In the wake of reporting continued earnings growth, Equity LifeStyle Properties executives discussed the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 performance in a conference call Tuesday (Jan. 24).
“Our platform continues to show the strength of the underlying fundamentals. We own great real estate locations with a strong demographic trend,” said Marguerite Nader, president and CEO of the publicly traded, Chicago-based real-estate investment trust, which owns a mixture of manufactured housing and RV parks.
“We finished the year with a strong growth rate of 4.5% in our MH business. And, finally, our RV revenue grew by nearly 6%,” Nader noted. “For the full year, our RV portfolio performed very well. The annuals, which represent two-thirds of RV income, generated a 6% growth rate. The seasonals came in at 3% and the transient base increase was 8%. We’re now turning our attention to our snowbird customers in the South. Our operating personnel are focused on our 2017 performance and they will also be working with our customers to obtain commitments for the 2018 season.”
The company operates the Thousand Trails and Encore Resorts RV properties, and CFO Paul Seavey said membership grew last year. “Our ending member count of 104,728 was 2,300 higher than the 2015 ending member count. Camping pass sales and RV dealer activations increased almost 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2015.”
He expects that growth to continue this year. “In total we expect to generate 29,800 memberships by selling 13,100 Thousand Trails camping passes and activating 16,700 camping passes through our RV dealer program in 2017. In addition, we expect to increase the annual count inside the Thousand Trails footprint by 250 and to upgrade 2600 TT customers.”
Nader said the company also continues to grow its digital marketing efforts. “I don’t think there is a steady state in digital media. It keeps changing. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that we were going have 340,000 Facebook fans and be on Instagram, Twitter, TripAdvisor, all of those different ways. We do have an excellent marketing department that is focused on just staying in touch with the latest technology to access our customer.”