Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO

Paul Bambei continues to make good on his mission to increase the benefits for members of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

In an exclusive interview with Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) following a three-week road trip that took him to many state association conventions and meetings as well as an ARVC board meeting, the ARVC president and CEO outlined a number of positive steps the national association has undertaken in recent weeks to serve its 3,000-plus members.

Details will be forthcoming later this spring on these and other decisions but Bambei provided the following overview for WCM readers.

Performance Licenses

Foremost on the member benefit front is the completion of licensing negotiations with the Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).

“The BMI deal is done, which was very important to me, strategically, to get it done first,” Bambei explained, noting that it was one of the three performing rights organizations (PROs) ARVC has been talking with. “It represented 70 percent of the licensing revenue that ARVC members submitted in 2011. It made sense to get that out of the way first.”

The concept behind the effort was to obtain a flat annual license fee that covered all three PROs (BMI, the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers [SESAC] and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers [ASCAP]) over a common license term that starts Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31.

The biggest advantage of being part of this program is two-fold:

  • The license fee an ARVC member will pay for all three will be about 70 percent less than what campgrounds would have paid for all three licenses separately.
  • Any licensee that comes on board under the ARVC program is protected from all “policing” contact by the PRO such as via e-mails and phone calls, since ARVC will administer the program. “That (hassle) is the No 1 complaint we receive in this office, the hassle factor. We wanted to devise a program where once a campground was signed up through us, that hassle factor goes away.”

The BMI contract takes effect in 2013. Open enrollment begins Aug 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Meanwhile, because it’s a 2013 program, ARVC is recommending its members should conduct their music licensing affairs for 2012 as they have done in the past.

Negotiations with ASCAP and SESAC are moving in tandem with the BMI deal but are not yet complete, Bambei said.

Membership Status

At the ARVC board meeting held in mid-March in Memphis, Tenn., the board unanimously agreed to keep the current structure relative to “affiliated” and “cooperating” states in place and unchanged, Bambei said. ARVC counts 28 states as having affiliated or full membership status.

“They took it one step further with a bylaws change that lowers the cooperating states’ required participation from 60 percent to 50 percent (of membership) making it a bit easier for any state that is contemplating becoming a cooperating state to become one,” Bambei said.

For example, New Hampshire is considering affiliating with ARVC, he said. The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association will add ARVC membership as an option when it mails out media kits this summer, confirmed Gregg Pitman, executive director. Currently, between 30 and 40 of the 140 New Hampshire parks in the state association belong to ARVC, Pitman estimated. He said he would not be surprised if the BMI license deal attracts more signees.

Bambei added that ARVC staff has had state affiliation conversations with people from the states of Washington, Georgia, Texas and New York. However, these conversations were not necessarily with formal leaders of the state associations but with individual park owners.

Texas and New York are former affiliated states but left ARVC in recent years.

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White House Meeting on ADA

ARVC undertook a major lobbying effort this year to counteract the impending new regulations through the Americans with Disabilities Act with regard to wheel chair lift requirements for public swimming pools. ARVC was represented by its Washington, D.C., law firm, McDermott, Will & Emery in a White House meeting with Department of Justice officials on March 26.

ARVC joined a coalition of other trade groups whose members operate swimming pools to form a strong voice in Washington, Bambei noted.

The coalition succeeded in getting a 60-day extension on the new regulations, which would have taken effect in mid-March.

ARVC has encouraged its members to exert influence on their elected officials to continue to lobby against the ADA regulations.

Benefit Provider Update

ARVC representatives are conducting talks to establish preferred provider status with several companies, including Moen, a manufacturer of faucets and shower heads; Schlage, maker of locks and security gates; and Speed Queen, maker of commercial washers and dryers.

“Our goal is to continue to keep new benefit providers in the pipeline,” said Bambei, “not to say every product will match 100 percent of our members’ needs but we want to find a common denominator that will match up with a majority of members.”

State Park Membership

ARVC’s attempt to increase its membership by opening the doors to state parks has not been successful in attracting a large number of state parks, Bambei conceded.

The initiative, as Bambei explained, was to work with individual affiliated states to do whatever they wanted to do. “What came back was a myriad of responses, ranging from Maine and Virginia, which work very closely with their state park brethren, to other states that said ‘We’re not ready for it.’ The main message is, ARVC respects whatever the state wants to do. “If they want to amp up a greater number of parks, we will work with them,” he said. “If they want to let sleeping dogs lie, so be it. We’re in lock step with the states.”