It’s been a little more than a year since the Escapees RV Club launched RVers’ Online University, and officials said its Internet-based training and education program has proven successful in helping end-users better enjoy the RV lifestyle.
Saying the program falls under the industrywide effort of “helping make better RVers,” Escapees CEO Shawn Loring, who’s also president of the club’s seven-location Rainbow Parks, said the program has experienced “good growth” and organizers are planning to step up the marketing efforts to attract non-members to “connect even more students with this program.”
Loring mentioned that RVers’ Online University was born out of the club’s RVers’ Bootcamp, an on-site training and education program taught over the course of about three days at various locations a few times a year. Demand for attending the bootcamps typically exceeds the available space – class sizes are kept to a minimum to ensure a more intimate experience between instructor and student – so a more accessible platform for the training was needed.
“We realized that in this modern day and age, people may not be able to come to our events and we needed to have a different access point, and that is what RVers’ Online University essentially begot,” Loring explained.
The first course that made its way from RVers’ Bootcamp to RVers’ Online University was “Operation Maintenance and Safety,” which has since been joined by several more courses, including several that are lifestyle-oriented for different types of experiences.
Besides a curriculum that includes a wide variety of basic, intermediate and advanced instruction on RV lifestyle, operation, maintenance and safety, Loring said RVers’ Online University goes to great lengths to “replicate the classroom experience.”
“That’s a key component of it. It can’t just be static content, because invariably the student is going to have questions. So there needs to be that dialogue with the instructor, but also between the students themselves,” he said, adding that some instructors include a test as part of their course.
“That really becomes an important component during operation, maintenance and safety because we have worked out discounts with insurance providers. So, again, under the auspice that you ‘become a better RVer,’ you’re a safer RVer if you really know how to operate and maintain these vehicles. The insurance companies recognize that and say, ‘Okay, we’ll give you a break on your insurance.’ It all falls under that umbrella of safe driver discounts. But here you’ve demonstrated that you have taken an additional step to become a safer driver, to become a more knowledgeable driver.”
Loring pointed out that the program’s instructors have been well vetted to ensure they’re “true experts in their field.” That expert-led instruction is key to keeping repair times to a minimum and the end-user enjoying the RV lifestyle.
“When people go out and buy their RVs, they’re full of that vigor and vim, and they’re like, ‘I’m going to go conquer the world.’ But if and when they start having an issue, they soon realize how extensive those issues could be and it takes all the fun out of it,” Loring said. “So we do have a lot of new RVers, but we do see a fair amount of people who have been in the lifestyle for a while who come to our course because they realize that they want to be better at this.
“There will always be a need for people to be educated about the units that they have and we have developed this program to answer that need,” he continued. “In fact, when it comes to education, we develop all of our programs to solve a particular problem or give people a boost in a certain area of RVing. This has been a hallmark of our club for the last 40 years. Our very origin point was a newsletter that talked about technical issues. It’s in our blood. It’s what we do – educating people so that they can stay on the road and keep experiencing this.”