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AGI Holds 2nd RV/Campground Conference

February 11, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) drew 201 attendees and exhibitors to its 2008 RV Resort & Campground Conference & Expo, Jan. 21-23 at the InterContinental New Orleans – a 30% increase from its first annual affair in early 2007.
Attendees at the conference, hosted by Affinity’s Coast to Coast Resorts, Good Sam Club, Camp Club USA and Woodall’s and Trailer Life directories, represented RV park and campground owners and operators plus private membership park owners, managers and sales and marketing staffs in addition to various providers servicing the outdoor resort industry.
Andy Cohen, a noted author and “idea and innovation guru” who has worked with some of the nation’s best known business brands, served as keynote speaker. In addition, Gary LaBella, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), presented a progress report on the Go RVing campaign. Derrick Crandall, president and CEO of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), addressed obstacles to the growth of national park visitation and measures his organization is taking to counter that trend. And Grant Miller, president of AGI’s new Affinity Clubs division, reviewed some of AGI’s newest programs focused on the RV park and campground sector.
More than 20 companies exhibited at the conference – which is distinct from the campground investment conference Affinity now holds each October – marketing insurance, Wi-Fi trends, collections and loan servicing, real estate, marketing premiums, park models and electrical services.
Also on the agenda were breakout sessions on financing strategies, Wi-Fi trends, risk management, insurance issues, development concerns, marketing challenges and hospitality techniques developed to create one-on-one relationships with park guests. The advantages of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Certified Park Operator program were also addressed.
“The companies that host this conference hope to meet and go beyond and exceed your expectations for the event,” Miller, serving as host of the conference for Ventura, Calif.-based AGI, told attendees at the opening session. “Our mission is to continually build that bridge between the consumer markets, which are our members and subscribers, and our business partners, all of you RV park owners, operators, service providers, manufacturers and dealers. In order for us to all grow our business together, we need to understand your needs. We think this is a perfect forum to do just that.”
During his subsequent presentation, Miller, a former Resort Condominiums International (RCI) executive now based at Affinity’s Denver operations, outlined some of the benchmarks his newly rebranded parent company and his Affinity Clubs divisional operations had reached over the past year:

  • Affinity’s Good Sam Club, the nation’s largest RV owners’ organization, reached and sustained a membership file of more than a million members. The total at year’s end was 1,012,000 to be exact.
  • Coast to Coast, the membership resort network, introduced a new Grand Getaways membership offering that added an incremental 2,600 members to the file and diminished the overall file degradation to less than 5%, a 10-year low.
  • Camp Club USA, the company’s new discount club, posted sizable growth in membership, which now stands just shy of 40,000 members with a network of more than 725 campground affiliates.
  • Affinity in October began partnering with Barclays to introduce a new Good Sam and Coast to Coast Visa Signature credit card with a “Rec Rewards” loyalty program through which customers may redeem points for free camping, club memberships, retail, gas and dining gift cards, and cash back.
  • A new strategic alliance between Affinity and Digital Rez International Inc. (DRI), the Barbados-based provider of park management and reservation software, designed to extend Affinity’s RV Tripsetter Internet-based central reservation system brand to the more than 3,000 RV parks and campgrounds DRI currently serves worldwide.
    A major new focus of Affinity Clubs, RV Tripsetter was introduced to attendees through demonstrations at the exhibit booth and through training sessions for current and prospective users during the conference. “We were very pleased with the interest and traction the RV Tripsetter exhibit and training sessions generated,” said Miller. “We truly believe that RV Tripsetter will revolutionize the outdoor resort industry.”
    Miller, post facto, said he felt the conference had gone well, having served the purpose for which it was set up by AGI, publisher of RV Business and Woodall’s Campground Management.
    “The 2008 RVRC Conference & Expo was a resounding success,” said Miller. “Through the informative sessions, exhibits and popular networking opportunities, we believe we accomplished our goals and provided momentum in our collective efforts to grow the outdoor resort industry. We are committed to hosting this conference on an annual basis.”

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