Vendors Shows Their Wares at Convention
While last month's ReV up in Reno convention in Sparks, Nev., provided private park operators with close to 20 educational seminars and cracker barrel sessions, twice as many campground industry suppliers offered their own form of education as they explained new products, discussed the pros and cons of joining franchise networks and troubleshot some of the problems they were having at their campgrounds.
“Most people (who come to see me) have a problem of some kind,” said Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, which provides wireless Internet service to campgrounds and their guests.
Stumberg said one of the biggest challenges park operators face comes from international guests who use Skype and Vonage to place Internet phone calls. But many parks haven’t yet invested in sufficient bandwidth to accommodate the needs of multiple Skype and Vonage users.
“You either have to have higher bandwidth or set expectations appropriately for your guests,” he said.
While attendance at the tradeshow was not as high as many had hoped for, several vendors said their business levels were improving this year.
“Our business is exploding,” said Leo Ganley of CheckBox Systems LLC, a Gray, Maine-based Wi-Fi service provider, adding that growing numbers of parks are recognizing that having Wi-Fi service is a “baseline requirement” for their guests.
Many of the vendors attending the show displayed items that had environmentally friendly applications, such as biodegradable pet waste products and non-polluting campfire fuels.
Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group was also on hand. But this time he wasn’t only showing power outlets and utility pedestals, but energy efficient hand dryers for bathrooms, which are manufactured by Xlerator. Elliott said the systems, which can dry one’s hands in less than 15 seconds, are so efficient that they pay for themselves in less than a year in electricity and paper towel savings. He said the manufacturer has a calculator at www.exceldryer.com, which park operators can use to calculate their potential savings based on their electricity and paper towel costs.
Elliott said the hand dryers were selling like hot cakes. “I’ve sold more of these units in the first three or four months of this year than I have in the past two years,” he said, adding that park operators are becoming increasingly interested in the paper saving units because of the rising cost of trash pickup.
Elliott said he is also seeing increased interest in compact fluorescent light bulbs, electric meters, timer boxes and lighting equipment with photo cells, which can turn the lights on and off depending on the amount of sunlight or darkness outside.
Meanwhile, Paul Croteau of Eaton Corp. was showing off several types of solar-powered lighting for RV sites, pathways and boat docks. “They’re a heck of a lot nicer than what you’d find at Home Depot,” he said.
Campground insurance providers were also available, explaining their latest campground insurance offerings, including Evergreen USA of Lewiston, Maine, and Sturgis, S.D.-based Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Inc., which was promoting a new campground insurance program offered by Firemen’s Fund.
Representatives for Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts and Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) were also meeting with independent park operators to talk to them about joining their respective franchise systems.
A few steps away, David Gorin of Best Parks in America offered a special show rate for park operators interested in joining his network of 52 high quality parks. “We’d like to get some new affiliates in California,” he said. “This is a way for independent parks to leverage a well-known brand.”