New FMCA magazine is disappointing

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    By Chuck Woodbury
    New FMCA magazine is disappointingFMCA, 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.

    New FMCA magazine is disappointing
    This article introduction occupies two full pages of the magazine. Pretty, yes, but a poor use of space.

    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.

     

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    Sharon N.

    Chuck, I’m not sure what your hang-up is with Escapees RV Club, but they publish an outstanding magazine (both paper and digital version) every other month.
    We joined in 2001, a year before we bought our RV. We used the magazine to do our research before buying our motorhome and learned a lot that way. We picked the brains of lots of members on their forum, and heard the pro and cons of various types of RVs.
    We became Lifetime Escapee members a couple of years after joining, and, although we had to hang up the keys a few years ago, for health reasons; we continue to enjoy the magazine every other month. It’s vicarious travel for us now.
    In addition to the magazine, we used the Escapee’s mail service, which was excellent. We also, for three years, leased an ERPU lot at the Livingston, TX, Escapee’s Rainbow’s End RV park. Using it as our home base, after selling our stick-and-brick home, allowed us to full-time for a year before we had to hang up the keys.
    As another commenter mentioned, Escapees now has a very active group for younger RVers and traveling RV families.
    You owe it to yourself and your readers to check it out.

    Richard

    FMCA needs to diversify their membership by offering services of interest to attract younger Class A owners, but also not abandoning their core membership. There are plenty of younger Class A owners out there, so why tap into the towable crowd? Escapees already did similar by creating Xcapers, an affinity group that brings younger folks, and ideas, to the whole organization. It has revitalized them. The recreational vehicle industry is growing, so there certainly is not a lack of market. You just have to think outside of the box.

    Jason

    I am a new FMCA member and I attended the rally in Perry in March. I’m also 44 years old. I only saw 1 other person who appeared to be near my age during the first 2 days of the rally and never saw anyone less than 30 years old. I found the information informative and helpful at the sessions, but it was easy for me to see why FMCA has a membership problem my first day at the rally. The magazine and information from FMCA talks about families, but I didn’t see any at the Rally. I was going to have my kids with me at the rally, but they got sick at the last minute and couldn’t go. I think they are lucky that they did. They would have been bored to death. I think FMCA must do more to attract a younger crowd or the whole organization will be gone in less than 10 years as the majority of their current members pass away for become unable to travel as they have to this point.

    alan c smith

    From the comments I don’t believe I want any part of this organization until all the old,” I’m better than you because I have a class A”, people are gone. Their attitude honestly makes me laugh! WOW

    Alan Smith

    I’m not a member but all I hear is negative comments, if you know so much why don’t you have suggestions about how to make it better or better yet write an article for them? I like printed magazines and papers too as far as that goes bur I don’t know about new upgrades and new ideas unless I see them somewhere.

    Eric Meslin

    I enjoy reading RV Travel each week, but also really look forward to my hard copy of Trailer Life. Electronic media can be enlightening, but real magazines are just so much easier to flip through. I don’t belong to FMCA, but don’t appreciate magazines that tout high end products that I can’t identify with.

    Merl Bell

    Chuck, just a couple of comments: First, am not a member of FMCA (have been for 16 years) because of the magazine whether it is electronic of paper. It is an extra that doesn’t need to add anything for me to be a member. The benefits are the attraction. Second, I read your publication mainly for the editorial you begin the pub with. Great human interest stuff, but the rest of the pub is essentially boiler plate and is only a minor contributor to my level of interest. So, the bottom line is that nothing is perfect, but each of us find whatever it is that interests us in any publication and that provides the impetus to read the parts of it we like. So it is with the FMCA . WE (I) am a member for the parts that are of interest to me. However, please continue to provide the entertaining reading you do with your publication. I like it!

    Captn John

    If they keep pushing they may get some new towable owners. Most that have been around for a while will not be interested. They did not and do not want towables, now only want money to survive. We got by just fine for decades without them and will continue to do so. I wish them well, but they need to target those they did not snub in the past.

    rvgrandma

    We belonged to FMCA but only because it was a requirement for membership in our particular RV club. They used the FMCA for rally insurance which many groups do from what I am told. That was the only reason we belonged. When we were no longer going to our clubs rallies due to Workamping, we dropped membership to FMCA.

    I never enjoyed their magazine – seemed geared towards the higher end MH and those with money. My same complaint about many. The magazines I use to enjoy reading are Escapees and Good Sam Highways – both I felt could speak to those on a budget as well as those with money.

    Chuck

    Fifteen years ago I bought a new motorhome. The five years prior to that I gather every bit of information I could about motorhomes. Tried to join FMCA. Couldn’t because I didn’t have a motorhome vin # to give. Choose not to lie on the application. To this day I still have never seen one of their magazines.

    Reminds me of what a college professor said in a business class.: “Do you know why businesses go out of business? Because they should” Meaning that they are not doing something right or meeting a need.

    Suka's Mom

    You know, Chuck, this was a very negative article. I am a long-time reader of RV Travel, and I have to say that I was disappointed by this article. It was not up to your usual level. It did not provide any useful information. As editor, you have the right to publish anything you want, but in my mind, a piece of writing that exists merely to slam another organization does not constitute great journalism. Perhaps this would have been better off as one of your “musings” rather than a headline piece. I would have found this much more informative if you had offered ideas for improvement, rather than just listing what you didn’t like.

    mike pardina

    Personally I miss the old Highway Hearld from Good Sam. We always gained a little bit of insight into everything RV. Good Sam just isn’t what it once was.

    Gary D Bogart

    Belonging to FMCAis more than a magazine. The benefits alone are Worth it Their program for getting your coach and occupants including grandchildren home during an illness is second to none. The participation in subchapter rallies is enjoyable. I have been a member for 20 years
    Gary Bogart

    Bill Lampkin

    So is that your ‘Kindle’ that you use to read a book before you drift off to sleep at night, or is it a bound or paperback book? I don’t know about others, but I enjoy reading a newspaper in the morning and a book at night, both made from trees. Staring at a computer screen for all my info and entertainment is, well, not very entertaining. My vote is for a magazine I can pick up in my hands.

    John Clark

    My membership with FMCA is up for renewal in October. After being a member for a number of years I feel FMCA has left me behind, therefore I will not be renewing in October. I am hoping that someone will start motorhome only group that is not associated with FMCA.

    Dan Coffey

    I also found the new magazine hard to read and page flip. Going to wait for the hard copy to read.

    Steven M Jenkins

    FMCA should simply focus on the age issue. I attended my first rally a couple months ago and was very surprised by how old everyone was. It looked like a retirement home gathering. The officers who checked you in must have been in their 70s. I saw quickly where their membership growth problem was. Has nothing to do with what kind of RV you have.

    Goldie Hanson

    I didn’t see a significant difference between the “old” and “new” versions. I wonder if FMCA could improve it’s membership by truly becoming an advocate for all types of camping. Something more along the lines of a Consumer Reports for RV’ers. Reviews of campgrounds, comparisons of different manufacturers offerings, discussions of proper procedures for things like pumping out black and gray tanks, sanitizing fresh water lines, maintainance for generators, tires – selecting and maintaining (including safety records). Lots of new “campers” need lots of education. Many do not even realize what they “should” be doing to maintain their units. Step up to that plate and then stand up for the consumers of the products.

    Bill

    With regards to the FMCA, what are the actual “perks” of membership, that can’t be found with other associations? Where does the membership fees go? and what do they pay for? Demographically, memberships in any organization will go up and down all the time. So there are less motor home owners out there then there was 25 years ago. The overhead costs of running an association are a lot less now then they were 25 years ago. Printed media is dying, so why spend money on a printed magazine. Members have email and can be contacted that way, or through the associations website. For older members who don’t have email access, interim methods to reach those folks can be found. The FMCA didn’t need to make such a drastic change and allow towable owners to join, they just needed a demographic shift in their associations approach to meet motor home owners needs. Just my opinion.

    Skip Kazmarek

    I agree the new magazine is in the category, “meet the new version, same as the old version,” so if you were expecting some breakthrough, get used to disappointment. But let’s face it … magazines (even in their digital, page-flipping versions) are not, and cannot be, as informative and useful as a well-crafted online alternative. And if this is a preview of the new FMCA focus to include towables and attract younger members, they have a ways to go.