OCOA Convention Attains High Mark
Editor's Note: The following report comes from Kristy Smith, executive director of the Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA).
The 2013 Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) Spring Conference and Trade Show was a success. The event was held March 8-9 at the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport with nearly 100 campground owners, representing approximately 45 campgrounds in attendance.
The Trade Show featured 32 vendors. As always, attendees enjoyed networking with their fellow campground owners in a relaxed, learning environment.
We had several conference sponsors and because of their generosity, we were able to keep attendance costs low and add refreshment breaks to our meeting. A huge thanks to our sponsors, which included the following: Gold level – Leisure Systems Inc. and Henley Graphic Communications; Silver level – Evergreen USA; and Bronze level – Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and TengoInternet.
The event kicked off with a pre-conference Wastewater Training Course led by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The day-long course offered 6 1/2 hours of Ohio EPA approved “OM” hours for owners and operators wastewater systems. The course had approximately 25 attendees.
On Friday, March 8, the conference started with the Conference Welcome and Opening by OCOA President Bob Romeyn. Soon after, Glen Cobb, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation, made brief remarks to the group, gave an ODNR update and took questions from the audience.
Next, attendees heard from keynote speaker Barb Youmans, senior director of membership and education for the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). Youmans' speech, “Using Industry Trends to Make Smart Business Decisions,” focused on how to use industry information for better business decision making practices. In particular, she discussed the ARVC Operations Report (a business analysis of member parks which asked a multitude of questions about business last year and compared that to two years ago) and the 20’s Group Report (a financial analysis of all 20’s Group parks). She also discussed current trends and where attendees could go for the most up-to-date information.
The first set of breakout sessions followed lunch and included the following options: “Making ADA Compliance Work For You” led by L. Scott Lissner of The Ohio State University; and “How to Maximize Relationships with TourismOhio” led by the Ohio Office of Tourism – Pat Barker, director, and Eric Herzog, tourism information/research manager.
The OCOA General Membership Meeting followed the breakout sessions. The financial report was given and the 2013-2014 operating budget was approved. OCOA E-board members gave their reports and took questions. OCOA lobbyist Carolyn Towner gave a legislative update, including an in-depth discussion on newly proposed Ohio sales taxes, including those on campgrounds and related services.
New Board Elections
The Board of Trustees elections were held and the following were elected as OCOA board members and officers:
- Vice President of Government Affairs – Steve Cross (Cross Creek Camping Resort).
- Vice President of Public Relations – Chip Hanawalt (Autumn Lakes Campground).
- Secretary – Joan Faneuff (Leafy Oaks Campground).
- NW Trustee #1 – Elaine Harris (Bluffton/Findlay SW KOA).
- NW Trustee #2 – Chris Rubeck (Walnut Grove Campground).
- NW Alternate Trustee #1 – Charles Knight (Camp Sandusky).
- NE District Trustee #2 – Peggy McQuaide (Clay’s Park).
- NE Trustee #4 – Aaron Grey (Kenisee’s Grand River Camp and Canoe).
- NE Alternate Trustee #4 – Brenda Lucas (Camp Toodik).
- Central Trustee – Richard Felber (Dogwood Valley).
- Central Alternate Trustee – Mark Kasper (Lazy River at Granville).
- SW Trustee – Jeremiah Anglin (Cedarbrook Campground).
- SW Alternate Trustee – Annmaire McClellan (Arrowhead Campground).
The Trade Show followed the annual meeting with 32 vendors marketing all types of products and services in attendance.
Following dinner with the vendors, we closed the night with our annual auction and fundraiser. OCOA members, Trade Show vendors and other supporters generously donated items toward the auction and silent auction. The event raised almost $8,000 for OCOA. Thanks to everyone who donated auction items and who contributed to the association.
In addition, we held a 50/50 drawing, which raised funds for the OCOA PAC. The winners of the 50/50 drawing were Bill and Brenda Lucas of Camp Toodik who generously donated $300 of their winnings back to the PAC. After the Lucas’ donation, the 50/50 raised over $540 for the PAC. We also received an additional $375 in donations to the PAC throughout the conference. Thank you to all who donated to the PAC!
On Saturday, March 9, we began the day with a second set of breakout sessions, including: “Social Media: Claim Your Spot!” led by Roxi Baxley of Strait Web Solutions and “Successful Campground Operations, Proactive Management” led by Larry Brownfield of KOA.
Next, the Trade Show reopened to allow attendees to continue conversations with the vendors and to finalize purchases.
Following lunch, we had one final round of breakout sessions including: “Keeping Your Campground Fun and SAFE” led by Jean LaBarge of Rinehart Insurance and Dan Fullencamp of West Bend Mutual and “Earn S’more From Your Camp Store” led by Sheila Isaac of Leisure Systems.
Before adjourning, a Cracker Barrel session was held where industry hot topics and issues of interest and concern to attendees were discussed, including credit card processing, Wi-Fi, and policies on dogs.
OCOA's fall conference and campground tour will be held Oct. 22-23 at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Chillicothe, Ohio.