b'Key Peoplefrom page 29 State Associationsfrom page 20Smithhasnearlydoubledthesizeof good financial health and has retainedOCOAs annual spring trade show, from 23 earnings sufficient to see us through theto 45 vendors, and has increased atten- pandemic.dance and revenue generated by the show. Like everyone else, TACO is now con-Smith used a variety of strategies to in- ducting its meetings online.crease the popularity of OCOAs spring Weve also had several teleconferenceconferenceandtradeshow,including board meetingsfirst time events as well,making it shorterone-and-a-half days Schaeffersaid.Theboardmeetinginstead of two full dayswhich makes it provedveryefficientandcostsaving.more affordable. She also condensed the COVID required a whole new level ofeducational portion of the conference and communication. First with state and localpacked it with more content.officials to be considered essential busi-We made it more organized and more nesses. Then with our members as to howinformative, Smith said of the confer- they should react with their employees,ence, which always takes place on the first customers and communities.weekend of March in Columbus. It used Kristy Smith started her career in lobbying before taking on the role of OCOAs executive director. The good news is that Texas park op-to be two full days. Now its more like a day Something she said has prepared her for the many functions she serves with OCOA.eratorsareappreciatingtheassocia-and a half, ending after lunch on the sec- tions work. Membership renewals areond day. We make it short and sweet so going strong right now and we have(parkoperators)cangetbacktotheir cluding the annual Ohio RV Super Show able to open and operate in a safe way, nearly50newmembers,Schaefferparks. in Cleveland and the AAA Vacations Expo, she said, adding, Weve had no major is- said, adding, What we provide in theSmith also holds the conferences as Smith said OCOA is identifying new venue sues with COVID, no outbreaks at any way of industry support, legal advice,close as possible to the Columbus Airport. locations to receive the guides, which are campground that I am aware of. Camping legislativefixesandmarketingmakeThat way, vendors dont have as much ex- distributed by a number of companies is just a great way to escape. You really can TACO membership the bargain of thepense. They can get off the plane and take and outlets. do it safely. There is no downside to camp- century for park operators.a shuttle to the hotel, she said. While OCOA continues to focus more ing. Wealreadyhavethe2021TACOAsOCOAsspringconferenceand attention on improving its website and so- While COVID-19 remains an area of Spring Meeting & Trade show bookedtradeshow have grown in popularity, so, cial media presence, printed campground concern, OCOA is also focusing its atten- and many booths reserved and registra-too, have the number of participating ven- directories remain an important compo- tion on new legislation to protect Ohios tions in hand, Schaeffer added. Folksdors, who provide a critical source of rev- nent of the associations marketing efforts. campgroundoperatorsfromfrivolous are anxious to get together and tradeenue. I think there will always be demand for lawsuits. OCOA is advocating passage of stories and learn from each other, ourOur spring conference is our big, for- the printed directory, Smith said. HB 355, which has already won approval speakers and vendors from across themal conference with classes and keynote COVID-19, of course, has created new from Ohios State House and was to go be- land.speeches and the tradeshow. Our fall con- challenges for Ohios campground opera- fore the Senate sometime this fall, Smith TACO also anticipates a busy winterference is less formal. Thats when we tour tors, with many mandatory protocols in said.season for the association, including afour or five campgrounds via bus, Smith place to keep campers and staff safe. The proposed legislation is very similar legislation session that is likely to ad-said. We worked with the government to to Wisconsins Assembly Bill 174, which dress property tax relief. OCOA has a committee of board mem- open parks to seasonal campers in late providesimmunitytoprivatecamp-bers who meet with Smith after each con- April and to overnighters right before Me- ground operators from lawsuits involving WISCONSINference to discuss how it went and what morial Day, Smith said, adding, I was on avarietyofrisksthatareinherentto The Wisconsin Association of Camp-they can do to improve it moving forward. the phone with our lobbyist many times a camping, such as dangers caused by trees, ground Owners (WACO) dodged a bul-OCOA was able to hold its spring confer- day. Luckily, we got the parks open to roots, rocks, mud, sand and soil as well as letbybeingabletoholditsannualence and tradeshow this year. Plans are overnighters prior to Memorial Day. But a natural bodies of water, a lack of lighting, convention and trade show this year, lit-tentative for OCOAs 2021 spring confer- lot of the other outdoor recreation groups weatherandinsects,birdsandother erally days before nationwide stay-in-ence, depending on what happens with werent so luckyswimming pools were wildlife. Wisconsins Inherent Risk Law placeordersandotherCOVID-19the pandemic, but the association is hop- not able to open until after Memorial Day took effect April 1, 2016. restrictions were put into place. ing to host an in-person event. and amusement parks not until June or Looking to the future, Smith said OCOA We did get our convention in just inOCOAalsoproducesastatecamp- July. plans to continue to increase its online the nick of time. We would have neededground directory to showcase its member SmithishopingthatOhiosprivate and virtual platform and presence. Plans to go into reserves without it, of course,parks,with180,000printedcopies parks have an easier time reopening for for increased social media and an OCOA said Lori Severson, WACOs executiveplannedfor2021.ButwithmanyRV business in 2021 even as the pandemic app for campers are on the horizon, she director.shows being cancelled in early 2021, in- continues. We have proven that we are said. WCM Severson said 2020 has been a roller-coaster for everyone in the campgroundbusiness. Itwentfrompanic,deferringloans,applyingforPPEmoneytoget-ting hit with a seasonunlikeanyother,she highlighted. Sofar,WACOsmembershipre- Lori Seversonnewals are also running ahead of lastyears figures. Our members normally do have anamazing appreciation for the work wedo, however this year especially theywere praising us just when we neededit, Severson noted. It truly helped keepup morale during a particularly dark ad-venture.Lookingaheadto2021,WACOisplanning to further refine its use of tech-nology, to improve communication notonly with members, but with govern-ment officials. This pandemic has taught us a lotabout communicating to our members,and we are going to use that to becomemore successful in 2021, Severson said.We realized for sure the difference thatknowing your legislators makes and Imgoing to ensure that the next generationunderstands the political side of run-ning our business and industry.WCM32 -January 2021Woodalls Campground Management'