The annual Spring Meeting and Trade Show of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) is now under way at Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville.
Roughly 175 people representing 60 to 65 parks across Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado have registered to attend the three-day event, which began Sunday (April 17), said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO, in a written announcement.
The annual event includes industry, legislative and legal updates; educational sessions; a tradeshow with 39 vendors; TACO’s annual awards program; and various social events, including TACO’s annual auction, which raises money for the association’s legal and government affairs program.
Sunday’s lineup included a presentation by Thao Nguyen and Mike Nissley of CRBE Commercial Real Estate Services, who talked about increasing institutional investor interest in acquiring RV parks and resorts.
Nguyen noted that institutional investors such as Chicago-based Equity LifeStyle Properties and Southfield, Mich.-based Sun Communities have already acquired most of the nation’s top-tier resorts, and are now starting to invest in parks they wouldn’t have thought about acquiring before.
“They are now looking at lower-quality parks that need work,” Nguyen said, adding that market demand for RV parks and resorts “is very healthy right now” due to historically low interest rates, high investor demand, and a healthy industry outlook as more and more baby boomers continue to enter the RV market.
Nguyen added that park operators who can document rising income for their parks are getting the highest prices for their properties. Texas itself has three of the nation’s top 20 real estate markets, with Houston at No. 1, Austin at No. 2 and Dallas at No. 5, Nguyen said, citing industry statistics.
TACO kicked off its spring meeting Sunday afternoon with a roundtable discussion of several key issues affecting park operators, including difficulties obtaining permit to build new parks or expand existing parks; challenges removing problem guests; as well as complications with changing federal regulations involving park model RVs, which TACO is addressing in consultation with the National Association of RV Parks and Campground (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Schaeffer reminded park operators that TACO’s legal and government affairs representatives can help with each issue. He also noted that TACO recently secured a change in state law that gives park operators the right to shut off the electricity to park guests who have not paid their fees.
Education and relationships are key, however, and it’s up to park operators to reach out to their local law-enforcement officials to make sure they are up-to-date on the latest RV park laws so that they don’t confuse civil landlord-tenant disputes with trespassing laws that apply to Texas campgrounds, RV parks and resorts.
Sunday’s activities concluded with a happy hour meet-and-greet session with campground industry vendors and TACO’s first ever casino night with slot machines and casino game tables.
Based in Crowley, TACO represents the legislative interests of private park operators throughout the Lone Star State in addition to marketing Texas campgrounds, RV parks and resorts to consumers.