By Chuck Woodbury
FMCA, the Family Motor Coach Association, which for 52 years was a “motorhome-owners-only” organization but now accepts towable owners, debuted a new monthly magazine yesterday (Friday) which it calls familyRVing (or Family RVing online). I have waited months to see what the organization would come up with to make it more appealing — perhaps a magic bullet to help boost membership to what it was in its glory years when it was twice as large.
“We’re hoping this new design brings the publication new energy and that you enjoy exploring within its pages,” writes National President Jon Walker in his opening essay. It doesn’t. The old saying “you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig” comes to mind.
Late last year, the association opened its membership to owners of towable RVs as a way to increase membership. It’s also aiming to attract younger RVers. The current average age of a member is over 70.
So there are photos of young families and articles about towable RVs, and ads for towable RVs and products, which I suspect were deeply discounted considering the few readers with towables. At the club’s recent national rally in Perry, Georgia, of the approximately 2,500 rigs in attendance, less than 10 were towables according to one of the RVtravel.com readers who attended.
The magazine wastes space on two-page photo spreads on five feature articles, likely the idea of magazine design consultants who were retained, probably to attract younger readers/members. The “Final Trip” feature, where deaths of members are reported, is, alas, still there, which I suspect is a turn-off to younger RVers. A page and a half is devoted to RV recalls, which are old news to many RVers who can read them two months earlier on RVtravel.com and elsewhere.
Family RVing devotes almost six pages to a review of Winnebago’s Horizon motorhome. It says practically nothing that can’t be gleaned from a brochure. The author concludes: “It’s contemporary styling sets it apart from the traditional decor prevalent in most coaches at this level, and I expect it will appeal to a younger crowd.” A younger crowd? That might be a challenge for some with its base price of close to $400,000. To me, the article is a waste of six pages (the magazine has 120 total).
There is a good four-page spread on solar, and an interesting discussion of specialty products for RVs. But, really, there is very little beyond what’s readily available for free online.
The truth is, most printed magazines these days are dying and I don’t know what FMCA could do to transform its periodical into something more interesting, educational and informative than what’s available for free on the websites and in thousands of blogs. Is Family RVing better than the old Family Motorcoach? To me, not enough to matter.
I was hoping for more, although I really wondered if there was anything that could be done to make the magazine as important of a membership benefit as it was in the pre-Internet days. I look forward to hearing from FMCA members once they read their issues.