Representatives of state campground associations from across the country met with top officials from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) in late April to explore ways for strengthening their relationships and promotional efforts, according toWoodall’s Campground Management, a sister publication of RVBUSINESS.com.
“It was extremely productive,” reports ARVC President Linda Profaizer, who represented the national trade group, along with ARVC Chairwoman Kathy Palmeri and Micki Leak, director of meetings and membership. “I think it just reopened all the lines of communication.”
“We actually got down to identifying various areas where we thought ARVC could do a good or a better job,” said Brian Schaeffer, CEO and executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) and president of Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP).
He added that the participants actively demonstrated a “spirit of cooperation” and “mutual interest in moving our industry forward.”
The meeting, April 26-27 at the Governors Quality Inn in Falls Church, Va., drew 31 CAMP representatives, or roughly triple the turnout of similar meetings that have taken place in the past. In the end, both ARVC and CAMP identified several priorities for both organizations to pursue in the near future, including:
•Strengthening public awareness and marketing power of the GoCampingAmerica website: “We want it to have a higher profile,” Schaeffer said. “We want the brand to become stronger and to do a stronger job of marketing its members to the public.” Toward that end, a committee has been set up to explore the feasibility of applying the “Go Camping” domain name to specific states to enhance statewide campground marketing efforts. “(The committee) will make specific recommendations as to how states can help,” he said.
•Improving the functionality of the GoCampingAmerica website: “Right now,” Schaeffer said, “if you click to anything (from GoCampingAmerica), you’re done and off that website. Most major portals have a system to keep you on the original website.”
•Strengthening the focus of ARVC’s national public relations efforts: “We’d like to see the PR program go more toward consumers and various tourism partners to elevate the stature of the RV park and campground industry so that when city, county and state governments think about RV parks they think about resort parks instead of conjuring up a trailer park type of image,” Schaeffer said. “We’d like to see PR efforts move toward image building.”
• Better coordinating the content of marketing materials used by ARVC and state campground associations.
•Helping ARVC become a national clearinghouse of campground information: The idea, Schaeffer said, would be for state associations to provide ARVC with written reports that outline successful strategies they have used to overcome everything from taxation to regulatory issues. This information could then be posted online for the benefit of state association and ARVC members.
•Improving the administration of ARVC’s Certified Park Operators (CPO) Program: “If you want to become a CPO, it may take three or four years to get this designation,” Schaeffer said. “There are people out there who are thirsty and hungry for this knowledge.” The program should be reconfigured and include some web-based components so that campground operators can obtain the CPO designation faster, he said. CPO instruction is currently provided through a series of seminars that are offered intermittently in various venues across the country.
• Formalizing the relationship between ARVC and state associations: “There is nothing (in writing) formalizing the relationship between ARVC and the state associations,” Schaeffer said, adding that efforts have been launched to draw up documents that would formalize the business relationships between state and national associations. Profaizer said formalizing the relationships would benefit everyone. “We should each have some basic expectations of the other,” she said. “They need to be defined and written out so that everybody feels like they’re working together and they know what to expect.”
•Increasing campground owner membership in state and national campground associations.