Campground franchisors and vendors said they were pleased with the exposure they received and the sales placed at the annual Spring Meeting and Tradeshow of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), according to a written announcement from TACO.
The April 17-19 event, which took place in Kerrville at Inn of the Hills Conference Center and just down the road at Guadalupe River RV Resort, attracted about 185 attendees, while the tradeshow itself featured 39 businesses.
“There was an air of enthusiasm at this year’s TACO,” said Larry Brownfield, director of franchise development for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA).
“Everyone seemed very upbeat telling me that they had a great year last year and are looking forward to the coming camping season. I was impressed with the amount of first-time attendees and those who were actively exploring getting into the campground business. Also, I heard from more people building new campgrounds and campground owners talking about their expansion plans. I had good traffic at my booth with lots of great questions about KOA.”
Ron Vitkun, director of franchise sales and development for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems, Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks, was similarly pleased.
“Texas is a state where we have opportunities for new Jellystone Park franchises,” Vitkun said. “I have found the campground owners that I talk with to be very engaging about the outdoor hospitality industry. They want to understand how the franchise operates and always have great questions.”
Dick Grymonprez, director of park model RV sales for Champion/Athens Park Homes, brought a two-bedroom park model RV to the TACO show.
“People are always interested in a two-bedroom park model. But they don’t get to see one very often,” he said. “A local campground had purchased eight of them from us and we brought one of theirs to the show. Next year, we will be back showing one of our popular cabin-style designs. It’s always a pleasure to attend this event and we look forward to it again next year.”
Paul Croteau of Kingston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group said several tradeshow attendees said they were planning to make more investments in their parks. “There’s always a lot of planning and new development, but probably more so than normal at this year’s show,” he said.
Eric Stumberg, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TengoInternet, said this was his company’s 11th year attending the TACO tradeshow. “We enjoyed seeing our customers, meeting other campground owners and appreciated the customer satisfaction, reviews and industry speaker events. As expected, great Wi-Fi remains a key customer driver, so we were busy.”
TACO’s tradeshow also featured Peter Pelland of Pelland Advertising, whose Haydenville, Mass., company competes with Texas Advertising, which is owned and operated by Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO.
“At Pelland Advertising, it is important for us to reach out to new markets, and we have recently seen more growth of our business in Texas than perhaps any other state,” Pelland said. “Although we are direct competitors (with Texas Advertising), it is a friendly working relationship, and there are businesses that are looking for the unique aspects of the services that Pelland Advertising officers. Our participation at the TACO Spring Meeting has already proven to be profitable, and it also presented us with an opportunity to meet with some of our existing clients while in Texas.”
Susan Zieg, vice president of business development for Murrieta, Calif.-based GuestReviews.com, said the TACO tradeshow provided her with an opportunity to bring in some new subscribers to the company’s online ratings program, which gives park operators detailed intelligence they can use to increase customer satisfaction and target their improvements. TACO provides a discount to its members who use the GuestReviews online survey program.
Other vendors reporting strong show sales and interest included Austin, Texas-based Rowley Insurance, which insures 11 of the top 19 Good Sam parks in Texas; Mission Management Information Systems of Niagara Falls, Onario.; Lake Orion, Mich.-based Your Electrical Solutions, which already booked a booth for next year’s TACO tradeshow; and Arlington, Texas-based Peak Technology, which sold another energy-saving system to Schaeffer for TACO’s new offices.
In addition to the tradeshow, which took place April 18 at Inn of the Hills, vendors had a chance to mingle with park operators the previous evening during a happy hour with heavy hors d’oeuvres.
“The staff of TACO are very organized, and their trade show provides vendors and campground operators the opportunity to spend time interacting with each other,” said Vitkun of Leisure Systems. “You often hear so much about the Texas hospitality. The members and staff of TACO exceeded my expectations once again. I look forward to TACO 2017.”