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Park Model RVs Helping Boost Campgrounds

September 11, 2015 by · Comments Off on Park Model RVs Helping Boost Campgrounds 

The following story by Justin Leighty and Rick Kessler appears in the September edition of Woodall’s Campground Management.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.26.25 AMThe last year has been an interesting one for the large number RV parks and campgrounds operators who use park model RVs as rentals. It’s also a watershed moment for the manufacturers who build the popular units.

Just as the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) geared up to focus on marketing park model RVs last year— following the final decision to merge the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) into the RVIA — the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to start counting factory-built porches as part of the 400-square-foot “living space” limit for RVs.

That move, had it gone through, would’ve opened up a regulatory can of worms for campgrounds dealing with local inspectors, since a large number of rental park models go right up to the 400-square-foot line and also have porches on top of that.

While HUD still hasn’t made final rules on the matter, the industry is optimistic that the federal agency will, in fact, soften its stance and rule in favor of the industry’s position that porches shouldn’t be part of the square-footage limits.

One positive side effect of the whole process, though, was that the issue led to a closer working relationship between the RVIA and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and many state associations.

ARVC and state groups contacted their members and got them to reach out to their congressional representatives and to federal regulators to appeal for a less stringent approach. Meanwhile, ARVC and RVIA worked together in a major push to educate regulators and lawmakers on the finer points of park model RVs.

Meanwhile, a congressionally established HUD advisory panel recommended the agency back off on the plans until going through a formal rulemaking process, and the agency followed that recommendation. The rules are still in the drafting process.

“It was a little tough,” said Matt Wald, park model director for Reston, Va.-based RVIA. “Really our focus now is to get this HUD thing finished, put a bow on it.

“The one thing I think everybody realized is the campgrounds out there have a lot to offer, and the closer we work together, the better it is,” Wald told Woodall’s Campground Management.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.27.43 AMWhile growth in park model shipments has been overshadowed by the growth in other segments of the RV market, “Things are good in the park model segment of the RV industry,” Wald said. “They’re not going gangbusters, but this year we’re projecting probably 5% growth, which is not bad. That’s a healthy mix between units going to the street with RV dealers and going to the campgrounds for rentals.”

For the first half of 2015, RVIA reported park model shipments of 2,116 units, up 1.5% over the first half of 2014. But June’s shipments showed an impressive 14.3% uptick compared to the previous June.

In addition to market growth, there’s been other movement in the park model industry this year. Cavco Industries Inc. acquired two park model builders and Champion subsidiary Athens Park Homes introduced Winnebago-branded park model RVs (see below).

And now, thanks to a new marketing push, park model growth is poised to increase — and help campgrounds along with it.

Before the HUD issue last year, “We’d been planning to do a lot of marketing of seasonal camping and park model RVs,” Wald explained. “Now we’re turning our attention back to promoting the lifestyle of destination camping. It’s time, we feel, to really start promoting the hell out of that and getting people into campgrounds. The Go RVing Coalition is going to embrace that push.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.28.46 AMThe emerging park model RV component of the industry’s national Go RVing marketing campaign will be funded by assessments on RVIA seal fees attributable to park model sales as well as a marketing warchest carried over from a now-defunct association under whose umbrella the park model builders were previously aligned – the RPTIA.

“Both the park model folks and Go RVing see seasonal camping as a major growth opportunity,” Wald said. The coalition added Wald and John Soard of Cavco subsidiary Fairmont Homes to their ranks to give the park model segment a voice in the Go RVing campaign.

“The more consumers who are doing seasonal camping, the better it is for the campgrounds and for the OEMs,” Wald said, and the marketing push is designed to bring more people into seasonal camping.

The other benefit is that seasonal camping is the domain of private RV parks and campgrounds, Wald pointed out. “In state parks — which most campgrounds view as their biggest public competition — people can’t have that experience of seasonal camping. It’s something unique to private campgrounds.”

And it’s something with growth potential, especially with people who aren’t already in campgrounds.

“We’ve talked quite a lot about Gen Xers and Millennials, and they’re not tinkerers. What they want is an experience, not to mess around with connections on an RV every weekend,” Wald said. “There’s a huge untapped market out there of urban dwellers. The opportunity is there for them to get into a campground and have a campground experience. When they do that, they’re going to be a part of the RV lifestyle in the next 10 to 15 years.”

To that end, much of the promotion is tailored to those audiences. “A lot of the promotion’s going to be digital, it’s not going to be on TV. Everybody’s skipping through commercials now. If you want to get your message to the Gen Xers, to the Millennials, you’ve got to catch them on the screens they’re using,” he said.

Many of the park model builders who talked to WCM seemed excited about the prospects of the marketing push growing not just their own businesses, but park model awareness as a whole and growing the base of guests coming to campgrounds.

Here’s a look at what’s going on with many of those builders.

Cavco

Phoenix, Ariz.

www.cavco.com

602-256-6263

Cavco Park Model RVCelebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Cavco Industries Inc., has quietly enjoyed an impressive run of good news as of late. Consider these items, all since the first of this year:

  • Announced net revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 totaled $141.2 million, up 7.7% from $131.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014, and net revenue for fiscal year 2015 was $566.7 million, an increase of 6.2% from $533.3 million for the prior fiscal year.
  • Completed the purchase of the business and operating assets of Chariot Eagle Inc., an Ocala, Fla.-based manufacturer of park model RVs and manufactured homes.
  • Acquired the business and certain assets of Nappanee, Ind.-based Fairmont Homes, Inc., a well-known builder of manufactured and modular homes and park model RVs.
  • For the sixth year in a row was named the Manufactured Housing Institute’s Manufacturer of the Year.
  • Listed as No. 13 on Forbes Magazine’s list of “America’s Best Small Companies 2014.”

The acquisitions of Chariot Eagle and Fairmont Homes, announced March 30 and May 5, respectively, both were strategic in that the companies provide Cavco with additional park model RV and other product lines while further strengthening the company’s production capacity and geographic reach in North America.

Joseph Stegmayer, Cavco’s president, CEO and chairman of the board, said Chariot Eagle and Fairmont are enjoying a “smooth and easy transition” into the Cavco corporate family, which also includes Fleetwood Homes, Palm Harbor Homes and Nationwide Homes. Cavco, which also includes its Standard Casualty insurance group and CountryPlace Mortgage subsidiary, employs 3,800 people and operates 19 manufacturing facilities across North America.

Terms of neither transaction were disclosed, but both companies have remained mostly intact during the transition.

Chariot Eagle continues to produce park models using its existing brand name and its founder, Bob Holliday, continues to serve as its president.

“Joining forces with the largest and most recognized company in the park model RV and cabin businesses is the right move at the right time,” Holliday said at the time of the acquisition. “Our company cultures are similar with an emphasis on quality products and attentive service, treating people fairly, innovation and production flexibility. We know that we will benefit from Cavco’s size and strength, which will only help us better serve our current and prospective customers.”

Manufactured and modular homes and park model RVs by Fairmont, previously a sister company to Gulf Stream Coach Inc., continue to be marketed under the Fairmont, Friendship, Harmony and Century brand names. Brian Cira, president of Fairmont Homes and a 28-year veteran of the company, remains in the same role with responsibility for all operations of the Fairmont business.

“We’ve known both companies for some time because they’ve competed with us over the years. We’ve always been very interested in the Chariot Eagle name and their reputation and the quality of product they build. So when Mr. Holliday decided to look for a partner, we were very fortunate that he looked favorably upon us,” Stegmayer said.

He added that Fairmont has been “a very strong player in park model RVs” in the Midwest, Northeast and Canada, and their acquisition “will make us much more competitive in those markets because of freight issues and it gives us more capacity and more geographic presence in a market we were having trouble reaching.”

While Stegmayer wouldn’t rule out further acquisitions, he also said Cavco would be just fine with where it presently sits.

“We have now an awfully strong base and foundation to build from. We have 19 factories. We’re serving most areas of the country – there are some gaps in our geographic coverage. So we have a lot to work with if we do not do another acquisition. We could more than double the size of this business just as we stand now.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t consider other acquisitions; we will,” he continued. “We consider situations such as their geographic presence. What product lines do they build? Do they bring any new ideas or new products to the fold? We would look at those sorts of things. But right now we feel very comfortable with the base we have from which to build and grow this business.”

Stegmayer said Cavco might be the only company in the industry to experience growth throughout the Great Recession, and in the last six or seven years has “quintupled” its business. Organic growth plays a large part of that success, he said.

In fact, Stegmayer has a firsthand account of why business, in particular its park model RVs and cabins, seem to be riding a wave of popularity at the moment. The rise in popularity of seasonal accommodations are lifting not just Cavco but all of the RV and camping industries.

“I think a lot of RV resorts and campgrounds are seeing their business improve,” he said. “There seems to be the growing trend of people wanting to get away and camp more and vacation locally. Our cabins and park models fit right into that. And we’re seeing that across the board, actually, not in any one particular region. We’re seeing it throughout the country. There just seems to be more demand for accommodations in campgrounds and RV resorts.

“When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense,” Stegmayer continued. “Some people don’t own an RV, but they still want that camping experience. Being able to rent a park model or a cabin is very appealing to them. Then you also have the fact that some people who are RVers and they still really enjoy the RV lifestyle, but they decide that they really only want to go to one destination every year and they don’t travel much anymore, so they go for a park model.”

“I’m not saying anything negative toward the RV industry because there are certainly enough people who want to RV. But there’s a certain demographic or a certain age group or a certain type of people who still like the RV lifestyle, they just choose to live the RV lifestyle in a park model RV.”

Although younger families are a growing buyer demographic, most park models and cabins are snatched up by Snowbirds, semi-retired and retired people. With statistics showing 14,000 Baby Boomers retire every day, Stegmayer believes that buyer segment is only going to get stronger.

 

Champion/Athens Park

Athens, Texas

www.athensparkhomes.com

800-738-0392

Athens Park living room built in ArizIt’s been a good year for Athens Park, the park model RV arm of Champion Homes.

In fact, the company’s upswing has been going so well that Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales, said, “It’s business as usual for us. The summer is a good time for most of our plants and park models.”

The company has a mix of about 60% retail sales and 40% to campgrounds and RV resorts who use them as rentals. The consumer models go for a home-like approach in an RV, while their campground models are typically more rustic.

“As far as the campground business goes, there’s a huge demand for campground rentals,” Grymonprez said. “It’s old news that people who are doing well in campgrounds have a lot of rental cabins. We have so many campgrounds that year after year buy six, eight, 10,” he said. “We’ve got resorts out there that have 100 rentals. That’s growing and continues to grow. The economy’s good.”

And while the company doesn’t market its RVs as such, “we’re benefitting from the tiny-home movement,” Grymonprez said. “We’re park model RVs, but customers who want tiny homes look into it and find they aren’t built to codes.” Many times people decide a park model RV is better than a tiny home.

And the company earlier this year announced that it would be bringing the most iconic name in motorhomes into park models, revealing a deal that allows Athens Park to build Winnebago-branded park model RVs. “With our street retailers and our Winnebago retailers, that’s really growing,” he said. “We’ve had Winnebago dealers call us who never dealt with park models before. We’re gaining momentum and interest in our company and in our industry,” Grymonprez said. “We’re glad we did it.”

Combine introducing Winnebago customers to park models and the Go RVing push into marketing destination camping, “any time there’s advertising showing a park model, we’re going to benefit — not just as a company, but as an industry and the campgrounds,” he said.

 

Pinnacle Park Homes

Ochlocknee, Ga.

www.pinnacleparkhomes.com

866-574-5159

Pinnacle, Ponderosa 6 winter exteriorPinnacle Park Homes in Ochlocknee, Ga., has had a “phenomenal year,” said Sales and Finance Manager Andy Davis and he attributes it to a combination of ingenuity on behalf of campground owners and good financing rates offered by his company’s lender partners.

“Individuals, campgrounds, rental cabins – everything has just been incredible,” he said, explaining that 100% financing is available for rates as low as 5.9% and sometimes with 24-hour approval. “It’s a no brainer – if you rent it one night a week you’re covering your payment and making a few dollars. So if you get a weekend rental, now you’ve doubled your income,” Davis said.

Also, campground owners have become savvier as far as attracting the non-traditional camper, he added. Many are now participating with travel websites to market their parks to people who didn’t realize some of the nice accommodations that are available at North America’s private campgrounds.

“They’re finding out campgrounds are a better alternative than a traditional motel-hotel type of stay, and a whole lot more affordable than a ‘resort’ where they’re spending thousands of dollars,” Davis pointed out.

Including ADA models, Pinnacle Park offers close to 50 different floorplans across their various product lines, and they custom build units as well. Davis said most campground owners go with its Rental Ready line, which are based on owners’ input over the years. “We try to package things like porches, heat and air systems, some built-in beds – things like that – to make it a quick, easy, turnkey-type setup for them. They tend to stick with that, but some are opting for the Montana series because they’re drawing that higher-end renter now,” he said, adding that all models now come with Low-E glass windows and fiber-cement siding is a popular option.

 

Keystone Kabins

Denver, Pa.

www.keystonekabins.com

800-684-5808

Keystone, Deluxe Two Room Park Model Cabin, exteriorDan Smucker, general manager of Keystone Kabins in Denver, Pa., said the reason park models have become so popular has to do with the universal attraction of “getting away from it all.”

“I think people are starting to like camping a little better because the world is getting so much crazier with technology and all that stuff so people just want to get away, especially Millennials and people in the cities,” he explained. “I think the recession kind of helped a little bit, too, because going to a campground is cheaper than going to some five-star resort, or going on a cruise, or whatever people want to do. And for people who don’t want to rough it under a tent, that’s where we come in.”

Business has been good for Keystone Kabins, especially ever since they added a dozen park model cabins as another option to its line of rustic camping kits.

“We’re probably about 20% better than last year and it keeps getting better,” he said. “The park models are a lot easier because we just do everything here and build them on a trailer frame. We just send it there and drop it in place. That’s why they kind have taken off because they’re turnkey. The campgrounds really don’t want to deal with all the finish work.”

Smucker added that he’s looking forward to the 2015 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Symposium and Trade Show, which is Nov. 9-12 in Covington, Ky. For the first time, Keystone will be displaying a show model, a brand new Ozark Park Model Cabin, and he’s expecting campground owners will appreciate its floorplan and kiln-dried Eastern White Pine logs – as opposed to log siding – that will last a lifetime.

“When people find out about us and actually see one of our cabins, they are always sold,” he said.

 

Forest River Park Model RVs

Elkhart, Ind.

www.forestriverinc.com/ParkModels/

574-264-7163

Forest River park modelGary Duncan, general manager and sales manager for park model RVs at Forest River Inc., said overall business has been good — even if Canadian sales have been down.

“The exchange rate in Canada has been brutal. That has hurt Canadian sales significantly, and a large part of our business is Canadian. On the other hand, U.S. business has picked up significantly,” Duncan said. “It’s been a good year for us — new products have been really well received, there’s a lot of dealer excitement, we have some new dealers and some people who used to be our dealers are coming back to us.”

As for product, Duncan said Forest River continues to make improvements and at the Eighth Annual Elkhart RV Open House in September they will be showing four new floorplans and four brand-new interior decors.

“The market itself is going more and more toward custom build,” Duncan added. “The consumers are pretty picky about what they want, and they want what they want. It’s rare that we build a standard floorplan anymore. There’s a tweak here and there to make it their own. It’s a challenge because you’re in a production environment, but it’s been fun and rewarding and interesting, to say the least.”

 

Dutch Park

Goshen, Ind.

www.dutchpark.com

574-533-8090

Dutch Park STERLING KITCHEN & DINING HARMONY WHITE“Resort living at its finest” is how Dutch Park Homes Inc. promotes its offerings, and the park model RV builder has seen a lot of response to that in the last year. “We had a very good year,” said Larry Weaver, sales manager. That’s even more impressive given a weather-related poor start to summer in many areas. “The weather hasn’t been advantageous to us or any park mode dealer. People don’t shop if it’s raining,” Weaver said.

“I’ve been at several open houses for our dealers and the response from customers and prospective customers on the dealers’ lots have been very promising,” he continued. “It’s going well.”

While Dutch Park is largely retail-oriented, some of their dealers also operate RV resorts and use the company’s park model RVs as rentals.

They come in three lines: Sterling is the top of the line, Monterey is the mid-priced series and the Cambridge is the entry-level offering.

All three lines have numerous upgrades this year. “We try to improve every year. If you don’t something’s wrong,” Weaver said. “I don’t like to be passed up by anybody.” The Cambridge has a new look this year, and there are new, modern, energy-efficient lights in the Monterrey and Sterling lines, Weaver said.

 

Utopian Villas

Oak Creek, Wis.

www.utopian-villas.com

414-762-0950

Utopian Villas DenaliNathan Kreger is excited that his family business is getting into the park model RV market, and they’re bringing a unique twist for both consumers and campgrounds.

The company’s been around for a decade, building high-end modular homes. Then the tiny-homes movement caught their attention, which drew them to park model RVs.

Looking around a show in St. Louis last year, Kreger, his brother Justin, plus coworkers Eric Kurzynski, Brent Anderson and Ben Jacobi decided they had the skills to enter the market.

“We just had our first RV show where we launched our product,” Nathan Kreger said, and the response was positive. They’re working with an RV resort in Michigan and are working on their first model, the Denali.

There will also be the Valley Forge, Cedar Breaks and Fort Sumter in three different levels: Standard Edition, Vacation Edition and the top-end Utopian Edition. Those four models will have starting prices between $64,000 and $130,000, but Kreger said, “We’re trying to work on a campground model that gets you in right around the $45,000 mark, and we’re trying to make it four seasons.”

“Not only will our models be RVIA certified, they also can transfer over to be modular-code certified,” he continued. “We have a patented floor system we’re using that allows us to set it on a foundation, crawl space or slab. There are two I-beams that run through the center of it that allows axles to be bolted to them,” he said. “We’re going to be on the higher end luxury line of park models. You’re going to get a product from us that matches our homes, and our homes are built to last,” he said.

 

Woodland Park

Middlebury, Ind.

www.woodland-park.com

800-999-4958

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.34.45 AMClete Miller, director of purchasing for the northern Indiana park-model RV maker, said his company is making strides not only in technology in their units, but also in developing relationships with campgrounds.

“For the intro of the 2016 model year we have a whole lot that’s new,” he said.

“We’ve added over 600 brand new parts, which is quite an undertaking We have really tried to revamp our units,” Miller said.

Customers, be they campgrounds or retail purchasers, should see significant upgrades. “Over the last two model changes things remained relatively the same. This is the first year we’ve added two new color decors, we’re working on some other items as well that have made the units a lot more progressive than in the past.” For instance, he pointed out, we’re seeing a lot more tech utilized — more Wi-Fi thermostats for people who just use them on the weekend, USB ports you can plug into inside the unit, things like that. Let’s face it, the old phone ports are a thing of the past because everybody’s suing cell phones,” so Woodland Park is trying to meet the needs of today’s park model user.

And that spills into focusing on growing the company’s relationships with campgrounds. “We have a much more vested interest in campgrounds than what we have had in the past,” Miller said. “That seems to be where a lot of the growth is at this juncture.” Not only does Woodland Park want to sell park models to campgrounds, the company wants to build long-term relationships, he said.

 

 

 

RVIA Wants to Work With Campground Owners

December 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on RVIA Wants to Work With Campground Owners 

John Soard stands inside one of Fairmont Homes’ units in Louisville during the 2013 RVIA show.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 51st Annual National Trade Show ran Dec. 3-5 in Louisville, Ky., and during the show RVIA leadership expressed a growing appreciation for — and desire to work with — the campground industry.

“They really are the missing leg of our three-legged stool,” said RVIA’s Matt Wald, the organization’s executive director for park trailers. The manufacturers build RVs, the dealers sell them and the campgrounds are where people take them and use them.

While RVIA and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) work closely, including on the industry’s Go RVing marketing campaign, RVIA is learning about the campground side, because “we don’t know what we don’t know,” Wald said. “We’re coming to appreciate the difficulties” that campgrounds face, especially dealing with growing seasonal camping. The RVIA wants to help tackle zoning, taxation and environmental issues.

“It’s all of these issues where the customer’s impacted. It’s not the OEMs’ problems, it’s not the campground’s problem, it’s the customer’s problem.”

RVIA’s desire to work with campgrounds, Wald acknowledged, is “a different way of doing business. It’s what’s good for the industry.”

He thinks there’s a huge market of people who don’t realize the variety of accommodations available at campgrounds today, and that RVIA can help change that.

In addition to the association’s hopes to work with campgrounds, the RVIA and the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) are about 18 months into a two-year trial unification, and park-model RV makers were pleased with the progress.

“I think the transition’s been well received,” said Tim Gage, national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products for Cavco Industries. RVIA’s resources are great, he said, and “Matt Wald’s done a phenomenal job for us.”

Gary Duncan, who heads the Forest River Park Model Division, echoed Gage’s comments, saying park models fit in with the RVIA. “That’s what this product is, it’s an RV.”

Curt Yoder, vice president of Kropf Recreational Park Trailers, said he’s pleased with the services the RVIA provides for park model builders and he’s happy with the transition. Looking ahead, “we’d like to see more exposure” as part of the industry’s advertising efforts.

John Soard, general manager and national sales manager of Fairmont Homes Inc.’s park model division, said, “we have some overseas possibilities that are creeping up on us here,” including opportunities in the Japanese market. “RVIA’s really been helping us with that,” he said. “There’s a lot of benefits to being part of RVIA.

Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Champion/Athens Park Homes, has a view like Soard as one of the leaders of the mothballed RPTIA and now a member of the RVIA’s leadership team. His assessment on the transition? “It’s been excellent.”

Go RVing’s New ‘AWAY’ Ad Debuts Saturday

August 30, 2013 by · Comments Off on Go RVing’s New ‘AWAY’ Ad Debuts Saturday 

Tailgate ad debuts on Saturday, Aug. 31.

Go RVing’s new “AWAY”ad featuring a tailgating theme will debut this weekend and continue to air throughout the fall in conjunction with college football ad buys with ESPN and CBS Sports, according to a news release.

Titled “Victory,” the new 30-second ad showcases how RVs are the perfect tailgate vehicle by featuring families gathered at a girls’ soccer game where they are grilling, relaxing in and around the RVs, and enjoying each other’s company. The voiceover, once again performed by Tom Selleck, tells viewers that “Away” is always having home field advantage even when you are miles away from home.” The ad was shot in Denver in June and features a Fleetwood Storm Class A motorhome and CruiserRV Fun Finder travel trailer. The manufacturers were selected in a lottery to provide the vehicles.

A special 60-second version of the ad will air during ESPN’s highly rated College Gameday this Saturday. The ad will continue to air on the program each Saturday morning through the season. Footage of RV tailgating will lead into a Go RVing commercial in the “A” position of the program. There will be additional exposure on ESPNU and ESPN2.

The ad will also be featured on CBS Sports coverage of college football, including sponsorship of the Thursday night Inside College Football post-game show; custom-produced “Tailgate Tradition” vignettes airing on This Week in the SEC and Inside College Footballas well as online on CBSSports.com; and Road Trip Fact graphics featuring the Go RVing logo airing in 15 live college football games.

The utilization of the “Victory” ad is part of Go RVing’s focus to leverage the strong connection between RVing and college football tailgating and keep positive messages about RV travel in front of consumers throughout the year. Go RVing typically would significantly scale back advertising in the fall and early winter months.

“We are very excited about the buys with ESPN and CBS Sports” said James Ashurst, RVIA vice president of public relations and advertising. “This audience of college football fans will be very receptive to the versatility, convenience and family bonding messages found in the new television commercial. This is a great way to extend Go RVing’s awareness building later into the year.”

He added, “Today’s families are really involved in their kids sporting and extra-curricular activities. The new ‘Victory’ ad strongly communicates that an RV can enhance the tailgate experience and the family bonding that takes place at sporting events at any level of competition. There are beautiful exterior shots, but we also intentionally focused on kids and parents enjoying the great amenities found inside the RV. This was done to show the versatility of RVs and to compel consumers to begin thinking about RVs in a different light.”

Tom Selleck Returning for ‘AWAY’ Voiceovers

July 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on Tom Selleck Returning for ‘AWAY’ Voiceovers 

The voice of Tom Selleck will again be heard on the ‘AWAY’ commercials for Go RVing.

Go RVing is putting the finishing touches on a new “AWAY” ad that will debut in September in conjunction with college football ad buys with ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated that will run through the fall, according to a news release from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Titled “Victory,” the new 30-second ad showcases how RVs are the perfect tailgate vehicle by featuring families gathered at a girls’ soccer game where they are grilling, relaxing in and around the RVs, and enjoying each other’s company. The voiceover, once again performed by Tom Selleck, tells viewers that “Away is always having home field advantage even when you are miles away from home.”

The ad was shot in Denver in June and featured a Fleetwood Storm Class A motorhome and CruiserRV Fun Finder travel trailer. The manufacturers were selected in a lottery to provide the vehicles.

“Today’s families are really involved in their kids sporting and extra-curricular activities,” said James Ashurst, RVIA vice president of public relations and advertising. “The new ‘Victory’ ad strongly communicates that an RV can enhance the tailgate experience and the family bonding that takes place at sporting events at any level of competition. There are beautiful exterior shots, but we also intentionally focused on kids and parents enjoying the great amenities found inside the RV. This was done to show the versatility of RVs and to compel consumers to begin thinking about RVs in a different light.”

Go RVing will launch new tailgating partnerships with ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustratedthis fall. Go RVing ads will appear on the highly-rated ESPN College GameDay program airing each Saturday morning through the season. Footage of RV tailgating will lead into a Go RVing commercial in the “A” position of the program. There will be additional exposure on ESPNU and ESPN2.

Photo shoot outside Denver for the new “AWAY” ads from Go RVing.

The CBS Sports buy will include sponsorship of the Thursday nightInside College Football post-game show; custom-produced “Tailgate Tradition” vignettes airing on This Week in the SEC and Inside College Football as well as online on www.CBSSports.com; and Road Trip Fact graphics featuring the Go RVing logo airing in 15 live college football games.

The Go RVing partnership with Sports Illustrated (SI) will be a high-impact, on-site consumer event. The SI on Campus Tailgate Tour presented by Go RVing will visit six NCAA football games throughout the country. The tour will feature a Winnebago Adventurer type A motorhome and Keystone RV travel trailer, which fans will be able to tour. There will also be tailgate cooking competitions, fan games and giveaways, and autograph and photo opportunities with Sports Illustrated and College Football talent. Videos will be shot at each stop and aired on SI.com website properties.

“We are very excited about the buys with ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated,” said Ashurst. “This audience of college football fans will be very receptive to the versatility, convenience and family bonding messages found in the new television commercial. This is a great way to extend Go RVing’s awareness building later into the year.”

 

Wisconsin Couple Wins New RV via Go RVing

July 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Couple Wins New RV via Go RVing 

The Hoffmans of Port Edwards, Wis., receive a thorough pre-delivery walk-through of their folding camping trailer from Greeneway RV’s Certified Technician Kurt Heinen. Forest River’s Flagstaff division donated the sweepstakes prize.

Go RVing’s “Spring Fever” sweepstakes conducted in partnership with the Outdoor Channel concluded recently with the presentation of a Forest River Flagstaff Classic folding camping trailer to winners Pam and Brian Hoffman at Greeneway RV Sales and Service in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

The Hoffmans won the drawing for the trailer from among 162,632 entries. The Go RVing/ Outdoor Channel “Spring Fever” Sweepstakes ran throughout April and generated more than 22,678 unique entries and 2,331 opt-in leads for the Go RVing database, according to a news release.

Throughout the sweepstakes, Outdoor Channel leveraged the power of traditional, digital and social media to encourage consumers to enter the national sweepstakes for a chance to win daily prizes, and a shot at the grand prize. To drive participation, Outdoor Channel aired RV-themed vignettes, honing in on the network’s star power, such as Mark Zona of “ZONA’s Awesome Fishing Show” and Pat and Nicole Reeve of “Driven with Pat and Nicole.” Consumers were also encouraged to participate in the contest via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which directed contestants to the “Spring Fever” microsite.

“RV sweepstakes, like the ‘Spring Fever’ contest, continue to be a great vehicle to raise awareness and generate leads for Go RVing,” said James Ashurst, RVIA’s vice president of public relations and advertising. “We are able to connect with a very interested audience and communicate key message about the value and fun of RV travel.”

 

Gorin: Go Camping America/Go RVing Revival

July 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Gorin: Go Camping America/Go RVing Revival 

David Gorin

David Gorin is the former president of ARVC and is currently the president of Best Parks in America and the principal of David Gorin Associates LLC. The following column appears in the July issue of Woodall’s Campground Management. He can be reached by e-mail at david@bestparksinamerica.

First, a little history.

In the beginning there was Go Camping America (GCA), a joint venture of the (then) National Campground Owners Association (NCOA), the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). The name Go Camping America and the original GCA logo were developed by KOA and given to NCOA sometime in the mid-1980s.

The objective of GCA was to spread the word about camping and RVing to the general public and to provide information to the media about camping in the U.S. As opportunities for promotion developed, each organization provided a share of the resources necessary or contributed talent, information or other in-kind support.

In the early 1990s, the RVDA decided to withdraw from GCA, leaving the program to RVIA and NCOA/ARVC.

Spurred on during these early years by NCOA and ARVC leaders Erv Banes, Al Daniels, Bob London, Conrad Dumke and several others, there were some significant accomplishments.

• A partnership among GCA, Kmart and the Coleman Co. led to the distribution of tens of thousands of Go Camping America Vacation Planners in over 2,000 Kmart stores.

Go Camping America momentos

• The Go Camping America Festival was a year-long camping promotion encouraging parks across the country to reach out into their communities and market areas with special events at campgrounds. The Festival kicked off on the “Today Show” with RVIA President Dave Humphries, the director of the National Park Service, the NCOA President – me – and the “Today Show” hosts Bryant Gumbel and Debra Norville camping, canoeing and talking camping at a campground at the Delaware Water Gap on the NY/NJ border. 1-800-SUNNY, the toll free number for GCA received over a 1,000 calls requesting the Camping Vacation Planner in that one day.

• A National GCA Fishing Contest was sponsored by GCA and fishing tackle manufacturer Abu Garcia.

• The introduction of the Go Camping America Credit Card was promoted to park owners and campers as a vehicle to fund Go Camping America. At its peak, there were over 5,000 cards being used and GCA income was around $25,000 the first year of the card.

• The introduction of the Go Camping America ATT Telephone Calling Card – remember them? Parks sold thousands of cards generating additional funding for Go Camping America.

• And as the worldwide web and Internet began to gain acceptance, ARVC created the Go Camping America online directory that remains today as the primary GCA vehicle for marketing ARVC members.

Go RVing Debuts

And then there was Go RVing, an RVIA and RVDA effort to unite the manufacturers and the dealers in a national promotion program to educate, motivate, entice and sell RVers to a larger and larger share of American consumers.

If my memory serves me correctly, the campaign to unify the RV industry around a national RV promotion program was initially spearheaded by Coachmen Industries’ Tom Corson, industry executive Jim Sheldon (then with Holiday Rambler and subsequently with Monaco), Tom Faludy of Carefree, and RVIA President Dave Humphries. Together with Bob Strawn, president of the RVDA, dealers Tom Stinnett and Rick Horsey and others, this group fashioned the Go RVing Coalition and promotion campaign into a model of industry unity that has become both a powerhouse driver of RV sales growth and the envy of many other big-ticket recreation equipment manufacturers – especially the boating industry.

Since Go RVing’s inception in 1994, the number of RVs owned by 35-54 year olds has grown faster than all other age groups, consumer attitudes toward RVs have improved very significantly and recall of RV advertising has grown every year. The number of likely RV buyers grows annually, driven by the Go RVing advertising and promotion.

Funded by increasing the price of the RVIA standards certification seal that goes on every RVIA member-produced RV, the Go RVing campaign has had annual budgets as large as $18 million. The campaign generally runs in three-year segments and over the years, promotional themes have ranged from “Wherever You Go, You’re Always at Home,” “Pursue Your Passions,” “Go RVing: Life’s a Trip” and the current “Away” theme.

In addition to the income generated by the RVIA seals, industry suppliers support the program through an annual dues assessment and through a special assessment added to the cost of exhibit space at the annual National RV Show in Louisville. All segments of the RV industry contribute to this powerful program that has worked wonders in building interest, respectability, understanding, support and many other positive attributes for RVs, RVing and the outdoors.

I like to recall that in the mid-1980s when I first became associated with the campground and RV park industry, my somewhat over-educated and over-achieving friends wondered why anyone would want to own and travel in an RV. Over the years, these same people have expressed envy for my being associated with such a “cool” lifestyle and they’ve moved from “I would never buy one of those things” to “I’m thinking about when I can buy an RV.”

In the early years of Go RVing, the campground industry conducted a “fair share” program soliciting contributions to the Go RVing campaign by requesting a fair share contribution based on the number of sites in a park, the number of site nights or the park’s revenue. Participating parks were listed on the Go RVing website as a resource for people looking for places to go camping. For some years, ARVC’s annual support through the fair share and other fund raising techniques of Go RVing was in the $100,000 annual range. And then for some reason, the industry association dropped its support – neither soliciting support from the members nor providing direct support from the association’s budget.

The Bottom Line

So what, you might ask? What’s your point?

Several points.

1. Every RV that’s sold represents a potential of 365 site nights for the park industry. From research I’ve seen, the average RVers uses their RV for about 25 nights a year. For every 1,000 RVs sold, at about $40/night on average, that’s $1 million in potential park revenue. With 10,000 campgrounds, those 1,000 RVs could mean $100 in revenue for each park. If the RV industry can successfully grow from where it is today – approximately 300,000 unit sales to where it was in 2006 – about 390,000 units – that could be $90 million in park revenue. At just 50% of that, we’re looking at $45 million or maybe $4,500 for every excellent, good, fair and poor park in America. Maybe a park would consider a $50 to $100 contribution to Go RVing to earn maybe an additional $4,500 in revenue.

2. With the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) now back under the RVIA umbrella, it stands to reason that the RVIA and the RV dealers are likely to take an increased interest in the RV units represented by park model manufacturers. These units are rapidly expanding as rental units in parks and as seasonal camping units of choice. RVIA has already launched a public relations effort to spread the word about park model RVs and park rental units. Soon, I’d expect that these units will be promoted more aggressively by RVIA public relations activities and may be included in future Go RVing promotions and advertising.

3. Go Camping America needs to be re-established into a national promotion program to reach out and excite more and more people about camping. Go Camping America is a good online camping directory but it can and should be much, much more. Industry promotion is an important role for a national trade association and ARVC needs to step up and take on this role.

In my view, the two key roles for an association are government affairs activities that protect the industry from unnecessary and unfair legislative and regulatory actions, and to promote and build an ever-growing consumer base for the industry’s products and services.

4. There should be a way to integrate and coordinate Go RVing and Go Camping America. Selling more steel (RVs) and putting more steel onto more sites (building more camper nights) go together. The more people own RVs, the more RV owners get out and use their vehicles, the greater the number of camper nights and the greater likelihood that they will buy another and another and another RV – and the more often they turn over their rigs, the more they use them – and the more camper nights that are developed. I urge the park owners and the leaders of ARVC to become more aggressive in figuring out how to take advantage of the great successes of Go RVing and how to ride that wave with Go Camping America. Two promotion programs have got to have a greater impact than just one. I recently heard that the ARVC Board of Directors voted for the association not to provide any support for Go RVing. If that’s the case, what a shame!

5. ARVC member benefit programs to save parks money through group purchasing are valuable. But isn’t it time to now focus on how to get the parks to use their savings they’ve achieved through ARVC benefit programs to fund GCA promotion programs to expand the number of camper nights, grow the camping market and increase park revenues? How many park owners would balk at kicking in $50 to $100 for an ear-marked $200,000 to $400,000 GCA promotion fund – not to drive current campers to the GCA website, but to promote camping as an activity and to try to build new camper nights from the public? I’ve no doubt that integrating GCA with Go RVing and putting money up to make it happen would be a big win for the park industry. I can hear the cynics saying park owners won’t contribute but that’s a cop out. A professionally crafted and executed program to tell the promotion story to park owners will be well received and supported.

See ya in August.

 

 

Go RVing Reaching Out to Hispanic Markets

April 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Go RVing Reaching Out to Hispanic Markets 

Go RVing has launched an initiative to appeal to growing market of Hispanic campers.

As part of its overall 2013 media campaign, Go RVing has launched a targeted advertising push to reach the growing Hispanic market through a comprehensive media approach utilizing television and radio commercials along with interactive digital and traditional print ads, according to a news release.

The “AWAY” campaign message was tweaked slightly to resonate more fully with this market and will feature a multi-platform, national media buy targeting English-speaking Hispanics with a household income of $75,000-plus with commercials on top-ranked Hispanic television networks that appeal to English-dominant viewers, interactive digital ads, and print ads in popular magazines. Additionally, there will be some DJ-endorsed radio ads in several markets that have a high saturation of affluent, English-speaking Hispanics.

The move to promote RVing to this consumer group is rooted in research showing the growing Hispanic market to be good candidates for RV ownership. The U.S. Census shows Hispanics accounted for 56% of the nation’s growth between 2000-2010 with experts predicting they’ll continue to account for more than half of the growth in the next five years. Go RVing’s 2012 Advertising Effectiveness Survey found that Hispanics are most likely to consider buying an RV vs. all other ethnic groups.

As an American demographic, the English-dominant Hispanic population spends more on domestic travel than any other ethnicity, and those with a household income of $75,000-plus are the most likely to have more discretionary income for travel and leisure. Family visits are a major reason for travel among the Hispanic population, particularly among English-dominant Hispanics who are more likely to have family in the U.S. This affluent segment is engaged in traveling and in considering an RV. They are family-centric and looking for travel deals, but they spend when it’s worth splurging.

Airstream CEO Co-Chairs Go RVing Coalition

April 4, 2013 by · Comments Off on Airstream CEO Co-Chairs Go RVing Coalition 

Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream Inc.

Go RVing has selected Bob Wheeler, president and CEO, Airstream Inc., to serve as co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, the RV industry’s national advertising and market expansion initiative.

Wheeler joins RV dealer Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV (Louisville, Ky.-area) as co-chairman of the industry-wide coalition, replacing Bob Olson, who retired from Winnebago Industries in 2012.

The officers of Go RVing, Inc. — RVIA President Richard Coon and RVDA President Phil Ingrassia — released a joint statement praising Wheeler as an excellent choice to serve as co-chairman:

“Bob is a proven industry leader who understands the importance of branding and strategic promotion. He brings valuable experience, insight, and influence to the Go RVing Coalition, and partnered with Tom, they will make a strong team to help guide Go RVing forward as we seek to build on the growth of the past few years.”

Wheeler, 46, began his professional career as a manufacturing engineer at General Motors. He became president and CEO of Airstream in 2005 after serving in several other positions with Thor Industries, which is Airstream’s parent company.

“The Go RVing program plays a vital role in our industry’s effort to raise consumer awareness about the benefits of RVing and the RV lifestyle,” said Wheeler. “I’m honored to work with the talented members of the Go RVing Coalition, who have for years helped position RVs as a fun and affordable way to build lasting memories. As we look to furthering industry growth and expansion, I’m excited to be part of the team’s move towards more creative, impactful and innovative campaign executions.”

Stinnett, who has been involved in Go RVing since it began in 1994 and has served as a co-chairman since 2004, will continue to play a leadership role as a key consensus-builder among dealers and manufacturers. “With his experience with Thor and Airstream, and his passion for the RV lifestyle, Bob Wheeler will be a great addition as Go RVing co-chair,” Stinnett said. “I look forward to working with him as the 2013 ad campaign gets underway.”

Wheeler is a resident of Sidney, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, Kelly, and their three boys — Grant, Harvey and Finn.

The Go RVing campaign is widely credited for boosting the image and popularity of RV travel and helping to maintain RV awareness and demand through the recent economic downturn. The Go RVing Coalition consists of RV manufacturers, component suppliers, dealers, and campgrounds who work to provide the public and media with information about the benefits of RV travel and to foster satisfaction with the RV experience through its Committee on Excellence. For more information, visit www.GoRVing.com.

 

Go RVing Claims 100,000 Facebook Followers

April 1, 2013 by · Comments Off on Go RVing Claims 100,000 Facebook Followers 

Magic mark hit on GO RVing’s Facebook page.

Go RVing reached a major milestone in mid-March when it exceeded 100,000 active followers of its Facebook page.

According to a press release, the ever-growing community is a mix of both current and prospective owners who have actively chosen to follow the messaging provided daily by the brand.

Since the page was launched in 2008, the style and content of the daily postings have been remixed to increase engagement with followers. In the past 18 months, the page’s reach has grown dramatically through messaging that regularly resonates with consumers who are decidedly interested in the Go RVing message.

Over the years, numerous analytical sequencers have been created to track the interactions on social media and quantify the organic and viral reach of a brand’s messaging across numerous social media platforms. Go RVing utilizes several different metrics programs to obtain a well-rounded overview of its campaign’s reach, according to the release. In recent weeks, some individual Go RVing posts have been seen by over 168,000 Facebook users through organic and viral sharing.

“Effective use of social media rarely ‘just happens,’” said James Ashurst, RVIA vice president of advertising and public relations, “but when strategically developed and executed, social media can be a powerful and direct link between brands and their intended market.”

He added, “Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or more recently on Instagram and Pinterest, all of Go RVing’s activities are part of an overall digital strategy developed jointly by both our staff and the team at The Richards Group. Everything we do is designed to support and work cohesively with other aspects of our marketing and advertising campaigns each day. Perhaps the greatest advantage of social media is that we can tweak our messaging as we go – we can react in minutes if needed and we can change our content on the fly. Done correctly, social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain a high level of engaged interaction with our audience.”

To recognize the Facebook milestone, Go RVing ran a weeklong “100,000 and Counting Fan Appreciation Giveaway” that attracted just shy of 9,000 entrants for a prize package of RV-camping essentials. The top prize included a $100 debit gift card, Go RVing window decals, koozies, lanyards, glow sticks, and four collapsible campfire roasting forks and the essentials for making s’mores all packed into a heavy galvanized bucket which can be used at the campfire. Several runners-up were also awarded prizes, with each winner being selected randomly by computer.

Go RVing Launching ‘Fever’ Contest on April 1

March 29, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A Flagstaff Classic folding camping trailer, grand prize in the 2013 Go RVing “Spring Fever Sweepstakes.”

Following a successful debut in 2012, Go RVing has again partnered with the Outdoor Channel as co-sponsor of the network’s “Spring Fever Sweepstakes.”

The month-long sweepstakes kicks off April 1, and this year’s grand prize is a Flagstaff Classic folding camping trailer which was selected in an RVIA-member lottery. Flagstaff is a division of Forest River Inc.

According to a news release, the sweepstakes is supported both on-air and online with eight custom videos, including four 30-second spots by Outdoor Channel talent Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones, hosts of the hunting show “Driven”, and angler Mark Zona, host of “Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show.” Each will feature the hosts talking about the appeal of RVs for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Outdoor Channel will also promote the benefits of RV travel through outdoorchannel.com, targeted emails, and the network’s social media outlets, including a Go RVing co-branded trip itinerary widget. The network will award daily prizes and four national park RV vacations in conjunction with the Flagstaff grand prize.

“RVs and the outdoors go hand-in-hand, and these types of enhanced media partnerships give the Go RVing brand and messaging greater visibility and impact because the network personalities have tremendous credibility with their viewers,” said James Ashurst, RVIA vice president of public relations and advertising. “It’s also a chance for viewer’s to see how an RV might enhance the quality of their leisure time as it does for the program hosts.”

In 2012, the “Spring Fever” sweepstakes generated a total of 165,000 entries, including 23,173 opt-In leads for the Go RVing database who requested additional information from Go RVing and its industry partners.

 

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