Park operators who attended the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recent Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo in Savannah, Ga., said they expect to save thousands of dollars as a result of the association’s latest member benefit programs for products and services ranging from park models to satellite television service.

ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei told conference attendees that the association is close to finalizing an agreement with the three music licensing companies that could translate into significantly lower licensing fees for participating ARVC members, whose businesses would be put on a “do not contact” list – ending the harassment from music licensing companies that park operators have complained about for years.

“Just the music deal alone is worth it for everybody to be a member of ARVC,” said George O’Leary, a longtime watchdog of ARVC’s Executive Committee since serving on the association’s board from 2001 to 2006.

Speaking to park operators at ARVC’s annual breakfast meeting, O’Leary publicly commended Bambei for his efforts to develop valuable member benefit programs. In an interview, O’Leary noted the association’s new agreement with “He Lifts Me,” a seller of ADA-approved pool lifts. “A savings of $800 per park is possible,” O’Leary said, adding, “It would not surprise me if membership in our state and national associations increased by 20% to 40% in the near future.”

O’Leary also publicly lauded Bambei’s decision to purchase more affordable office space in Centennial, Colo., near Denver, instead of more expensive office locations in Castle Rock and Larkspur. ARVC’s decision to move its headquarters to Centennial early this year saved the association more than $300,000.

O’Leary, who owns the two Rincon Country RV Parks in Tucson, Ariz., also complimented the ARVC board for hiring Bambei, who started work Dec. 1, 2010. “I have great confidence in Paul Bambei,” O’Leary said, adding that he believes the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is on the right path under Bambei’s leadership.

Bambei, for his part, told conference attendees that he remains focused on developing a series of member benefit programs that far exceed the cost of ARVC dues.

These programs include a preferred provider agreement with Skyline Corp., which now provides ARVC member parks with significant savings on towable travel trailers as well as park models, which are custom designed for use as rental units. Former ARVC Chairman David Berg said the savings from a single park model purchase can offset the cost of ARVC dues for as much as 20 years.

ARVC also recently signed an agreement with Just In Time Communications Inc., a national distributor for DIRECTV, to provide satellite television service to ARVC member parks at vastly reduced rates that can save park operators tens of thousands of dollars a year, depending on the size of their park. Bambei said over 150 parks have already signed up for the satellite television benefit program.

“People are really going to get a different outlook on the association as they become aware of these new programs,” said Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., who noted that new programs give small parks and large parks discounts they couldn’t normally achieve on their own. Deputy alone expects to save at least $5,000 or $6,000 a year in music licensing fees after ARVC’s new music licensing program is finalized.

“The word needs to get out about how valuable these programs are,” Deputy said.

Donald Sears, co-owner of Clare-Mar Lakes Campground in Wellington, Ohio, said the new programs are beneficial to park operators. He added that the educational seminars at the Nov. 30- Dec. 2 Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo were among the best he’s ever attended. “We’ve owned the campground for over 40 years and I’ve been to all of the conventions for the last 15 years, and this is probably one of the better formatted conventions I’ve seen yet,” he said.

Bambei said paid registrations for the Savannah convention were up 32%, compared to last year’s figures, a growth figure Bambei attributes to park operator interest in learning about ARVC’s new member programs as well as park operator interest in attending the industry’s largest tradeshow and attending new education seminars on business topics that haven’t been offered before.

Next year’s Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Tradeshow is scheduled for Nov. 28-30 at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Bambei said efforts are underway to change the dates of the annual convention in subsequent years so that it doesn’t conflict with conventions held by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and other RV and campground industry conventions.