Bambei: Come to ARVC Conference in Knoxville
Paul Bambei is closing his third year as CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). He spoke on a number of industry topics during an hour-long interview with Woodall’s Campground Management in mid-summer. Highlights of his comments appear in the following story and in a companion piece.
Call it a “shake up.”
That’s a phrase Paul Bambei, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), used to describe the 2013 ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) scheduled for Nov. 4-8 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Unlike past years, ARVC has avoided conflicts with many other industry events, such as the KOA Convention, LSI Symposium and the IAAPA Show by putting the conference at the start of the month. The ARVC conference also will not conflict with the annual National RV Trade Show, which is held after Thanksgiving in Louisville, Ky., and big, 50th anniversary celebrations planned by the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) and Campground Owners of New York (CONY).
“These are all great shows that were tearing our members apart in terms of which one do they go to. We wanted to eliminate that conflict,” Bambei said.
“We will be able to see our friends from the manufacturing side at RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) and other shows that conflicted with ours. That won’t be an issue. We’re also avoiding the Thanksgiving holiday.”
All told, “This should translate into lower air fares and an easier time to get away.”
The ARVC conference will dovetail with the 48th Annual Smoky Mountain Gift Show Nov. 5-8 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, located 25 miles south of Knoxville. The show is popular with campground owners, Bambei noted.
“Convenience” is the operative word for the 2013 conference, as Knoxville is located within a 500-mile drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and a similar percentage of ARVC member parks and campgrounds, Bambei noted.
“The whole idea of going to a place like Knoxville makes sense for that time of the year,” he added.
“We expect to see a lot of people driving in, including owners in the North who have shut down for the season and are heading South to their winter homes,” he said.
Knoxville, a city of 200,000 located in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, will afford ARVC some unique opportunities to offer its members attending the conference, Bambei said.
The Hilton Knoxville is the host hotel with the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park as the secondary hotel. The expo will be held in the Knoxville Convention Center.
OHCE offers a choice of over 40 educational seminars, all of which are Outdoor Hospitality Education Program-approved and presented by nationally recognized speakers and leaders in the industry. ARVC has expanded educational content to give more learning opportunities. All educational seminars from Tuesday through Friday are now included in the full registration fee.
All sessions will take place at the Knoxville Convention Center unless otherwise noted.
Once at the conference, attendees will also notice improvements in seminar content and even the timing of some traditional events.
“We’ve shaken things up quite a bit this year,” Bambei said. “We have studied our members’ requests, so the topics of education are going to be so much different from what we’ve had in the past. For example, we have put together a multigenerational panel that includes the founder, middle generation family member and the children of that generation that are thinking about whether they want to get into the family business.
“We know there is a lot of inner-family questioning, decision-making that goes on whether the younger generations want to get into the business. We want to profile people in those situations who have been through the process, made the decision to stay and why they decided to stay with it. It should be lively and entertaining.”
New Marketing Tool Launch
During the conference, ARVC will launch a new marketing tool it has designed to provide valuable data to help campground owners run their campgrounds more efficiently.
“ARVC hasn’t been known for its data pool and its ability to pull rich data out about the industry,” Bambei conceded. This as of yet unnamed marketing tool should change that. It will let campground owners benchmark their financial data against other parks in their region and across the U.S. while maintaining privacy between participating parks, Bambei said.
“We think parks and we as a trade association will be able to see trends that affect occupancy and affect decisions day to day. We will at least understand what the median averages are and what the tolerances are of any revenue line or expense line we’re tracking.
“We won’t have a view into any one park’s proprietary data. A park that wants to keep its data private will have the ability to do that through this tool. When you pull it all up in a composite form, that’s where ARVC will have an interest in seeing all that data amassed together.”
“This is something we are very proud of,” he continued. “We’ve been working on it for some time. We’ve shared it with the ARVC Business Forum and the 20 Groups. We held webinars with both those groups to get them excited about it. We’ll put the marketing pieces together as we get closer to Knoxville.”
While no specific cost was revealed, the tool “will be very affordable,” he said.
Awards Night Move Up
ARVC also has moved up the awards night from the traditional Friday night closing to Thursday night.
“In the past, the awards banquet had been a ‘bottom of the 9th event.’ People got their awards, a few pictures were taken and everybody went home. We want people to revel in their awards. We want people to come en masse to that event and give them some good quality time to bask in the limelight.”
ARVC has lined up Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), to give the keynote speech at this year’s conference. Dow’s presentation will be at the noon luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
As head of the national umbrella organization dedicated to increasing travel to and within the United States, Dow was instrumental in leading an industrywide movement to create the Travel Promotion Act, which was signed into law in 2010. This led to the development of the nation’s first-ever communications and promotion program, known as Brand USA, which is designed to increase international travel to the United States.
Prior to joining USTA in 2005, Dow had a successful 34-year career with Marriott International. He frequently speaks on the topics of leadership, sales, marketing and management, and has co-authored two books: “Turned On – Eight Vital Insights to Energize your People, Customers and Profits” and “The Trust Imperative – The Competitive Advantage of Trust-Based Business Relationships.”
Visit www.arvc.org for more details.
Music Licensing Update, New Website Assistance
ARVC has a year under its belt of administering the music-licensing program for BMI and has worked out the bugs, most of which were administrative, Bambei said. It was an archaic, time-consuming process done via faxes and countless phone calls.
Over 1,000 campgrounds signed up with ARVC in the inaugural year of the program. “I can tell you the three music licensing companies were a bit nervous going in because it was new to them. They are all encouraged by the participation,” Bambei said.
For 2014 and beyond, ARVC has arranged for enrollees – new and renewals – to do everything online effective July 1.
New enrollees may learn all about the program, access a registration form, enroll and pay via credit card.
For renewals, campground operators may view their past invoice, renew their license and pay via credit card.
“It’s a new day for ARVC,” Bambei said. “We’re trying to get there. We think this website is the way to do it. Everything we communicate in the future is reliant on this website. We’re not going to kill people with e-mails. You go to arvc.org and everything you need to know is there.”