ARVC Sees Some Positives in TACO Changes
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) plans to market ARVC memberships to unaffiliated Texas parks as it attempts to recoup as many members as possible in the Lone Star State after the membership of the Texas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (TACO) opted not to rejoin ARVC — as a group — starting in 2009, Linda Profaizer, ARVC president and CEO, told Woodall’s Campground Management today (March 10).
TACO offered the ARVC membership in a separate promotion over the winter and reported this week that just 153 or 34% of its 444 members elected to rejoin ARVC.
The percentage response was not unexpected, said Profaizer, who has had several months to plan for the membership decline and resultant dues drop-off. “It’s not something we like, certainly, but we will try to get our members back,” she said.
Many of them are small parks with less than 50 campsites, she surmised.
The TACO board adopted the voluntary membership option last year in partial response to the $50 annual increase in ARVC dues effective for 2009. TACO informed ARVC of its change in policy in late October.
By falling below the 60% level, TACO went from its “Affiliated” status, and below the “Cooperating” status requirements, to a “Direct” membership status. Under the Affiliated and Cooperating arrangements, ARVC required campgrounds to be a member of their state association to become an ARVC member.
Now, ARVC is free to go directly to these non-member parks and solicit their membership. Non-members of TACO also will finally become eligible to join ARVC.
The task will mean added work for the ARVC staff, Profaizer said, but she sees it as an opportunity to take the ARVC story directly to the campgrounds.
“Every time you have a challenge, it’s better to look at it as an opportunity so you want to be proactive about it and get the results you want,” she said.
The plan is to solicit memberships through letters, e-mails and phone calls to the nearly 300 Texas parks and campgrounds that were ARVC members up until this year, she explained. ARVC will do the same for the Texas parks who are not TACO members.
The marketing effort will soften the financial hit that ARVC absorbed with the drop in Texas campground membership. Profaizer is to receive from TACO a list of those Texas campgrounds that renewed their ARVC membership and will then have a good idea of the revenue impact. ARVC dues are based on the size of campground and range between $135 and $458 annually.
Daniel Gurley, ARVC’s new director of membership, will head the effort. “We’ll do whatever needs to be done. We all at some point in time will get on the phone and be speaking,” Profaizer said.
She surmised it will take multiple contacts to regain each member.
“We won’t get back this year all the members, but we’ll get back some,” she said.
As with any state which does not have an ARVC-affiliated association, campgrounds in Texas can join ARVC on a direct basis and receive full ARVC benefits.
Meanwhile, Profaizer said the revenue decline will not alter ARVC’s major marketing efforts underway this year that are funded in part by the $50 dues increase. Of that increase, $40 goes directly to fund ARVC’s new public relations program to promote the campground industry in the media and for the redesign of the GoCampingAmerica website.
“Our industry promotions efforts have done very well so far this year. Given time, they will be even more successful,” she said. And the website redesign work, “what I’ve seen so far looks good. It will be a much better website, more user-friendly.” A launch is scheduled for this spring.
“Anything we can do to promote our industry in a positive way is good,” she added.