Flagg’s RV Resort in York, Maine, is moving guests’ recreational vehicles out to make way for its own cottages, according to Melvin “Bud” Riggs of Tulsa, Okla., who has been staying at the resort for years.
Seacoastonline.com reported Flagg’s management company, Morgan Management, sent out letters in early March to at least 10 RV owners telling them they must remove their recreational vehicles from the park by May 1, according to Riggs.
Riggs said he was not one of those notified, but he believes he will soon be asked to leave.
Over the next two years, Flagg’s is replacing privately-owned RVs on its 80 lots with 20-by-38-foot cottages the park plans to rent for $1,449 a week, Riggs said. Riggs and his wife, Pam Riggs, have paid $5,000 to park their 40-foot trailer at Flagg’s year-round, and to live there for up to five months in the warmer weather, he said.
Replacing trailers on wheels with cottages without wheels represents a change of use that would require Planning Board approval, according to board members and Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal.
Robert Moser, who is with Flagg’s corporate office in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has denied Flagg’s is building cottages, according to Community Development Director Steve Burns. Moser told him Flagg’s is replacing guest trailers with their own trailers, Burns said at the Planning Board’s March meeting. This would be permitted without town review.
Planning Board member Tom Manzi said he visited the Flagg’s website and it advertised year-round housing in units that didn’t appear to have wheels.
“What he’s (Moser) saying doesn’t match the website,” Manzi said at the March meeting.
“Morgan (Management’s) definition of an RV is a far stretch,” Riggs said last Friday. “They’re bringing them in on wheels; they’re actually going to be cottages.”
Moser has not returned follow-up phone calls for comment.
McDougal said he’s keeping his eyes peeled, and “a lot of people in the area are skeptical.” He has heard from six to 10 guests of Flagg’s who are concerned about the changes at the park, he said.
If the park is replacing RVs with units that don’t have wheels, or with year-round dwellings, the town would likely deny the use, according to McDougal.
“I don’t think it would be allowed,” he said. “(The park) doesn’t have the density to have that many year-round on their property.”
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:
(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.
(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.”
(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.
(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.
AllStays.com has taken its top-selling iPhone camping app called “Camp & RV” and rebuilt it to be a universal app for one price for all Internet Operating System (IOS) devices.
The new version adds a state and city manual search that works offline. The advantage of this is that even if RVers and other travelers don’t have Internet service in the middle of a dense forest, they can still look ahead for camping options in another city on their trip, according to a news release.
Each location in the app has a detail view that includes a map, directions, phone number, a link to the official website and a easy way to report errors or make corrections.
If the camper is looking for something specific like state parks or national forest or just independently owned campgrounds, they can select to view only those on both the map view and the manual view. The app includes many filters for all kinds of camping along with various truck stops, outdoor sporting goods and supplies stores, rest areas, RV dealers, overnight parking spots, low clearance locations and some others. It also includes mapping and user reports for which Wal-Mart stores allow overnight parking for RVs and which do not.
“We had many requests to make Camp & RV available as a native app for the iPad,” says Adam Longfellow, the owner of travel website AllStays.com. “So using the high-resolution, larger screen and full rotation capabilities of the iPad became a high priority. We listen closely to customer feedback. Almost every change we make is driven by user requests and suggestions.”
When asked when the app would be available on Android devices, Longfellow said, “We want to try to support as many devices as possible and get our unique way of looking at and presenting camping information out to as many people as possible. The Android version will be released in the fall of 2010.”
AllStays.com, based in Santa Fe, N.M., lists all kinds of lodging, from primitive campgrounds and RV Parks to luxury hotels and spa resorts. AllStays also links directly to official websites to make sure you have the real scoop on the latest and most accurate information.
For more information visit www.allstays.com.
Last year was “amazing” for King Phillip’s Campground in Lake George, N.Y., but this year has been even better, Debbie Spaulding, campground owner, told the Glens Falls Post Star.
In fact, as of today (Aug. 10), all of the campground’s 200-plus RV hook-ups had been booked solid for five days straight. Spaulding said the lagging economy, warm, clear weather and improvements have brought more people than ever before.
“We’re finding we just don’t have enough space,” she said.
Public parks and private campgrounds say attendance has climbed this summer, thanks to good weather and the continued popularity of low-cost family activities and staycations.
According to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, day use is up 5% at its 178 parks and 35 historic sites between April 1 and July 31.
An additional 6,000 people visited Moreau Lake State Park during those four months, an increase of 4% over last year, according to the parks office.
At Saratoga Spa State Park, the increase is larger. Attendance jumped 45%, with an extra 300,000 visitors since the spring.
Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the state parks office, said the economy, which contributed to a strong 2009 for parks, continues to drive visitor numbers this summer. She attributed the increased day usage mostly to weather, though. Warm temperatures and clear skies arrived early in the region and have stuck around, unlike the cool, wet summer experienced last year.
In addition, the threat of park closures and cutbacks across the state in the spring might have prompted more visits, she said.
“Parks have been on people’s minds after the spring that we went through,” Larrabee said.
At Moreau Lake State Park, Manager Peter Iskenderian said the lagging economy continues to bring locals to the lake for recreation.
“It’s a cheap way to get away for just a day,” he said.
Swimming is the most popular day activity, followed by nature center programs such as the butterfly release.
“We’ll get 100 people to watch that,” Iskenderian said.
In Lake Gorge, Million Dollar Beach usage has spiked 46% so far this season over last year. About 38,800 people visited the beach through Aug. 4, while 26,500 visited during the same period last year.
Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman David Winchell also cited good weather as the main cause.
“When there is a lot of cool, rainy days, attendance is low. When there is a lot of clear and hot days, like we have had this summer, then attendance is high,” he said.
As for whether the sewage spill that closed some beaches last summer skewed the numbers, he said the impact at Million Dollar Beach was small.
While day use is up for many parks, public campgrounds have not seen the same increases.
The DEC’s Battleground and Lake George Islands campgrounds have seen a 10% and 5% decline in usage, respectively, so far this summer. Use of Hearthstone Campground along Route 9N was up a modest 3.3%.
Camping at state parks, such as Moreau Lake, has flattened out after a boost in 2009, officials said.
Many private campgrounds with amenities, however, say they can hardly keep up with demand.
John Rayno, general manager for Lake George Escape Camping Resort, said the company’s two Lake George properties are on track to break records. Reservations are up 5% over 2009, which was also a banner year.
Rayno believes a variety of activities offered to campers do well with visitors looking for value.
“I think that people are looking at the money they have to spend on a vacation and trying to figure out what makes the best use of that money,” he said.
Tina Soprano, who runs the River View Campground in Lake George with her family, agreed.
She said 2009 was great, and 2010 so far has been twice as busy, thanks to repeat customers and a lot of new faces. She thinks the economy is a bigger factor than weather, although sunny skies help,
“Last year was an unbelievable year, but this year the phone has not stopped ringing,” Soprano said.
Asked to quantify the increase over last year, Soprano said every weekend feels like a holiday — that, and there’s a lot more trash, she quipped.
Editor’s Note: The following story was provided by Corey Grant, a staff writer for Woodall Publications.
One of the most historically and economically important region in America’s history, the Gulf Coast comprises the coastline of five different states — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — and possesses beautiful white beaches, lush marshlands, blue lagoons and historical monuments spanning 200 years. The American Gulf Coast is also one of the most highly productive economic regions in the country, supporting fishing, aerospace, agriculture and tourism industries.
However, the resilience of the people and businesses of the Gulf Coast has been tested within the last five years. First, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused widespread devastation and upward of $80 billion worth of damage. The recent recession put a further strain on tourism and industries working from the Gulf Coast as they were slowly rebuilding.
Now, the Deep Horizon platform that exploded on April 20, and has been leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico since then, has delivered yet another punch to coastal businesses. Yet, despite all the hardships, the RV parks, campgrounds and local attractions are continuing to not only survive, but to grow.
Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recently addressed businesses and officials at the annual Tourism Summit, and said that the 2010 tourist season “was going to be a blockbuster summer and still can be exceptionally strong if we do a good job of getting the message out.”
This year, the Gulf Coast was to bring in $20 billion worth of tourism dollars. Unfortunately, the constant media coverage surrounding the oil spill has caused many travelers to rethink or even cancel their plans to visit the Gulf Coast, based on speculations that the spill has greater damage to area than it really has.
At Cajun RV Park, in Biloxi, Miss., business was down close to 35% in May. Jonathan Mikovich, who runs the park, fields calls from potential campers who state the oil spill has them concerned.
“I would say most of the people are mentioning it, but overall I think they are just looking for another destination to go totally because they don’t want to have it impact their only week off of vacation they get.”
Michele Richard, owner of Bay Hide Away RV & Camping Resort in Bay St. Louis, Miss., says that decrease in business is in part caused by stories about the oil spill in the news. “I would definitely say that they media coverage has hurt businesses in the area,” she said. “Locals can see that everything is still open and running, but campers from out of state don’t know how to decipher what they hear on the news about the oil spill.”
Reports still indicate that the main oil slick is still more than 50 miles offshore, and much of the Gulf Coast shoreline has been unaffected. All Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches are open, along with inshore fishing and all water activities. Of the nine Louisiana Coastal parishes, all are up and running, continuing to provide RVers and campers with great historical attractions, great Cajun food, and beautiful RV parks and campgrounds.
The coastal city of Houma, La., — known as “The Heart of America’s Wetlands”— is bracing for the impact of the oil spill in their fishing industries and marshland habitats, but is stressing to the public that the area is largely untouched by the spill and RVers can still enjoy everything the region has to offer.
“We are open for business,” says Kelly Gustafson, spokesperson for Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We ask that … readers support the Gulf Coast and continue with their travel plans.”
Some RV parks are being proactive in spreading the news that the Gulf Coast region is ready and waiting for RVers. Bella Terra of Gulf Shores in Foley, Ala., has coordinated a nationwide outreach to the RV community to support local parks and campgrounds in the area, and aid cleanup efforts in response to the oil spill. Working with the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Bella Terra is bringing thousands of volunteers, specifically in the RV community, to the region and directing them in their clean-up training and getting them where they are most needed.
“To date there are 5,000-plus individuals who have signed up to volunteer should clean up efforts be required in our region,” says Tripp Keber, COO of Bella Terra Realty. Bella Terra is also offering rental discounts to volunteers staying at the park, and on top of that, contributing 10% of all rental income over the next few weeks to the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. “The Gulf Coast and it’s beaches are one of our country’s greatest national treasures … [and] we will do whatever we can as ‘good neighbors’ and as business owners to save these treasures,” says Keber.
Anchors Aweigh RV Resort also in Foley and Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort in Panama City, Fla., have joined the outreach with Bella Terra in assisting the volunteers and spreading the word about the viability of RV travel on the Gulf Coast. “The collective effort from area parks and resorts working together in unison to rally support will have a positive impact on not only the region, but the desire and ability of RVers to assist.”
The disaster of the BP oil spill, while tragic, is once again proving the resilience and tenacity of the Southern RV industry to survive, and flourish. The huge population of RVers and campers continues to grow, and they continue to support and visit parks and campgrounds around the country, and the industry shows no sign of slowing down. This is especially true in the Gulf Coast, with many parks and campgrounds in the region, reporting that even with the negative media coverage, reservations are still coming in, and the summer season is in full swing.
“Most of my guests told me that they didn’t ever worry about the oil spill hitting the coast,” says Sammie Warwick, manager of Island Retreat RV Park in Gulf Shores. “They love the area so much, it doesn’t even matter to them.”
To join the outreach on sign up to volunteer, visit www.bellaterrarvresort.com.
For more on the Mobile bay Estuary Program, visit www.mobilebaynep.com.
Daily Oil Spill Trajectory Report with map, visit www.noaa.gov.
Visit the parks mentioned at www.woodalls.com.
Publisher’s Note: KOA Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers is arguably the industry’s most relentless marketeer. A former Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. executive, he has etched KOA’s yellow brand into the American psyche and now looks to change the face of KOA’s 463 parks — and American campgrounds in general — with the infusion of more and more sedentary camping “cabins” and “lodges.” Here are the highlights of an interview conducted during KOA’s Nov. 17-20 convention at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott in the Houston suburbs.
RVB: The general atmosphere of your convention was pretty positive, given all of the headwinds that the American economy has faced recently.
Rogers: KOA has just come out of its strongest summer in 47 years. If you take camper nights and registrations for the period of June, July, August and September, we’ve just exceeded anything we’ve done in the past. Where we hurt in 2009 and anticipate hurting this winter and probably early 2010 is in the Snowbird markets that are more dependent on a fixed-income lifestyle. What we did not see last year in America is the transient Snow Bird.
So, we had the resident Snow Bird that headed into Texas and Arizona and committed to three or four months, but the people who were going down and spending a month here and there did not show up. And that’s what we don’t have any certainty about.
Having said that, the cruise lines are indicating very strong advance reservations, which to me is the same market that we look at for this transient Snowbird. But it’s hard to predict that. Again, we anticipate the 2010 summer will be as strong as 2009’s was, if not a little better.
RVB: Looking back at September of 2008 and the economic meltdown that occurred then, could you have imagined that you’d be sitting here now coming off a near-record 2009, with gains anticipated in both camper nights and revenues?
Rogers: No. We went into our plan for 2009 very concerned. The surprise was that we quickly became the affordable (lodging) option. America traded down. They traded down everything they’ve done, and we exceeded expectations. They’ve gone to Costco more aggressively than they did previously, as they did with the camping alternative. If people were going to take a vacation, instead of staying at a Marriott or going to Europe, they decided to go camping again.
There were record tent sales last year in the United States. People found a different way to get outdoors. And, again, we continue to see people staying closer to home – even though Yellowstone Park, a distant destination, posted a record year.
And when they went to a KOA campground, they didn’t find their grandfather’s campground. They found the latte machine, they found (park model) lodges that had a bathroom and kitchen in them for $125 and a swimming pool and they were surprised. They were hooked. We continue to see 14-15% of our campers are first-time-ever campers. And among the first-timers, 50% are families. That’s great news for us that we are bringing in new people to experience KOA and the campgrounds that we’ve got. That’s going to play well long-term.
RVB: So, what do you really think these newbies are looking for in terms of camping accommodations?
Rogers: Anyone who has an investment in an RV brought their gear out of the garage this year. They might not have used it for a while. But our greatest growth will be a double-digit increase in camper nights in the lodge business — the 400-square-foot park model that offers a kitchen and a bathroom and a deck out front. That’s where our greatest growth is, and that’s why we’ve developed the new models with three suppliers, General Coach, Cavco Industries Inc. and Thor’s Breckenridge division.
RVB: What, in your opinion, is behind this evolution to more sedentary – or “destination” — styles of lodging?
Rogers: A lot of things are. Initially, it was this trend toward staying closer to home. People didn’t want to spend the gas or didn’t have the RV and they wondered what to do. In the process, people began to realize that these accommodations were there.
If you talk to our franchisees, they’re going to tell you they had 20 requests (for park model “lodges”) that exceeded what they could fulfill.
At the same time, the lodge customer gives us the highest satisfaction rating by 10 points. If you ask our lodge customer what they think of the experience, they are way above the average. They have the highest intent to return and they tell us they get the best price value. And they are paying the most for the experience. It’s all there. What a future!
RVB: What’s the demographic profile of a “cabin” or “lodge” customer?
Rogers: They skew more to families and first-timers and people who drive up in a car. It’s basically a customer who is right now using a motel or hotel. That’s where we’re going. We are learning from our Australian friends (Big 4 Holiday Parks, with whom KOA has a marketing partnership), who have 32% of their inventory in cabins and lodges.
You are going to see KOA on Travelocity, Orbitz, hotels.com. You talk about a new market and what we’ve got to offer; we’ve got to get the inventory out there.
Plus, KOA is going to produce a million directories in 2010. We intend to mail 400,000 to our Value Kard holders, and in the middle of the directory is a five-page, full color lodge brochure. You are going to begin to realize there is indeed a different offering in that experience. The fact is, with a motel, you get a room. What we are going to tell people is that this is a social activity.
RVB: To what extent do you anticipate expanding your lodge business?
Rogers: We’ve got 4,000-plus cabins (smaller units without water), but we only have about 1,000 lodges (generally park models with full facilities) among our 56,000 sites. That’s about 10% that are currently this type of accommodation. We’ve got to increase that inventory to go out to the market and grow this segment of our business – tremendously.
In the next three to five years, we hope that gets closer to 15-20% of our total inventory. It won’t happen that fast. That’s an aggressive goal. We are going to lead the charge at our 25 company-owned properties.
RVB: Needless to say, this would be a huge shift in the basic character of a so-called RV park or campground if it actually occurred to the extent that you’re describing it.
Rogers: There’s no question that the mix is dramatic. We have RV inventory with full hookups that is going unused that is getting $40 to $45 a night, and we put in a unit and we get $150 a night using the same real estate using the same hookups and the demand is right there behind it.
RVB: Do all of your lodges exude that “rustic” look that we’ve seen so much of lately?
Rogers: KOA has a team that has gone to the manufacturers, CAVCO and Breckenridge and General in Canada, and designed eight different models that run from a studio model that is probably 199 square feet to the big baby, which is 400 square feet. They all have bathrooms and kitchens and they all have concrete siding that looks like wood. They look like something from New England. Most of the inventory will be a log-side perceived look. That reinforces the cabin look that we’ve created. This is where we have an incredible growth opportunity.
By no means are we going to say adios to the RV industry. But we see the ability to be more diverse to whom we appeal to and we’ve got to reorient how we meet the demand for the supply that is out there.
RVB: So, do you also see growth in the entry-level type campers who, in some cases, prefer tents?
Rogers: We’ve definitely seen an increase in our tenter business. But the problem we’ve had is that over the last few years, we’ve reduced the inventory of tent sites. It’s a matter of figuring out what we have, and, ultimately, we see the tenter converting to a lodge or cabin.
RVB: With regard to private parks, many states are under extreme economic financial pressure. Your thoughts on all that?
Rogers: We all have to realize that public parks are as diverse as commercial parks. And we need to make sure that national parks still draw people for vacations and do a good job of taking care of them.
The more localized experience, the state parks that are indeed in dire shape, I think they will continue to be in difficult shape, and, hopefully, American campers will consider the commercial option more so than they have in the past.
The states need to find a new economic engine.
The other thing is that campers are coming to expect a certain level of services and the states aren’t going to be able to provide that.
So, some people who are partial to public parks have now begun to try the commercial side, and they’re pretty happy. They are more entertained and they are staying closer to home. They are staying longer and they expect a little more. Fishing for four days isn’t going to keep them entertained. They need something else going on. So, while I want public parks to continue to operate, I know that some of the business is going to swing over to us.
Woodall Publications Corp., producer of the most comprehensive and reliable campground directories available, this week announced the release of its 2010 North American Campground Directory. New for 2010 are full-color maps for all states and provinces and the addition of GPS coordinates and physical addresses on select listings.
The directory outlines driving directions, locator maps, site widths, overnight fees and handicap accessibility for campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Organized by region and then by state or province, each travel section begins with an at-a-glance chart outlining which parks welcome big rigs, pets and are Internet friendly (Wi-Fi parks are specially marked) to make identification of preferred amenities quick and easy, according to a news release.
The 2010 directory, which is printed on recycled paper, includes more than 309,999 updates and changes to provide outdoor enthusiasts the most reliable travel information, highlighting attractions and points of interest to make planning an RV vacation simple. Each privately-owned campground is personally inspected and rated by a Woodall’s field representative team.
“Woodall’s continues to provide today’s smart travel enthusiast with easy to access and trusted information,” said Joe Daquino, senior vice president, Affinity Media, the parent company for Woodall Publications. “The 2010 Campground Directory and its multi-media components are the most comprehensive outlets for road or RV travel planning, allowing our readers to create the best vacation experience possible.”
Returning again in 2010 is a complimentary CD-Rom that features all campgrounds, RV parks, service centers and attractions found in the print version. The CD is in a searchable format that does not require an Internet connection — ideal for research while on the road.
Woodall’s popular “One Tank Trips” also return in 2010 with approximately 70 suggested trips to take throughout North America by personal automobile or RV. The trips pack a punch, but won’t break the fuel budget for travelers wishing to hit the open road.
In addition to the comprehensive North American edition, Woodall’s offers nine regional campground guides, including the Eastern & Western editions and individual regional guides: Far West, Frontier West & Great Plains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New York/New England, the South and Canada. To further assist RVers, Woodall’s offers an RV Owners Handbook, Camping and RVing with Dogs and two cookbooks: Cooking on the Road with Celebrity Chefs and Campsite Cookbook. Also available is the Woodall’s Extended Stay Guide to help RVers find places to park and RV for a month or a season. This guide is included in each edition of the Campground Directory.
Woodall’s is the official directory of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Family Campers & RVers, Camp Club USA, NASCAR and Camping World President’s Club. Woodall’s also partners with the Escapees Full Timers Club and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), while Camping Life Magazine is the Woodall’s monthly family camping magazine.
The 2010 North American Campground Directory is available now at bookstores, RV dealers and Camping World stores. To purchase the directory online or for more information on Woodall’s and its publications, call (800) 323-9076 or visit www.woodalls.com.
Affinity Group Inc. is the parant company of Woodall Publications Corp., RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.COM.
The start of November marks the start of winter visitors arriving in central Arizona’s Valley.
Among the early arrivals, Mary Lange, who was found this week lounging by the pool at the Desarama RV Park in Mesa, according to KTAR-TV, Phoenix.
“Feels pretty darn good. It’s about 86 degrees here, very nice,” Lange said.
She comes to Arizona from Iowa the last week of October each year and stays until the last week of April.
A survey by the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds indicates many parks are seeing more business this year. The Towerpoint and Good Life RV Resorts in Mesa said winter reservations are up 15%.
However, the Shangri-la Resort in Yuma said things are about the same as last year, and the Rincon Resort in Tucson expects a slight decline.
Lange believes people are coming. She said there were “a lot of travel trailers, a lot of motorhomes already on the road the second weekend in October,” when she was traveling.
Nancy Lou Fiumidinisi runs the Deserama RV Park and has been getting ready for the “Snow Birds” to return.
She said workers “have painted the clubhouse inside, the restrooms, resurfaced the pool. A new sign out front has been fixed.”
Fiumidinisi has a “Welcome Back” banner draped across the front entrance.
“From what I’ve heard from some of the residents who are coming to their home here for the winter, they said Interstate 40 was loaded with RVs headed this way,” Fiumidinisi said.
Lange keeps busy during her winter vacation.
“I work for Wal-Mart. I transfer down here, work down here for six months and work back up North for six months,” she said.
She believes she has the best of both worlds: “I can have the summers up home and the winters down here.”
Meanwhile, Valley hotels are hoping for a better winter.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Kristin Jarnagin with the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, although she said, “The most recent numbers we have, from September year-to-date, they show we’re still about 15% down in occupancy and about 30% down in revenue.”
Revenue is down because of discounted rates, she said.
She believes the worst is over and things have started to stabilize.
“Of course, it will rebound. It always does. People love to travel and they love to explore, that’s just part of human nature. It just depends on how long it’s going to take,” she said.