Seeking to build stronger business relationships with affiliated parks, the Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network hosted the inaugural meeting of the Good Sam Park Advisory Council April 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt Dallas Fort Worth in Texas.

Made up of representatives from 12 Good Sam Parks, the council shared input with Good Sam executives on network programs designed to increase membership and generate revenues for all 1,700 Good Sam Parks, according to a news release.

“The mission of the council is to determine how to be better business partners with parks,” reports Bruce Hoster, vice president of the Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network. “We want our programs to be more effective.”

Council members are Gaye Appelman, Azalea Acres RV Park, Robertsdale, Ala.; Chuck Hayes,Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort, Plymouth, Calif.; Patrick O’Neill, Camping on the  Gulf, Destin, Fla.; Kris Freedman, Hi-Valley RV Park, Boise, Idaho; Jeff Lawson, Cave Country RV Campground, Cave City, Ky.; Toni Nezat, Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, La.; Randy Packard, Pine Acres Family Camping Resort, Oakham, Mass.; Jim and Sue Alkire, America’s Best Campground, Branson, Mo.; James Livers, Boot Hill RV Resort, Alamogordo, N.M.; Max Hammer, Beaver Lake Campground, Custer, S.D.; Ernie Sims, Colonia Del Rey RV Park, Corpus Christi, Texas; and Selena Littman, Candy Hill Campground, Winchester, Va.

Club Membership Tops 1.3 Million

The council’s formation comes as the Good Sam Club undergoes sweeping changes, with membership swelling from 850,000 to 1.3 million members following the club’s merger with Camping World President’s Club last year.

Good Sam management has made significant modifications to the Good Sam Network’s new member program, in which parks sell Good Sam memberships to guests and keep the revenue. A revamped bonus program rewards parks for selling as few as 25 memberships per year and offers $5,000 for parks whose sales exceed 2,000. Revised signage, updated sales materials and new price points give parks more tools to sell memberships.

On the publishing side, even more changes are in the works. For 2013, the company will debut the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, the product of a merger of the Trailer Life Directory and Woodall’s Campground Directory.

Hoster says the council’s ongoing feedback should help ensure that Good Sam programs are effective going forward. “Programs only work well when they involve people on the front lines,” says Hoster. “They have to work at the point of purchase.”

The council reflects the diversity of Good Sam Parks across North America, explains Ann Emerson, publisher and vice president of Good Sam’s multi-media division. The geographically varied council membership includes parks of all sizes, from mom-and-pop campgrounds to resorts run by ownership companies. Some of the members are longtime Good Sam Network affiliates, while others joined recently.

“The meeting was a way to get acquainted with what Good Sam is doing,” says Patrick O’Neal, general manager of Florida’s Camping on the Gulf. “It was good to hear that Good Sam wants to listen to the parks.”

Hoster says that council members are generally receptive to the company’s new combined directory. “They met it with open arms,” he adds. “They like one set of reps, one marketing purchase. They like that we’re focusing one directory on the total audience.”

Insights Gleaned

Good Sam rating system, which will be used in the 2013 directory, also received kudos from the group. “They’re supportive of the Good Sam rating system,” says Hoster. “They brought honest feedback and showed us areas we can improve upon.”

One of the insights gleaned from council members was the need to reconsider the description of road and pad surfaces in RV parks. “A lot of composite surfaces are better than pavement in some ways, such as being greener,” says Hoster. “Because pavement doesn’t allow the ground to absorb water, there are some areas where the government discourages paving in favor of composite surfaces.”

Revenue generation by Good Sam Parks also took up a good portion of the discussion. “We showed the council the first draft of a webinar they can use to train their staff on selling Good Sam memberships,” says Emerson. The finished webinar is now available for viewing on the Good Sam Network home page.

Also discussed were potential partnerships between Good Sam Parks and Camping World stores, where Good Sam Club members enjoy a member discount. “We talked about how we can use Camping World as a wholesale outlet for campground stores,” says Emerson.

“Good Sam Parks are passionate about the RVer experience,” Emerson continues. “They’re saying, ‘Let us work with local Camping World stores. Let’s help new RVers come to our campground and have a great initial experience.’”

Good Sam Parks also were eager to forge stronger partnerships with the 1,500 Good Sam Club chapters. “They told us, ‘We’d love to see more chapters and have closer relationships with them and the state directors,’” says Emerson.

The council plans to meet each April as well as in November during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo. Good Sam will also maintain open channels of communications with the council throughout the year. “We’ll reach out via emails and other communications,” confirms Hoster, “so we can enlist parks’ help with all our initiatives to grow their business and ours.”

For more information, please contact Katelyn Smith, coordinator, Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network, [email protected], (877) 202-2342.

Good Sam RV Park and Resort Network and Woodall’s Campground Management are owned by Good Sam Enterprises LLC.