The fifth biennial Canadian RV and Camping Convention will take place Nov. 5-8 at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C., and the biennial event will be sponsored again this year by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA of Canada) and the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA).

Approximately 300 people representing Canadian RV dealerships, manufacturers and campgrounds are expected to attend the event, which features workshops, a trade show, campground tours and nightly entertainment.

“We always have fun at these conventions,” said Louise Morel, executive director of the convention organizing committee. “Unlike some conventions where attendees ‘spread out’ after hours, this group stays together. Everybody is there, together, 24/7. It makes it more intimate. You get to meet people and socialize with them. It’s a good time to talk with dealers and campground owners from other parts of the country. They really do learn from each other.”

Never has that been more important than this year, following the economic downturn, which has not been as dramatic for Canadians as it has for their neighbors to the south. Yet, it has still been felt by many in the industry. “It’s been a tough economic time for everybody,” Morel said. “We are more focused on regrouping and looking toward the future as everybody is.”

There are bright spots. “From what I’ve heard, campgrounds have done very well,” she said, noting that, as in the states, many campers have chosen to stay closer to home. “Most of the campgrounds I’ve talked to were sold out most of the season, even though the weather didn’t cooperate, especially in the east.”

Meanwhile, Canadian RV manufacturing has mirrored the U.S. experience and is down this year while dealer sales have been spotty, again, depending upon the economic prosperity of a given province or geographic area.

Still, as of early October, 80% of the RV dealers who attended the last convention, in 2007 in Ottawa, Ontario, had registered for this year’s convention, which Morel considers to be a good sign.

Five Keynote Speakers

Organizers have lined up five keynote speakers for the event:

  • Jim Carroll, international futurist, trends and innovation expert and author of ”Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast, and ”What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.”
  • Michael Campbell, British Columbia’s most respected business analyst, best known as the host of Canada’s top rated business show – “Money Talks” – heard across the country on the Corus Radio Network. Each week Campbell and his guests track financial trends to help listeners find ways to maximize their investments.
  • Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, America’s leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel, leisure, hospitality and entertainment clients. The agency represents clients in every category of the travel industry through seven offices across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. The firm’s Research & Brand Strategy Group is regarded as one of the most respected sources of insights into the emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of North Americans.
  • Michael Vickers, popular speaker, entrepreneur, educator and author whose dynamic, humorous and insightful sessions coach thousands of professionals to grow individual and organizational performance. His success is completely built on his personal experience. A consummate entrepreneur, he’s a graduate of his own franchised retailing enterprise, a manufacturing and distribution company and a highly successful publishing venture.
  • Rick Antonson, president & CEO of Tourism Vancouver, British Columbia, which was instrumental in procuring the winning bid for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver. He knows first hand how ideas are born and then how partnerships develop, to take a concept from a dream to reality.

Five Professional Workshops

Among the professional workshops:

  • On the topic of ”Trends, Economic Value and Future Opportunities of the RV and Camping Industry,” presenters are Joss Penny, executive director of BCLCA; Michelle Carr, manager Outdoor Sector Development, Britich Columbia ministry of tourism, culture and the arts; and Chris Bower, general manager, NK’MIP RV Park, Osoyoos.
  • Randy Sobel, Sobel & Associates, a marketing, training and consulting company to the automotive retail sales industry, will present two workshops, “How to Increase your Profits by $1,000.00 per Sale! (Changing times require changing techniques)” and “New Product Selection Techniques:  Manage Inventory and Increase Gross Profit!”
  • Ted Davis, vice president of product development for DealerTrack Canada, will address the topic of “Using Technology Solutions to Increase Efficiency and Profitability in Your Dealership.”
  • Will Slattery will speak on the topic “IntensiFI’… is all about F&I.”

Campground Tours Offered

Conventioneers will have two opportunities to attend campground tours this year.
The first begins before the convention starts. From Nov. 3-4, participants will visit four British Columbia campgrounds – Fort Camping at Fort Langley, Burnaby RV Park in Burnaby, Riverside RV Resort and Campground in Whistler and Living Forest Oceanside RV & Campground in Nanaimo. The fee of $399 plus tax includes travel, lodging and meals.

The second tour is a free, all-day event (8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and will be a visit to Oceanside RV Park in Saanichton.

The campground tours have been part of the convention since the inaugural event, in 2001 in Quebec City, Morel said. Not only campground operators, but also industry suppliers and dealers attend the tours, Morel noted, as it affords everyone a chance to see campground operations in other provinces.

20-plus Vendors at Trade Show

The trade show, featuring more than a score of industry vendors, is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 in the Victoria Conference Center, which adjoins the hotel.

Besides Thursday’s all-day campground tour, nightly entertainment includes a 6-8 p.m., Thursday, opening reception. From 5 to 10 p.m., Friday, attendees may cruise Victoria’s inner harbor aboard the 135-foot Queen of Diamonds. Dinner will be served aboard this elegant cruise ship while music and a casino will keep passengers busy as you glide past the sparkling lights of Victoria. Entertainment for Saturdays dinner with entertainment by The Timebenders show band. – Steve Bibler