Editor’s Note: The following Q&A with Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) appears in Woodall’s Campground Management, sister company to RVBusiness.
The senior management team at the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) — including President and CEO Paul Bambei, Senior Director of Education Barb Youmans, Senior Director of State Relations & Program Advocacy Jeff Sims and Membership Director Candra Talley — have been out in force in recent weeks, canvassing the various state and regional campground association conferences to update park owners on the latest news and benefits emanating from the Denver, Col.-based organization.
Among those conferences, Youmans and Sims were at the Northeast Campground Association’s (NCA) 53rd Northeast Conference on Camping and Trade Show wrapped up Saturday evening (March 18) in Nashua, N.H., while Bambei addressed attendees at the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) 54th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Stevens Point, Wis.
Their message to those attendees – as well as in a lengthy conversation between Bambei and Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of Woodall’s Campground Management — touched on three general areas of ARVC’s efforts on behalf of its some 2,900 members: Advocacy, Education, and Network Connection.
Below is an edited version of WCM’s interview with Bambei.
WCM: So, as we sit here in a Florida hotel lobby during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) RV Leadership Conference, what in your opinion is the current state of affairs at ARVC, both for you personally and for the association in general?
Bambei: I have no complaints. This is going into my seventh year and it was a bit tumultuous in those early years, a lot of things going on, but I’d say for the last three or four it’s been very positive, we’re getting a lot of good things done. The board has been very helpful in setting a strategy that I think is futuristic, so I have very few complaints.
WCM: Let’s take that one more step. If you had to critique your organization, what would you like to improve?
Bambei: What I’ve learned is our marketing is not as sophisticated as I know it can be. You have to approach it as a multi-touch opportunity. If you just think you can send one beautiful four-color mailer to a non-member and expect them to convert overnight, it doesn’t work. So our whole plan is to sequence the number of things that we’re going to do to stay in touch with not just the member, but also with the nonmember, and hopefully over time convince that nonmember to come over.
WCM: Is this in response, at least in part, to recent membership policy changes with regard to state affiliations?
Bambei: We used to call it affiliation relationships. It’s now changed slightly to partnering relationships. If you’re a partnering state, you sign up for a dual-membership scenario where a member pays both the state association and us.
We made a big decision as a board last year to allow choice and flexibility for each of the partnering states, and the overwhelming majority stayed as 100% partners. But what we did was we created a new layer that allowed them to get to as low as 75% and still stay as what we call a dual member, a member of their state association and ARVC.
A couple of states (California and Wisconsin) chose to go their separate ways, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that evolves over time. I think they’re going to miss what we do and within a couple years they, hopefully, will come back.
They’re very close to that 75% threshold, but they didn’t get there, so our policy now is very black and white. You either maintain that 75% threshold or you don’t.
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