Resiliency was the central theme on the third day at the virtual 2020 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE), the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) annual conference. The message was voiced by Keynote Speaker Gretchen Rubin and several winners of ARVC’s Awards of Excellence, who shared advice and stories about overcoming adversity after a challenging 2020 during another busy day at OHCE2020, according to ARVC officials.
Wednesday was another busy day at OHCE2020, with 1,630 total visits to the virtual site, bringing the three-day total to 6,715. There have been 1,218 visits to education sessions during the conference, an average of 49 attendees tuning in to each session. The new Hosted Buyer Program has also been extremely popular, with more than 775 one-on-one meetings between Hosted Buyers and exhibitors scheduled during OHCE2020.
“We continue to see great interest from our attendees visiting and engaging on the platform,” said Paula Horwitz, ARVC’s executive director of education and events. “Our attendees are logged on, engaged and getting the chance to hear from our speakers, their peers and connect with businesses, something many shared was important because they didn’t think it would be possible this year due to the pandemic.”
The virtual event opened on Wednesday (Nov. 4) with Rubin, a best-selling author, podcaster and expert on personal happiness, speaking about overcoming obstacles with improved attitudes and routines, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared communication tactics and strategies on how to relate to different personalities in a group environment and create less stress while boosting productivity for individuals and teams. Rubin also answered questions from those in attendance and shared expert advice that should help attendees find a happy and healthy life balance, which is always a challenge in the hospitality business.
“Gretchen is an expert on finding ways to take care of and improve yourself,” said Horwitz. “What she detailed today was exactly what our owners and operators needed to hear during a year with so much stress and uncertainty. Our members are all fighting a similar battle, no matter the size of the park or where they are located, and everyone could use some guidance to find a way to make things a little better. She did a great job of providing simple, but effective, strategies all of us can adopt in our lives to make that a reality.”
The virtual Expo opens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST today for all attendees, allowing attendees to visit with more than 80 exhibitors. Attendees can view videos and other media, chat with employees at the booths and enter private meeting rooms to experience demos and discuss business further. Those participating in the Hosted Buyer Program received early access to the Expo floor and have already made 2,537 visits to exhibitor booths.
“The Expo is always one of the highlights of the week at OHCE, as it is the perfect way to take all the week’s knowledge and put it to work with exhibitors ready to help our attendees with whatever they need for their parks,” explained David Basler, ARVC’s vice president of membership and marketing. “Getting to bring park owners together with our sponsors and exhibitors is always a win-win, as it helps grow the industry by cultivating communication and innovation while offering solutions to the problems our members face.”
ARVC also announced its remaining ARVC Awards of Excellence winners during Day 3. Evergreen Campsites & Resort, in Wild Rose, Wisc. was named Large Park of the Year and Myrtle Beach Travel Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. was named Mega Park of the Year. Both parks took home this honor for the first time.
“The winners of these awards this year all faced extreme challenges early in the year, fearing for the survival of their businesses, before rallying to have record-setting years and earning these accolades,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO. “It is a testament to the strength of the owners and staff, and of the industry, that this was able to happen.”
Bobby Cornwell, the executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and Alabama Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, was presented with ARVC’s highest honor, the Stan Martin Award.
Erv Banes, a longtime owner of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Frankenmuth, Mich., received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes early industry leaders and visionaries whose groundbreaking efforts have contributed to the industry.
“The ARVC Awards of Excellence announcements are always a highlight of OHCE,” noted Bambei. “These individuals and businesses represent the pinnacle of our industry, and we love getting the chance to recognize them in front of their peers this week. There are always so many deserving nominees, but these winners truly stand out and deserve the recognition for elevating our industry.”
The ARVC Foundation Silent Auction will enter its final day on Thursday, with the deadline to bid on 40 donated items. The auction is part of the ARVC Foundation’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for those in need throughout the outdoor hospitality industry, specifically through scholarship and disaster relief grants. View descriptions of all the items up for auction on the secure silent auction website by clicking here.
“There are so many great items to bid on, that were generously donated by our members, and we can’t wait to see how much money is raised to support the ARVC Foundation,” said Horwitz. “Please make your bids early and often, as every dollar we raise from this auction goes to support members of the outdoor hospitality industry. You win a great item or vacation, and you help someone else.”
Wednesday also saw the final education sessions of the event, with nine speakers sharing key insights and best practices across five learning tracks, as well as Area Town Hall meetings when ARVC members gathered to network and discuss their region’s business and governance.
Thursday, the fourth and final day of OHCE2020, will feature the ARVC Membership Meeting, allowing ARVC members and the ARVC leadership to discuss business, industry trends and insights and announce the results of the ARVC Board of Director Area Representative elections.
It has been a busy week, but ARVC wants all members of the outdoor hospitality industry to know that all OHCE sessions and events were recorded, so they can be accessed on-demand during and after the event. Those not registered can purchase access following OHCE by clicking here.
OHCE2021 will take place in Raleigh, N.C. from Nov. 8-11, 2021. OHCE is a four-day event held annually by ARVC. This year’s event has included more than 25 educational seminars, a trade show with more than 80 vendors, Takeaway Tours, ARVC’s Awards of Excellence dinner, a Reservation Management Panel, the ARVC Foundation Silent Auction and more.