Rapidly changing events in the RV park and campground industry have prompted some adjustments in the content of the Second Annual RV Park & Campground Investment Conference, scheduled for Feb. 4-6 in McLean, Va.
“The focus of the 2009 Investment Conference has been modified to provide those currently invested in the industry with an opportunity to gather information from experts and network with each other to seek strategies and encouragement necessary to ride out the current economic climate and survive in today’s RV park and campground world,” explained David Gorin, of David Gorin & Associates, co-sponsor along with Affinity Group Inc.
“There are many people in the park industry from individuals to big corporations that have major investments in this industry – often their entire life savings are tied up in their parks,” Gorin told Woodall’s Campground Management. “The new direction of the conference is to give those folks information how to deal with the situation, what the projections tell us about the future, and strategies and ideas on how to maneuver through this time to best protect their investments.”
Several new seminar topics and speakers have been added to beef up the agenda, Gorin indicates on the website to promote the event.
New Features of Conference
Among the additions:

  • A panel discussion on the topic “What’s the Future of the RV Industry and What’s Being Done to Create That Future?” featuring Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC); and Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Vehicle Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA). Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and Mike Molino, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), have also been invited to be part of the panel.
  • The new general session topic is “Federal Actions & Programs to Support RVing and Camping” with the presentation by Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and John Satagaj, president of the Small Business Legislative Council.
  • New seminar topics such as “Technology & the Environment in the Park Industry,” “Financing A Park in Today’s Economy,” “Business Models for RV Parks for the Next Decade” and “Retooling Park Operations for the New Economy” have been added.
  • The new topic for the closing session is “Thriving Into the Next Decade” and a major corporate executive is expected to address this topic.
    They join a speakers list, which already included Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America (KOA): Randall Henderson, president of Signature Resorts, a division of Monaco Coach Corp.; and RV industry forecaster Richard Curtin, from the University of Michigan.
    “In recognition of the current climate and to make the conference more accessible to all, we have reduced the registration fee by $100 and are reducing the ‘glitz and glamour’ that sometimes accompanies meetings of this type,” Gorin added.
    Sponsors are trying to bring in some Washington political figures to address the issues of the economy and what the administration and Congress are doing to deal with the situation, he said.
    “We feel it will be a very exciting time to be in the Washington, D.C., area,” said Bruce Hoster, vice president of the global business group for Affinity and president of Coast to Coast Resorts. “I think we all feel that President Obama will hit the ground running and that by the post-inaugural time period we will have a different feel about the economy.”
    Dramatic Changes Since October 2007 Conference
    Gorin noted a dramatic change in the campground environment since he and AGI co-sponsored the first investment conference in October 2007 at which approximately 150 people attended.
    “That earlier conference targeted investors, developers and park owners considering new and expanded investment in the park industry,” he said. “At that time, the industry appeared on the verge of a surge in growth with many new ambitious plans for new RV parks and campgrounds on the drawing board. Park owners were eager to borrow to expand and upgrade their business. Bank, institutional and venture financing were relatively open and available to experienced parties. Now that has all changed.
    The conference had been scheduled for last fall but sponsors postponed it to early in 2009 after the new president was in office and a clearer picture of the direction of the U.S. economy was available.
    For a complete schedule of speakers and topics, registration details and hotel information, visit www.parkinvestmentconference.com.
    Woodall’s Campground Management is an AGI publication.