b'CCRVCsThirdVirtualConferenceHighlights Strength and Growth of the Canadian Market nBY BEN QUIGGLE may use their RVs during an economic The Canadian Camping and RV Councildownturn. (CCRVC)hosteditsthirdannualvirtualForty-fourpercentofCanadianRV Canadian Outdoor Hospitality Conferenceowners said they will take the same num-and Expo (COHCE) Feb. 15-16.ber of trips or more, instead of others, dur-Sponsored by Campspot Software, theinganeconomicdownturn,shesaid. virtual conference brought together industryForty-seven percent of Canadian campers leaders, experts and stakeholders to dis- believecampingoffersamorecost-cuss the latest trends and issues facing thefriendly way to travel. outdoor hospitality industry.People are going back to airlines and The third annual installment of the con- pricesarestartingtocomedown,but ference was another big success, and wetheyre still significantly higher than they are so grateful to our sponsors, attendeeswere at this time last year, ORourke con-and presenters for their time, support andtinued.Itsveryexpensivetotakeair commitment to our industry, said Caratravel. We do see those people, particularly Csizmadia, member services director forthose that own RVs, opting for a driving the CCRVC. The quantity and quality of in- vacation instead. And in fact, we asked formation and industry-focused training isCanadiancampers,and24%saidthey so valuable to campground owners and op- would cancel other trips that they have erators who work hard to continue to deliverplanned and replace them with camping if wonderfulcampingexperiencestotheirthe economy continues to lag. guests from coast to coast.ORourke also noted the stress relief Toby ORourke, CEO and president ofbenefits of camping and the sense of nor-KampgroundsofAmericaInc.(KOA),malcy it provides during tough times. kicked off the conferenceORourke pointed at KOAs registrationWhat factors or conditions are going toShe noted how KOA fared during the withakeynotethatfo- revenue since 2011 as an indication of howslow our growth this year and cause neg- Great Recession in 2008, which lasted 18 cusedondifferenttail- the industry as a whole is performing.ativeeffects?sheasked.Orwhatismonths. She pointed out that the KOA sys-windsandheadwindsI share our numbers, because I havegoing to push us forward, and acceleratetem was down slightly (2.7%) in 2008 impactingtheoutdooraccess to that data, obviously, but I thinkwhere we can go? In some cases whatwhen compared to 2007, but that there hospitality industry.its pretty reflective of how the whole in- might seem like a headwind can switchwas a strong rebound in 2009 (up 5%) that The data she shareddustry is doing, she said. Our Canadianvery suddenly and turn into a powerful tail- continued into 2010 (up 4.3%). There was gave a sneak peek intoportfolio had a huge year in 2022. Its kindwind. I think we have a few of those toa small dip in 2011, but things came back the 2023 North Americanof a year behind what we saw in the U.S.,consider, as well.strong again in 2012. Toby ORourke Camping Report, whichbecause in Canada, as you know, you hadShe noted that the economy is the mostOver the course of that five years, the is commissioned by KOA and has quicklytwo years of restrictions, particularly in thetalkedaboutheadwind,notingthatthebusiness grew 9.7%, and that was right at become a go-to resource for industry data.spring, which impacted business. As youCanadian economy saw slowing growth,the tail end of that recession, ORourke She started her keynote by lauding thelook at what happened last year, in ourand some economists are wondering if theexplained. growth of camping over the past few years.Canadian KOA portfolio, our occupancycountry might experience a mild recession.Other key points that ORourke high-There are more people interested in camp- and our nights were up 7%, which droveI am not an economist or an expert onlighted:ing than ever before, ORourke said. Camp- our registration revenue up 14.5%.the economy, but I think it is important thatGas Prices: When gas was at record groundsarehavingstrongyears,evenORourke introduced the idea of tail- we consider the impact that increasing in- levels, only 6% of cancellations for KOA record-setting years. Even with all that is goingwinds(positivetrends)andheadwindsflation or rising interest rates could havebusiness were apparently cited as due to on in the economy, KOA has seen strong year- (negative trends) that impacted the indus- on leisure spending, ORourke explained.gas. We didnt see the big impact on busi-over-year growth the past 10-12 years.try.According to our research from just a fewness that we expected as those prices weeksago,66%ofCanadiancamperscontinued to rise. said inflation had an impact on their camp- COVID Impact: I think its important ing and travel plans last year.we do think about what sort of lasting ef-Thats not surprising because, in thefects we might have from COVID that are heart of the summer season, inflation wasstill impacting our business. 13% of our at its highest point in 40 years, at 8%, sheCanadian business in 2019 was from the added. Now when all these prices are in- U.S. and last year it was 9%. There still creased across the board, that impactsmight be some hesitation and confusion discretionary spending. Even if you takeabout crossing the border. 29% of Ameri-into account things like foodweve seencancamperssaidtheyhadconcerns large increases in food costs, up 11% ataboutcrossingtheborderbecauseof the end of last year. That impacts whatCOVID, specifically, or didnt know enough people can spend on things like travel orabout the rules and regulations." on purchasing RVs.Nabbing Workers: A study that was Pivoting to the RV industry, ORourkedone by the Angus Reid Institute, showed told attendees that she thought the econ- that there has been an 18% decline in the omy presents a formidable challenge fornumber of workers in the Canadian service theRVindustryasshipmentsdeclinedsector over the past two-and-a-half years. 15% in 2022.That includes a 22% decline among 18- to That decline is expected to continue24-year-olds, which is a sweet spot for this year, she said. They are expectingworkers at campgrounds. People are shift-shipments to be down 21% this year ver- ing and reassessing where they work, or sus last year.how they want to work. And that could be That all being said, there is some nor- that they want to work remotely. They want malizationthatishappeninghere,to be closer to family. They want a job with ORourke added. We had some big yearsmore flexibility, and weve seen workers where a lot of people were camping orstarting to look at other opportunities. We buying RVs for the first time, so this nor- can appeal to those who already have ex-malization is expected to some degree, butperience in hospitality, who are reassess-headwinds from the economy can still im- ing right now, and who have a service pact discretionary spending.mindset. We can offer them the outdoors, ORourke thought the economic issuesand thats a really big thing that we can presented some tailwinds as well, notingsell. Were giving fresh air, campfires, and that people who own RVs are going tomore unique ways and magical ways to want to use their investment and that moreengagewithguests.Ithinkthatdoes 32 April 2023 Woodalls Campground Magazine'