A 20 Group program administered by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) helps campground owners improve operations and increase profitability.
ARVC introduced the 20 Group concept – first developed in the auto industry – nearly 20 years ago. Park operators choosing to participate in these groups pay ARVC a one-time set-up fee of $150 plus an annual administrative fee of $350. They also cover their personal travel costs.
Each ARVC 20 Group is composed of 20 non-competing campgrounds, ordinarily from disparate geographic areas. Two members are elected to serve as co-chairmen, who then work with their members to determine meeting times, locations and agendas for each meeting. 
ARVC’s 20 Group members typically meet two or three times a year, but continue to communicate by phone or e-mail.
“For our business, it’s the best thing that we’ve ever done,” said Erv Banes, CEO of the Jellystone Park Camp Resort in Frankenmuth, Mich. “You have a resource of people that will gladly talk to you, whether you’re buying a tractor or redoing your laundry or trying to figure out your laundry machines.”
Tim Hopkins, manager of Cherrystone Park in Cheriton, Va., said he almost pulled out of a 20 Group, but is glad he opted to stick with it. “At first, I’ll tell you, we weren’t going to stay as part of the group. A lot of these older people had been in this for years and we were intimidated by that,” he said. “But then it dawned on us, ‘Hey, these people may have some answers for us.’ ”
“I can say the first meeting I went to paid for the next five years,” said Mitch Parker of Frontier Town Family Campground in Ocean Beach, Md. “It was simply a suggestion on acquiring insurance in a different fashion. Every meeting you come out with at least one idea. That, I think, is the real crux of the group.”
Although ARVC has had a 20 Group program for nearly two decades, the concept still seems to be gaining favor. Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) launched its first 20 Groups about three years ago, About 34 of KOA’s 440 parks are currently involved, meeting twice a year, said Lorne Armer, KOA’s assistant vice president of finance.
“This is a relatively new thing for KOA,” he said, adding that 50 additional KOAs have expressed interest in joining 20 Groups this year.
KOA organizes 20 Group sessions free of charge for its franchisees, providing participants detailed analyses of their financial performance and scores on their KOA’s annual Kamper Satisfaction Surveys.
“In the spring, we analyze last year’s numbers. Then in the fall, we develop business plans,” Armer said, adding that campground operators can then work with each other to improve not only their financial performance, but their levels of guest satisfaction.
“What (our franchisees) are telling us is that (our 20 Group meetings) are the best spent time that they can ever imagine away from their campground. They come from these meetings saying, ‘I’m spending more money in these categories than I should be.’”