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The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) plans to celebrate a landmark birthday at its 40th Anniversary ARVC InSites Convention/Expo, slated for Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Between 750 and 1,000 owners and operators of RV parks and campgrounds are expected to attend this year’s convention – the only comprehensive national trade show targeting the outdoor hospitality sector.
This year’s InSites convention gives ARVC members a chance to look back at where the industry has been and prepare to move ahead while meeting fellow members from across the country, according to ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer. “Plus, we have the Expo where they can see the latest and greatest products and over 50 CPO (Certified Park Operator) courses that are really valuable to our members,” she said.
All in all, she said, the industry comes into this 40th convention rebounding from a challenging year in which high and oftentimes unpredictable fuel prices altered the way in which many Americans camped as some are choosing to take shorter trips and staying longer at their destinations. “Look at the past year, with the gas situation and higher interest rates, our industry is still doing well compared to boating,” she said.
“From the people I’ve talked to, most campground people had good summers,” added ARVC Chairman Max Gibbs, director of Sandy Pines RV Resort, Hopkins, Mich. “Those that were distant from major cities had problems because of the gas situation.”
Profaizer estimated that campground revenues among ARVC members grew between 2% and 5% on average, and ARVC membership grew by nearly 100 members this year to nearly 4,000. Approximately half of the nation’s privately owned RV parks and campgrounds belong to ARVC.
“We have the half that realizes they are part of a larger entity and realizes they have to keep up with what’s happening in the world today,” she said.
How does Profaizer explain such growth and stability in rather trying times?
“You have to look at the Go RVing campaign to see why our sector of the hospitality industry is doing so well compared to others,” she said, adding that ARVC has been a vocal and financial supporter of the Go RVing Coalition since its inception in 1996, as have the industry’s other key national trade groups, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
A good sign for the future, Gibbs maintained, is the fact that more and more people are interested in owning and running parks. “That has been exciting,” he said. “I see a lot of enthusiasm from the people coming to the convention. I’m looking forward to a busy week.”
This year’s InSites confab is packed with meetings, professional development seminars and the National Camping Industry Expo.
The ARVC board will meet during the convention in part to consider a number of long-term issues. Among the topics of discussion:
• The loss of campgrounds for other business pursuits, i.e. condos, etc.
• Adoption of some standards for classifying campgrounds.
• ARVC’s proposed Center for Outdoor Hospitality.
In addition, results of ARVC’s 2006 Economic Survey, the first for the industry since 2003, will be shared at one of the professional development seminars on the closing day of the convention.
The keynote speaker for this year’s convention is Susan Carnahan, an “enter-trainer,” who brings 36 years of experience in marketing, advertising, sales and banking to InSites. Her keynote address is entitled, “The Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make.” Carnahan also will lead two breakout sessions on Wednesday.
Other highlights:
• Park Operators on Tour: A classroom on wheels, the two-day Park Operators On Tour precedes the convention and will introduce participants to eight top-rated RV parks and resorts in Florida. On Sunday Nov. 26 and Monday Nov. 27, host Bob MacKinnon of MacKinnon Campground Consulting will lead the in-depth, behind-the-scenes motorcoach park tour. This event affords members the opportunity to see how other parks operate, to ask questions of park management on-site, and to participate in structured group discussions on the drive between locations. Sunday’s stops include Lazy Days Rally Park and Superstore, Bay Bayou RV Resort, Sun ‘N’ Fun RV Resort and Cypress Woods RV Resort. On Monday, visits will be at Raintree RV Resort, Riverside RV Resort, Buttonwood RV Resort and Tanglewood Outback RV Resort.
• A Pre-Convention All-Day Seminar: Learn all about the bells and whistles of reservation software from member supplier companies. Representatives will spend a full day teaching advanced tricks of the trade. Vendors who have already committed to the day of learning include: Digital Rez International, Mission Management, ReserveAmerica and PARCS Software.
Also on tap for this year’s convention are meetings gaveled by campground groups and marketing associations for their respective members, including Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc., Chicago, Ill.; Leisure Systems International Inc., Milford, Ohio; Best Parks in America, McLean, Va.; and the Best Holiday Trav-L-Park Association, Vestal, N.Y.