The Escapees RV Club recently announced its inclusion in Winnebago Industries Inc.’s RV Experience Council (REC), an initiative founded by the Forest City, Iowa-based builder four years ago to gather feedback on its products during a cross section of owners rallies around the country.

In a recent newsletter to Escapees membership, which has grown to over 60,000 since it was founded in 1978, the company noted, “We are proud to announce a new facet to our partnership with Winnebago that will help shape the future of RVs by introducing the Winnebago RV Experience Council (REC). Escapees members know their RVs inside and out, making them an ideal resource for learning about the customer experience of owning and living in an RV.”

According to the club, the new informal relationship between the two entities will include Winnebago forming a select group of Escapees members to help develop its next wave of vehicles.

Chad Reese, director of corporate relations for Winnebago told RVBusiness, “The term that we use is ‘Voice of the Customer’ to describe REC. We are more actively involving consumers and our owners in the development of our products. It’s been a real eye-opener with the great feedback we have received. We have done some really cool work to dial in product changes and gather specific details about features in the RV.”

He added, “It is safe to say that we have taken the feedback seriously and have generated positive changes to our products. But we keep these refinements close to the vest and don’t really share the details of what those are. We have been very pleased with the input and have dialed in some significant features on our products.” 

Sam Jefson, public relations specialist for Winnebago, stated, “Our new relationship with the Escapees RV Club cast a wider net and allows us to engage in a larger group of consumers with surveys, face-to-face interviews, online discussions and workshops at rallies and shows. It has raised in scale from some smaller details to bigger picture items, such as floorplans. It does help us validate where we are going and what consumer trends are coming.”

He added that Winnebago is now participating in various Escapee RV Club events with this outreach program.

On the consumer side, Escapees RV Club is actively recruiting its membership to participate in REC. President Travis Carr and Vice President Melanie Carr, reported on the organization’s Facebook page that “it has been a longtime goal for us to have a direct voice with RV manufacturers for not only ourselves but also the RVing community. We couldn’t be happier that Winnebago stepped up to the plate to work with us in a formal relationship.”

“In 2018, Winnebago joined us for Escapade in Sedalia, Mo. They brought with them interactive mock-ups for evaluation by attendees. From storage to electrical outlets, no detail was missed by participants.”

The Carrs stated that Winnebago took copious notes back to Iowa and got to work. “Features including file storage, space for a printer, and modularity were incorporated as their team applied the feedback in creating a floorplan that could accommodate multiple users at a time,” the couple posted.

They added that Winnebago keeps feedback and information gathered strictly confidential. If participants change their minds later about participating in certain types of research, they will have the opportunity to opt-out at any time.

“We can’t wait to see where this all goes and look forward to sharing the story along the way,” concluded the Carrs.