WOODALLSCM.com July 2019 - 17 While the Escapees’ largest rallies attract anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 attendees, which requires the use of fairgrounds and convention centers, the club has numerous smaller rallies, called“Hangouts”and“Convergences,” which may involve 15 to 100 rigs. Thosearemucheas- ier for campgrounds and RV parks to handle, according to Georgianne Austin, communications director for the Escapees RV Club. FMCA chapters, for their part, have to have at least 15 RV owners to be recognized by the associa- tion. But right now, the association has between 450 and 500 chapters, which translatesintoalotofpotentialbusiness. “Most of these chapters try to get to- gether once a month in the good weather,” Mallory said. “Sometimes, the chapters will only have five or six RVs at a get-together; others need 40 or 50 sites each month. The chapters will want to book a campground for anywhere from three days to a week.” FMCA’s other requirements: “The chapters want the campground to be pretty accessible, fairly close to main highways. The parks need to be pet friendly. Attendees like to have good restaurants nearby and have utility hookups,” Mallory said. Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that do a good job hosting rallies also stand to generate a lot of social media publicity from hosting such events, which can supplement their ongoing marketing efforts to consumers. “It’s a great business opportunity for group is looking for places where it can have 100 or 150 RVs to stay in a campground,” he continued. AnnetteWeinell, of Rincon Country West RV Resort in Tucson, Ariz., said that while rallies can be demanding in terms of their needs — and require lo- gistical gymnastics to free up meeting room space, as well as space in auditoriums and other facilities — it’s worth the trouble. Particularly when groups are booked in the shoulder season when more RV sites are available and when there is less demand for park facilities. “Overall, it’s worth it,” she said, “be- cause we are booking on our shoulder seasonwhennormallywewouldn’thave those 50 rigs in here.”That can translate into thousands of dollars of additional revenue that might not otherwise materialize in the shoulder season. Theonlythingshecan’tdoisaccom- modate rally groups during the peak winter season, when Rincon Country RV Resort is filled with snowbirds. “We don’t take any rallies in January, February or March or even December because we would have to cancel so many regular activities and we don’t want to off put our regulars for a rally event,”Weinell noted. Still, there are some tips Weinell has learned through her three decades of hosting rally groups for Rincon Country. Among them: • Be able to group rally groups together: “Keep them in one section and try not to spread them throughout your park,” she pointed out. “They like to gather together. So, having them all in one section is more convenient for them and makes them feel more like they are having a group gathering.” • Be prepared to book rally groups far in advance:“They are often looking tosecureaparkayearoreventwoyears out,” Weinell said. “Parks need to be flexible in saying, ‘Yes, we can handle you,’ two years out, and even quote a price two years out.” • Be prepared to have your park in- spected by the rally organizer: “The rallybookingprocessusuallystartsover the phone, and then a lot of times they will send somebody out,” she explained. “They will want to see what the actual RV spaces look like in the area they will be in. Some of these rallies have 40- and 45-foot rigs. They want to know if the rigs will fit and if they can back in.” One of the keys to hosting a successful gathering, according to organizers, is providing a hall or other indoor group space where rally participants can gather, like for this bingo night at a Family Motor Coach Association rally. Georgianne Austin Annette Weinell a lot of campground owners,” Mallory said,“because if people are happy with the park, they’re going to come back each year and they’re going to tell other people about the campground and how good it was. So, it generates a lot of word of mouth business.” FMCA also advertises the camp- grounds, RV parks and resorts that plan to host its rallies. “We put the schedule in Family RVing magazine and list the camp- grounds we are going to be in. So, it’s free advertising for the campground,” Mallory said. Mallory added that he is hearing about other RV clubs that are scouting for good rally locations, including parks thatcanhostlargernumbersofvehicles. “Newmar has its own rally groups. Then there’s Airstream, Monaco and other manufacturers’ chapters. Each