Like “A Tale of Two Cities,” business in Iowa’s private RV parks and campgrounds in the summer of 2008 was the best of times and the worst of times.
A 500-year flood struck the eastern half of the state in July, forcing four campgrounds to close and many others to cut back on operations during the cleanup, Beth Saxton, president of the Iowa Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, told Woodall’s Campground Management.
One campground, Walnut Acres Campground in Monticello, was flooded seven times in the summer and the owner hauled out 450 truckloads of sand deposited on his campground by the floodwaters, she said.
His story was one of several disaster tales related during Iowa ARVC’s annual meeting held Oct. 22 at Sleepy Hollow Campground in Oxford, Iowa. Thirteen campgrounds were represented at the meeting.
Yet, many of the campgrounds in the east had a booming season as they housed workers coming to the state to help with reconstruction, she reported. Most of the state’s campgrounds close in mid-October, but her campground, Colony Country Campground in North Liberty, Iowa, and a few others will remain open until December to accommodate some of the relief workers.
“Conversely, destination parks located along rivers were flooded and struggled to get reopened. Then Iowa had the carryover of bad press, of everyone (campers) deciding all of Iowa was flooded, even campgrounds located in western Iowa 400 miles away,” she said
Looking to the future, Iowa ARVC entertained two speakers at the annual meeting, Jerry Ketoff from Zoom LBS and Michael Garvin, vice president for business development for Simulation Education Services in Houston, Texas.
ZOOM LBS is currently developing advertising and promotional programs for Wi-Fi rest area programs operated by the Iowa and Nevada departments of transportation. As part of those programs, ZOOM LBS staff is developing web-based technology to enhance the traveler’s experience through the use of laptop computers and kiosks. The ZOOM rest area portal includes features like exit maps, online access to current information such as weather reports, amber alerts, traffic conditions, homeland security alerts, plus soon to come real-time access to information such as truck parking spots and gas pricing.
Ketoff discussed how Iowa ARVC members could piggyback with the advertising located in the Wi-Fi kiosks at the state of Iowa highway rest stops. “There was a strong indication from our membership to have something up and running by April 1,” Saxton said.
Garvin presented a broad overview on marketing decisions for the association and individual parks, and a committee was formed to work on a future marketing plan, she said.
Iowa ARVC will hold its spring meeting March 26 at Walnut Acres Campground.