Thursday, December 9, 2021

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Operating an RV park: News from ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Expo, and building updates

By Machelle James
I was really hoping we would have photos to show you of our store with the frame built up. At this writing, AJ and I were told next week the frame would be built. The footers were poured while we were gone, but that is the only change from my last article. I am pretty bummed, as I thought for sure we would be further ahead than we are.

We were told our new entry/exit gate will be ready for installation the week after Thanksgiving. I am SO excited about this as we designed it with the help of our local CNC Cutter and Welder. It will be 30 feet long and our logo will be right in the middle. It looks so clean, yet bold at the same time. I cannot wait to show you what this looks like!

This gate is desperately needed as we have people driving through all the time, even if we are not here! It is so frustrating as we have signs that state we are closed as well as cones lined up at the driveway to block the entrance. I just don’t understand the mentality of, “The rules apply to thee and not to me.”

We saw the traffic on the cameras while we were in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the annual ARVC (The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds) Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo. We had the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Members drive through to keep an eye on things and we could see them coming and going. AJ and I are both super thankful we live in a small town where volunteers pitch in where needed.

ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo

ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, 2021

Speaking of the ARVC Expo, we learned so much that our heads were ready to explode! We had to split up on most seminars as they separated into categories: Marketing, Management, Operations, Human Resources and Finance. There were more than 600 attendees and we were honored to be a part of this conference. We networked, met old friends and made news ones from all across the country. You learn so much from others – all you have to do is ask. From, what do you charge a night, how much was your septic, what do you pay for insurance? All the questions you have can be answered by those more experienced than you are.

I went to mostly marketing/customer service seminars to learn about what social media platforms are the most popular and how to use these platforms. Google Search is #1 and Facebook/Instagram posts are really relevant, as well as Tik Tok (which I don’t use). We also learned what apps are being used the most to find camping spots in the area you are looking for. One app we signed up for campersApp. It is an app to find campsites, as well as an interactive app for kids to use when they get to your campground.

We are going to have scavenger hunts, interactive games, announcements, and so many more conveniences for our campers at our RV park. These include Events starting in 15 minutes and where, the store being opened and firewood delivery options. The campersAPP looks SUPER user-friendly, and I am all about the ease of use for me as well as for you and your children. While this app is super popular on the East Coast, they are definitely making their move to the West Coast. Check it out here.

Another app we signed up for

The second app we signed up for is thedyrt.com. This has the same idea as mentioned as before except this is a free service for us. No frilly games and entertainment, but it is the #1 app people use for campground searches. The owner/CEO was there and he is truly engaged and 100 percent involved with his app program. Look them up for your next campground search and see all the camping opportunities in your area. [Editor: Get a free 90-day trial membership to The Dyrt PRO through RVtravel.com here.]

One thing that we both learned was that the wave of the future is electric vehicles as well as RVs. We heard about what manufacturers are racing to the finish line first and how we as campground owners need to have charging stations in the near future. What are we going to charge and how can we get this charge station discounted through our local electric company? (It helps if you are in a rural area!)

An RV cabin that we just loved! (Has to be 400 sq. ft. or smaller for this to be a RV model cabin.)

We also met vendors for every aspect of owning an RV park. From solar lighting, wood cabins, cleaning products, stickers, tents, wagon makers, playgrounds, mining, insurance, marketing reps, clothing vendors, store setup consultants, and food vendors. It was so much information that is prepping us for when we open our store and to see how we can expand our campground experiences in the future.

Amazing reception

The amazing singers/songwriters!

We had an amazing reception outside with a special live performance from a trio of country music singers/songwriters. They were Lance Miller, Stephen Wilson Jr. and Rob Hatch. After their stellar performance, I HAD to meet them. Their voices and musical talent showed how gifted they are, yet they were humble and kind. Of course, I asked them to come out to our campground and play for our campers! I got the phone number to make the connection and now it’s game on!

Can we make this happen? I am pretty sure I bribed them with private offroad trail riding and a stay in our buddy sites for free. I would love nothing more, as this is part of what we envisioned when we built this campground. Bring in musical talent, have a BBQ and bonfire, and make friends along the way.

Can’t wait for next season at our RV park

We can barely wait for our next season. I have so many ideas to bring into the campground, I need to get them out of my head and onto paper.

If you had an experience at a campground that was especially memorable for you or your children, please share it! We are always open to new ideas and would love to make those special memories with our campers too.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have a blessed day with your family and loved ones.

Thank You for following our Campground journey, and See You in the Trees!

And please leave a message!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, built, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.

##RVT1027

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Ran
18 days ago

Hi Machelle and AJ. We are looking forward to visiting and camping in our RV at your place. Let us know when you are open and closed!

Machelle James
18 days ago
Reply to  Ran

Hi Ron! Our regular season is April 15th to Oct. 31st. HOWEVER, if you are coming to AZ during the other months, call us! As long as we are here, you can camp!

Ed D.
18 days ago

Good morning Machelle. Owning and operating a Campground is truly a lot of work and requires the learning of many skillsets. But you guys appear to be doing all of the legwork to make your Campground exceptional. Right down to recruiting the trio you met, to play at your campground in the future. You know how to make the most out of a situation and that is an important skill to have.
I lived in a small Town for several years (population 2,000) and I agree with you that living there has many advantages that you won’t find in a large City. I’ll bet that when you drive down any roads in the area of your Campground, everyone you pass waves to you. Small town residents are just more openly friendly than you will find in large Cities.
I can’t wait to see the pictures of the Store as it is being constructed and your gate once it is installed. We are currently at our home base in Florida but are heading up to our place on the lake in N.C. next month. We will be there for Christmas. Stay safe!

Machelle James
18 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Good Morning Ed! I can honestly say that we are both enjoying our new lifestyle! It is hard work, but then we can also play and travel when it’s the off season.
I do hope I can arrange for the singer/songwriters to come over! That would be so amazing. I’m reaching out this week to see what their fees are, etc…
I’ll share photos as soon as the gate it up! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your family time!!