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RV industry leaders meet to explore improving RVers’ experiences

A quiet meeting held two weeks ago outside Denver could lead to significant impacts on your future RVing lifestyle.

The RV Industry Association brought together movers and shakers in both the RVing and camping industries to establish a new, ongoing forum designed to “find common ground and synergies to significantly improve the consumer’s camping and RVing experiences,” RVIA said in a news release.

The RV Industry Association is famous for setting up groups and committees to study whatever issues are roiling through the industry at the time. Leaders in the camping industry are often included in these groups, with mixed results over the years.

Here’s why you should care about this new group. The RV and camping industries are currently both blessed and cursed. Interest in camping has never been higher, and new families are flocking to the lifestyle by the millions. That huge interest has led to an explosion in RV sales.

One of the big downsides is that finding a desirable campsite where you want it, when you want it, has become much more difficult as both public and private campgrounds report massive reservation numbers. On the RV Industry side, the influx of new RVers has boosted sales to the stratosphere, but manufacturers are struggling with a busted supply chain, lack of replacement parts, and an overstretched and largely inexperienced work force that leads to quality issues.

This new collection of industry leaders has a long agenda. The group agreed they need to learn more about these new consumers, as well as what opportunities and resources were available in the marketplace. The group also discussed how the overall size and scope of the “campground ecosystem” is not clearly defined. The RV Industry Association is partnering with CHM Government Services to conduct a survey of the campground industry they are touting as the “largest ever.” They are going to examine campground inventories, as well as the facilities available at private and public campgrounds. That should be interesting.

“More people than ever before are enjoying all the benefits that RV travel and camping provide,” said RV Industry Association President and CEO Craig Kirby. “Creating an outstanding campground experience for them is central to our continued growth and a priority for our industry organizations and members. This meeting started the process to identify immediate areas where we can work to do this and establish a strong foundation for continued progress.”

“This meeting kickstarted engaging conversations on how we can work as partners on the crucial issues that impact all of us,” said Paul Bambei, President and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and a participant in the recent forum. “I’m excited and optimistic about what can be accomplished.”

Dyana Kelley, President and CEO of CampCalNow, also seems optimistic about her participation in the new group. “Having state campground associations is critical to these discussions. This provides the framework to consider important state and local regulations regarding RV parks and campgrounds and the capability to better scale approaches and programs to a regional level,” Kelley said.

Fingers crossed that this group is able to tackle – and have actual impact – on some of the serious issues facing RVers and campgrounds. Their plate is surely full.

Here’s a list of the participants at the recent forum:

  • Paul Bambei, President & CEO, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC)
  • Bobby Cornwell, President & CEO, Florida & Alabama RV Park & Campground Association
  • Nick DiBella, Senior Vice President of Operations & Sales, Sun RV Resorts
  • Amir Harpaz, CEO, Harp Development
  • Al Johnson, ARVC Past Chairman and Operator, Mt. Rushmore/Hill City KOA
  • Dyana Kelley, CEO & President, CampCalNow
  • Michael Moore, General Manager, Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO)
  • Steve Mulvaney, Moderator
  • Toby O’Rourke, President & CEO, KOA
  • Jeff Rutherford, President & CEO, Airxcel, and Chairman, RV Industry Association
  • Lori Severson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO)
  • Matt Zimmerman, Group Manager, THOR Industries, and Chairman, RV Industry Association Campground Task Force

RV Industry Association Staff:

  • Craig Kirby, President & CEO, RV Industry Association
  • Jay Landers, Vice President of Government Affairs, RV Industry Association
  • Bill Baker, Senior Director of Membership & Research, RV Industry Association
  • Chris Bornemann, Director of Government Affairs, RV Industry Association

##RVT1020b

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Don
21 days ago

To gather the issue and determine solutions, it will required that the correct groups should be interview. Like focus groups of various seqments of the rv industry and a cross section of campers, RVers and full timers to identify and categorized issues and solutions. We did this with good results.

Jeremy S Brann
21 days ago

This doesn’t take a grand summit or a working group. Build quality products. It’s really, literally, that simple.

Lance
22 days ago

Bottom line is nothing is fix across the board of concerns. The RV manufacturing is producing nothing but junk. Quality control issues and hiring skill labors are the biggest issues. To them it’s nothing more then making the mighty dollar as fast as they can.

DENNIS J CHARPENTIER
22 days ago

Conspicuously absent, anyone representing RV’ers…ie consumers…disappointing.

Sharon L Boehmer
21 days ago

This was my 1st thought. Second, there was no one form the government side, i.e.recreation.gov or even reserve america. This is a list of owners and manufacturers. Who is representing my interests? I don’t stay at KOA, Sun or any other big resort chain. I stay with the little guys including COE, national, state and county parks.

Bob M
22 days ago

I don’t see any RV manufactures involved. RVIA needs to reinvent itself and dedicate themself to improving RV quality and safety. Get the manufactures to improve quality and safety. There are safety standards in home construction that should also be included in RV Manufacturing.

Debra M Silbert
22 days ago

Obviously, they need more female voices.

MrDisaster
22 days ago

Well sounds like they had a good time…maybe the survey will tell them what most of us already know. Campers need good clean water and a level site, they need good power (30 and 50 AMP) sewer at the site or a well designed, clean, easy to access dump station. What they want is a site large enough to not know what your neighbor is doing or cooking. A table that is in good repair. Decent cell service or affordable wi-fi with realistic bandwidth for those who have to work to live. Back-in sites that are angled (so much easier to get into and out of). Roads that are wide enough without serious obstructions and no potholes. There are many other amenities that campers will want but this is a good start. Any group that doesn’t have all the state campground owners groups and folks from the State and Federal campgrounds is missing key folks. The survey might be interesting reading but positive actions will be the proof that this group is serious.

Vincee
22 days ago

I don’t see any representation from Northeast campgrounds. With Sun Resorts and KOA being on the panel I believe the conversation was more about how they can squeeze more money out of each campers wallet, er, experience.

What I see today are more crowded campgrounds, tighter sights, fast increasingly higher prices per night, larger deposits required, and less service.

I have always felt when the price per night of camping starts to compare to an overnight stay at mid-range hotels, I stop camping and start seeing the good Ol’ USA vis car. To me, that threshold is about $70 per night, with exceptions of course in high-cost areas or demand such as Key West, $130 and up.

KellyR
22 days ago

Been there done that. A camel is a horse that a committee built.

Bill
22 days ago

Nobody from Recreation.gov? No representation from State Parks, National parks or COE? How about discussing no show reservations. The system and possibly the contractor administrating the reservations for the National Parks is broke. Didn’t see them listed as part of the group.

Wayne
23 days ago

It’s a start. In order for this to be successful, the group needs to subdivide, identify at least 5 problems from the perspective of manufacturing, sales, owners of campgrounds. Develop a questionnaire, solicit input from RV owners. Resolve the problem, and get on with it.

Suru
23 days ago

Looking at the members of this panel and who they represent, I’m a little skeptical that they will focus on how to “create an outstanding campground experience” for campers. I’m optimistic though that they will “create an outstanding campground experience” for the campground owners and industry leaders by figuring out how to increase the bottom line.

T Edwards
23 days ago

“Campground ecosystems” ? What exactly is this campground ecosystem? Googled it and absolutely nothing came up! While assembling a group of high paid RV “experts” to hash out what? How to better capitalize on the RV marketplace? Or better match the ever growing demand for the RV lifestyle with current and future RV camping resources – namely availability of campsites to match the 600,000 new RV’s each year? I have the luxury of reserving 8-14 months out based on planned future travel with our 40 ft 5th wheel plus tow vehicle. Not everyone does. There needs to be an industry wide disclaimer to unsuspecting newbies at the time of purchase spelling out the unavailability of suitable campsites on short notice (let the buyer be aware). The other disclaimer should address the substandard quality in today’s RV’s and due to the lack of trained technicians combined with the number of expected warranty repairs, the RV may spend months of its first year or so in the repair shop.

Jim Prideaux
23 days ago

Looks like this is aimed at private campgrounds which I do not patronize. Been years since I camped other than a state, county or municipal campground. But if more private campgrounds are developed then pressure is taken off my kinda campground.

Paul S Goldberg
23 days ago

If each of those on the list got into an RV and spent a month traveling incognito, they might begin to see understand the nature of the problem. They might also get to find the joy in the experience. Reading reports from their desks in office buildings and going home to a S&B house each night and going to a meeting in a hotel leaves them no sense of what their audience is experiencing. Bob Tiffin is known for traveling in one of his products when going to RV Shows. I do not know of any other leader in the RV industry who does that.

Martha Tassi
23 days ago

Is this a joke??? A roomful of executives have assembled themselves into groups and committees to study the problems they helped to create? As though they have the answers …..

Jeff
23 days ago

I agree with the first 5 posts on this article! It would be nice if this ‘group’ would also address the quality issues coming from the manufacturers. But sadly, the only thing that “might” result from this meeting is… how to make the consumer pay more and disregard the rest.

Ron
23 days ago

I have to look at that lobby picture and think if they were actually interested in this issue, they would have stayed at a “campground” instead of an upscale hotel/lodge. Perhaps they couldn’t get reservations.

Management and consultants. Problems are solved….

Paul
23 days ago

Pity that it took getting this far into “it’s broke” category to drum up interest. I hope they can do more than scrape poop off the fan.

wanderer
23 days ago

Two representatives from KOA and one from Sun “Resorts”. Yeah, that’ll help us out with affordable camping, not. Bonnie is right, who is representing the millions of campers, or public recreation facilities? No one. All private campgrounds and RV sellers. I’m betting the only tangible result of this is to force more campgrounds into expensive fee-based reservations systems, maybe ‘adoption’ of dynamic pricing to squeeze more bucks out of the campers.