Thor logoThor Industries Inc. showcased its new strategic partnership with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) — providing discounts to ARVC member parks on selected destination-style units — during ARVC’s InSites 2009 Convention and Outdoor Hospitality Expo that ends today (Nov. 12) in Orlando, Fla.

Three Thor divisions — Airstream Inc., Breckenridge Division and Keystone RV Co. — displayed units at the convention/expo that are designed specifically for campground rental.

”Essentially, as a preferred vendor of ARVC, we are offering incredible pricing,” said Shane Ott, Thor’s new director of campground relations and former president and COO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. ”(Units) are specifically built for ARVC members (at) a substantial savings (compared to retail).”

Specially designed Airstream Flying Cloud, Keystone Springdale Fireside travel trailers and Breckenridge recreational park trailers are being made available to ARVC members through a special arrangement that was announced in mid-October.

arvc2.giARVC logofThis is the first time that ARVC, the nation’s largest RV park and campground organization with 3,000-plus members, has entered a marketing program with an RV manufacturer.

Units designed for ARVC campgrounds will not be available on the retail market. ”All of these units were ruggedized to extend their life as rental accommodation units,” Ott said. ”They probably would not be viewed as attractive to a retail customer because they don’t have some of the creature comforts.”

Airstream Flying Cloud and Breckenridge park models will be available directly from the manufacturer, while Springdale Fireside travel trailers will be marketed through Keystone’s 270-plus dealers nationwide.

”One thing that is critical in our minds to the success of this is for both the dealers and campgrounds to benefit from it,” said Nick Eppert, production manager for Keystone’s Springdale division. ”We see an upswing in campgrounds wanting to provide extended-stay units.”

To whom are these new rental units targeted in a market that is seeing growing demand for all sorts of ”cabins” and later-term accommodations?

Ott said there are several markets that campground rental units appeal to. ”There are campgrounds that want rental accommodation units to market to a leisure camper who may be coming in with their family for a long weekend or a few days,” said Ott, who joined Thor during the summer. ”Others are marketing to folks on a more seasonal or annual rental basis.”

Ott said units were designed with ARVC members in mind.

”What’s unique here is we used ARVC members in the design of these units,” Ott said. ” We went through a series of phone calls and meetings all summer asking for feedback based on (campgrounds) rental experiences — what were the things we needed to do to build these units?”

Ott suggested that the campground sector is on the verge of reaching ”a critical mass” of rental units that can augment campgrounds’ traditional customers.

”Today we can effectively go out and tell the rest of the world that going to a campground is something that you can do without owning an RV,” he said. ” Ten years ago, the distribution of rental units wasn’t strong enough to make that announcement. But today, we’ve probably reached the point that the vast majority of commercial campgrounds in the country have some kind of accommodation unit.”