More than 550 private park operators gathered at the Nashville Convention Center for the InSites 2008 Convention & Outdoor Hospitality Expo annual meeting, hosted by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
The Nov. 12-15 show included a presentation on ARVC’s 2008 economic survey of the campground industry as well as ARVC’s annual meeting, during which association President and CEO Linda Profaizer and Chairman Mark Anderson briefly discussed the association’s latest achievements. These achievements, which were highlighted in a handout presented to meeting attendees, include:

  • The launching of an ongoing consumer satisfaction survey program as a member benefit in partnership with Murrieta, Calif.-based MacKinnon Campground Consulting. MacKinnon’s survey company, GuestRated LLC, presented awards to 21 top-rated ARVC member parks based on roughly 13,000 consumer surveys.
  • The introduction of ARVC’s Plan-It Green program, which encourages members to practice good stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.
  • The redesigning of ARVC’s website at www.gocampingamerica.com to make it more user friendly as well as the addition of secure online purchasing and new sections for owners and managers as well as a news area.
  • Work with the DeLorme mapping company to produce their Topo USA DVD, which includes ARVC member parks.
  • The addition of Assurant Affinity Group Health Solutions, Doheny’s Water Warehouse and SESAC as new member benefit providers.
    Partnership to ID Travel Plans
    ARVC officials also announced the association’s plans to conduct a national survey in partnership with state executive directors and state leadership, which will solicit consumer feedback on travel intentions for 2009. While there is continuing concern about the downturn in the economy and its effect on the campground business, ARVC officials have been impressed with the continuing levels of consumer interest in camping thus far, despite falling RV sales and tightening credit conditions.
    “Thanksfully, high fuel prices did not stop RVers and campers from visiting our parks,” ARVC stated in its annual report, which was distributed to members during the association’s annual meeting. “They are staying closer to home and maybe not spending as much in our stores, but they are still coming.”
    The report also noted that demand for seasonal sites, tent sites and cabin rentals have all increased during the past year. “This is indicative of new people giving camping a try,” ARVC said in its report.
    ARVC also said the association was very active this past year in several government affairs issues involving the RV industry, including calls for increased CAFÉ standards, formaldehyde issues, the possiblity the industry may produce fifth-wheel trailers exceeding 400 square feet. ARVC was also active in pressing for new federal highway legislation and in supporting the National Park Centennial Initiative.
    In addition to updating members on its activities, the InSites Convention offered private park operators numerous educational seminars covering a broad range of topics, including automated check-in procedures, how to develop disaster plans, how to operate a “green” or environmentally friendly park, website marketing and other emerging best practices in campground management.
    More than 50 speakers made presentations during the convention, including Bob MacKinnon of Murrieta, Calif.-based MacKinnon Campground Consulting and Rob Schutter, CEO of Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Yogi Bear Park camp-resorts. The keynote speaker was Brian Biro of Brian Biro Enterprises LLC in Asheville, N.C., who wrote a national bestseller titled “Beyond Success.”
    Meanwhile, the InSites tradeshow featured nearly 100 vendors that supply everything from campground insurance to electrical pedestals to merchandise for campground stores to recreational park trailers or “park models,” several of which were on display both inside and outside the Nashville Convention Center.
    Membership Elects Officers for 2009
    In terms of ARVC business, elections were held for ARVC officers for 2009. New executive committee officers include:
  • Mark Anderson, CPO, Camp Chautauqua, Stow, N.Y., chairman
  • Gene Zanger, Casa de Fruta, Hollister, Calif., 1st Vice chairman
  • David L. Berg, CPO, Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine, 2nd vice chairman
  • Patrick O’Neill, CPO, Camping on the Gulf, Destin, Fla., treasurer
  • Rob Schutter Jr., COO of Leisure Systems Inc., secretary
  • Max Gibbs, CPO, Sandy Pines, Hopkins, Mich., immediate past chairman.
    ARVC Hands Out Awards of Excellence
    ARVC’s 2008 Awards of Excellence were also presented during following an industrywide lunch. Winners were announced in the following categories:
  • Small State Association Directory of the Year: Maryland Association of Campground Owners.
  • Medium State Association Directory of the Year: Missouri Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.
  • Large State Association Directory of the Year: California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.
  • Largest Percentage Increase in Membership: Louisiana Campground Owners Association.
  • Greatest Numeric Increase in Membership: Florida Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.
  • State Association Executive of the Year: Debbie Sipe, California ARVC.
  • State Association President of the Year: Marcia Galvin, CPO, Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners.
  • Direct Mail Promotion of the Year: Lake George RV Resort, Lake George, N.Y.
  • Brochure of the Year: Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Keen Lake Camping & Cottages Resort, Waymart, Pa., honorable mention.
  • Website of the Year: Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Rincon Country RV Resorts, Tucson, Ariz., honorable mention.
  • Medium Park of the Year: Chocorua Camping Village KOA, Chocorua, N.H.
  • Large Park of the Year: Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Mega Park of the Year: Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Chairman’s Award: Mary Arlington, CPO, High Plains Camping Resort, Oakley, Kan.
  • Stan Martin Award: George O’Leary, CPO, Rincon Country RV Resorts, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Plan-it Green Award Winners: Mi-Te-Joe Campground, Milton, N.H. and Grand Haven Resort, Kimbolton, Ohio.
    The next annual InSites Convention & Expo is scheduled for November 2009 in Orlando, Fla.