The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of top private park operators, state associations and industry volunteers during its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo last week in Las Vegas.
According to a press release, “Park of the Year” awards were given to RV parks and resorts based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service. Winners included:
• Small Park of the Year: The Vineyards Campground & Cabins in Grapevine, Texas.
• Medium Park of the Year: Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in Mission, Texas.
• Large Park of the Year: Holly Shores Camping Resort in Cape May, N.J.
• Mega Park of the Year: Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna, Va.
Parks that made exemplary efforts to become environmentally friendly received ARVC’s “Plan-It-Green” award. The winners included:
• A tie in the small/medium park category between River’s End Campground & RV Park in Tybee Island, Ga. and Cypress Camping Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
• Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla. received the award in the mega-park category.
Marketing awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. Marketing award recipients included:
• Medium State Association category: Missouri Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.
• Large State Association category: Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
Top-performing state campground association executives were also recognized, including:
• State Executive Director of the Year: Bobby Cornwell from the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
• State President of the Year: Jimmy Felton from the Tennessee Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
Mark Anderson of Camp Chautauqua Camping Resort in Stow, N.Y., received The Stan Martin Memorial Award, which recognizes RV park and resort operators who serve as role models for their peers in the industry through their exceptional volunteerism.
Herb Strauss of Papoose Pond Resort & Campground in Waterford, Maine received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes campground industry pioneers.
The Supplier of the Year award was given to Lucas Hartford of Lewiston, Maine-based Evergreen USA, a leading provider of campground insurance since 1989.
Donald Bennett Jr., president and CEO of Campground Owners of New York (CONY), reports the association held a successful and informative 49th annual Exposition for the Outdoor Hospitality Industry. The event was held Nov. 1-3 at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark in Queensbury, N.Y.
According to a press release, attendees represented 65 campgrounds from across New York State, with several being first-time attendees as new park operators or representing parks in development.
According to Bennett in a CONY news release, the exposition, which also featured a trade show, was jammed with many timely educational seminars and presentations. “We really covered a lot of ground in terms of topics of interest to CONY park owners, managers and staff, ranging from CPR certification to campground accounting, to tips on influencing legislators,” notes Bennett. “Some sessions were so engaging for our members, they ran over time with questions from attendees.”
One of the most highly anticipated and informative events was a general session given by Bill Botten of the U.S. Access Board, regarding the Architectural Barriers Act and Accessibilities Guidelines, as advocated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
CONY also unveiled a new session entitled, “CONY 101.” Bennett and CONY board chairman Mike Papp introduced to new, prospective and long-term members to everything they need to know about interacting with CONY and getting the most out of their membership. Topics included organization history, structure and mission, as well as CONY’s services and benefits programs and marketing opportunities.
In addition, the slate of officers and directors for the 2012-2013 year were elected and sworn in during the annual membership meeting on Nov. 3. Gregg Nicholls of Lake Bluff Campground moves up from third vice chairman to second vice chairman. Rob Kaiser of Medina/Wildwood Lake KOA moves up from Region 2 director to third vice chairman. Nina Latello of Sleepy Hollow Lake Campground takes over as Region 2 director.
Laurie Bulluck of Rainbow Shows Campsites & Motel steps down from her position as second vice chairwoman on the CONY board of directors.
Honored during the awards banquet were:
- Janine Paddock, Deer River Campsites: Janine was the 15th member inducted into the CONY Hall of Fame.
- Laurie Bulluck, Rainbow Shores Campsites & Motel: Recipient of the Chairman’s Award for dedicated service to CONY and its mission.
- Matt Anderson, Camp Chautauqua: Honored for his leadership in organizing the Camp Good Days fundraiser, and for his campground’s efforts to raise $11,400 for the charity.
- Copake KOA: CONY marketing award winner for best website design.
- Lake George RV Park: CONY marketing award for best simple brochure.
- Rainbow Shows Campsites & Motel: CONY marketing award for best mailer piece.
- New York State Senator Elizabeth “Betty” Little: Recognized with a plaque for her friendship and championship of the outdoor hospitality industry in her role as a legislator. Senator Little is chairperson of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation committee for the NYS Senate.
Paul Bambei made some persuasive arguments during his presentation at the Twin States Campground Conference on why campground owners in Vermont and New Hampshire should join the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
But, according to a Woodall’s Campground Management report, how many owners decide to join the national association after the ARVC CEO spoke to about three dozen of them on Nov. 10 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vt., remains to be seen.
“He gave a very strong sales pitch for the benefits of ARVC membership,” said Peter Daniels, executive director of the Vermont Campground Association (VCA). “He gave a lot of examples of large discounts for ARVC members. The music licensing was the biggest.”
As he has done at various state and industry meetings this fall, Bambei told his audience that ARVC is creating unprecedented exclusive value for its members. For example, its new music-licensing program that covers the three major licensors (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC) provides enough savings to offset the cost of ARVC dues next year, Bambei noted.
For parks with less than 50 sites, the annual license savings will total $686. For parks with 50 to 200 sites, the annual savings will total $871. For parks with 201 to 400 sites, the savings will total $973 and for parks with 401 or more sites, the savings will be $1,165.
The deadline to realize these savings for the 2013 season is Nov. 30.
“Several of the newer members indicated that is something they should look into,” Daniels continued, while not offering hard numbers on how many might join the national association.
To read the entire article click here.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has negotiated deals with American Society of Asset Protection (ASAP), Ecolab Inc., Moen Inc. and RVBackgroundChecks.com. Each offers substantial product and service discounts to ARVC members and is available immediately.
“We continue to add value for our members and these past few months have really shown it, especially with our selection of member benefit providers,” said Barb Youmans, ARVC membership director, adding that 2012 has been one of the most successful years for member benefit provider growth.
The substantial savings include 20% off a flat fee from ASAP, approximately 41% average savings on Ecolab products and similar savings with Moen products. RVBackgroundchecks.com will offer members special prices on a variety of services and offers a complimentary background check to all ARVC members.
ASAP can help ARVC members structure their businesses for lawsuit protection and prevention, while also reducing liability insurance costs, minimizing taxes and creating estate and business succession plans.
Ecolab is a global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services to an array of markets, including the hospitality industry. It will offer ARVC members special prices on 30-plus products.
A leading manufacturer of faucets, Moen becomes the first ARVC member benefit provider in the plumbing services and supplies category and offers its discount on all Moen faucets.
Finally, RVBackgroundChecks.com becomes the second member benefit provider in the staffing, recruiting and training category. Services offered for special prices include access to a national criminal database, statewide databases, county court criminal searches, credit reports, employee verifications and drug screens.
To find out more information about each member benefit provider, visit www.arvc.org, sign in, and go to the Member Benefit Providers section. There, visitors will have access to the company’s contact information and a listing of the specific products that qualify for the special ARVC member discounts.
Three of the four new member benefit providers will be present at the upcoming 2012 ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE), including Moen, ASAP and Ecolab. This year’s conference will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Despite omnipresent forest fires in the West that rousted countless campers, record drought across much of the U.S. that dried up recreational lakes, ponds and rivers and a late-summer hurricane in the Gulf, the summer camping season that limped along in many areas seemed to finish on a positive note.
That’s one take on how business is evolving, based on reports gathered by Woodall’s Campground Management.
The two biggest names in camping, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, each reported seasonal upturns.
Advanced reservations for the 2012 Labor Day Weekend holiday were about 2.5% ahead of the same period in 2011 according to KOA, the world’s largest system of family-oriented campgrounds.
In fact, KOA was running more than 2% ahead of 2011 year-to-date in the number of short-term camper nights in the system as the summer ended.
Even with the unusual camping patterns caused by a Wednesday, July 4 holiday, we continue to have a very strong summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Campers continue to show their love for our Deluxe Camping Cabins, which were up nearly 17 percent in camper nights last week alone. Our campground owners continue to add Deluxe Cabins and other amenities to their inventories, and that is exactly what our campers are looking for.”
KOA’s advanced reservations for the rest of the summer were still running more than 5.5% ahead of the same period in 2011.
Overall, on a same-campground basis, revenues are up about 4.5% over 2011, he said.
Meanwhile, at LSI, same-park revenue was up a little over 9% through the end of August compared to the same time last year, reported Rob Schutter Jr., LSI president and COO. Occupancy was up around 4%.
Like at KOA, “rental units continued to be the main driving force behind the increased occupancies at the parks,” Schutter said, showing a 12% increase in park model lodge and cabin occupancies over last year.
Parks that offer RV rentals, typically travel trailers, reported a whopping 80% increase over a year ago, he added.
To read the entire article in Woodall’s Campground Management click here.
Best Parks in America announced the addition of four new affiliated resorts situated in “strategic locations” across the U.S., according to a press release.
The new affiliates are Elite Resorts at Citrus Valley, Orlando, Fla.; Strawberry Park, Preston, Conn.; Far Horizons 49er Village in Plymouth, Calif., and Far Horizons Tucson Village RV Resort in Tucson, Ariz.
“Four parks in four corners of the U.S. are terrific,” said David Gorin, Best Parks founder and president. “Best Parks in America is thrilled to add a park in one of the nation’s leading tourist towns, Orlando, Fla. Adding first Best Park affiliates in Connecticut and northern California and a new park in Tucson is a giant step forward for the Best Parks network.”
He added, “We hope these new Best Parks will catch the attention of park owners in other key markets and that this is the vanguard of a wave of new network affiliates in key destination areas.”
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has just completed a major overhaul of GoCampingAmerica.com to “help consumers easily find campgrounds and RV parks around their destinations,” according to a press release.
With its newly enhanced search function, consumers can now choose from over 90-plus campground features along with a location-based search. GoCampingAmerica.com also features photos, videos and online campground reviews by other consumers, allowing travelers to get a feel for campgrounds of interest before making reservations.
“Privately owned and operated campgrounds are more likely to offer park model cabins, yurts and other rental units to accommodate people who don’t have an RV and don’t want to sleep in a tent,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of ARVC. “We want people to know that there are other options out there and we’re making it easier to find them.”
Bambei added that while state and national parks are popular locations for camping, privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts usually offer more amenities and services, such as Wi-Fi and cable television service, as well as bigger campsites, swimming pools, game rooms and other recreation facilities. Many privately owned campgrounds also offer organized family activities and special events.
ARVC recently launched an Internet marketing campaign to promote GoCampingAmerica.com through the Frommer’s travel website as well as Travora, which operates travel information websites across the U.S. and overseas.
“We’re trying to raise the profile of GoCampingAmerica.com and let people know that there are literally thousands of campgrounds across the country that are eager for their business,” Bambei said.
How public agencies can keep parks and campgrounds open through private recreation management partnerships is the focus of a day-long conference on Nov. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The event is being planned by Warren Meyer, the president of National Forest Recreation Association. It takes place from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort.
The day-long conference is being held in conjunction with the association’s 63rd Annual Conference and Trade Show, which will be held in Scottsdale Nov. 2-4.
“For 30 years, the U.S. Forest Service has seen radically declining recreation budgets, with far greater reductions than places like California is facing, but has not had to close parks and has kept most of their recreation areas well-maintained,” Meyer stated in a news release. “Their innovation was to take advantage of the substantially lower costs of private operators to run their campgrounds and picnic areas.
“For the last couple of years, it has frustrated me to no end to watch states like California and Arizona — really almost every state in the country — let some parks accumulate deferred maintenance while other are closed when it simply is not necessary,” he added.
Topics to be discussed include:
• History of recreation public-private partnerships (PPP), including current examples of parks participants may contact or visit.
• Case studies from the U.S. Forest Service, the world’s largest user of recreation PPPs.
• Advantages of recreation PPPs, and pitfalls to be avoided.
• Typical division of responsibilities between the public and private partners in these contracts.
• Best practice contract structure and contracting process.
• Supporting legislation and relationships between agencies.
• Warren Meyer, president of the National Forest Recreation Association, the trade group of private park operators in the U.S. Forest Service. He is also CEO of Recreation Resource Management, one of the largest private park management companies in the country, and the proprietor of ParkPrivatization.com, the leading online journal of Recreation PPP news and issues.
• Len Gilroy, director of government reform at Reason Foundation where he is a certified urban planner who researches privatization, government reform, transportation, infrastructure and urban policy issues. Gilroy is the editor of the world’s most respected newsletter on privatization, Privatization Watch, and is the editor of the widely read Annual Privatization Report.
Due to generous donations from sponsors, the cost to participate in the conference is $100 per person, but public officials and agency employees may attend for free. Click here to learn more about the entire conference.
For more information, call Meyer at (602) 569-2333 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a position statement by National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) President Paul Bambei on the acceptance of public parks as non-voting members.
The purpose of this email is to clarify ARVC’s position on its acceptance of public parks as non-voting members.
During a Special Called Board meeting that took place on 6/7/11, permission was granted to pursue a marketing campaign targeted at all non member parks.
The motion that was approved, as excerpted from the minutes of this 6/7 Board meeting that was shared with all BOD members afterwards, read as follows: “5. Request Board approval for remainder of monies from VA building sale (after $300k investment sic,PB) to be allocated with Excom approval for two- phase direct mail membership drive: 1. In states with no formal campground membership organization; 2. Will also work with existing state partnerships on a second direct mail piece to increase memberships in affiliated states and co-operating states or in non affiliated states that may have a formal campground membership organization.
A motion was made to approve the remainder of the monies from the VA building sale to be used as operational funds for the association for 2011. It was seconded and passed.”
In essence, permission was granted to market to all non member parks. There was no distinction between publics and privates, because ARVC Bylaws have for many years welcomed public parks, ie Under Section 2, Subsection D. Non Voting Membership: “Public Sector Member shall be a public agency operating a campground, RV park or cabin facility on the federal, state or local level.”
This was further reinforced in a 1994 Memorandum of Agreement (to see the agreement click here) between ARVC and the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), the same organization we engaged with this past summer when they wanted to take part in the non member free trial. Clearly, the former Chairman of ARVC, Conrad Dumke from Florida, understood the importance of collaboration over dissention back in 1994 and acted to solidify the two organizations.
Given all the above, ARVC has a bound duty to accept public parks as non voting members and for the good of the camping consumer, wants to live by the principles established in that MOA written 17 years ago, the ARVC bylaws, and the Board approval granted 6/7/11.
Today, there are several states enjoying the fruits of collaboration. California, Colorado, Maine, Virginia, and Maryland are among them. Just this past weekend, Mari Garland, co-President of the Colorado Association (CCLOA) and owner of Junction West Campground, enjoyed wonderful overflow business referred by her nearby state parks during a huge wine festival in her home city of Grand Junction, CO, because she decided to work with, not against, the public parks in her state.
However, we know 50 years of poor relations in other states might take time to heal and doesn’t happen overnight, if ever. For this reason, we have stated over and over, if your state chooses not to collaborate with public parks, we at ARVC will respect that wish. We will not interfere by inviting public parks as direct members if you are an Affiliated State and do not wish to accept publics, and we will stay out of your business on this sensitive issue. To date, we have received such requests from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, New York, and Florida. If you wish to be added to this list, please let us know and we will respect your decision totally.
I hope this clarifies ARVC’s long-standing position. Regardless of your state’s provincial position, what matters most is that we continue to have clear and positive communication on this, and all issues facing our industry.
I look forward to a continued working relationship, communicating always, so that our industry and our Association moves forward for the benefit of all its members.
And now, a final word from ARVC Chairman, David L. Berg:
The private park just up the street that belongs to your state association and/or ARVC is also in direct competition with you, yet there are no issues of them paying dues to your state or national association. Why? Because we are all in the same business, camping. Some private parks have lots of amenities, and some have few, but there is a customer for every type of park. Because you do what you have to do to make your park the very best it can be, and advertise wisely and promote camping and your park. Your goal is filling your sites with happy campers.
If we ignore public parks they are not going to go away, you can be certain of that. Yet, if we continue to allow them in our national association as we have for so many years, we can work together whenever possible, and not only collaborate on promotion of camping, but we can show them where they need to raise their rates to cover all expenses.
This is becoming much easier with the times we are in, in fact, in Rhode Island, they have raised their rates twice in the last two years and are now above that of many private parks due to state budgets being slashed. A site in Rhode Island public parks is now $35 a night plus the $10 booking fee for the first night total cost of $45 for a non resident, and $35 for every night thereafter, and that is for a site with no services! Now that is good for private campgrounds!
States like Maine and others have had all of their state parks as members of their state association for many years. Those parks pay the same exact dues as all of the private parks do. That has provided a great boost for our dues income as well as improving our working relationship. We have partnered on projects and have even had free passes to state park recreations areas (non camping areas) given to all of our private member parks to give to our customers to save them entrance fees.
This working relationship has been a win win situation for us both. We got past the days of old, set aside our differences, and realized that working together for the common goal of promoting camping was good for everybody involved.
The executive committee of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) convened Thursday (Sept. 15) and decided to ask the board of Campground Owners of New York (CONY) to reconsider its decision to leave ARVC.
ARVC’s request appears in a letter sent today to CONY Chairman Scott Sherwood, ARVC Chairman David L. Berg told Woodall’s Campground Management.
CONY’s board met Monday and voted 11-2 with one abstention to un-affiliate with ARVC. (It was previously reported that the vote was unanimous.) ARVC announced CONY’s decision in a news release issued late Wednesday. Disagreements over ARVC’s willingness to offer free trial memberships to state parks as well as discounts to campground companies with multiple parks in multiple states were the main reasons for CONY’s un-affiliation decision.
“We had lengthy discussions about the CONY situation,” Berg continued. “Our No. 1 goal is to do everything within our power to continue a strong working relationship between ARVC and all its affiliates, including CONY. I see great value in doing whatever it takes to reverse that decision for the betterment of all our memberships.”
Berg said ARVC has several options, depending upon how Sherwood and CONY respond to today’s letter.
Berg also contacted CONY Executive Director Donald G. Bennett Jr., and asked him to reconsider his resignation from the ARVC board as an at-large member. He said Bennett said he was happy with his decision and would not withdraw it.
In such situations, the ARVC chairman has the authority, pending board ratification, to name a replacement to fill an unexpired board term. Berg said he has some names already under consideration and hopes to name a successor before the ARVC conference in Savannah, Ga., in late November.
Berg stressed that “none of us in leadership in ARVC is accepting” CONY’s departure and he hopes the decision can somehow be reversed.
Berg said he is unaware of any other states that are considering similar action to CONY’s.