Most campground operators know Eric Stumberg as the founder and CEO of TengoInternet Inc., the Austin, Texas-based company that provides wireless Internet service to campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country.
What most park operators don’t know, however, is that Stumberg frequently volunteers on international humanitarian missions. In 2005, he joined a medical and church planning mission to Uganda. In 2008, he joined a group of volunteers who built a school and community center near the site of the Old Silk Road in Pakistan, according to a news release.
And last month, Stumberg and his wife, Keri, joined nearly 50 volunteers from Christ Church in Austin who partnered with volunteers from Potters House in Guatemala who are involved in several humanitarian projects to help the impoverished people who live in and around the Guatemala City dump.
Thousands of Guatemalan children and adults scavenge the dump every day for scraps of food as well as recyclable materials and other items they can sell with the hope of surviving another day.
For the past 25 years, a Christian nonprofit organization called Potters House has recruited volunteers to provide people who live in and near the dump with free healthcare and education services and other humanitarian assistance.
And earlier this summer, 50 volunteers from Christ Church in Austin traveled to Guatemala City to join other Potters Volunteers in making a difference in the lives of people who have nothing.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Stumberg. “From a distance, you look over the dump and you see all this trash and amid all this trash is people scavenging. After we arrived there, we saw that that the Guatemala City Dump is a place with an amazing amount of brokenness. But there’s also an amazing amount of hope and it’s all in the same spot.”
Stumberg said the Christ Church volunteers paid for their own flights and food to make the trip. They also made donations to Potters House, which provided them with seminary dorms to sleep in.
While in Guatemala City, the Christ Church volunteers completed projects that had been started by other groups of volunteers who came before them. “We finished a cinder block house the team the week before had started,” Stumberg said. “We poured a concrete floor and put the windows and doors in. We also sandpapered and spackled walls. We also made and assembled bunk beds and delivered and installed them in people’s homes. We felt like we were able to have an impact because we were able to help them finish some projects that they had underway there.”
Enforcement of the “six strikes” aspect of the Copyright Alert System (CAS) has landed a Texas RV park in trouble with its cable and Internet service provider.
Woodall’s Campground Management reported that officials with the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) and TengoInternet, the firm that installed the Wi-Fi service at the Oakwood RV Resort in Fredericksburg, have come forward to help the 132-site Good Sam Park through its brush with its service provider, Time-Warner Cable (TWC), which informed the owner earlier this month that it will punish the RV park for not buying bulk rate Internet from TWC.
“Our TACO attorney has already been involved in a case on this and we are probably going to get a lot more action,” Brian Schaeffer, TACO president and CEO told Woodall’s Campground Management. “This story is far more impacting than it reads. For example, parks have bought a ‘commercial’ service for their parks thinking that covers them regarding Wi-Fi in their parks. But the fine print says they cannot distribute Internet in their parks. Almost every park in the USA has or will have this problem.”
The CAS is a private system for alerting and punishing Internet subscribing customers of AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner, Verizon and Comcast. It monitors use via home networks that access alleged copyrighted material from a list of specific entertainment corporations and their CAS registered content. The consortium that manages the program has branded it as the six strikes program.
The system is intended to be a graduated response wherein participating Internet service providers (ISPs) send up to six electronic warnings notifying subscribers of alleged copyright infringement, as reported by a monitoring service working on behalf of participating copyright owners.
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TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry, announced that Inc. Magazine ranked TengoInternet on its fourth annual Inc. 5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.
TengoInternet ranked 2,767 on the Inc. 5000 list based on revenue growth from 2007 through 2010, according to a news release.
“Now, more than ever, we depend on Inc. 500/5000 companies to spur innovation, provide job, and drive the economy forward. Growth companies, not large corporations, are where the action is,” says Inc. editor Jane Berentson.
“We are honored to be recognized for the third time among the nation’s elite private companies -in same span twice winning our industry Supplier of the Year award,” said Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder of TengoInternet. “TengoInternet’s growth is directly attributable to the talent and commitment of our team, the loyalty of our awesome customers and the important role we play in our customer’s success. We look forward to continuing to help our customers achieve business success.”
The companies on this year’s list report having created 350,000 jobs in the past three years.
TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry, has announced 29 new customers in 11 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
As the industry’s largest provider of Wi-Fi, TengoInternet offers comprehensive network and guest services that properties need to increase occupancy and guest satisfaction, according to a news release. With these new locations TengoInternet manages more than 900 wireless networks across 49 states, Canada and Mexico.
TengoInternet’s new customers include:
- Arrowhead Point Resort and Cabins, Colorado.
- Asheville West KOA and Lake Waldo’s Beach Campground, both in North Carolina.
- Aurora Acres, Beginning Point RV Park, Belle Parc, Oak Harbor Lodging and RV Park, Peppertree RV Resort and Pleasant Lake RV Resort, all in Florida.
- Denali Grizzly Bear Park and Rivers Edge RV Park, both in Alaska.
- Dream Catcher RV Park, New Mexico.
- Fawn Meadows RV, Alberta.
- Green River Lake State Park, Kentucky.
- KOA Lake Isabella, Novato RV Park and Vineyard RV Park, all in California.
- Big Oak River Camp, Lakeview MHC, Las Raices Ranch, Magnolia Lake RV Park, Ol’ 90 RV Park, Rambling Vines RV Park, TLC RV Community and Shady Oaks, all in Texas.
- Osage Beach RV Park, Missouri.
- Page Springs Resort, Arizona.
- Sunshine Valley, British Columbia.
- Teton Valley Campground, Idaho.
“Our customers face increasing wireless connectivity expectations of guests and new operating requirements in a challenging outdoor network environment” said Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder, TengoInternet. “Our flexible solutions, expertise in provisioning and supporting private wireless networks and focus on our customers continue to be recognized and rewarded in the industry.”
TengoInternet is the largest high-speed wireless internet managed service provider to the outdoor hospitality industry. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, TengoInternet delivers turnkey WiFi solutions for hospitality operators and the guests they serve through its award winning network design, installation, management and guest support services. TengoInternet currently manages high speed wired and wireless networks for more than 900 RV resorts, campgrounds, hotels and marinas in 49 states, Canada and Mexico. For additional information, visit www.tengointernet.com or call (512) 469-7660.
TengoInternet Inc. was ranked 2,002 on the fourth annual Inc. 5000 list released last week.
TengoInternet’s ranking was based on revenue growth from 2006 through 2009.
“We are honored to again be recognized among the nation’s elite private companies,” Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder of TengoInternet, stated in a news release. “TengoInternet’s growth is directly attributable to the talent and commitment of our team, the loyalty of our awesome customers and the important role we play in our customer’s success. We look forward to continuing to help our customers achieve business success.”
“The leaders of the companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 have figured out how to grow their businesses during the longest recession since the Great Depression,” said Inc. President Bob LaPointe. “The 2010 Inc. 5000 showcases a particularly hardy group of entrepreneurs.”
Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet is the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry.
This week’s ARVC Business Forum, held on the campus of Keystone RV Co. in Goshen, Ind., featured a typically lively give-and-take among the leadership of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and some of the nation’s key campground vendors.
Forum members met in conjunction with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Committee Week and Annual Meeting functions held not far away in downtown South Bend. The week’s agenda also included an industry party in recognition of what RVIA has designated in 2010 as the RV industry’s centennial.
The ARVC Business Forum brings together members of the ARVC Executive Committee and key players in the RV parks and campground business to discuss topical issues.
Shane Ott, director of campground relations for Thor Industries Inc., Keystone’s parent company, who helped orchestrate the meeting at Keystone, said the forum meeting at an RV company, a first for the forum, will help narrow “the huge gap” between the campground and RV industries. “There is no reason we shouldn’t do this more often,” he said.
A few forum highlights:
Mark Anderson, former ARVC chairman and owner of Camp Chautauqua Camping Resort, Chautauqua, N.Y., reported that his park and many others in the East “had almost a perfect Memorial Day weekend,” providing “a great start” to the season. The summer’s outlook for the Northeast is good as travel is up, he added. He noted that while the state of New York is “broke,” the governor found funds to reopen the state parks, which Anderson considers “an important baseline to private campgrounds.”
Vic Nolting, vice chairman of Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, Milford, Ohio, began by summarizing, “In general, things look oh so much better than last year.” He then deferred to LSI’s COO, Rob Schutter Jr., who went into greater detail. Schutter echoed Anderson’s holiday observation. He said business in the Northeast is “leveling out” after “a disaster last year,” due to weather.
Schutter, noting that Yogi operators are seeing an upturn in campers’ ancillary spending after a 2%-3% downturn in such spending last year, reported that the rental market at Jellystone Parks is “through the roof,” thanks in part to its non-dependence on good weather and the growing number of visits of campers new to the Jellystone system.
LSI’s rental business was up 8% in 2009 and he expects another rise this year. The rental business, which puts campers into lodges and cabins, is bringing a lot of non-traditional or first-time campers, added Nolting. They explained that many Jellystone Parks maintain good working relationships with area chambers of commerce and hotels, which also spurs business. Cabin rental rates were $145 a night in 2009 and have been raised by $10 a night for the 2010 season, said Schutter, adding that LSI opened its first company-owned park this year in Bloomington, Ind.
Cindy Halley, publisher of the Trailer Life RV Parks and Campgrounds Directory and vice president of Good Sam Club marketing, Ventura, Calif., reported that TL’s rep teams are well underway in their collection of data and advertising sales for the 2011 directory. Team members “are very upbeat and expect a better year overall,” she said. On the club side, membership growth is exceeding forecasts and currently totals about 950,000. Good Sam Club members average 62 years of age and are typically retired, empty nesters. However, she added, the club is always trying to recruit younger members.
Eric Stumberg, president and co-founder of Wi-Fi provider TengoInternet, Austin, Texas, reported that TengoInternet’s acquisition of Nomad ISP is complete with Nomad’s clients integrated into Tengo’s in May, bringing its market penetration to some 800 parks and between 67,000 and 100,000 guests a month, depending upon the season.
Wi-Fi remains a key criteria in RVers’ decision on where to camp, he noted. He sees mobile point of sale terminals, such as an ice cream cart that accepts credit card swipes, becoming the next popular phase in parks and campgrounds. He is targeting 25% growth for 2010.
David L. Berg, ARVC chairman and owner of the Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, said business appears to be “back to where we used to be.” He had sold out his 140 sites for the July 4 holiday by Memorial Day and his tent and popup trailer sites sold out first for the first time ever.
Berg, at the same time, said he remains “boggled” by the growth and popularity of the cabin business. He charges $120 a night for a cabin, even though “the motel down the street charges $29.” He can explain the willingness to pay more because customers “want it all today, the safety, the experience…” He also is getting into the RV rental market, charging about $1,000 a week to rent a unit on-site.
Al Johnson, president of Recreational Adventures Co., an 11-park chain based in Hill City, S.D., reported “an exceptional Memorial Day” and stated that nine of his 11 KOA-affilitated properties are ahead of plan so far this year. He has begun to replace aged cabins with new park models. He is putting on hold an overhaul of RV sites until he can better determine size requirements for the next RV generation. He, too, saw more guests with tents and folding camping trailers last year, but said it’s too early to tell whether that trend will continue this year.
David Gorin, who wore multiple hats to the forum as a campground consultant, ARVC lobbyist, park owner and state association director, reported that his Holiday Cove RV Resort in Bradenton, Fla., experienced a 25% increase in business last year, with his rental business up 20%-25% annually.
Gorin says he sold approximately half of the lots for sale in his park in the last 19 months. As director of the Virginia Campground Association, he said that state’s parks are looking for a good year, but that they’re concerned about whether the Gulf oil spill will make its way eventually up the East Coast. Meanwhile, Gorin says his Best Parks in America network has grown from 22 to 63 parks in the past year, has recently finished a long-term strategy session and will be publishing its first print directory. Finally, Gorin announced that he will be building a new 250-site RV park in Palmetto, Fla.
Ann Emerson, ARVC Business Forum chairwoman and vice president of Woodall Publications, publisher of the Woodall’s North American Campground Directory, Ventura, Calif., said sales consultants are reporting overall that most parks are doing well. In general, parks near metro areas are still faring better than those in remote areas. And there’s a serious concern among tourism-related business operators — parks among them — in many Southern and Southeastern locales regarding the long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill, prompting some owners to defer decisions on marketing expenses.
Emerson began a discussion on the explosion of social media in the campground business. At her parent company, Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of RV Business and Woodall’s Campground Management, almost all the websites have a Facebook page and each publication has at least one staff member assigned to increase its social media presence and AGI is developing a SmartPhone “app” for both of its campground directories. This discussion elicited comments on mobile marketing, which fueled a wider discussion on the explosion of mobile phone use in society. Some 90% of all U.S. homes have cell phones, and a significant percentage of Woodall customers have SmartPhones, she said. Stumberg noted that one study showed that almost as many people today access the Internet via their SmartPhones as from personal computers.
Bruce Hoster, president of Coast to Coast Resorts, the membership camping wing of AGI, said, “We think membership camping is due for a renaissance.” He cited a number of ways Coast to Coast is attracting new parks and members to the concept. As an aside, he observed that membership campgrounds are finding new revenue streams by developing storage facilities for their members’ RVs while they are not camping. For example, one membership park developed a 7-acre storage facility and realizes an estimated $1 million in revenue in annual storage fees. He reported that Camp Club USA, AGI’s discount camping club, “has come back strong after seeing a slight dip during the recession” with high renewal rates and is up to nearly 50,000 members. Coast to Coast, which has taken membership camping under its wing, sponsored a membership camping conference in February in Las Vegas and will sponsor another in February in New Orleans. He is working to make inroads with developers of hotel and condo complexes to consider integrating campgrounds into their projects, he said.
Pat Hittmeier, president of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Billings, Mont., said camping was “soft” over the winter, hindered by cold weather in its Southern campgrounds. But it’s taken off since May and was up 7% through Memorial Day. KOA is projecting an 8% increase through Labor Day, said Hittmeier, adding that use of the Internet to make reservations is up 12% over last year, a reflection of more business in general and the migration of campers to the Internet.
KOA has 4,000 units in its lodging pool and that business is strong, he said. Lodges make up 13% of the total KOA sites, but the company is aiming to raise that figure to 20% at 50% of its campgrounds. KOA also is looking to increase its first-time visits, which now make up 15% to 19% of its total guests.
ARVC loyalist Ian Steyn, owner of Jellystone Castle Rock Campground, Castle Rock, Colo., noted that his business is up 38% year-over-year, and 2009 was a good year for his business. He discussed an integrated approach to promoting the outdoors with other hospitality businesses in his community seeking to make it the epicenter for outdoor recreation in his state.
Larry Weaver, park model sales manager for CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind., briefly outlined the preferred park model program his parent company, Thor Industries Inc., has established with ARVC. Weaver stressed that campground owners should make sure they buy “ruggedized” park models for their rental units and refrain from features such as carpeting that will not hold up well under the rigors of long-term use.
TengoInternet today (April 21) announced that it distributed $270,000 in guest Wi-Fi revenue to its participating RV resort owners in 2009.
This payout is part of TengoInternet’s revenue-sharing program with resorts that choose to offer Wi-Fi or wireless Internet for a fee to their guests. Resorts that participate in TengoInternet’s revenue-sharing program receive a monthly check for a percentage of the total Wi-Fi access fees sold at their location. As the industry’s largest provider, TengoInternet pays more revenue share dollars back to RV resorts than any other provider, according to a news release.
“Wi-Fi service continues to be a selection and satisfaction criteria for RV travelers and the #1 technology amenity sought by campground guests,” said Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder, TengoInternet. “The fact is that there are many guest pricing models available-the revenue share model addresses one segment of our customers. Our customers may choose to have us collect revenue online and share it back with them, collect and keep 100% of revenue at point of sale, offer the service for free, or some blend of all of these. TengoInternet’s flexible WiFi services and contracts allow our customers to meet the specific needs of their guests and business.”
TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry, today (April 14) announced 13 new customers in 12 U.S. states.
As the industry’s largest provider, TengoInternet offers comprehensive network and guest services that properties need to increase occupancy and guest satisfaction. With these new locations TengoInternet manages more than 900 wireless networks across 49 states, Canada and Mexico.
TengoInternet’s new customers include: Coyote Ranch RV Resort, Texas, Dow Creek Resort, Washington, Hidden Acres Family Campground, Connecticut, Houston West RV Park, Texas, Indian Creek Camp & Conference Center, Michigan, J and D Campground, Pennsylvania, Lake Mead RV Village, Nevada, Mingo RV Park, Oklahoma, Pinecrest Mobile Home Park, Louisiana, Playground RV Park, Florida, Pleasant Valley Campground, New Jersey, The Landing, Missouri, and Walnut RV Park, Calif.
“Many of our new customers are switching from inexperienced providers or moving from self-managed networks to TengoInternet because of the growing complexity, increased staff time and high guest satisfaction impact of Internet amenities,” said Eric Stumberg, CEO and co-founder, TengoInternet. “We love our customers and focus on delivering services which allow them to focus on serving their guests and contribute to their business success.”
Best Parks in America welcomed four industry powerhouse suppliers to their Strategic Partner Program.
Utility Supply Group, Texas Advertising, Suburban Propane and TengoInternet have joined forces with Best Parks to offer affiliate resorts product/service programs and other partnership benefits designed specifically for the Best Parks network, according to a news release.
“Much like the high standards used for park/resort affiliation, our Strategic Partners have proven themselves to be outstanding in their areas of expertise. We are pleased to partner with these four notable companies and look forward to their contribution to the Best Parks in America brand,” said David Gorin, president and CEO Best Parks in America.
Strategic Partners are nominated by current affiliated parks and companies must have at least a five-year track record of doing business in the park industry. Strategic Partner nominees meeting the nomination criteria have an opportunity to develop an ongoing, mutually supportive relationship and association with Best Parks in America and the affiliated parks. Developed in response to contacts from a number of companies that have reached out to Best Parks inquiring about a relationship with this new park brand, the Strategic Partner Program provides unique possibilities for all parties involved.
For more information on becoming a Strategic Partner or to learn more about Best Parks in America affiliation visit www.BestParks.net or contact Gorin by phone at (703) 448-6863 or e-mail at David@BestParksinAmerica.com.
TengoInternet, the oldest and largest wireless Internet provider for the outdoor hospitality industry, today (March 5) announced it has relaunched RV Spirit.com.
The RV-oriented site is viewed by 465,000 (2009 figure) guests annually at the more than 900 RV resorts in the U.S., Canada and Mexico where TengoInternet provides wireless networks, according to a news release.
With 2.2 million pageviews per year (2009 figure) the site is an integral part of the Wi-Fi experience for hundreds of thousands of RV enthusiasts. To enhance the site’s usability RV Spirit.com has been completely redesigned. New and improved features, identified in a 2009 guest survey have been added including:
- Current news — Guests can get the latest news and entertainment headlines provided by the Reuters news agency.
- Local guide — Guests can search for restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations or anything else wherever they are. The guide, powered by Yelp, provides full reviews and directions to local establishments.
- RV Resort Locator — Guests can use enhanced search capabilities to find one of the more than 900 TengoInternet RV resort locations.
- Google web search — Guests can search the web using the integrated Google search feature.
In addition to the new guest oriented features TengoInternet has added advanced advertising capabilities to the site. Advertisers wishing to reach the large and desirable RV audience can now target advertising by geography and even target ads by specific days or times of day. The site also supports rich media advertising and provides detailed reporting which gives advertisers precise measurement of how effective their advertising campaigns are.
“Our mission is to help our customers serve their guests well and contribute to their business success,” said Eric Stumberg, TengoInternet CEO and co-founder. “RV Spirit.com is an important component of our Wi-Fi services to promote our resort locations to RV’ers and provide relevant information and applications to guests who use our service.”