Producers of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo will skip 2012 and conduct their next online expo in February 2013. The announcement appeared in last week’s issue of Campground & RV Park e News.
In a column titled “Confessions of a Trade Show Maven,” Producer Art Lieberman announced that the 2012 season will be bypassed altogether.
“This will give us more time to perfect the show’s software and to convince both exhibitors and attendees to love trade shows as much as we do,” the column states.
The show was held live online Nov. 10-11 and is available in archive status through early January.
Lieberman and Co-Producer Deanne Bower, expect visitors to this year’s show to top last year’s attendance of 497 before the current show closes in January.
Art Lieberman is so excited about the features of his upcoming Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II that he gave a sneak peek on Tuesday (Aug. 23) to a handful of prospective exhibitors.
According to a report on Woodall’s Campground Management, Lieberman was undaunted by last year’s inaugural expo, an event that garnered rave reviews for its creativity but barely passing grades for its execution, Lieberman has lined up what he thinks this time will be a real winner.
VCopious, an award-winning, Conshohocken, Pa.-based software producer, is setting up this year’s Expo, set for Nov. 10-11 on the Internet.
The 2010 Expo, a first-ever virtual expo for the outdoor hospitality industry, attracted 479 unique visitors, of whom 297 were from campgrounds.
The company’s Elizabeth Davenport led prospects through the site during Tuesday’s demonstration. Afterward, Lieberman talked about the upcoming event.
“There are 20 differences between then and now,” said Lieberman, comparing the two events.
Perhaps of prime importance, VCopious staff will set up the exhibitors’ booths for the Expo. Last year, exhibitors did most of the set-up themselves, with help from Lieberman and his staff. The results were spotty, with booths ranging from primitive to sophisticated.
The software provider lurked in the background much of the time last year but provided little assistance in the set-up.
“Last year, 73% of the entrants said they loved the concept but 68% said they hated the software. It wasn’t user-friendly. Not only the exhibitors but also the attendees said that.”
“The software this year is so good and so user-friendly and so easy to use, a child could operate it. Well, a child can operate it. It’s the adults we’re worried about!”
Lieberman, who runs a credit card processing firm that serves the RV park and campground industry, said campground operators are experts at running their parks but often are rusty on their office computers. The easy-to-use software will be far more appealing this time, he said.
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Over 1,400 outdoor hospitality industry suppliers were invited to join Outdoor Hospitality Expo producers Art Lieberman and Deanne Bower for a preview of the upcoming Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II convention.
This advance preview is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Aug. 23, as excitement builds for the Nov. 10-11 online event, according to a news release.
The preview will be conducted via a webinar and invitations were sent to suppliers of goods and services to campgrounds, marinas, golf and ski resorts, paddleboat and canoeing resorts and even dude ranches. The invitation was extended to sponsors and exhibitors who have already committed to the convention. Members of the Expo’s Advisory Board will also be in attendance. The “tour” of the virtual facility will be conducted by Elizabeth Davenport and other personnel of VCopious, the software company whom the producers have engaged for this year’s event.
Interested outdoor hospitality industry product/service suppliers that have not yet received an invitation to attend the pre-show sneak peek may contact Lieberman or Bower at (877) 901-EXPO (3976) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“How unique is this?” asks producer Art Lieberman. “I have produced nearly a dozen physical conventions and have never been able to actually demonstrate what the show would look like 2 1/2 months before the actual event”
Co-producer Deanne Bower is equally enthusiastic about the preview. “We’ll be able to explain how the booths will be set up in advance by VCopious through actual participant booths. We’ll also be sharing information regarding the unique reporting facilities only available at an event which takes place on the Internet. Show exhibitors will be able to view which exhibits or conferences attendees visited, their length of stay and what materials they placed in their briefcases for later viewing after leaving the Expo.”
The Expo, slated to run from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 11 and available in the “on-demand” status for 60 additional days, also announced that several first-time Silver Sponsors have decided to participate this year, among them Allied Specialty Insurance, Chempace, LCN Outdoors, Solar LED Innovation and Webreserve.com.
As previously announced, David Gorin & Associates and Best Parks In America are the Expo’s first Platinum Sponsors. New exhibitors are Bag-O-Loots LLC and Manning and Novick. Two major announcements about sponsors are being withheld until they can be finalized, but both promise to bring excitement to the Virtual Convention.
Deb Kohls of Leisure Interactive, heading up the education portion of the Expo, is once again assembling a cast of interesting and varied speakers for the convention’s webinars. Last year’s keynote speaker, Derrick Crandall, drew nearly 250 attendees at his presentation.
About the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II
“David Gorin & Associates Presents – The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II” is produced by Art Lieberman and Deanne Bower of Campground Expositions. The producers may be contacted by calling 877-901-EXPO (3976) or by e-mail at email@example.com. Their website (currently being updated) is www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Pelland Advertising maintains the Expo’s webpage. Visit Peter’s business at https://pelland.com.
David Gorin has decided to make the ultimate commitment to the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II by becoming its first Platinum Sponsor, according to a news release from Art Lieberman, show producer.
Gorin, whose experience encompasses 24 years in the industry, is the owner of David Gorin & Associates and the creator of Best Parks In America, both of which will be represented in the most prominent booths in the virtual exhibit hall.
The 2011 Expo has been renamed “David Gorin & Associates Presents – The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II.”
From 1987 to 2001, Gorin served as the president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). He created the National School of RV Park and Campground Management and served on its Board of Regents from 2001-2007, formalized the Certified Park Owner Program (CPO), created the website www.GoCampingAmerica.com, has managed and built the Virginia Campground Association for nine years and has received many awards and laurels from inside and outside the industry. There are few individuals in the campground industry that have the knowledge that Gorin has, and none with the vast experience.
Founded in 2002 (after Gorin stepped down from ARVC), David Gorin & Associates is considered a leading consulting firm on RV parks and campgrounds.
Gorin has teamed with strategic partner Donald O. Westphal, an experienced site planner, zoning, landscaping and design expert; Tom Zuidema, senior consulting associate, who has owned and operated parks in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Arizona; Douglas Campbell, senior consulting architect; and Jack May, CFP, who provides DGA with financial planning for their clients.
From 2002 until April, Gorin and his partner, Aubrey King, provided government relations consulting and representation to ARVC through their King & Gorin government relations firm. ARVC has just announced that it is terminating that relationship at the end of April and moving ARVC’s government relations business to an international law firm based in Washington, D.C. This change by ARVC will end Gorin’s 24 years of continuous service to ARVC. His service and work in the park industry will continue through David Gorin & Associates, Best Parks In American and the Virginia association.
DGA can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (703) 448-6863 or by fax at (703) 991-4065. In addition to his main office in McLean, Va., DGA also has a satellite office in Sarasota, Fla., that serves clients throughout the Southeastern U.S.
Gorin is still “hands on,” however, when it comes to campground operations. He was a developer and co-owner of Holiday Cove RV Resort in Florida from 2007-2010 and is actively seeking partnership opportunities.
David was one of the first to sign on to the virtual concept last year and was one of the earliest members of the Virtual show’s advisory board. Many of his ideas were incorporated into the marketing and development of the first Expo.
The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II is scheduled to take place for two days starting Nov. 11 days and another 60 days in an on-demand status. The producers may be contacted by calling (877) 901-EXPO (3976) or by e-mail at email@example.com. Their website (currently being updated) is www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Pelland Advertising maintains the Expo’s Webpage.
Producers of the first International Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo have released details about their second annual event, scheduled for Nov. 11-12 on the Internet.
The first virtual expo for the RV park and campground industry was held last November on the Internet, but software problems limited access and the overall success of the event.
“Due to the problems we all experienced with the software, we are pleased to announce that we have found a different software provider,” Producer Art Lieberman stated in a news release. “This company, VCopious of Conshohocken, Pa., will set up your booth for you. Simply send them the info you want in the booth and they will actually input that data into your booth for your approval. In addition they will give you two hours of training on how everything works and it will be done a month in advance so that dry runs can be made to make sure everything works correctly. How refreshing!”
Lieberman may have found the right software provider this time around. VCopious announced this week that the company has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 “Technology Start Up of the Year” to be honored at the 18th Annual Enterprise Awards. The Enterprise Awards recognize companies for their innovations, growth potential, leadership, company milestones and track record of achievement. The awards are hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Technology and Capital (PACT). Click here to learn more about the company that will provide the software for the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II.
Lieberman also announced plans for a spring 2012 show, set for Feb. 10-11.
“There will be a multiple expo agreement greatly discounted for you,” Lieberman stated in a an e-mail announcing the shows. “Both shows are live for two days and on demand for 60 days. All agreements will soon be available on the Expo’s website at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com.
“This year we also will be attempting to get more attendees from outdoor hospitality businesses besides campgrounds. We will be seeking owners or operators of marinas, golf or ski resorts, paddlesports facilities, dude ranches and even the National Park Service. Likewise, we will be seeking extremely high-profile speakers for our webinars with a vast amount of knowledge in diverse fields.”
Lieberman also announced that he has signed the first “Platinum” sponsor for the November expo — David Gorin.
“Never let it be said, even with his vast experience in the campground industry, that David Gorin is not a dynamic individual. Mr. Gorin is past president of ARVC, on the board of the National School of RV Parks and Campground Management, owner of Best Parks in America, a campground owner and, of course, the owner of David Gorin Associates, a consulting firm. David is also on the advisory board of the Expo. Quite a resume!”
To contact Lieberman or Deanne Bower, co-producer, call (877) 901-EXPO (3976), fax (866) 605-1388 or visit www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com.
The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo producers have announced the final tallies for attendance at the 2010 version of their trade show and conference, held entirely on the Internet through Jan. 31.
According to a news release, campground attendance shattered records for physical shows at any regional or state association in the history of the industry: 279 distinctive RV parks had representatives visit the site during the three-day live event and the additional 90 day “on-demand” period. All in all, nearly 500 unique attendees visited the event.
“According to some of our more experienced vendors, some of the expo’s attendees had never visited a national show in the industry,” Art Lieberman, show co-producer, stated in the release.
“We’re pretty proud of the results,” he continued, “although the software used to produce the event was highly criticized by sponsors, exhibitors and attendees alike. Since the live portion of the expo closed, Deanne (co-producer Deanne Bower) and I have been examining a half dozen reputable alternative software companies that produce virtual expos, and we have found three with whom we are further negotiations.”
Bower said she believes that any of that trio will create a software environment that is more user-friendly than the one used last year. “And”, she states, “we believe that we’ve chosen an opening date that nobody will forget: Nov. 11th of this year: 11/11/11.” In addition, at the advice of several exhibitors, Campground Expo is also preparing another expo for the spring of 2012.
“I read somewhere in an e-mail that the year 2011 has produced some interesting dates and numbers,” she cotninued. “There was 1/1/11, 1/11/11, and, of course, our target date for the Expo, 11/11/11. Strangely, there is another number that is significant. If you add the last two digits of the year you were born (in the 20th century) to the age you will be in 2011, you always get 111. I bet this year is going to be the year of the campground!”
The producers have already had a bit of luck. They have added three people to the advisory committee of the expo who bring their own expertise to the event:
- Tracie Fisher, of Campground Manager Today, earned her invitation to the board by voluntarily assisting exhibitors in setting up their booths at last year’s event. Fisher also simultaneously worked in three different booths last year: the National School of RV Park and Campground Management, the Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and her own company’s exhibit.
- Also joining the board is well-known RV cooking expert, writer and owner of Roadabode Productions, Evanne Schmarder. Evanne took an early interest in the first Expo, conducted her cooking show live and volunteering to host an open forum.
- Finally, the producers were able to persuade Norman Boucher, owner of LCN Outdoors and president of the ARVC Supplier Council, to join the board. Norm’s expertise in the outdoor hospitality industry cannot be matched and, as a supplier of hard goods to campgrounds, his input is a necessity for a successful virtual event.
The producers of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo that was conducted last week on the Internet are pleased but far from satisfied with their first-time event.
“The software was much improved from a technical standpoint from the earlier version we had seen. But it sacrificed user-friendliness to reach that goal,” Art Lierberman, expo producer, stated in a news release. “The sponsors, exhibitors and the visitors all seemed to love the concept and almost all of them have indicated that they would participate in the show if it were to be run again.”
“We have several options going forward. We can run the show in 2011 utilizing Expos2, the provider of the software, under the condition that they revise the program to make both exhibitors and visitors more comfortable at the Expo – or seek another software company. We have, of course been reviewing our alternatives. It does appear, though, that we will try the concept again next year. There have been several entities who have expressed interest in co-producing the event with us.”
The expo’s numbers were good as far as attendance was concerned, he said, and, since the Expo is still open in the “On Demand” status, the final attendance figures are not in. At this writing 3,370 outdoor hospitality businesses were pre-registered for the event and over 420 people attended, 85% of who were campgrounds. An additional 20 or so people are logging in every day at http://live.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com, since the Expo is still running. Hundreds of exhibitor brochures and videos were inserted into attendee’s briefcases to be reviewed later.
“The webinars and Open Forums probably broke records,” said Lieberman. “Derrick Crandall, who delivered the keynote address, had well over 100 individuals watching him live and several dozen more have watched the recorded version of his webinar. Derrick’s topic was unique, in that it covered the attempt by the First Lady to draw attention to childhood obesity and to get youngsters outdoors and recreating (especially at campgrounds). He pointed out that statistics indicate that children spend seven hours a day in front of TV screens or computer or game monitors, which accounts for the high number of obese and overweight children in our society. Even with advances in medical procedures in our present society, children will live 5 years less than their parents.”
All of the other webinars received equal praise from attendees and booth staff as well. Evanne Schmarder’s live broadcast of her cooking show from her RV drew raves from many people. Discussions about Wi-Fi and registration software were also well received.
Lieberman and co-producer Deanne Bower have promised to produce a “White Paper” about the Expo, including full statistics and an evaluation of the software improvements necessary to repeat the event next year. In the meantime they expressed their gratitude to Deb Kohls, Peter Pelland, David Gorin, Jim Ganley, Chris Hipple, Tracie Fisher, Evanne Schmarder, Derrick Crandall, Robin Chilson, Mary Arlington, Tyler Duffy, Eric Stumberg, Gary Pace, Peter Kearns, Jerome Steverosky, Steve Ashkin, Larry Losconsy, Mike Prom and Dennis Macready and many others too numerous to mention, all of whom had a hand in making this vision a reality.
Comments about the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo can be directed to the producers by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the expo can be found at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com or by calling them at (87) 901-EXPO (3976).
Editor’s Note: Steve Bibler, editor of Woodall’s Campground Management and web editor of RVBUSINESS.com, participated along with a host of other people in the RV park and campground business this week in the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo conducted on the Internet at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. The online expo resumes at noon (EST) – and concludes at 6 p.m. – today. Here are a few of his impressions on this new age type of convention, an ethereal event to which no one travels and everyone, at least by design, benefits.
The “phone” rang around 12:15 p.m. on Monday.
But, for the life of me, I didn’t know how to answer it.
The sound was coming from my computer and signaled that someone was visiting my “booth” in the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo on the Internet.
This was just one of many frustrating experiences I encountered setting up, then navigating my first virtual expo.
The expo, a first-time attempt by East Coast businessman Art Lieberman, encountered plenty of snags — but also some bright spots.
“I have to admire Art Lieberman to have the chutzpah to take the initiative, finance this and do something no one else in the industry has been willing to do,” said Peter Pelland, owner of Pelland Advertising, Haydenville, Mass., and an event co-organizer.
“I embraced it. I knew there were a lot of risks going into uncharted territory. We knew we were all taking some significant risks. There could be thousands of people, they could crash the software and who knows what? On the other hand there could be nobody showing up. The reality has been somewhere in between.”
On the upside, 1,129 visitors reportedly visited the expo on opening day. And some of the 63 exhibitors did succeed in doing business at the expo.
On the downside, there were “horrible software issues,” said Pelland.
“There were lots of problems on opening day,” he added. “There was so little support (from the software provider) that nobody knew how it was suppose to work.”
Organizers spent most of Sunday trying to iron out the bugs in the software, while tech support was essentially absent, Pelland said.
A panel discussion scheduled for Monday had to be reset for Tuesday, and the system crashed mid-way through the rescheduled event, he noted. The quality of archived presentations was also below average, he added.
“The company that provided the software, I don’t think anyone is pleased or would return to in the future,” Pelland noted. “Given those limitations, even people who have had a less-than-stellar experience still think we’re on the right track. It can only get better year to year.”
Visitors and exhibitors had mixed comments.
Jeff Krug, a campground owner from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, visited the expo on Monday and was disappointed by his visit.
“Unfortunately, for me it was very frustrating. The idea has merit but I didn’t honestly find it as easy to navigate and get to places as I hoped it would be. I’m sure when you do the first of anything it will be hard to cover all those bases.”
Krug, otherwise, doesn’t attend trade shows to support his 34-site campground in the southeast corner of Iowa, so attending a virtual expo online at virtually no cost appealed to him. “If this works, it’s a good idea,” he said.
“If I would have been able to find it easier to navigate,” observed Krug, “I would have looked to do a little bit of business. It’s always nice to visit with people who you do business with,” he said.
He also tried to attend some of the live presentations by a host of industry speakers booked for the expo but was thwarted in his attempt to do so by nagging software issues.
John Healt, sales executive at Lodging Kit Co., Boonville, N.Y., a supplier of software for park models, helped staff the company’s booth and also visited other booths.
“It’s really a neat idea,” he said. “I like the concept. The convenience, you can’t beat. But there are a few tweaks and wishes. They need a better way to know who’s visiting the booth.”
Healt noted that his firm received “eight or nine visitors (not exhibitors) that did visit the booth and provided some contact information. We will follow up on that. If that pans out, that will be great.”
Pelland noted that exhibitors received daily reports on the number of visitors.
“We crunched the numbers and the actual number of valid prospects who came to our booth was 5% of the numbers we were led to believe,” he said. “But all said and done, that is not bad. We could go to ARVC InSites or regional shows and come out with that number and be a success.”
Pelland, as did other exhibitors, sent out a follow-up e-mail to booth visitors.
“Many of those could lead to some business,” he said.
As an exhibitor, Pelland liked “the overall look of the expo, although even there I have many, many suggestions for improvements.”
Though not involved in the selection of the software provider, Pelland said he feels confident there is a provider that could offer better software and support than the one Lieberman selected. Having said that, Pelland is concerned that the software glitches turned off some visitors who decided to leave the expo and not return.
“I’ve gotten feedback form clients as well as fellow exhibitors,” he said. “They’ve got some concerns. This was good as a first attempt, but if this is going to happen a second time, we better smooth out a lot of rough edges. Again, I have nothing but admiration for Art to get this flying. He deserves a whole lot of credit.”
“Despite the problems with software and no real expectations, there was nothing historical to compare it with,” Pelland concluded. “I’m very pleased my company has been involved and we would do it again in a minute.”
The first Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo starts today (Nov. 1) and runs through Wednesday on the Internet. Daily expo hours are noon to 6 p.m. EST.
The event features a variety of speakers pertaining to campgrounds and RV parks along with over 60 exhibitors where visitors can chat online, view video demonstrations and download product brochures.
Log onto www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com to visit the expo. When loaded, click the full screen button for optimum viewing.
Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, kicks off the day with a keynote address titled “Let’s Move” starting at 1 p.m. Crandall will discuss how campgrounds can play a key role in contributing to raising a new generation of campers and taking advantage of First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to get children outdoors and recreating.
Other presenters today are:
- At 3 p.m., the topic of “Social Media: Practical Applications for your Business” will be discussed by a panel composed of Robyn Chilson, Brookdale Family Campground; Tracie Fischer, principal, Campground Manager Today; and Mary Arlington, High Plains Camping.
- At 4 p.m., “Reservation Systems” will be addressed by Tyler Duffy, Campground Automation; Peter Kearns, Campground Manager; Stan Spielbusch, Campground Master; Gary Pace, Leisure Interactive, Hercules; and Jerome Staverosky, RVTripsetter.
Tuesday’s agenda features:
- At 1 p.m., Evanne Schmarder, ”America’s RV chef” and creator of RVCookingShow.com,, will present a “live” cooking show demonstration.
- At 3 p.m., “Sustainability: Defining Green,” will be addreseds by Seve Ashkin, president, Ashkin Group, “Father of Green Cleaning;” and Larry Losconszy, president of Clean Up America.
- At 4 p.m., “Wi –Fi : Emerging Trends and Guest Expectations” will be presented by Jim Ganley, Checkbox; Eric Stumberg and Frank Drew of TengoInternet; and David Gould, CA World Wi-FI.
Wednesday’s agenda features:
At 1 p.m., Mike Prom, Zenith Zone Consulting Group, will discuss “Effective E-Salesmanship: How do you maintain connections with your guests after they leave?” Prom will discuss the important steps to gaining permission and then maintaining effective sales strategies for reconnecting your business with your profitable guests.
Starting next Monday (Nov. 1) and continuing for 92 days, the exchange of information for campground owners and the way they purchase their products and services for their facilities will change forever, according to a news release.
“It will change because a small group of suppliers has chosen to participate in the first outdoor hospitality convention to be held entirely on the Internet,” Art Lieberman, produced of the first Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo, stated in a news release.
“For 63 exhibitors, a few dozen speakers at webinars and open forums and the campground owners, resort personnel, the press and other interested parties, the International Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo will revolutionize the way business is conducted.”
The economy is responsible, in part, for the growth of virtual shows. “Expenses for travel, hotels, food and time away from businesses have accounted for declining attendance at physical conventions. On the other hand, the benefits from conducting a show online offer an attractive alternative,” he said.
He continued, “From their homes, businesses or any place with an Internet connection, an attendee can spend minutes or hours growing their business. There’s no walking necessary, no scheduling needed and, in the case of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo, absolutely no cost involved. This expo is totally green and accessible to the handicapped. You can view the expo and still vote on Nov. 2 without an absentee ballot.”
The expo is the brainchild of a group of well known suppliers to the campground industry and has expanded into the marina, golf resort, dude ranch, paddlesports and ski industries. Much is owed to Deb Kohls, David Gorin, Peter Pelland, Jim Ganley and Chris Hipple who have supported Lieberman and Deanne Bower in producing the event. Lieberman had the expertise to envision the venture because of his 10-year experience in producing several physical events in various industries. Along the way Tracie Fisher and Evanne Schmarder have contributed a huge amount of time to the project.
“There were bumps in the road and dozens of questions that had to be answered,” Lieberman said. “The software provider has added many new customizations to their standard program to accommodate specific requests from the advisory board. It’s all so new and innovative and will be, for all involved, a new experience. But it had to be tried – it is the 21st century – and will be starting Monday of next week.”
To be part of this new venture log in to the Expo at the site http://pre-show.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com, answering a few questions and then engaging upon this new experience.