The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) 2015 Spring Meeting and Trade Show is under way in Kerrville, Texas, with 150 campground owners and operators joining 40 vendors for the annual event.
The event is split between TACO Board President Don Temple’s Guadalupe River RV Resort and The Inn of the Hills just down the road in the Texas Hill Country.
The event kicked off Sunday (April 26) with a park tour and wine tasting at Texas Wine Country Jellystone Park. “The park was beautiful, we had a great dinner,” TACO CEO and Executive Director Brian Schaeffer said.
The second day opened with a breakfast, awards ceremony and a legislative update at Guadalupe River before moving to the inn of the Hills for the trade show, which Schaeffer said features more park model RVs than ever.
This evening’s highlight will be the dinner and the TACO auction, which Schaeffer said benefits the 400-plus-member association’s legislative and legal-defense funds. “It doesn’t cover all of the costs, but it goes a long way,” he told Woodall’s Campground Management.
By the end of the event Tuesday afternoon, the attendees will have heard from association leaders, Bob MacKinnon of Guest Reviews, Mark Douglass of RVing Accessibility Group, PR specialist and WCM columnist Jeff Crider and from Nate Gieryn of the Texas governor’s office, who will discuss the state’s tourism efforts.
“Texas right now is the third-most traveled state in the nation,” said Ron Hinkle, TACO’s legislative consultant. Not only does the state market more effectively than competitors Florida, New York and California, he said, the state is poised to get a big income boost for tourism marketing over the next two years.
That’s good news for the Texas campground operators, most of whom said they plan to expand in the next three years.
Right before the TACO award presentations, MacKinnon presented The Vineyards Campground and Cabins in Grapevine with a special award for not only being one of only 34 campgrounds to receive an A rating on GuestReviews.com (out of 4,000 rated campgrounds), but for achieving that distinction for seven years in a row.
TACO’s awards were:
- Small park of the year — Johnson Creek in Ingram, Tom and Lisa Cauthen.
- Medium park of the year — Texas Lakeside RV Resort in Port Lavaca, Doug and Dana Jensen.
- Large park of the year — LaHacienda RV Resort in Lake Travis, Ken and Lydia Butschek.
- Top vendor — Utility Supply Group.
- Best accommodations in Texas — Barefoot Bay Marina and Resort.
- Website of the year — Pioneer RV Resort.
- Best rack card — Texas Lakeside RV Resort.
- Best brochure — Brookeland/Lake Sam Rayburn KOA.
‘Don’t mess with TACO’
There’s a popular saying, “Don’t mess with Texas.”
But Schaeffer said during the second day of the association’s Spring Meeting that TACO has hired former Texas Deputy Attorney General Bill Cobb, now in private practice, to deliver a similar message to business operators and government agencies that do not deal fairly with the association’s members.
Cobb will correspond and personally communicate with business operators as well as city or county officials who appear to be taking actions contrary to the law.
“We’re willing to spend some money so people don’t mess around with you,” Schaeffer told TACO members, adding that the association has tripled its budget for legal services. TACO has adopted a similar “don’t mess with us” stance on the legislative front, as evidenced by the association’s proactive efforts to defeat legislation that is unfriendly to park operators.
Ron Hinkle, TACO’s legislative consultant, said that he worked with TACO’s partners in the travel industry to defeat nine separate bills during the current legislative session that attempted to roll back the school start dates. The bills, one of which advocated pushing the annual school start date back to the last week of July, would have dramatically reduced the summer travel season. Hinkle said TACO and its travel industry partners are trying to convey to legislators that more can be achieved by improving the quality of classroom instruction than by extending the number of weeks children are in school. TACO worked with its partners in the tourism industry and school officials several years ago to set the statewide school start date as the fourth Monday in August.
“This was a compromise between the education community and the tourism industry,” Hinkle said, noting that early school start dates were eating into the summer travel season. Hinkle said the Texas camping and tourism industry loses $800 million a week for each week that the school start date is moved earlier into August.
“It’s incumbent on us to tell that story to legislators,” he said.
TACO is also working to pass legislation that would provide consistent and up to date rules governing the construction of RV parks in Texas. The Texas Recreational Vehicle Park and Construction Act would ensure that there are consistent building standards for RV parks in Texas moving forward, Hinkle said.
TACO’s annual Spring Meeting and Tradeshow concludes today (April 28). The seminar and conference portions of the event are taking place at Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville while the tradeshow portion takes place at the neighboring Inn of the Hills Conference Center.