In addition to performing a watchdog role in protecting private parks from new laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is making a strategic move to rewrite many of the nationally recognized standards for private parks.
These standards are contained in a variety of federal laws and regulations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1194 Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks & Campgrounds; the National Electric Code NFPA 70; the Uniform Plumbing Code; and the Americans With Disabilities Act Series 1006.
ARVC formed an NFPA 1194 committee earlier this year and is developing a series of proposed changes in the next revision cycle that will address Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for campsites; evictions and ejections; lengths of stays; as well as zoning and taxation issues involving park model RVs.
ARVC is focusing its attention on NFPA 1194 because that is the nationally recognized standard that the association uses when it works with state and local governments involving proposed regulations.
“By taking a proactive role in developing new industry standards, ARVC can get ahead of the legal curve and provide a framework that can guide legislators and regulators moving forward,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, in a written announcement.
“Since new regulations and laws are made by officials who often have little or no knowledge of the campground business, it behooves us to develop our own positions on a number of topics and to share these position statements with the state and federal agencies and legislative bodies,” Sims said.
Sims cautioned, however, that just because ARVC is asserting the private park industry’s positions doesn’t mean that every ARVC recommendation will be incorporated into the NFPA code.
“This is a very extensive process,” he said, adding that the closing date for NFPA public input is Jan. 5. The final updates to the code are expected to be completed in 2017.
While ARVC is continuing to refine its positions on a number of topics, the association is also working with the U.S. Access Board “to achieve regulations that are reasonable and attainable by the private RV park and campground industry to meet the needs of all guests,” Sims said.
ARVC also supports legislative and regulatory action to enable park operators to meter electricity at individual campsites. While park operators are not public utilities and do not resell electricity, ARVC believes that park owners should be able to recoup the actual costs of electricity by their guests.
“Some campers may use a small amount of electricity and others may use a substantial amount,” Sims said. “Submetering addresses this issue by enabling RV park and campground owners to allocate electricity to their guests according to their actual usage as opposed to applying a flat fee to everyone, which discourages the conservation of electricity.”
ARVC’s NFPA 1194 Committee includes Garry Cole of Shelby (Ohio)/Mansfield Kampgrounds of America (KOA); Wade Elliott, president of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash.; Mark B. Hazelbaker of Kasieta Legal Group LLC in Madison, Wis.; Pat Hittmeier, president of KOA in Billings, Mont.; Michael Hobby of Moon Landing RV Park and Marina in Cross Hill, S.C.; Rob Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. in Milford, Ohio; and Sims.
Comments involving NFPA 1194 and other regulatory or legislative issues involving private parks should be sent to Sims at email@example.com. ARVC members can obtain a copy of NFPA 1194 from the online store at www.arvc.org at a members-only discounted price of $27.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) are working together to try to educate municipalities across the U.S about the property-tax-exempt status of park model RVs, according to an announcement from ARVC.
The two organizations are also collaborating in an effort to identify states where legislation can be developed specifically to exempt park models from property taxes. Such legislation became law in Utah last year, for example.
“I personally talk to Jeff Sims of ARVC nearly every week,” said Matt Wald, RVIA’s executive director for park model RVs, adding that Dianne Farrell, RVIA’s vice president of government affairs, is also in regular communication with Sims on park-model and other campground issues.
Park models are technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes them exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV.
As a result, more often than not, local officials have no idea what park models are and usually think they are a form of manufacturing housing, which is not correct.
As a result, Sims and Wald spend a considerable amount of time on the phone each week with municipalities across the country that question whether park models should be subject to property taxes. ARVC maintains that park models should only be taxed as personal property.
In some cases, Sims said he provides park operators with talking points and code sections they can share with city officials to clarify their questions about park models. In others, Sims reaches out to city officials directly to inform them that park models are a type of RV.
Sometimes, however, private park operators bring problems on themselves when they fail to register their park models with their state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV). While they may think they are saving money by avoiding the DMV registration fee, the tactic can backfire on them later if local officials question whether their park model is indeed a type of vehicle and they do not have a DMV registration form to prove that it is.
Private park operators can also create problems for themselves and for the RV and outdoor hospitality industries in general if they allow people to live in park models on a permanent basis.
ARVC and RVIA support the use of park models as seasonal dwellings consistent with recreational vehicles. But when park models are used as permanent housing instead of recreational purposes, it can often raise flags for local taxing authorities who are more likely to want to tax these units as a permanent dwelling rather than an RV.
To help clear up this confusion, RVIA has spent the past eight years trying to persuade Congress to clarify the HUD code to more clearly define park models as a type of RV. But while the Manufactured Housing Institute has supported RVIA’s efforts, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform has opposed changes to the HUD code to clarify that park models are, in fact, recreational vehicles.
Wald said RVIA is undeterred and will continue its efforts to clarify the language in the HUD code involving park model RVs so that the HUD law makes it perfectly clear to local zoning and tax officials that park models are indeed a type of RV, not housing, and should be treated as such. Several campgrounds and state campground associations have already helped advance this effort by contacting their senators and representatives, and more support from the campground industry will be required in the coming year to get the HUD law changed.
By clarifying both the HUD law and state laws regarding park models, the industry groups hope to eliminate the need to constantly explain what park models are and defend their use in private campgrounds.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced what the organization called "a robust education schedule for this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE)."
The annual event is scheduled for Dec. 2-5 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas featuring 50 education sessions over the course of three days.
“This year’s conference is going to have so much educational content that it’s going to be hard for park operators, managers and employees to leave the conference without having new information and ideas for improving their businesses,”said Erica Owens, ARVC’s marketing and events manager.
Education-session topics include operations management, marketing, legal issues and risk management, business management, human resources and leadership, and guest satisfaction.
Two half-day workshops, “Towers, Routers and Clouds — Wi-Fi Systems That Work” and “Securing A Business Loan” are also part of the educational content offered at this year’s OHCE.
In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in Successful Park Operations Tours (SPOT). SPOT gives attendees a chance to tour local parks and hospitality operations to give them new ideas to take home.
For OHCE program and registration information, go to www.arvc.org/OHCE.
As wildfires — some of them historically large — ravage the west coast, the news for independent RV parks and campgrounds has thus far been somewhat positive, if close calls and very slow business could be called positive. While many thousands of square miles have been burned in Washington, California and Oregon, as well as hundreds of homes and a handful of state and national campgrounds, the blazes of late summer 2014 have yet to claim a non-government run RV park or campground.
“We have yet to hear of any parks forced to close from fire in those states,” said Paul Bambei, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). “Right now, I think the main message is, business continues and parks are open for any and all comers. Unless anybody tells me not to say that, that's generally my pat response.”
That's certainly the message that park owner Cheryl Ethrington is hoping to get out about her Riverbend RV Park near Twisp, Wash., which was threatened by the Carlton Complex fire, the largest in Washington state history. “Everyone is hearing on the news that Twisp is burned up, but it's here and we're still open,” she said. “In fact we have nothing but green around us here and the air quality is good. Unfortunately we only have four sites occupied whereas normally we'd have 70. Everything is fine except we have no customers.”
Carlton RV Park owner Bob Gibson said his park was also untouched by flame, though his personal residence was a different story. “It feels like a bomb zone,” he said. “It took out our barn, cabinet shop and an old log chicken house, and the fire burned right up next to the the house, licked it a couple times but didn't burn it. We were standing in the yard with garden hoses, flames coming through the 50-foot trees, running over the ground, and we're fighting it back with garden hoses. So it was more than touch-and-go, it was like, go, go, go.”
With the Carlton fire mostly under wraps at 91 percent contained, a new fire in Oregon has quickly gained strength, forcing the evacuation of 150 homes near Rowena, Ore., and threatening 700 more. In California, three large fires near Lassen National Forest seem to be causing the most concern. The Eiler fire near Burney has consumed eight homes and appears to have marched over the Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park and Campground, though initial reports have been that the facilities were spared. Phone service was down at the time of writing.
“We seem to have a lot of smaller fires, at least in comparison to previous years,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). “But so far they seem to be confined to pretty rural areas and nothing has gotten seriously out of control.”
One of the unique things about RV parks near fire zones, Sipe pointed out, is that they typically have resources that firefighting crews need such as temporary housing, restrooms, electricity, sometimes fuel, and that can often be their saving grace.
Lassen RV Resort owner Phil Martin said his park, still several miles from the Eiler fire, has had the opportunity help others. “We've actually got people here that were evacuated from their homes nearby, and so we've done the best we can to give them a nice discount and accommodate them during such a tough time.”
Although the wildfire season may be far from other without drastic improvements in the weather, for now, Bambei said the best his organization can do is to be available to help wherever possible, and to encourage people to continue to go camping, checking for themselves on park and road closures. The substantive help that ARVC offers to member parks comes in the form of a disaster relief fund, a donation-based pool that is managed by the educational arm of the association.
“It's for parks that are in need or urgently in need and it's rare that the relief requests are denied,” Bambei said. “We had floods here in Colorado last fall that were just horrendous and we had funds released for that, as well as for floods in Missouri a few years back and hurricanes on the eastern seaboard. But so far this year, we haven't had any requests for assistance for fire in states west of the Mississippi.”
David Avrin, an internationally known marketing and branding expert, will keynote the opening luncheon at the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE).
OHCE’s opening luncheon begins at noon Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, according to a written announcement from ARVC, based in Centennial, Colo.
Avrin specializes in showing businesses how to recognize, craft and promote a truly unique and marketable competitive advantage, while building their brand identity. He has been featured on hundreds of broadcast media outlets and is the author of three books, including It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You. His latest book, Impossible to Ignore, is due out next year.
“We think David is really going to energize and inspire our members to think differently about how they promote their park’s guest experience while at the same time grow their business,” said Barb Youmans, ARVC’s senior director of membership and education.
Avrin has recently given presentations around the world, including Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Melbourne, Australia; Monte Carlo, Monaco; London, England; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and in Dubai.
OHCE is a four-day event Dec. 2-5 that includes 50 seminars, a trade show with more than 100 vendors, a tour of local parks and ARVC’s annual awards program. This year’s OHCE also includes two half-day workshops, one focusing on “Wi-Fi systems,” and the other providing information to help park operators obtain business loans.
For OHCE program and registration information, visit www.arvc.org/OHCE.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced a new member benefit with payment processing company First Data, a deal which can save private park operators thousands of dollars in credit card processing fees, according to ARVC's written announcement.
“We think this is going to be a highly sought-after member benefit because First Data will work directly with campground operators to develop a program that best suits their credit and debit processing needs while saving them money,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.
First Data is providing ARVC members reduced rates on face-to-face retail transactions, Spend Trend analyses and ATM terminals.
First Data is also offering ARVC members a Platinum Service Package for reduced rates that includes enhanced statements; a customer Spend Trend analysis; 24/7 access to transaction data; alerts; and a tool to offer coupons and discounts to park customers. ATM terminals are also available at a reduced rate.
Based in Atlanta, First Data is a global leader in electronic payment processing.
The company also offers consulting services and other resources to help park operators improve their payment security and risk management.
Based in Denver, Colo., ARVC is a national trade association representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership is composed of RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisers and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities. Visit arvc.org for more information.
"Sue and Glenn Wells have found them a home-away-from-home in a place called Big Meadow Campground located in Townsend, Tenn., at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. With it comes an adoptive family, Malcolm and Barbara Johnson," wrote Rachel Evans in a column in The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss.
"Last year, Big Meadow was named #l campground in the state of Tennessee. Recently, it was named the #l campground in the United States! 'Can you believe it!' Sue called all excited to tell me. And, yes, I can, having been there as Sue and Glenn's guest, in years past with Helen Tolbert and Pat Johnson. It is a beautiful, very relaxing place," she wrote after the award was bestowed by the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) at their annual Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo in Knoxville the first week of November.
Evans concluded, "Congratulations to Malcolm and Barbara, and to Sue and Glenn, you chose well in selecting a home-away-from-home!"
To see the entire column covering various items, click here.
Tents for Troops (T4T) added three new parks as a result of the recent National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) conference in Knoxville, Tenn.
Although organizers of T4T weren't able to attend the show, Jennifer Schwartz and Erica Owens of the ARVC both went out of their way to make sure that T4T would not miss out on getting some new parks as a result of the conference, T4T's Charlie Curry said.
Just a few days prior to the conference T4T received a letter from the White House Joining Forces initiative encouraging RV parks and campgrounds to consider joining the T4T Program.
The welcome bags that went to ARVC conference attendees included a copy of this letter along with a T4T application.
As a result T4T added three parks from northern New Jersey, which puts T4T at nine Parks in New Jersey.
Curry said Office Depot also helped make it happen.
Debbie Decker from Kymers Camping Resort called and enrolled not only Kymers but the Delaware River Family Resort and Panther Lake Camping Resort as well.
Kymers offers 200 acres to explore in the Kittatinny Mountains of northern New Jersey; Panther Lake Camping Resort 50 miles from New York City also has 200 acres to explore and their own 45-acre lake; and Delaware River Family Campground offers the chance to take to the river in a raft, canoe or tube, hike the Appalachian Trail, or just relax around the resort.
T4T encourages owners and managers of RV parks and campgrounds to join their growing network of parks is giving something back to our troops every day of the year.
For more info on adding a park to T4T email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (360) 274-7915 or see their Website.
Big Creek RV Park made a big splash at the yearly National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE) last week in Knoxville, Tenn.
Owners Craig & Patty Claney took home the 2013 Plan-It Green award for small/medium park, as well as the 2013 Small Park of the Year runner-up, according to press releases.
There are more than 3,000 member parks in ARVC, and more than 80% of these parks are classified as small (100 sites or less) or medium (101-250) sites. Competition for these awards is fierce, and winning such awards can not only spotlight a park as a great place to camp, it can also show customers that the park goes the extra mile in areas such as customer service, amenities, activities, and eco-friendly practices.
Owner Patty Claney said, “It is such an honor to win either award, but to win both after building the park from the ground up and opening in March of 2009 is truly humbling. The response from our customers to our winning the awards has been so amazing! E-mails, phone calls, and Facebook messages of congratulations coming from so many has been amazing.”
The ARVC Plan-It Green award is given each year to one small/medium park and one large park and is based on the following (100 points possible):
• Park has converted to tankless water heaters (5)
• Park uses motion sensors for lighting in the bathrooms and club house (5)
• Park has switched to energy efficient light bulbs (5)
• Park uses non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products (5)
• Park uses water-saving shower heads and/or auto turn-off taps (5)
• Park provides recycle bins for cans, paper, glass and plastic (5)
• Park uses energy-saving products and appliances (5)
• Park offers eco-friendly and ‘Leave No Trace’ tips and education for guests(5)
• Park landscaping consists of wood chip, pebble, paved or grass paths (5)
• Park has "Reduce Water Usage" signage around the park (5)
• Park has one or more of the following: lighting, heaters and/or coolers with timers (5)
• Park uses solar power or wind power (5)
• Park uses low flush toilets or waterless urinals (5)
• Park participates in on-site organic composting (5)
• Park sends email confirmation rather than paper to minimize waste (5)
• Park uses geo-thermal heating/cooling (5)
• Park plants new trees frequently (5)
• Explain your commitment to Plan-It Green Friendly Park practices (15)
The criteria for the Park of the Year Award, which is given to a park in each of four categories (Small, Medium, Large, and Mega)—with a runner-up in each category, is much more intensive. There are four categories: Marketing/Public Relations (40 points possible), Operations/Management Skills (80 points possible), ARVC Involvement (10 points possible), and Commitment to Industry (10 points possible).
Within each category, there are specifics that relate not only involvement in ARVC and the Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC), but also community involvement, emergency preparedness, and even use of social media. Parks must prove that they are truly outstanding in every way in order to be considered.
Big Creek RV Park LLC is a full-service Good Sam RV park with full hookups, cable TV, Wi-Fi Internet, pool, private air-conditioned/heated showers, laundry, arcade, meeting hall, propane fill station, and big-rig friendly sites. We are open year-round. Visit www.bigcreekrvpark.com for more information.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced Monday (Sept. 30) it has launched a member benefit program with Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Blue Rhino that provides significant discounts on propane, barbecues and other outdoor accessories.
“This is another very practical discount program that will save our members money,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.
While ARVC already has discount programs with the nation’s leading propane suppliers, the Blue Rhino discount program covers the propane canisters used for barbecue grills as well as a wide range of other outdoor living products, including outdoor heaters, fireplaces, fire pits, fireplace accessories, mosquito traps and barbecue accessories marketed under the Mr. Bar-B-Q brand name.
ARVC members wanting to take advantage of the Blue Rhino discounts should log in to arvc.org and go to the Blue Rhino listing in the Supplier Marketplace. From there, call the main contact listed to receive special discounts. More information about Blue Rhino and Mr. Bar-B-Que products is available at www.bluerhino.com and www.mrbarbq.com.