness’s and Woodall’s Campground Management’s small staff sat down to review the year that was, we couldn’t help but marvel at the top-ranked story in our list below — the fact that the industry had indeed outperformed many other American business sectors for the second year in a row.

Without looking a gift horse in the mouth, it’s hard to figure in times like these.

But maybe that’s the point: Maybe times like these in some cases bring out the best of those lucky enough to enjoy them. Maybe we’ll just chalk it up to North America’s drive — lust might be a better word — for affordable recreation, a habit that the average family has retained throughout the global recession.

We’ve seen it at the tollgates in large public parks like Yellowstone and at the registration desks of hundreds of private campgrounds and resorts enough to know that it’s real. Having said that, here’s a quick look at our Top Ten campground news stories for 2010:

ARVC logo(1): RV park and campground business again bucks recessionary pressure to post gains in 2010. “Our members are generally reporting a better year than 2009, with the exception of the Gulf Coast areas,” Linda Profaizer, retiring president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), noted in her President’s Message.

“It appears that snowbirds are returning in bigger numbers than last year as well,” she added. “Most parks report an increase in rental accommodations and tenting is still a major part of the picture.”

Indeed, in his remarks during ARVC’s annual meeting, ARVC Chairman David L. Berg said the economic downturn has actually created new business opportunities for private parks as families and other travelers look for more affordable ways to enjoy weekend getaways and vacation time.

It’s not just an isolated trend. Industry leader Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) reported year-over-year gains in each of the first 10 months of 2010 with total revenues up 8.5 % over 2009. For the summer camping season, same store revenues were up 6% and camper nights up 4.5%.

Leisure Systems Inc. ((LSI), franchisors of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, reported same park revenue up 5% in 2010. While site revenue was down 4%, rental income was up 15%, store revenues grew 15% and miscellaneous revenue was up 19%. And LSI looks for more of the same in 2011, thanks in part to the release in late 2010 of a new “Yogi Bear” Warner Brothers movie starring the voices of Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake.

Centennial-Charlie.JPG(2) The RV Centennial, the focus of which was in June when the ARVC Business Forum ventured to Elkhart, Ind., along with much of the recreational vehicle industry for Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) joint Annual Meeting and Committee Week proceedings and a party at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

RVIA determined that 2010 was the centennial year for the industry, and what a year it was. The Go RVing Coalition promoted events throughout the year in conjunction with the centennial. The Coalition’s “Ambassadors of Affordability” cartoon characters appeared in Go RVing TV spots, and “Centennial Charlie,” a stuffed bear, made a PR tour across the country. The highlight of the year came in early June with a big bash in Elkhart, but other events were held across the nation at campgrounds, RV dealerships and elsewhere. It was, by most accounts, a public relations extravaganza.

(3) Gulf Coast RV parks share with other commercial segments in negative oil spill spillover. An explosion on April 20 at a Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 men working on the rig and set off a massive oil leak that would ultimately send more than 250 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and threaten hundreds of miles of ocean frontage.

The oil fouled beaches from Florida to Louisiana, stifling tourism for months. Business was down significantly at campgrounds across the region, even where the beaches were never involved. It was a major PR problem for the tourism industry, which was still gradually recovering at year’s end.

(4) Flash flood kills 20 campers in June at Arkansas campground. Heavy rains the night of June 11 sent a wall of water in the “Loop D” area of secluded publicly operated Albert Pike Campground nearly Langley in western Arkansas. In all, 20 campers at the 54-site park were killed in the disaster,

The Caddo and Little Missouri rivers — two normally gentle waterways — rose by 20 feet overnight, engulfing the hikers and campers who were spending the night in tents along the rivers in the isolated Ouachita Mountains. “Within ten minutes the water had rose and campers were floating down,” a survivor told ABC News. “If they didn’t get out of their camper within five, ten minutes, they weren’t getting out.”

Linda Profaizer

Linda Profaizer

Paul Bambei

Paul Bambei

(5) Succession at ARVC — Linda Profaizer retiring and Paul Bambei succeeding her. Profaizer announced in the spring that she would be retiring after 10 years at ARVC’s helm and 40 years in the industry — a tenure that included her time as president of then Chicago-based Woodall Publications Corp.

ARVC looked both inside and outside the RV park and campground sector for her successor and recently hired Comcast Corp. veteran Paul Bambei. He never owned a campground, but he’s an avid RVer and was touted as an expert marketing executive. He was introduced at ARVC’s InSites Convention in December.

(6) Succession at KOA — Pat Hittmeier named president of KOA in February, succeeding Shane Ott. A 29-year veteran of the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor’s front office, Hittmeier was named president on Feb. 28 after Shane Ott stepped down. Hittmeier held several positions at KOA before taking on the presidency of the 475-member campground chain, and so far, from all we can gather, his relatively quiet demeanor and astute business instincts are serving him well.

Pat Hittmeier

Pat Hittmeier

(7) Virtual Campground Expo breaks ground on new era of trade shows. Campground vendor Art Lieberman earned praise in 2010 for introducing the industry’s first virtual online trade show, a “Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo” that kicked off in early November and continues today for those choosing to pay the site a visit.

While some argue that these online expos are the way of the future, Lieberman gets an “A” for effort, but a “C” for the site’s actual performance due to software issues that soured some on this landmark event. Lieberman, owner of MCPS for Campgrounds, was up front about the problems and pledged to try again, if not in 2011, then in 2012.

(8) Best Parks in America expands membership to 71 by year’s end. Best Parks in America, launched in 2004 by industry consultant and entrepreneur David Gorin as a marketing network, must be somewhere close to reaching critical mass by now, as the 71-park organization held its annual meeting and a slate of seminars Dec. 1-2 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on the brink of the ARVC InSites convention.

Now, having made some serious changes over the past year, Gorin says Best Parks is getting ready to grow to the next level as an organization that will provide more business tools yet remain “a system of independent unique parks.”

(9) CalARVC takes lead on holding tank chemical ban in California, despite legislative headwinds. Based on the premise that formaldehyde-containing products used in RV holding tank waste treatments have troubled RV park and campground septic systems for years, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) decided earlier this year that it was time for a change.

So, CalARVC lobbied extensively to ban six specific chemicals from all holding tank treatment solutions utilized in the Golden State, and the California State Assembly passed landmark legislation in late summer. However, outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill to ban the chemicals and referred the matter to a state agency for remediation while CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe has vowed to march on with an education program.

(10) ARVC’s ongoing headquarter saga. The national trade association announced in late spring its decision to move from Larkspur, Colo., a rural location to which it had moved in 2009 from Washington D.C.’s suburban Virginia, to more urban Castle Rock in the Denver area on the premise that it would be a better place in which to do business.

Then, in December, after some internal debate a few weeks ago, the ARVC board voted unanimously not to move to Castle Rock and instead authorized new CEO Paul Bambei to look elsewhere for suitable space in the greater Denver area.

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ARVC Convention Included Profaizer Tribute

December 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

InSites 2010 convention logo copyThe National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) drew 629 campground operators, industry officials and vendors from across North America to its annual Insites Convention & Tradeshow, Dec. 1-4 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas — an event that featured several tributes to outgoing ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer as well as a public introduction of Paul Bambei, a marketing and business development expert and former Comcast executive who will replace Profaizer when she retires at the end of the year.

“This has been another positive year for the industry,” Profaizer said in her annual president’s message. “Our members are generally reporting a better year than 2009, with the exception of the Gulf Coast areas. It appears that snowbirds are returning in bigger numbers than last year as well. Most parks report an increase in rental accommodations, and tenting is still a major part of the picture.”

In his remarks during ARVC’s annual meeting, by the same token, Chairman David L. Berg, CPO, said the economic downturn has actually created new business opportunities for private parks as families and other travelers look for more affordable ways to pursue weekend getaways and vacation times. He also noted that campers can purchase all of the camping equipment they need for what they would typically spend for just one night in a hotel room.

Berg also cited several statistics from ARVC’s 2010 National Operations of the RV Park and Campground Industry, which found that fewer parks were listed for sale or changed ownership due to the declining real estate market. The report, produced by the Arizona Hospitality Research and Resource Center at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, also noted park operators’ increasing use of discounts and declining availability of free Wi-Fi service.

Bambei, for his part, told InSites attendees that he looks forward to taking the helm of ARVC and that he operates with three principles:

  • That customer service and communication are king, and that he will always strive to improve ARVC’s customer service and communication with its members.
  • That he believes in small businesses should make a profit and that he will help ARVC develop innovative marketing efforts to improve park operators’ bottom line.
  • That he believes in teamwork. “Anything worth achieving is always done through teamwork,” he said.

ARVC Initiatives

In terms of ARVC initiatives, Profaizer noted in her written annual report and in her remarks to InSites attendees that ARVC achieved success with several initiatives launched during the past year. These include:

  • A successful PR campaign: Working with Jeff Crider of Palm Desert, Calif.-based Crider Public Relations Inc., ARVC secured more than 200 positive camping related stories in local, regional and national media outlets, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, MSNBC.com, AARP Radio and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program, in addition to numerous story and news release placements with RV and camping consumer and trade media. Profaizer said the PR program will continue in 2011.
  • Increased visitation to GoCampingAmerica.com: ARVC implemented a search engine optimization program and other advertising initiatives that helped increase visitation to the site to over 1 million unique visitors. The website was promoted through TrailerLife.com, RVTravel.com, the GORP, Away and Outside websites, Google keyword advertising, rack cards, Airstream Lifemagazine and ads on Southeast Publications site maps, among other venues. GoCampingAmerica (GCA) also sponsored a camping getaway contest, which offered a three-night/four-day getaway to any ARVC park of their choice along with an RV rental, courtesy of El Monte RV. Website promotions were also tied in with ARVC’s GCA blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.
  • The launching of the GoCampingAmerica mobile website: The website, launched in late May at GoCampingAmerica.mobi, has had over 17,000 visitors who can access the site using their mobile communication devicies. iPhone users account for more than a third of the site’s visitors.
  • The addition of new member benefits: These include discount programs with Sherwin Williams for paints and related supplies; Aramark Uniform Services; and Skyway Supply, which provides environmentally friendly products.
  • Continued legislative advocacy on behalf of ARVC members: ARVC proposed several recommendations regarding tourism and recreation for the Obama administration’s Great Outdoors Initiative. ARVC also supported statutory changes in the Travel Promotion Act to expedite collection of revenue to start the Corporation for Travel Promotion. ARVC also actively supported direct expensing provides as well as the repeal of Form 1099 reporting requirements in the health care reform legislation. ARVC also supported the continuation of the Bush Estate Tax requirements. In addition, ARVC spearheaded a meeting of tourism and recreation officials with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to explore the prospects for an industry coalition. ARVC has also helped members across the country with tax issues, public utility issues and zoning permit consultations.
  • An extraordinary volunteer outreach effort by former ARVC Chairman Jeff Sims: Jeff and his wife, Susie, traveled over 38,000 miles and visited over 1,800 parks to raise awareness about the benefits of ARVC membership. Sims visited parks in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
  • Stepped up communication efforts with ARVC members, state associations and other industry partners: These efforts include publication of a monthly e-newsletter, the ARVC Report in Advance, with up-to-the-minute industry happenings sent to all members; and quarterly conference calls with state association presidents and executive directors to share information on the latest industry issues. These quarterly calls are in addition to the monthly phone calls and emails that state association leaders share with ARVC board members.
  • A successful national outreach effort to support Andrew Ratzlaff on a his cross-country bike ride to raise awareness about lymphoma: Ratzlaff, a 27-year-old New York City resident, lost his father to lymphoma when he was a senior in high school. On Mother’s Day, he began a 4,400-mile bike ride with the hope of raising awareness about the disease along with donations for the Lymphoma Research Foundation. More than 30 ARVC-member campgrounds, RV parks and resorts provided Ratzlaff with campsites, cabin accommodations and, in some cases, food to help support Ratzlaff on his cross-country journey. Several newspapers produced reports about his trip, and the support he received from ARVC member parks.

In other updates, Profaizer noted several staff changes at ARVC headquarters, including the hiring of Barb Youmans as the association’s new education director, while Karen Derosa joined the organization as an administrative assistant. Derek Dick is now membership director.

InSites provided nearly 40 seminars for educational enrichment and CPO credit, which were widely attended by representatives of the 315 private parks that attended the annual event.

Seminar topics involved everything from human resources, accounting and 20 groups to marketing and media relations through ARVC’s PR program. Other seminar topics included emergency preparedness, the dynamics of working with your family, how to develop and expand food service, and preventing employee theft.

InSites attendees were also entertained by famed mentalist Jon Stetson, who repeatedly demonstrated his ability to read people’s minds on a variety of topics. Other special InSites guests included Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

ARVC Tradeshow

ARVC’s tradeshow, meanwhile, attracted 115 vendors, many of whom said they were pleasantly surprised with the volume of purchases park operators were making at the show.

“It has been very busy,” said Kathleen McCormick, operations manager for Verona, Wis.-based Commercial Recreation Specialists. “We’re seeing lots of interest in splashpads and water inflatables. People who bought last year are coming back to add more sections” to their floating play structures.

CRS offers play structure planning, financing and installation, with financing being provided by Clearview Financial.

Other play equipment vendors at the show included Scott Borcick of Norwalk, Ohio-based Mazur North America, which manufacturers a variety of water play structures, including waterslides and splashgrounds, while Pensacola, Fla.-based Pedal Karts was busy marketing its unique pedal go karts, which parks often rent out to their guests.

FritoLay, for its part, was busy generating new leads for its program to provide parks with free shipping on any order of chips exceeding $25. “The response has been fantastic,” Max Chesser, national sales manager for FritoLay’s “Snacks to You Program,” told RVBusiness on day two of the tradeshow. “We’ve had 12 new customers just since last night.”

Chesser said park operators like the flexibility of FritoLay’s shipping program, which enables them to customize their orders. “All they pay for is the product, and only when they need it,” he said.

Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group said day two of the tradeshow was very strong for him as well and gave him a chance to talk to numerous park operators about electrical pedestals and energy efficient hand driers, which he said parks are increasingly installing in their restrooms as a way to reduce paper waste and reduce costs.

Dennis Culver, a sales representative from Jamestown Advanced Products in Jamestown, N.Y., said he, too, was pleased with the volume of new business his company generated at the show, both in terms of purchases off the floor and contacts for the future. Jamestown offers a diverse range of products for campgrounds, including electrical pedestals, picnic tables and fire rings.

“The show is meeting our expectations,” Culver said, adding that about 30% of the people who purchased products from Jamestown at the InSites tradeshow had never bought products from Jamestown before.

Christine Kornely, The Tower Co.’s “Diva of Dump Stations,” said she also saw strong demand for dump station products. “It’s been a very positive show,” she said.

David B. Canning, president of Orlando, Fla.-based DP Pet Products Inc., which markets DogiPot pet waste disposal stations and oxo-biodegradable pet waste bags, said he also got to meet with a lot of new customers, many of whom are expanding pet related amenities at their parks.

Several vendors also introduced new products at the show, including RV, Home & Marine Solutions, an Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. subsidiary that is marketing Nature-ZYME, a new enzyme-based holding tank product that removes odors and breaks down waste without harming the environment or posing risks to groundwater supplies.

David Kozy, vice president and director of operations of RV, Home & Marine Solutions, said he was pleased with park operator interest in his company’s product line, which includes RV holding tank products as well as environmentally friendly products to treat and maintain septic systems and household drains.

Other vendors of environmentally friendly holding tank products were also showcasing their products at the show, including Allan Millward, president of Telamode, an Ingleside, Ontario-based manufacturer and distributor.

Other new products featured at the show included an automated dump station from Bend, Ore.-based SaniStar, which accepts cash, tokens, coins and credit cards.

Park Models on Display

Park model manufacturers were also on hand with units on display outside the tradeshow, including Chariot Eagle West and Cavco Industries Inc.

Tom Satterwhite, general manager of Cavco’s manufacturing plant in Rocky Mount, Va., joined Cavco Vice President Tim Gage and other company employees in meeting with prospective customers from across the country who are interested in developing their cabin rental business.

“It’s been great from an East Coast perspective,” Satterwhite said, noting that Cavco did not previously have an East Coast manufacturing capability until after the company acquired Fleetwood and converted its Rocky Mount factory for park model production.

Athens, Texas-based Athens Park Homes LLC did not have a unit on display this year, but Dick Grymonprez, the company’s vice president of marketing, said he still had plenty of interest from park operators who visited his booth. “We didn’t bring a cabin for the first time, but we’ve had real good traffic,” Grymonprez told RVB. “The show’s going really well.”

The show also featured several providers of wireless Internet or Wi-Fi service, including Jim Ames of Napa, Calif.-based Airwave Adventures and Eric Stumberg of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, who said he spent much of his time answering questions about Wi-Fi pricing. “People are a lot more motivated to buy (Wi-Fi service) now,” Stumberg said, adding that customer expectations for both the availability and quality of Wi-Fi service at campgrounds are increasing.

The show also attracted representatives of Wi-Fi companies who haven’t attended InSites before, including Monica Kelly, a sales and marketing representative from Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Circle Computer Resources, who said her company provides service to campgrounds and RV parks and resorts.

Some companies said it was important for them to attend the InSites Convention and Tradeshow for networking purposes. “For us, we don’t write a lot of business at this show because people’s policies renew throughout the year. But we are able to establish new relationships here, not just at the show, but at the events,” said Lucas Hartford, president of Evergreen USA, a Lewiston, Maine-based campground insurance company.

Campground Chains Represented

Representatives from the major campground franchise chains were also on hand to entice independent park operators to join their ranks.

Kathy Palmeri, director of franchise sales for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), said the Jellystone Park chain recruited seven new parks since last year’s InSites convention, when the campground chain announced that it was waiving its franchise signup fees as part of a promotional effort to recruit more parks. Palmeri said LSI is continuing the promotion.

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), for its part, has signed up about “15 to 20” parks this year, according to Chris Fairlee, assistant vice president of system development, who was at the show along with KOA President Pat Hittmeier and other KOA officials to meet with independent park operators and answer questions about the KOA franchise system.

Next year’s annual InSites Convention & Expo will take place in Savannah, Ga.

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32 Parks Earn ‘A’ Grades in Customer Survey

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

InSites 2010 convention logo copyThirty-two campgrounds and RV resorts have earned all around “A” grades in the third annual consumer satisfaction survey of independent parks.

The top parks were announced at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas during an awards ceremony Friday (Dec. 3) that was hosted by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Some 30,200 camping and RV enthusiasts participated in the online survey, which evaluated guest experiences at 2,400 independent campgrounds and RV resorts affiliated with ARVC, according to a news release.

“Twenty two of the nation’s 32 top parks in our survey also received ‘A’ ratings last year, while 13 parks have received ‘A’ ratings three years in a row,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of GuestReviews, the Murrieta, Calif.-based company that created the online survey on behalf of ARVC.

MacKinnon said that GuestReviews expects to survey more than 4,000 parks within the next two years. That’s nearly half of the nation’s private parks.

The results of the surveys are gradually being posted the websites of state and national campground associations, including GoCampingAmerica.com, the ARVC website.

“The objective of these surveys is to help private campground, RV park and resort operators to pinpoint the improvements they need to make to provide their guests with the best possible camping experience,” said Linda Profaizer, ARVC president and CEO.

Consumers are invited to submit their own reviews of private campgrounds and RV resorts they have recently visited by logging on to www.gocampingamerica.com and clicking on the “Review a Park” tab. Survey results will eventually be posted on the GoCampingAmerica website.

The 32 parks earning “A” grades for 2010 are listed below along with their websites.

  • Ashland Resort, Northfork, W.V., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Buffalo Lake Camping Resort, Montello, Wis., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Buttonwood Campground, Mexico, Pa., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park, Nathrop, Colo. a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Md., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • D & W Lake Camping and RV Park, Champaign, Ill., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Dogwood Acres Campground, Newville, Pa., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg, Pa., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • High Plains Camping, Oakley, Kan., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort, Waymart, Pa., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Hocking Hills KOA, Logan, Ohio, a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Kozy Rest Kampground, Harrisville, Pa., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Lake George RV Park, Lake George, N.Y., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nev., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Magnolia RV Park & Campground, Kinards, S.C., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Meadowcliff Lodge & RV Resort, Coleville, Calif., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Mill Creek Ranch RV & Cottage Resort, Canton, Texas, a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Misty River Cabins & RV Resort, Walland, Tenn., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Penn., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Peace Valley Campground, Marble, N.C., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Pioneer Campground, Laporte, Penn., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Pontchartrain Landing, New Orleans, La., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine, a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Rincon Country East RV Resort, Tucson, Ariz., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Mich., a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, Calif., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine, Texas, a three-time “A” grade winner.
  • Tiger Run Resort, Breckenridge, Colo., a first-time “A” grade winner.
  • West Canada Creek Campsites, Poland, N.Y., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Willow Tree Resort, Longs, S.C., a two-time “A” grade winner.
  • Wishon Village RV Park, Shaver Lake, Calif., a first-time “A” grade winner.

The GuestReviews national online survey program was launched in February 2008 in collaboration with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

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ARVC Backs Out of Colorado Office Purchase

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The board of directors of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has voted unanimously not to pursue the purchase of an office building in Castle Rock, Colo,. because of potential legal and financial liabilities that surfaced during the extensive due diligence process, according to a news release.

ARVC had previously announced plans to purchase the second floor of the building in June. But after hiring a Denver-based real estate attorney to review the proposed transaction, ARVC learned of several unresolved financial issues and condo association documents, which made it unwise to proceed with the transaction, said Linda Profaizer, ARVC’s president and CEO.

ARVC Chairman David L. Berg discussed the problems with the transaction and ARVC’s decision to find a new office location in the Denver area during the association’s annual breakfast meeting Thursday (Dec. 2) at the InSites Convention & Expo in Las Vegas.

Berg said ARVC President-elect Paul Bambei will lead the association’s efforts to find a new headquarters building, though he also noted that any future purchasing decisions would be decided by campground and RV park owners who sit on ARVC’s executive committee and board of directors.

Berg said the Denver area remains an area of focus because all of ARVC’s staff lives in the area and owns homes there, including Bambei, who takes over as the association’s president Jan. 1.

ARVC’s board of directors voted 18-2 earlier this year to explore new office locations in the greater Denver area after determining that the Larkspur building the association has been renting from Jellystone Park Camp-Resort owner Ian Steyn was not the best option for the association.

Berg said ARVC’s timing in purchasing a new building now is also worthwhile, given that we’re at the bottom of the real estate market and that commercial real estate prices are the lowest they’ve been in many years.

ARVC’s board sold its previous headquarters building in Falls Church, Va., after the city announced in 2003 that its redevelopment plans would include the eventual razing of the ARVC building.

Rather than wait for the eventual loss of the building, the ARVC board began searching for other potential locations for the association’s headquarters.

Former ARVC Chairman Jason Sheaffer formed a nine-member task force in 2005 to establish criteria for the move and to research various headquarters options, including staying in Virginia.

The task force, whose members represented the diversity of America’s campground industry, ultimately determined that Denver was the best location, citing the city’s prominent rankings for quality of life and low cost of living, ample labor supply, as well as its proximity to major highways and airports.

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Campground Industry Gathering in Las Vegas

November 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

InSites 2010 convention logo copyThe nation’s RV park and campground owners and operators are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the annual InSites and Outdoor Hospital Expo sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

The event begins Wednesday (Dec. 1) and runs through Friday.

Presenting “Invest in Your Intuition’” on Wednesday (Dec. 1), Jon Stetson, the real life “mentalist” on whom the CBS TV hit “The Mentalist” is based, will share a hands-on, interactive session that awakens participants to the possibility of reaching their full potential while experiencing greater personal power and achieving success more easily.

Jon Stetson, the real "mentalist."

Jon Stetson, the real "mentalist."

InSites attendees will have their intuition tested; and they will be taught how to tap into their subconscious minds to enhance creativity and decision-making.

In addition to congratulating ARVC award winners at the conclusion of the convention on Friday night, ARVC will also honor and salute ARVC President and CEO, Linda Profaizer on her retirement. ARVC will recognize her efforts and achievements within the industry and salute her for her 10 years of service as ARVC. All attendees are welcome to attend this evening to help celebrate with the award winners and to honor Profaizer for her dedicated years of service.

Convention Kickoff

To kick off the convention and welcome the outdoor hospitality industry to Las Vegas, InSites 2010 attendees will receive an official welcome from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman at the Annual Meeting & Breakfast on Thursday (Dec. 2). Following his address, Jeff Sims, ARVC membership representative, will share his findings from his cross-country journey to spread goodwill and educate parks about the benefits of ARVC membership. Attendees will learn about the 38,000-mile trek that Sims and his wife, Susie, traveled and the 1,800 parks that they visited with along their journey.

The opportunity for Certified Park Operator (CPO) credits abound at InSites 2010. Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from over 19 seminars including the Industry Trends, a panel discussion on “Accommodations and Technology for the Future” featuring Mike Atkinson of Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and Eric Stumberg of TengoInternet. Other seminars range in topic from working with your family to expanding your food service, to dealing with employee theft and handling negative reviews about your park.

A few sample seminars are listed below:

  • Everyone understands the importance of having a plan for improving their business. But, how many people fail to plan because “other priorities and distractions get in the way?” “The Ultimate Business Improvement Plan for Those Too Busy to Plan: Seven Doable Actions You Can Take NOW to Improve Your Business Tomorrow,” presented by Clyde Taylor of Taylor Communications.
  • Ever wonder how other campgrounds use signage, decorate for holidays or keep their bathrooms sparkling? No need to travel across the country checking out other campgrounds. Simply sit back and enjoy seeing slides from numerous campgrounds (don’t worry, there aren’t 250 slides!). Get ideas on low cost, easy to implement ways to improve your park by seeing how other campgrounds operate. “What I Learned from Visiting 250 Campgrounds,” presented by Silvana Clark of Soles4Souls.

Keeping with tradition, the ARVC Foundation Auction will occur on Foundation Day, Thursday. The 501 (c3) organization raises funds and awareness to ensure the sustainability of the RV park and campground industry while providing education for campground owners and operators. The ARVC Foundation Auction is the largest annual fundraiser for this organization with proceeds from this event going to support education, research, and disaster recovery. This year, attendees are invited to “Hit the Jackpot” at the ARVC Foundation Luncheon on Thursday, where they will have the opportunity to bid on items in both the LIVE and silent auctions. NEW for 2010, the silent auction items will be available for last minute bids at the Opening Night of the Outdoor Hospitality Expo in the RIO Pavilion. The silent auction will close at 7pm.

The Outdoor Hospitality Expo opens Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. New for 2010, entrance into the expo is free to all attendees; this encourages more participation and more traffic for our InSites 2010 exhibiting companies. Of the 115 companies exhibiting, roughly 25 of those are new exhibitors. With a wide variety of exhibiting companies, the Outdoor Hospitality Expo is sure to have the latest products, services and technologies. Attendees will also want to check out the Park Model Pavilion, located just outside of the Miranda Patio to check out the latest park model units.

Plus, attendees visiting CAVCO Park Homes & Cabins and Chariot Eagle West Inc in the Park Model Pavilion will have a chance to win a ‘Trip to InSites 2011 in Savannah, Ga. The drawing will take place on Friday at 2:30 p.m. The expo closes that evening at 5.

To end the week and honor all of those parks and individuals who have given back to the industry, ARVC attendees will participate in the Winner’s Circle Awards Night on Friday. At this prestigious event, awards for CPO’s, Park of the Year, Website of the Year and the Stan Martin award are among a few of the awards given to those chosen recipients. New for 2010, Evergreen USA will honor the winning park of the RV Centennial Video Contest with a $5,000 cash prize suggested to be used toward “greening” their park.

InSites 2010 wraps up on Saturday following the conclusion of the Park Operators On Tour (POOT) at 5 p.m. The POOT Tour will visit four parks in the Las Vegas vicinity and is an opportunity for attendees to learn ideas from their fellow park owners. This fun-filled day of visiting parks via bus is hosted by industry veteran, Bob MacKinnon.

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ARVC President/CEO Profaizer Says Farewell

November 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Linda Profaizer

Linda Profaizer

Editor’s Note: Linda Profaizer, retiring president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), shared her parting comments in the ARVC Report, which was distributed Tuesday (Nov. 2) on the Internet. Those comments follow.

This is my last official message in the ARVC Report as President of ARVC. I can’t believe that 10 years has passed since I joined the association and have spent 40 years total working in this wonderful industry. The years have flown by and each year has been exciting and filled with new things – I can truly say never a dull moment!

I have met many great people over the years and can’t say enough about all of you park owners and managers. I really admire and respect you for your chosen avocation of owning/managing an RV park or campground. You wear many hats – I think at one time I counted 27. I learned this early on from so many of you in the industry. One of the best experiences I had over the years was working in a park and seeing first-hand what you go through on a daily basis. Of course it was like grandparents with grandchildren – at the end of the week, I got to go home!

I truly believe this industry is special – everyone is very sharing which is unusual in competitive businesses. You are the life blood of the RV industry. You provide the fun and the experience that RVers and campers have and ultimately help determine if they will stay in the lifestyle. You are that important link to the consumer.

If I’ve learned anything over these 40 years, it is that it’s constantly a challenge to stay on top of trends, to provide what your customer wants. I do know the fallacy in the theory “if you build it they will come.” Maybe that worked in the Iowa ball field, but not in reality. It takes lots of hard work and marketing. There are so many ways to market and you have to try them all to determine what works the best for you.

Ten years running this association is enough. It’s time to let new blood in and take the association to the next level. It has truly been a great experience. I’ve had wonderful chairmen and boards to work with and have learned so much.

Don’t be surprised if you see Tony and me traveling the highways and byways. I mentioned something about a fifth-wheel and he jumped on that, having wanted a diesel truck for many years. I’m “retiring” from association life, but certainly not from life. There’s a big world out there and a lot more to be done.

My very best wishes to all of you. We have a wonderful staff at ARVC and they continue to work hard on your behalf. Soon you will have a new president/CEO and I know that the ARVC board will choose the very best person for the job.

I hope to see many of you at the InSites Convention and Outdoor Hospitality Expo. Come for the learning, come to see current and new vendors, come for the sharing of information, come for the fun – but by all means come!

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ARVC Names Successor for Retiring Profaizer

November 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei, new ARVC president

Paul Bambei, new ARVC president

Paul Bambei, a marketing and business development expert and entrepreneur with a track record of success at some of the nation’s best-known companies, including Time Inc. and Comcast Corp., will be introduced at the upcoming InSites Convention & Expo as the new president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC).

“I am extremely excited to have Paul coming on board as our new president and CEO,” David L. Berg, CPO, ARVC’s chairman, stated in a news release. “Paul is a proven leader, and his vast knowledge and experience working in senior management positions for Fortune 100 companies together with his recent experience as a business owner and operator made him the unanimous choice of ARVC’s Personnel Committee.”

Bambei’s hiring, in fact, was also endorsed by nearly the entire ARVC Board of Directors, with 17 voting in favor and three abstentions. And while other candidates included one individual with hospitality industry experience and another with an association management background, Bambei’s extensive business experience, self-confidence and personable nature made him an easy choice, according to ARVC Personnel Committee members.

“Paul is from the private business sector and for me that’s a plus,” said Personnel Committee member Deb Carter, who serves as executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds as well as a representative of Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP).

“I represented CAMP at the interview and his first comment to us was, ‘You’re the group I can learn from,’” Carter said. “He was just very open and I found him to be extremely intelligent and he has a gentle way about him. He’s the perfect person to come in and work with everyone with a completely blank slate. But he also knows a great deal about ARVC. He can quote our bylaws, our mission statement. He is very familiar with GoCampingAmerica.com and demonstrated that he really wants to build ARVC as a hospitality brand. He also has a pure love of camping and RVing, which he does with his family.”

Personnel Committee member Patrick O’Neill of Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Fla., said Bambei is “the right fit” for ARVC. “He’s incredibly organized and financially diligent,” O’Neill said, adding, “We were looking for someone who was not just a connected insider, but somebody who could look at the association from the outside” and make recommendations to strengthen the organization.

“We also need somebody who can take the marketing side of the GCA website and turn it into everything it should be,” he said.

Marcia Galvin, another Personnel Committee member who also serves as executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners, is also convinced that Bambei is the right person to lead ARVC.

“Even though he doesn’t have the association background, he has more of the other qualifications that we feel ARVC needs at this time, including his diverse business experience, his managerial style, his adaptability to different situations, and really, his personality and demeanor. He is very self-assured and confident,” Galvin said, adding, “He clearly rose to the top of the crop.”

That viewpoint was also shared by ARVC Business Forum member Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group, who joined the Personnel Committee in interviewing Bambei and other candidates for the position of ARVC President and CEO. “I was impressed by the caliber of the finalists interviewed,” Elliott said. “The finalists scored very closely with the exception of Paul Bambei, who outperformed the field. He was the clear choice.”

Bambei, for his part, said he is eager to get started in his new role. “I’m looking forward to applying my consumer marketing expertise to the private businesses that make up ARVC’s membership with the goal of making them more profitable,” he said, adding that he plans to make campground marketing a major area of focus.

Bambei has a demonstrated track record of marketing and business management expertise. He recently co-founded Jookt LLC, the nation’s first high school sports network, and served as its COO for the past four years, during which time the company produced programs for broadcast television, cable and Internet distribution.

From 2004 to 2006, he worked as a key advisor to Luxembourg-based Intelsat, Ltd., the world’s largest provider of fixed satellites, and helped develop a programming, distribution and financial strategy for the company’s new digital video transmission business in the U.S.

Bambei 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, during which time he nearly tripled his division’s revenue, from $30 million to $80 million, while improving profitability from 30% to 45%. He also managed and improved Comcast’s relationships with over 100 vendors and 300 affiliates.

From 1984 to 1999, Bambei was vice president of operations and marketing for Denver-based Rifkin and Associates, which under Bambei’s stewardship had grown to become the 20th largest cable company in the U.S., with 600 employees and operations in 13 states and 200 communities.

Bambei initially honed his marketing skills while working as director of marketing for Time, Inc. from 1977 to 1983, during which time he successfully launched new products that accounted for 40 percent of the company’s revenue.

Bambei holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Southeast Missouri State University in addition to completing the Advanced Business Management Program at the Denver University Center for Management Development.

Bambei is also active with several community organizations, having served as a volunteer mentor for Save Our Youth and a coach for Arapahoe Youth League Baseball. He also served as a board member of the Colorado Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Berg said Bambei will start training for his new position Dec. 1 so that outgoing President and CEO Profaizer can have ample time to brief him on the details of her position before she retires at the end of December. He will also attend ARVC’s InSites Convention & Expo, which is slated for Dec. 1 to 3 in Las Vegas.

Profaizer has served as ARVC’s president and CEO for the past 10 years and has spent 40 years in the campground business. Prior to joining ARVC in 2001, Profaizer served nearly 30 years in management positions with Woodall’s Publications Corp., ultimately becoming the company’s president.

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Virginia Parks Bid Farewell to ARVC President

November 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Retiring ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer receives a warm farewell from Virginia Campground Association officials (from left), Karl Littman, VCA president; ARVC board member Steve Albrecht; and David Gorin, VCA executive director.

Retiring ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer receives a warm farewell from Virginia Campground Association officials (from left), Karl Littman, VCA president; ARVC board member Steve Albrecht; and David Gorin, VCA executive director.

The board and members of the Virginia Campground Association (VCA) have voted to accept individual Virginia state parks as full members of VCA and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).VCA logo

Meeting at the 2010 Annual Fall Convention & Trade Show at American Heritage RV Park in Williamsburg, Oct. 18-20, the members decided that the association would no longer accept advertising in the Virginia Campground Directory from non-members and therefore the state parks could join the association as regular members and be accorded all of the rights, privileges and benefits of membership including listings in the directory and advertising, according to a news release.

In recent years, the Virginia State Parks Department purchased a full page ad listing all of the state parks with campground accommodations and also had icons on the state map in the directory denoting their locations.

“The VCA board and members at the meeting felt that state parks are marketing their facilities in the same manner as the private sector and the state parks are not going away, so it’s best that the private campground industry embrace them, learn from them and benefit from having them in the industry,” said David Gorin, executive director of VCA.

The association presented the new plan to State Park Director of Marketing Tom Cervanek and while he could not speak for the State Park Department, he seemed to embrace the concept of full membership, Gorin stated.

There were 20 campgrounds in attendance and 15 exhibitors. The conference focused on the educational seminars on the topic “Park Marketing for the 21st Century” and was highlighted by three seminars by Blake Ashdown, a longtime RV park entrepreneur and President of Sure Vista Solutions, a technology-based marketing company that specializes in measuring guest satisfaction and incorporating the findings into action plans for business improvement.

A marketing panel described three of the newest marketing techniques. Carol Rust of Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, Luray, Va., described her park’s experience with Groupon, an Internet marketing tool that is designed to attract new customers through limited deep discounting and the broad reach of the internet. Alan Kobran, president of Illumenetics, described his company’s customer relations management system (CRM), a technology solution for tracking and communicating with customers. And special guest Mary Arlington of High Plains Camping in Oakley, Kan., talked about how she turned a small campground into a profitable business through focusing marketing efforts in social media.

In a moving ceremony at the convention’s Monday night dinner, VCA President Karl Littman, Candy Hill Campground, Winchester, and ARVC Board Member Steve Albrecht of Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA, Staunton, paid tribute to Linda Profaizer, retiring president and CEO of ARVC. The association presented her with a special gift in recognition of her 40 years of leadership in the campground industry with Woodalls and then with ARVC.

VCA also bid farewell to Skip and Judy Deegans of Anderson’s Brochure Distribution Service on their retirement, while welcoming Joe Tice, the new owner of Anderson’s.

The small but powerful group of members attending the meeting supported the association by purchasing over $4,000 worth of merchandise at the annual auction.

Karl Littman was elected to his fourth one-year term as VCA president. Other officers elected were Vice President Ray Barker (Tall Pines Harbor, Sanford), Treasurer Bill Rhoads (American Heritage, Williamsburg), Secretary Kristina Crall (Grey’s Point Camp, Urbanna) and Board Chairman Steve Albrecht.

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Virtual Trade Expos Growing in Popularity

October 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Art Lieberman, producer of Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo

Art Lieberman, producer of Nov. 1-3 Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo

Editor’s Note: The following story was provided by veteran writer Evanne Schmarder.

Celebrity Cruises did. Comdex is making a comeback with it. Detroit is getting a piece of it. Even the outdoor hospitality industry is on top of it.

Virtual Expos – offered independently or in conjunction with live shows – expand upon technology some of us have become comfortable with such as webinars and online chats while delivering a very budget-friendly, productive trade show experience for attendees and exhibitors alike.

For the uninitiated, a virtual trade show is exactly what it sounds like – a trade show in a box – your computer.

Attend one and – believe it or not — you’ll be able to sit in on seminars and panel discussions and ask questions, visit vendor booths, chat with reps and collect printed collateral via downloads and, depending on the show’s software, even find yourself “bumping into” peers and prospects in the virtual hallways.

Prized for their cost-effectiveness, drawing power and ease of attendance, virtual expos are big and getting bigger. “The virtual conference and trade show market has more than doubled in a year from 2008 to 2009 and we expect a compound annual growth rate of 56% through 2015,”market analysts at Market Research Media report.

In fact, by 2015 they forecast the virtual expo market to be an $18.6 billion industry.

Now are these events simply drastic measures in tough times?

Depends on how you look at it. Most convention and event planners will tell you that attendance figures at conventional shows are down – way down in some cases. Between the cost of travel, lodging, meals and registration, business owners are examining the benefits of the expense – all of which brings us to the upcoming, Nov. 1-3 Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo, produced for the first time this year by Art Lieberman, president on a full-time basis for credit card company MCPS for Campgrounds.

“There’s almost nothing like pressing flesh at live shows,” says Lieberman, “because the social aspect is very important in order to generate relationships. This certainly won’t be replaced by virtual expos – even in 3D – but instead will complement live shows.

“We are attending several live shows this year, including ARVC (National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds) InSites,” he added. “On the other hand, as a supplier it is a very cost-effective method of working with a number of customers all across the country. Additionally, in my experience as a show producer, top-rated speakers are expensive. By conducting a virtual show, our speakers have no travel time or expense and can share their wisdom from the comfort of their own homes or offices.”

While the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) is considering its first such event yet this year, Lieberman, based in New Berlin, Pa., has forged ahead with its inaugural Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. (EST), Nov. 1-3. Attendees may visit booths 24 hours a day – even during the unmanned hours – for free. And the entire event – from seminars to booth visits – will be available to view online for 90 days after the close of the “live” expo.

“Virtual expos have great potential and we are pleased this is being tried in our industry. ARVC continues to look into this possibility and is eager to see the technology advance,” remarked ARVC president and CEO Linda Profaizer.

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo will include RV parks and campgrounds, marinas, golf resorts, and other outdoor hospitality industries, with both exhibitors and attendees participating.

“With 16 hours of show time we anticipate running eight to 12 seminars including a keynote by Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and Steve Ashkin, president, Ashkin Consulting LLC and founder/executive director of Green Cleaning Network,” noted Lieberman.

He added that the Expo will host over 60 exhibitors ranging from technology providers to recreational product suppliers, state associations and more.

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo registration is now open and attendance is free. Interested parties are encouraged to pre-register at www.pre-show.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Once registration is complete, attendees will be able to login to the live show on Nov. 1 and take advantage of all the benefits of virtual attendance.

In order to participate, attendees will need:

  • High-speed broadband Internet access.
  • Adobe Flash. If you do not have Flash, there will be an option to upload the free program.
  • Internet Explorer 7 and above or Firefox 3.0 and above. Mac users can log in on Safari.
  • Audio. Speakers must be turned on or plugged in to hear the seminars and other audio.

Pop-up blockers must be turned off in order for the show to load and run properly.

So, whether you are an industry executive, a member of an affiliated industry, a park buyer or simply curious about how this “virtual event” works, mark your calendar and make your way to the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo show floor.

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ARVC Looks to Las Vegas Convention Dec. 1-3

September 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Insies Logo (for web)This year’s InSites Convention & Expo includes nearly 20 educational seminars led by the most experienced people in the campground business, according to a news release from the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC).

The three-day event, which takes place Dec. 1-3 at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, will also feature the campground industry’s largest tradeshow, with several new vendors who have never marketed their products and services at InSites before.

“This is going to be one of the best conventions we’ve ever had,” said Linda Profaizer, ARVC’s president and CEO. “We have a terrific lineup of speakers and tradeshow vendors.”

The convention will also include important industry updates, including highlights from ARVC’s 2010 media relations campaign and its 2010 Operations and Salary Survey of Park Operators, as well as an entertaining keynote address by Jon Stetson, who will lead an interactive session to show park operators how to tap into their subconscious minds to enhance their creativity and decision-making abilities. Stetson has been invited to speak to many high-profile companies, including 3M Corp., AT & T, American Express, the New England Patriots, Pepperidge Farms, Proctor & Gamble, The Harford, Footlocker, Genetech. He has also been asked to speak to several U.S. presidents.

Seminar topics include:

  • How To Get More Publicity For Your Park: Park owners have three choices when it comes to publicity,” says Jeff Crider of Crider Public Relations Inc. “You can develop and pitch your own news releases to reporters. You can hire a public relations firm to do promotional work on your behalf. Or you can communicate with me and participate in ARVC’s media relations program.” Crider will describe how the news media operates and provide tips to park operators on the kinds of information they should provide to him to get the most out of ARVC’s media outreach program in 2011.
  • Growing Green: Barb Krumm, CPO, of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C,. will describe how Oceans Lakes implemented its award winning “iCare Program,” which encourages both its team members and guests to be good stewards of the environment. The session includes a discussion of planning, challenges and results.
  • What I Learned From Visiting 250 Campgrounds: Silvana Clark of Soles4Souls has visited parks across the country and will share slides and ideas on low-cost, easy-to-implement ways to improve your park by seeing how other parks operate.
  • More Brain Than Brawn: Let’s face it. Many guests don’t want to participate in three-legged races or lunge down a chocolate covered slip-and-slide. Silvana Clark of Soles4Souls describes a variety of fun family activities that can be done relaxing in a lawn chair rather than dodging water balloons.
  • Biting The Hand That Feeds: Understanding and Preventing Employee Theft and Other Theft: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75% of employees steal from their workplaces and that most do so repeatedly. The FBI, in fact, calls employee theft the fastest growing crime in America. Terrence Shulman, an attorney, therapist and consultant from the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft and Spending is an expert on stealing and dishonesty. Come hear his talk and learn how to protect yourself and your business.
  • How to Get “Free” Stuff For Your Campground: Clyde Taylor of Taylor Communications will walk park operators through a program to help your park obtain “free goods and services” for your campers. But “free” does have price. You have to know whom to ask, how to ask and what should be provided by your organization in return.
  • The Dynamics of Working With Your Family: Marcia Galvin, CPO, of Normandy Farms Campground in Foxboro, Mass,. will provide 10 hot tips to help your family work together and “keep the peace” in the family business.
  • The Ultimate Business Improvement Plan for Those Who Are Too Busy To Plan: Seven Doable Actions You Can Take NOW To Improve Your Business Tomorrow: Clyde Taylor of Taylor Communications explains how to start making a plan and make it work for you.
  • 20 Groups and the Campground Management School: Mark Maciha, CPO, and the upcoming chairman of the Campground Management School, will explain how private park operators can use the input from 20 Group members to fine tune and grow their businesses.
  • Accounting Fundamentals for the Campground Owner: Donald G. Bennett Jr., CPA and executive director of Campground Owners of New York, will discuss accounting fundamentals from deductions to credits as well as techniques and tools that can help you make each business decision pay off on the job and on your bottom line, while keeping you out of trouble.
  • ARVC’s 2010 Operations Survey/Salary Results: Cheryl Cothran and Thomas Combrink of Northern Arizona University will explain the results of the survey, what it says about the current state of the industry, and how you can use this information to improve your business moving forward.
  • Human Resources – Know The Rules!: Kelly Jones, CPO, of Leisure Systems Inc. will discuss campground specific human resource rules and procedures as they relate to job descriptions, interview questions and the handling of personnel files. Kelly will also discuss the various resources that are available to park operators on this topic.
  • How To Get The Bang For Your Buck With Ancillary Income: Cheryl Smith, CPO, of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Lake Monroe, Ind., will help park operators explore every possible source of ancillary income, not only inside your park, but from your community and your website.
  • Food Service: Vicki and Garry Cole, CPOs, from the KOA in Shelby, Ohio, will talk about how to develop an effective food service program at your park.
  • The Model Code and National Issues Affecting The RV Park and Campground Industry: Michael Hobby, CPO, of Moon Landing RV Park and Marina in South Carolina will discuss what ARVC’s National Model Code is, the intent behind it and how it applies to your park. This is a must-attend class for every park owner or manager involved with code compliance issues. The National Issues portion of this session will be presented by ARVC’s legislative affairs consultants, David Gorin and Aubrey King, who will provide updates on federal issues of interest to park operators in the areas of public lands, recreation, travel, tourism, transportation and small business operations.
  • Campground Emergency Preparedness – The Right Way: Mark Maciha, CPRP, CPO, of Canyon Vista Training and Consulting in Arizona will help you develop a common sense approach for emergency planning for everything from minor first aid calls to large-scale incidents.
  • Top Campground Industry Trends: Rental Cabins and Wi-Fi Service: Mike Atkinson, Kampground America’s (KOA) director of lodging, and Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, will discuss the latest trends involving private park operators’ investments in rental accommodations and Wi-Fi service.

New exhibitors include:

  • American Bedding Manufacturers, Athens, Tenn.: This company provides mattresses, replacement waterproof mattress covers, wood and metal bunk beds and furniture, army and metal folding cots, blankets, pillows and linens.
  • Celina Tent Inc., Celina, Ohio: This company manufactures tents, tarps and banners in addition to distributing tables, chairs, lighting, flooring and climate control systems.
  • Park Brokerage Inc., San Diego, Calif.: This company, headed by John Grant, specializes in RV park, campground and manufactured housing community sales throughout California, Arizona and Nevada.
  • Puzzled Inc., Agoura Hills, Calif.: This company supplies folding cots, blankets, pillows and linens and has an online catalog.
  • Storm Duds Raingear, Attleboro, Mass.: This company provides quality printed umbrellas and ponchos.
  • Tents for Troops, Castle Rock, Wash.: This organization encourages campground and RV park operators to provide free or discounted camping opportunities to active duty military personnel.
  • Tradavo Inc. of Lakewood, Colo.: This company provides distribution and retail services to small format retailers such as campgrounds, parks and hotels with retail stores.
  • Xcell International Corp., Lemont, Ill.: This company provides a variety of specialty foods, including coffees, bread dipping seasonings, spices, pizza kits, popcorn kits, cookie kits and various desserts.

The expo will feature a Park Trailer Pavilion, featuring park models manufactured by members of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).

ARVC’s annual awards banquet will take place on the night of Dec. 3 and will include a special tribute to Linda Profaizer who will be retiring from ARVC at the end of this year. For a full schedule of events, visit ARVC’s website at www.arvc.org.

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ARVC: U.S. Campground Business Stable

September 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC logoYear-to-date occupancies and revenues at campgrounds, RV parks and resorts through Labor Day weekend were generally consistent with last year’s figures, according to a news release from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

“Private park operators are generally pleased with their performance this year,” said Linda Profaizer, ARVC president and CEO.

She added that parks that have invested in rental accommodations, such as park model cabins and cottages, have done particularly well.

The biggest exception, however, were parks along the Gulf Coast, many of which lost considerable summer business as a result of the BP oil spill and related media coverage.

Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with roughly 475 parks, said its year-to-date occupancies through Labor Day weekend were down 0.7%, while revenues rose 2.7%, according to Mike Gast, KOA’s vice president of communications.

KOA logoThe slight occupancy decline was largely due to weaker business levels last winter, while summer occupancies actually outpaced last summer’s figures by 2.5%, Gast said. He added that revenues for the company’s park model cabins and cottages, which KOA markets as “Kamping Lodges,” were up 27% over last year’s figures, which reflects both rising consumer demand for rental accommodations in campgrounds as well as a larger rental inventory.

Indeed, KOA and other campground chains have increasingly invested in park model cabins and other rental accommodations in recent years.

Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, saw its year-to-date occupancies through August increase by 4%, while revenues grew by 3%, said company Vice President Dean Crawford. Demand for cabins and park models, however, grew by 13%, also reflecting increased demand and an increased inventory of units, he said.Yogi 40th logo

Meanwhile, Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), a Chicago-based Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) whose holdings include RV parks and resorts, said occupancies and revenues for its core RV properties were up 2.3% and 3.1%, respectively, through July, according to Ellen Kelleher, ELS’s executive vice president of property management.

ELS logo (simple)Kelleher added that while occupancies for transient or traveling RVers fell by 3.3% during the period, revenues were up 3.3%. ELS also reported gains in seasonal and annual customers, up 15.3% and 2.1%, respectively, while revenues increased by 3.9% and 4.9%. The annual figures include occupancies and revenues from consumers who own park models at ELS parks, Kelleher said.

ELS also reported an 8.5% decline in park model rental occupancies through July, but this was because the company wound up selling many of its units to consumers who wanted to stay for extended periods of time at ELS resorts.

Across the country, several park operators and industry officials reported an exceptional summer camping season.

“We are showing an increase of 6% in business for 2010. This is our actual increase in site nights after subtracting for our annual rate increases,” said David L. Berg, who owns Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, in addition to serving as ARVC chairman.

Berg, whose park is affiliated with the Best Parks in America network, attributed much of the increase at his park to an unusually hot and dry summer in Maine. Berg also said many campers are taking more frequent trips, but for shorter periods of time. “I find folks making reservations at the last minute, or trying to get in when we often are sold out. Also they are not staying for week-long stays, but rather doing three- and four-day mini vacations and are getting away more often.”

Berg also said he has seen a large influx of tent campers this year, which he attributes to the economy. “I feel this is a win-win situation for all,” Berg said. “Customers get a reasonable priced vacation and we as an industry get new customers, who if they get the experience they are looking for, they will upgrade in time to a popup or RV of some sort down the road. This is an example of finding the silver lining in the tough times we are all in economically.”

But tent camping is also influenced by weather patterns.

KOA, for example, saw tent camping decline by 1.3% at its parks nationwide, Gast said. “Weather nationwide is probably the primary driver of that,” he said. “Inventory (tent sites) has been relatively stable for years.”

Other parks also saw significant business gains this year, including Misty River Cabins & RV Resort LLC, a Best Parks in America affiliate in Walland, Tenn., which saw its year-to-date business grow by 17%, according to park owner Jimmy Felton.

Castaways RV Resort and Campground in Berlin, Md. also saw double-digit growth during the summer season, with a 4% increase in business year-to-date, according to Kathleen Morris, the park’s general manager. Morris attributed the increased business in part to the warm dry summer on the East Coast.

Meanwhile, Crossroads RV Park in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, saw a 19% increase in year-to-date occupancies, said park owner Jeff Krug, who also serves as president of the Iowa Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Krug attributed the increase in part to the relative newness of his three-year-old overnight park, which more and more campers are discovering.

In California, Ron and Sheryl Culp of Green Acres RV Park in Redding said their year-to-date business was down 2.7% from last year, although their summer business was up 4.3% from a year ago.

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Unopposed Pair Seek ARVC Board Seats

August 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Patricia Edgecomb, Maine

Patricia Edgecomb, Maine

Larry Helms, Missouri

Larry Helms, Missouri

Two campground owners are running unopposed for election to the board of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

The pair are Patricia Edgecomb, owner/operator of Walnut Grove Campground, Alfred, Maine, and Larry Helms, owner/operator of  Boiling Spring Campground, Dixon, Mo.

Each year, at the annual InSites Convention, ARVC members of voting areas with open board of director seats are given the opportunity to vote for their national leaders to the ARVC board.

This election cycle offers the opportunity for members in Voting Area 1 in the Northeast, which comprises the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, and Voting Area 5, which includes the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisianna, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas, to elect a peer to represent them on the national level. Both seats this election cycle are “open” seats.

Edgecomb is running for her first three-year term in Voting Area 1. She has been involved in the camping industry for 34-plus years. In response to a questionnaire, asking about the most pressing issue facing the campground industry, she relied, “The recession I believe is our biggest issue followed by government regulations. It is a struggle for the small business owner trying to make ends meet in this economy.”

Helms  is also running for his first three-year term. In 1991 Helms and his wife purchased 80 acres on the Gasconade River and developed a 50-site destination RV park and campground. He believes there are several issues facing the industry today, including looming federal tax increases, an economy in deep recession impacting families across our nation, U.S. unemployment rate of 9.5%, current federal deficit of over $1 trillion, increased local, state and national governmental restriction on RV parks and campgrounds, the need for ARVC to continue to be the industry leader promoting the camping industry as a “Best Value” in a very challenging economic market and increased competition from state and national park systems.

Voting will take place at this year’s InSites Convention and Expo on Dec. 1. Any ARVC member that is unable to vote in person may make their voice heard by voting absentee. An “Official Request for Absentee Ballot” form is available at www.arvc.org. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is Nov. 4. All completed absentee ballots must be received at ARVC no later than Nov. 15.

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