Fuel Hikes Don’t Deter Big Riggers
The current spike in fuel prices doesn’t seem to be deterring the owners of “big rigs,” says the man who should know, Ken Hamill, publisher of the Big Rigs Best Bets Campground Directory.
“I’ve talked to park owners who retail our book and every park I’ve talked to says that their reservations are up from last year, with the exception of a few who say they are even with 2007, and 2007 was a good year, and in some cases their best year,” said Hamill, who is based in Kerrville, Texas.
The 486-page, eighth annual directory features information about 1,100 RV parks that cater to large motorhomes. Hamill and his wife, Ellie, personally visit each park listed in their directory, so they’re on the road part of each year. The directory lists big rig-compatible parks in the lower 48 states and Canada’s six most popular provinces.
New listings for big-rig friendly parks in Alberta and British Columbia were added for the 2008 edition, as were approximately 40 U.S. parks.
“They (park owners) are cautiously optimistic. They expect a good year. They are content if it is as good as ‘ 07. I think the parks that will get hurt are along the interstates that rely on overnight stays. Those parks will be most affected by fuel. I’ve talked with folks from Washington, D.C., to California and I have a good feeling.”
The eighth edition of his campground directory, which was published Jan. 16, also is doing well, he said. Sales of the directory at RV parks, RV service centers, manufacturers and through RV Bookstore, are up slightly, he said. “That tells me the segment we focus on, which is primarily motorcoaches 36 feet and up and some fifth-wheels, is still doing traveling. We think things will be OK long-term.”
Publishers Hit the Road to View Parks
The Hamills attended the Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) Show in Pomona, Calif., in March where they sponsored booths for eight upscale RV resorts. They head out in early June for an extended trip to visit parks in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and other Gulf States. Then, in early August, they’ll head north to Colorado and Montana and then east all the way to Maine, then south to the Mid-Atlantic states and the mid-South before returning home. All told, they’ll put about 15,000 miles on their motorhome this year, Hamill estimated. When asked how much he would spend on fuel for these trips, he replied that he hadn’t given it much thought.
“We really like visiting new parks, even if it’s a mom and pop park. Typically, they are tuned into our market, even if it’s just a row or a few sites. We want to visit that park and include it in our publications,” he said.
“We like sorting out the fluff,” the Hamills said in a news release. “It’s been our objective since we released our first edition in 2001. From experience we know all too well other directories accept advertising from parks, which are not ‘big rig friendly,’ yet are allowed to advertise as such. We refuse to do so.
“We have personally visited each park to ensure you have adequate swing room and an acceptable comfort level, even if it’s just an overnight stay. As a result, each park listing includes specific site numbers and their respective lengths – the preferred area for you to reserve or ask for at check-in,” they added. “So that RVers have no surprises or U-turns, we have personally driven the route to the parks.”
The Hamills target ownership parks and have established promotional relationships with 28 such parks across the U.S. “The demand is coming from folks who are expecting more from an RV park, even if it’s just for an overnight stay. We do a lot of jumpstarting for these parks,” he said.
In addition to information about the RV parks themselves, the directory also offers:
The directory also is available in a navigable CD version. The directory retails for $24.95.
For information on ordering bulk copies of Big Rigs, call (830) 792-9170 or visit www.big-rigs-rv.com.