MC Fireside Chats - Episode 68

The United States and Canadian border is back open, but what does that mean for park owners on both sides? We’ll chat with Shane Devenish from CCRVC about who is coming south, when they are coming, and how long they want to stay.

Plus, we’ll be joined by Joann Delvescio who just wrapped up a successful C.A.M.P. meeting that was held during the ARVC Conference last week. She’ll tell us what the organization has been focused on and what she is hearing from state leaders across North America heading into 2022.

Transcript

[00:00:00]

[00:00:51] Good morning, everybody. Welcome to another episode of MC Fireside Chats. Wait its afternoon. I don’t. Is it two o’clock Cara? I forget we keep changing this time too much. I want to say good morning. Good afternoon. Good. Sometimes I’m just going to say hello from now on, but anyway, welcome to another episode of MC Fireside Chats.

[00:01:09] Super excited to have you guys here with us again today. We’ve got two awesome topics. We’re going to talk about today, including the border reopening. The land border crossing is open between the United States and Canada, which is impacting snowbirds, winter, Texans, whatever they call themselves in Arizona, and all kinds of other things Canadians are coming across now for the first time in a year and a half, two years.

[00:01:28] I think so. We’ve got Shane Devenish here from CCBC is going to talk to us about that briefly. We’ve got Justin from pitch up the middle of these guys, introduce themselves in a second. Montreal. We’ve got Joanne from also talked to later she’s going to jump in and about the border conversation too, but talk about camp and that great organization full of executive directors and all the awesome work they do.

[00:01:47] They just had a big meeting last week at the Arvik conference. And as always, we have care and Angela with us, can you hear from the Canadian Camping & RV Council two and Angela, who is the editor in chief of Modern Campground. So let’s just have everybody quickly introduce themselves, Shane, Justin, Joanne.

[00:02:03] And then we’ll dive into the border reopening. Who wants to go first? Do you want me to go first, Brian, go for it, Shane? Yeah. Thanks. It’s always a pleasure. I love that intro that plays before the show. Great job on that. I’m Shane from the Canadian Camping & RV Council up here in Canada.

[00:02:21] I’m also with the Canadian RV association and as always, it’s a pleasure to be on the show. Likewise, I’m excited. My name’s Justin smaller. I’m the North American manager of the sales division [email protected] We are a UK-based company out of London, but my office here caters to all of the north. Now before Joanne introduces herself.

[00:02:44] I just want to say behind the scenes, before we started the show live, Justin and Shane were talking in French. So, Justin, you wanna introduce yourself in French so we can be an inclusive podcast.

[00:02:56] picture.com. I hope everybody understands that. And if not, I could give a written transcript that you could plug into Google translator, Joanne working. I need you to introduce yourself in French too but go ahead. If you had told me, I would have looked it up ahead of time and we were more than happy to do but it’s going to get it in plain old English.

[00:03:17] So I’m Joanna DLBCL. I’m the executive director of the New Jersey campground and outdoor lodging association. And I’m also president of camp, which is the association representing all the executive directors of state associations across the country. And camp stands for campground association of management professionals.

[00:03:37] I’m so excited to talk about the camp leader. Cause I feel like it does so many great things. Like I didn’t even realize it was a thing for so many years cause I’ve been going to Arvik since I think my first job, because 2010 or 2011 and it simultaneously runs there in most years. We’re not really affiliated with Arvik.

[00:03:53] It’s just we’re yeah, no, we’re separate. We are a separate association. Arvik some of our association, executive directors are not affiliated states, so they’re not really affiliated with Arbor campus, all the executive directors. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an affiliated state partnering state.

[00:04:10] Non-affiliated, we’re just all the executive directors and we get together twice. Which is one of the most beautiful things about the organization. I think it’s just so inclusive and brings everybody together, but we’re, we promise we’ll get into that. But first we go on to talk about the border reopening here before we dive too deep into this care, and I probably should have told you this and given you a heads up before the show started we actually went down to the border and we have some live footage of the border reopening, and then I’m going to play for you guys now.

[00:04:35] So

[00:04:39] land crossing is finally open I’m back at work. I really miss this place. I miss my coworkers. I miss the work and most of all, I miss the people.

[00:04:53] Hi there. Hi, haven’t done this in awhile. I know it’s good to be back passport. Yep. There you go.

[00:05:04] What is your purpose here? United States and queen of target just a couple of hours. Is that. Are you smuggling fruit in the United States

[00:05:16] quite so much as a Tangerine, you aren’t going to jail.

[00:05:25] I miss this.

[00:05:30] He was customs and border protection. Proud to welcome back. Our amazing staff have roided up psychopaths.

[00:05:40] Okay. So that was, I’m not sure if that’s representative of all the U S customs and border protection officers. Probably not, but anyway we, weren’t already trying to motivate Canadians to go south. That’ll really. Yeah, there is a kind of a negative consequence to that. So definitely just that one guy, then we’ll go back and get a better interview later.

[00:06:04] But with Shane, tell us it’s been a year and a half, right? So many Canadians are headed south here. Finally to Florida, Texas, Arizona, a bunch of other states down there to keep warm. What’s going through the minds of the Canadian campers from their perspective, is this opens and where are they going?

[00:06:20] What are they doing? I, yeah, I think there’s just a lot of relief. A lot of uncertainty before the announcement and they, the. The majority are, we’re probably in the midst of finding alternatives, thinking that it wasn’t going to open. So when they announced what was made, I think the excitement and then their I think their plans really changed and and started to get ready to come down south.

[00:06:41] I’ve heard of Ann and Joanne can speak more about this, but a lot of campgrounds, just got inundated with reservation requests, caught them off guard and the they had to turn some Canadians away. I just think that, there was a lot of excitement of of our beers coming down.

[00:06:57] It’s good. That Canadians didn’t have to go to BC with all the flooding there that a lot of them would have been there. But I just, I just think they were just anxious to go somewhere warm. I’m going to have this brought that up so early, Brian, just in terms of, the mentality of campers.

[00:07:13] Cause I think that plays a big effect in terms of where they’re going to be spending their time going down south, consequently, also their spending habits. You, combine that with the ease in terms of COVID restrictions, it’s going to be a lot different than what people are accustomed to up here in Canada, the strictness of it all.

[00:07:33] And if you consider that the people that are now eligible to cross the border by land must be fully vaccinated. I think those people are almost most likely to have Corona phobia, which is fear of catching coronavirus. And certainly you should feel relieved because you are fully vaccinated and certainly science shows it reduces the, impact and likelihood of a breakthrough case and hospitalization, but all that’s gonna play into.

[00:08:00] Maybe the consumer going down south. And if they were used to maybe getting some of their goods delivered to them, be it from grocery stores, pharmacies, or otherwise, there’s definitely going to be a, a shift in terms of what their needs will be once they do get down south, I think everyone’s going to be a lot more organized in terms of where they could get their goods from and consequently, where they’re going to be able to.

[00:08:24] I can tell you just from talking to the campground execs last week, that now obviously Arizona and Texas, Florida the reservations are very strong for the Canadians who are heading south for this time of year. But also, for us in New Jersey, we’re seeing the reservations already start to come in for the Canadians who typically come to see us in July and August, because now that they know that the border is open, they haven’t been there for two years.

[00:08:51] So we’re seeing an impact. So not only are you seeing immediate reservations taking place in some of the states, but you’re also seeing some of the reservations of, for the future coming in for, they’re just glad to be able to be coming back into the U S for they’re making. And I think that could be a trickle down effect.

[00:09:06] Sorry, but just in terms of a lack of supply, because people are booking in advance now, even us [email protected], we’re seeing a huge increase in terms of advanced bookings and for the primetime months of February, March, we’re seeing price increases of sometimes 20 to 30%. So it’s a trickle down effect for sure.

[00:09:27] Yeah, that’s really interesting that it’s starting so early in advance. Cause obviously we want to focus for me right now is the time when the snowbirds are going south. And obviously they’re stopping campgrounds along the way. Cause they’re not driving straight through to Florida in many cases, but it’s interesting that the impact is there, Joanne, that they’re already making those reservations for.

[00:09:43] You’re saying they’re making them for next spring in summer. Absolutely. They’re up. They’re already making them for next year. Yeah, I think that we’ve seen across all of our clients. And I feel like this year we’ve been hearing that more than we have in years, past of their spring, summer bookings are filling up much earlier.

[00:10:02] And I think some of that is just the eagerness to camp. People know that there’s not enough sites for the demand, so they’re trying to get their foot in the door. But also I think more and more properties within the last few years have really taken on the online booking systems too. So it’s not so much a, you can’t book anything until January or February when we open booking up people, their rates are set for next summer and booking has been open for some time.

[00:10:31] So I think it’s a couple of different things at play that is a beautiful shift to the industry. Obviously more campgrounds have websites now than ever. They have more bull consistent than ever. So they are open and available for those events. Yeah, this last year and a half has really motivated them to pursue that automation and streamlining stuff.

[00:10:50] I think a combination of, staffing issues and all of those things really play a factor. It’s we’re almost in a scenario where all the dominoes have fallen just exactly nicely for 2022 to be really fabulous and busy season yet again. I’m excited to see how it’s going to go.

[00:11:07] I definitely agree. I think bookings are big coming in already for next year and hopefully that trend continues long into the future.

[00:11:18] No, I was just going to say, th there’s some pressure from Canada side to get rid of the PCR test or have it equal to what’s going on in the U S and then I guess there’s a decision made for Canadians going down on a short term trip. It’s supposed to be announced in the next day or so.

[00:11:35] And we’re hopeful that at the start of next camping season, us folks won’t need the district PCR test coming up here, especially out east, our guys could use the U S tourism coming back more so than any other part of our country. And I, it’s great to hear, near Jersey getting Canadians the book down there, I w I’d love to hear some stories about our Canadians get new.

[00:11:58] People coming up again, making the reservation. So yeah, even we’re anticipating that’s going to be more so in the spring, of course, which is the seasonal nature of our cold winters you should be able to see that flow of traffic reverse itself towards March and April, but yeah. There’s still glamping and cabins and cool stuff to do up here in the winter.

[00:12:17] I like the ice fish, we got a whole bunch of activities. If you like to snowmobile and do different trips like that, it’s just about getting out of your comfort zone sometimes. Yeah. How do you come up from Florida,

[00:12:33] Florida, I guess is probably more for Shane and Justin and Kara. But have you guys been seeing the reverse now that the border is open, have Canadian parks been seeing an influx in bookings? Booking ahead for spring in summer? Like they’re starting to see here in the state. Yeah. So I can speak to a couple of parks who I personally have contact with about that.

[00:12:58] Yeah, there’s actually my old park has been, has seen a big jump in bookings just in the last few weeks, specifically for next season. They’ve got the best numbers they’ve seen in compared to the last couple of years, that park was really heavily reliant. Almost 40% of its business was coming from international guests, Americans and Europeans.

[00:13:21] It’s been important for them S parks like that, one to recover that business for sure. So I, I will say on a couple of anecdotal. Specific basises I have. That is what I’ve been seeing. And hearing from other campground operators. We had a meeting here in Alberta an association meeting and the feedback from those members there was that things were picking up for 2022.

[00:13:44] I also think it’s interesting when reopen the border. A lot of our parks are already, were already closed, but the few that were still open, we’re seeing a big influx as the snowbird started to head south us, they got this unexpected little boost of business, right at the end of there, right in the shoulder season there, which, can’t hurt anybody.

[00:14:04] Sure. I think the timing of that was also interesting bought into administration, made the announcement in the middle of October. Generally speaking, a lot of our clients tend to close up shop if they’re not operational year round around Halloween. So October 31st, so that gave people a kind of advance notice to prepare themselves.

[00:14:22] Even, I know it’s a nominal cost, but from a storage perspective, these are things that people, creature of habits that we are as humans want to have organized and advanced to be able to ensure that they’re prepared and that their precious cargo or RV is well taken care of. Yeah. I’m really interested to follow this dataset.

[00:14:43] And I’m sure we’ll have another show talking about what the bookings are looking look looking March, February, March, those kinds of things with some of the Canadian campgrounds, hopefully as guests on our show. But it’s really interesting because we’ll be able to see that kind of segment of how much impact Canadians really have moving south or Americans really have moving north because we’ve seen so much to me in the RV industry, we’ve heard that the RV sales numbers are up everybody’s demands, been through the roof, 20, 30% increases year over year.

[00:15:09] And I’ve seen some predictions that say. We all know you can’t sustain 20, 30% growth forever. We’d love to but eventually it has to slow down a little bit. And so I’ve seen people predicting that it’s going to slow down a little bit 20, 22, but maybe it won’t now that there’s so much movement coming across the border and it’ll be interesting to analyze those stats and we see them.

[00:15:26] Yeah, I agree. I think it will be the discrepancies will happen. I think in terms more in terms of shifting demographics around as compared to maybe a boost in, we saw such exponential turnouts in 2021 parts of 2020 that less last bits potentially, but 2021 was a great year for a lot of campground owners.

[00:15:49] And so I think it’ll be tough to get much higher than those numbers, but I do think we will definitely see demographic changes in those datasets. And I’m super interested in watching how those roles. Even short-term in terms of Canadians going down south something interesting. And it could be a small variable that impacts the industry is even just wait times at the border.

[00:16:11] I know there was a report of three hours, maybe not at that border video that you showed in the intro over there, that seemed to be pretty fluid. But I’ve heard of some of our customers saying that they were going to hold off on going down the extra couple of weeks, just so that things could settle down a little bit.

[00:16:28] But all these small variables play into the mentality of the camper. We’re not go ahead. I was going to ask you a question, but go ahead. We’re not really hearing much about excessive wait times at the border. And I think those that are interested in and really getting to their, their winter homes in Florida or Arizona or Texas, or, just dealing with it as, okay.

[00:16:49] It’s an everyday occurrence right now. I think no matter where you’re going, things are changing. Things are changed. Dynamics have changed. And the mindset is okay, we’re going to cross the border. We’re probably going to be sitting for a while before we get across the border, but it’s okay because we’re going where we want to go.

[00:17:05] We’re going where we want to be. We’re going where we’ve missed these past two years. Yeah, there’s two roller coaster, right? The amusement park that you really want to ride, you really want to go to Florida. You really want to go to New Jersey. You really want to go everywhere. And so you’re going to wait a little bit.

[00:17:21] And for those listening, there are two websites, one for Canada, and one for the United States that show wait times at the border. So you can monitor that. And if you want a time up your drive and maybe launch at like midnight or something. So you do the beginning portion when you’re saying. So those websites in the chat, if you don’t mind, no syndicate push out to Facebook.

[00:17:40] I think so. We’ll do all that works anyway. But Joanna, I was going to ask you too, are you seeing I remember we talked with so many of our clients last year, about this time with the expectation that they were not going to be as full in Florida and Texas and Arizona, because those Canadians weren’t coming down, but it turns out they were, and their business was even stronger than ever before, even with that missing segment.

[00:18:01] So do you have a sense and I don’t know how much you’ve had conversations with Bobby, from Florida and Brian from taco and maybe Diana from California. And I can’t remember who the new person is in Arizona. Is it so Joanne or his name is Susan Motley. Okay. Susan. I do you have a sense of, is there inventory available?

[00:18:21] There is inventory available and a lot of folks had booked their reservations and anticipation of the border reopening. There, there are, there is availability for your campground, whatever camp run is you may have gone to, but I could just tell you from New Jersey from last summer, we thought really, because the Canadians typically come in July and the beginning of August and they really do fill our campgrounds in New Jersey and in.

[00:18:46] The upper Eastern Northeastern part of the us. And what we found was that the Americans, because now everybody wants to go camping and, 70 people were either purchasing an RV or running an RV that they really took up the slacks where the Canadians were not there for the past two years. So the interesting, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens, this coming year as to, who gets the reservations in the quickest are going to be able to find their sites.

[00:19:15] Yeah. That’s a, it’s the same thing with I lost my train of thought. I was putting the links in there for Justin, but we’ve got the Canada border in the bottom. We’re going to show the U S border in a second. It’ll be interesting to see, because I think as you mentioned, a lot of them had their summer homes down there.

[00:19:30] Did they continue to, and I just, in my mind, Susan Motley is not the Arizona exec Susan model. Oh, you out on that? Yeah. I was like, wait a minute. I didn’t want to make myself look like a fool. I already do a good enough job looking like a fool on normal days. So I didn’t want to add to it. I was the fool today.

[00:19:53] Her name is Susan Breton. We already

[00:19:59] got the first name, right? That was a good thing.

[00:20:01] Yeah, w what else are we hearing? Do you have a sense, Shane of the numbers of Canadians that are crossing the border? Is it the same? Are they holding back a little? I know that we talked about the waiting but are they gonna, are they continuing to come down to the same numbers? Are they still nervous about the COVID restrictions that are different?

[00:20:14] Both countries? I I was on a call with one of the one of the guys from a Canadian snowbird association and he cited 90% of what normally would come down or are planning to come down this winter. So it’s a pretty high percentage. Yeah, it’s good. Certainly a good number for us. The last thing you want to do is have your consumers that utilize the product.

[00:20:37] So we’re happy that, those snowbirds that do RV are able to use it over the winter time, as opposed to, storing it or parking in some of these rice. Yeah, I know that same Canadian snowbird association put out a stat recently that 75% of Canadians who’ve visited the United States do so by car or in this case RV.

[00:20:58] So that’s 32 million trips. Hopefully we can equate that. I think 60% or so are towards Florida. Obviously Arizona is a big hub from there. I know you’re talking about stats before we saw from the Arizona tourism board that in 2019, there was approximately 1 million tourists that spent approximately $1 billion with a B.

[00:21:21] And then consequently last year, there’s a, drop-off understandably to, I think 325 million spent and about a quarter of the amount of visitors. So hopefully it could either match or if not exceed those previous numbers in 2019 and all indications show that just based off. I guess the supply and lack of supply, but really the demand that is out there for RVs and all things, RV number, it would be if we could actually get campground owners to raise their rates more than $2 a site, every year they did dynamic pricing, it might be 2 billion.

[00:21:57] I think it’s important to factor in things like gas prices and stuff in this conversation too. That’s certainly feedback I’m seeing on all of our social channels and stuff from consumers is, I’d love to go, but gas is crazy expensive right now. So I’m treading water for now.

[00:22:13] I think what’s interesting, Karen, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the gasp and I’m sorry, we’re just lagged. I thought your I think that gas prices are still cheaper, even though they’re really high in the U S in the U S than they are in Canada. I think because it’s four liters a gallon, roughly. So I think it ends up being like $5 or something, us for a gallon of gas or gallon equivalent or whatever. So it is four to one. I saw a dollar 50 yesterday at the gas station. So it would be $6 per year. But that’s six Canadian factored in the U S it ends up being about five.

[00:22:45] So it would be cheaper for them is my point to get gas if they traveled south. They go. Yeah, sure. And the exchange rate obviously also factors into all of this. And it’s really tough to say we’re the exchange rate is going to be come the beginning of the year, or, the middle of 20, 22 things are, as you said, so fluid right now that we really don’t have any idea.

[00:23:05] Yeah, impossible to predict that kind of stuff right now. Yeah,

[00:23:11] no, that’s okay. Yeah I forget where I read it. I just saw it today or yesterday. And it was talking about how people are going to be more likely to book an extended stay site or long-term site because of the gas prices, because of some people that don’t, they don’t want to travel as many different locations as maybe they normally would feel comfortable doing because of restrictions or, health reasons, safety reasons, all of those factors.

[00:23:38] And I thought that was really interesting. It wasn’t something that I had personally thought about. But it does make a lot of sense. Yeah, absolutely. Typically our Canadian visitors are longer term transient visitors than our us visitors are, they come down and because they’re traveling so far, they have a tendency to stay for 10 days to two weeks or longer.

[00:23:57] For just those reasons. Shana. Have you seen any indications that maybe some people who would normally go down south in their RV or opting to leave their RV at home and maybe just fly somewhere if only for certain, restrictions in place? Haven’t had haven’t, haven’t heard much of that just in one way or another.

[00:24:16] Yeah. I I remember when we had higher gas prices throughout the last 30 years, and when, when, if your vacation costs more than 20%, you got to pay 20% on gas. People get used to it. I think it’s when it rises so dramatically so quickly, everybody’s going well when it’s a little bit of a shock, but once, once realization sets in they’ll feel more comfortable.

[00:24:37] I think it’s a short term hesitation personally. And. Yeah, they’ll just budget a little bit more for their vacation and certainly 20% not going to be a barrier to go, especially. And when you compare it, sorry, Brian, just to bring this up. Cause this is where I was going with that question chain. The cost of rental cars right now have also like dramatically.

[00:24:58] So all the more incentive to drive it down. Yeah. That’s what I was going to throw in there is I think you’re right Jane, about the gas prices, but when you throw in the other inflation that’s happening dramatically across the United States in many categories yeah, it, it adds all together in one kind of like perfect storm of hesitancy.

[00:25:16] And yeah, somebody said the other day, a flight to whatever has gone up huge too. So we’re flying flights. And yeah. Rental car availability Destin is brutal. It’s, we did an affordability study a couple of years ago and our vein was found to be the the most cost effective way to vacation outside of Airbnb at the time.

[00:25:39] And I can, I can certainly say that would probably be the same now. And the spread would be even more, from some of those other things, restaurant costs rental cars, like you say, all those things have gone up like everything. It’s still a great affordability.

[00:25:54] Sorry, I am so sorry, Shane. I think some people too are also taking into consideration that they’ve a lot of people sat at home. The last, a couple of years or whatever, they’re not, they haven’t taken the big vacation that they save for every year that they’ve especially campground owners and things like that, that try to go south in their off season.

[00:26:14] And they just haven’t had those expenses. And so I think a lot of people are taking into consideration, but it’s not a deciding factor because they’re just so glad that they finally get to make the trip after a long absence. Yeah I think, coming 2022, many of us do the RV and camping shows in Canada.

[00:26:32] The Toronto show, the Quebec city show, the Montreal show. It’s going to be interesting to see what the attraction is at these shows and whether or not, because typically when we’re doing these shows, they’re so incredibly busy for the four days, it’s, non-stop to see whether or not we’re going to see that same audience that’s been there prior to.

[00:26:52] That’s interesting, Joanne, because we actually have a Shane Devonish on here who runs the Toronto camping show. That’s going to happen here. And so maybe he could speak to that. I don’t run it right. We do have a show director, we that’s interesting you say Joanne we’re mindful of that too.

[00:27:05] And I think what you’re going to see the shows do this year is to take advantage of all the new interest in the in the industry. So whether it’s more education addressing all those hesitancy and answering their questions. I think all these shows are going to be more so directed at that.

[00:27:23] Dealers hopefully they have enough inventory to show. We’re starting to see that build right now, but it’s going to be trying to take advantage of the excitement and the RV lifestyle right now for all the newbies. I think that we’re certainly going to do on our end when the tickets go on sale for your show.

[00:27:39] Usually not until December. So at some point in time, right before Christmas, I think types of events are just so important too. And the cigarette analogy for a Canadian like myself, get that snowball effect where it’s contagious, the, enthusiasm that everybody shows. And when you’re with like-minded people and you can bounce ideas off each other, and you realize that you’re not alone in terms of the last 21 months, you felt like you were alone in lockdowns and quarantine, but in actuality, there’s a whole contingency of.

[00:28:08] I guess our community that still wants to enjoy the luxuries that we’ve got accustomed to. And I will say just, from New Jersey anyway, even though the Canadians, the last two years have not been able to travel into the states, we still continued our advertising up in Canada because we wanted them to feel like, okay, even though you can’t travel now, we’re still thinking about you and when you’re ready to travel again, we’ll be here and ready for you.

[00:28:33] I think most of the states are around the same categories. Where are the, we made sure that we continue to reach out and touch our Canadian friends because we want them to continue to come and visit. Yeah, I think that’s so important because we have such a large segment of new campers that maybe hadn’t camped before.

[00:28:51] So that awareness and keeping the industry kind of front and centers valuable, especially to that demographic of the markets it’s new and hasn’t maybe traveled much in an RV yet. And now finally has that exciting opportunity. Yeah. Joanne, it’s funny you say that because, w one of the concerns or quandaries or lots of conversation amongst the industry, how do you advertise during COVID?

[00:29:16] It’s first, especially at the beginning of all this do you promote the industry while nobody can go anywhere? For example? So w it was interesting. A lot of the, go RVing in the U S or go and being up here in camp. Had different stages of marketing, maybe at the beginning was just stay in touch, be concerned, be sentimental.

[00:29:35] And then as things opened up, then you opened up your advertising. You really had to watch your messaging, is what my, and we were very careful about that because obviously, we didn’t want to offend anyone. We wanted to make sure that, we wanted them to be safe where they are and stay where they are.

[00:29:52] But as I said, when they were ready to travel, just let them know that we, we’re here and to welcome them when they’re ready to get back on the road again. Yeah. I think what might be difficult is because it’s such a polarizing topic, maybe your favorite campground you find out is more liberal or more conservative than what you ever imagined.

[00:30:09] And maybe somebody who’s seeking a certain type of accommodation. Would it be either happy or shocked and maybe not opt for that same location based off some of the rules they may or may not have in place for COVID regulations. Joanne obviously being down in Florida, things are pretty open there, especially relative to Canada.

[00:30:27] Do you see that a lot of campgrounds in general? Cause I can speak on this after, but I’m opening the question to you a little bit. Do you see that there are I guess rules specific that might appeal to Canadians who are scared. I’m just visiting Florida this week. I’m trying not to pay attention to what’s going on.

[00:30:50] Trees keep fooling me. This also means is people want to talk about what you’re actually talking about and delve into that controversy right now. So I don’t know about that. I think it’s important to, to note, we talk all the time about how. A portion of the market for everybody. You just gotta find what aligns best with you.

[00:31:11] And so I personally, I think I know a few snowbirds who are, who used to go to Florida and who are uncomfortable with the lack of restrictions there. So they are choosing to go somewhere else. And so I think consumers are making, that’s become a factor in their decisions. And, maybe somebody who used to go to Florida goes to a different state now, but, it sounds like to me, there’s a supply issue anyways.

[00:31:39] So all those things tend to balance themselves out, I think. But certainly, my mother-in-law and her husband go every year to Mexico. Normally, and I think they’re uncomfortable with going that far so that, so there’s different factors that are impacting all of these choices for sure.

[00:31:57] And COVID is certainly one of them. I think you’re right, Cara though, there’s a place for everybody and it’s just a matter of doing your research, but certainly everyone could continue enjoying what they like. Yeah, it’s going to balance out both ways. You may change where you’re going, but somebody else will go to Florida who wasn’t going to Florida.

[00:32:17] All right. Let’s switch topics here before we, like we’ve talked about the border so long has been 36 minutes really informative, but I want to make sure we leave time for camp here. So Joanne, before we delve too far into this, tell us, I know you briefly introduce it, but just give us the, how long has camp been in existence?

[00:32:31] What do they do? Who are the members? Those kinds of things. So camp has been around for quite awhile and camp, as I said, stands for campground association of management professionals. And so the association is made up of executive directors of the state associations throughout the country. So although we are.

[00:32:52] Somewhat like kinda hands-on with Arvik. We are really it doesn’t matter whether the state is a partnering state with Arvik or an affiliated state. We’re just all the executive directors that meet twice a year. And we meet for educational purposes to talk about what’s happening or individual states throw ideas off of each other.

[00:33:11] It’s been a great for me, a learning experience. I’ve been in, I’ve been in this job for almost 10 years and, we do meet twice a year and we just share we share a lot of information amongst each other and not only twice a year, but all throughout the year. The association and its members there’s, there were 18 executive directors who attended camp last week in Raleigh.

[00:33:34] There’s about 25 executive directors throughout the country. And we’re really just there for sharing and caring with one another. What were some of the topics that came up during the meeting at during the Arvik conference? I know you’re not affiliated, but during it’s the same time periods.

[00:33:49] So it’s easier for me to say that last week. We, so the campus typically two days two full days, we’re usually 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. And the topics last week where we had a lobbyist come and speak to the group about how important it is to continue, lobbying not only on a state level, but on a national level.

[00:34:08] So we had the lobbyists from the North Carolina state association, come in and speak to us. We have Christy Taylor, who is an attorney who came in to talk about, what documents now are even more important for association management companies or association management to just make sure that, we have all of our documents in place where they need to be, because, things are changing so rapidly.

[00:34:32] As far as federal guidelines and things. That was a huge top, but she was there for quite awhile. Laura Sieverson from Wisconsin. She developed a software program for camp rabbit associations. And so she presented the new software program, which was great. And many of us were so oppressed with it that, talking to Lori about how we can jump on board and work with her on getting that association management of camp brand information into the hands of the associations.

[00:35:00] So we spoke with. Chris Bournemouth from RVIA, talking about how RVIA needs to really have a much closer relationships with the state executive directors and the state associations. It’s great that they speak that they’re, working with Arctic on a national level, the association executive directors are the ones that are in their states and know what’s happening, as they say we’re boots on the ground, we know what’s happening in our states.

[00:35:22] And we really have made a really nice headway with RVIA and I see the RVIA doing a lot more with St. Associate’s. Going forward. So it was, camp was just a whole lots and lots of information that was being passed on. We had someone from Koa who spoke about, the relationships, many of our campgrounds are being purchased by the big corporate conglomerates and what the impact that’s having on the individual state associations.

[00:35:48] So it was really good, lots of great information that was dispensed. I honestly. And maybe you’ve never thought about this, or maybe you will next year, now that I’m bringing it up. But I wonder if there’s just a way to let the members and the individual state associations, even virtually just pipe into some of this knowledge that’s being shared.

[00:36:07] I know you as an executive director disseminated afterwards, but it sounds like from what you’ve just described, at least those back to back were excellent topics that impact all kinds of owners. And we try to I’m the president of camp this year. We did have an election and I was president in prior years, but we had some new.

[00:36:26] Nu Loris Harrison from Wisconsin is the new vice-president. Jason Vaughn from Pennsylvania is our treasurer. And you’re waiting for North Carolina and South Carolina is going to be our secretary. During these past two years, while we haven’t been able to meet in person, we were arranged zoom meetings.

[00:36:43] And I think Brian, you did one of our zoom meetings with us, so we have tried to keep the group together, even though we were not able to be together in person. Just making sure that information sharing is continuing throughout the year, even though we’re not able to be there in person.

[00:36:58] That’s good. I, yeah. And that’s definitely valuable, but I guess what I’m speaking is outside of the executive directors, maybe there’s campground owners who want to see this, and I know you disseminate it, but like the RVIA for example, it’s very important for you, for him to talk to the executive directors and work with states.

[00:37:13] And I think that’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve never heard that before, but it definitely, I hope they continue forward on that path, but is there a way that RVIA can not only just talk to the executive directors, but also, to me that’s an educational session. That’s valuable with thousands of camp renters to, and I think once, like I said, once, I think RVIA continues to make those connections with the state associations that like, I know we’ve had Chris Boardman at our conference.

[00:37:36] I think once that, like I said, once those connections are being made, you’ll be able to see. RBI talking to the individual owners, each of the stations. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s connecting them with the association staff is essentially connecting them with camp, the campground owner members.

[00:37:53] For sure. I love that. It’s so great. Great. No, So when you’re done with a camp meeting, how does Joanne the executive director who puts her New Jersey ad on disseminate the kind of the information that she served from the other executive directors and from these sessions to our members? A lot of it is a couple of years ago.

[00:38:12] We’re talking about our year end reviews and what’s happening, what happened throughout the year in the industry and our individual state. And I came up with a year and review book that, that now we send to all of our members a month prior to their dues renewal that says, this is what your association has done for you this past year.

[00:38:32] And so a lot of the other associations are picking up and they’re doing a year end review book that they’re sending to their members. Some of it is joint advertising. I know New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York this year, we have done some regional advertising. Together. We’re T some of the other states are talking about, coming together and doing joint advertising.

[00:38:51] It’s those kinds of things that we take back to our individual associations. And we share speakers at our conferences. If someone has a really good speaker, we throw it out there and say, this was a really good speaker at our conference when you’re doing your conference, he’s certainly someone to consider.

[00:39:07] So those are the kinds of things. When we come back to onto our offices from the the camp meetings that we’ve put into place. Joanne, what kind of advertising do you do when you say advertising for, for the, for me region regionally, where we’re advertising USA today with New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, we did a couple ads in the USA today.

[00:39:27] We are jointly in better homes and gardens, ladies, home journal, country, living magazine. What else have we done? We’ve done some different national publications this past year jointly. It’s worked out very well for us now, the advertising to join the state association or is there for your campgrounds?

[00:39:48] No. So the advertising is, it’s a generic ad that talks about camping in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and York, and for more information, contact this website or go to the, so those that’s what we were doing. And then if there are a lot of times, there’s the individual leads and the leads will come to us from the different publications.

[00:40:07] And, we know that they’re state specific and those people are looking for information on our individual states. Yeah, that’s that’s awesome that you guys are able to band together and purchase some things. And some of those larger publications that might be out of reach for individuals, state associations, advertising USA today is not an inexpensive marketing initiative, but being able to, be together with New York and PA it certainly made it cost-effective for us.

[00:40:33] And it was very successful. Sure. Yeah. Collaboration is, there’s no end to the benefits of that working together. So I know it’s just penny and BCLC. A B is a member of your organization. Do you have anybody else in Canada? We do have a couple, could we, do we have three Canadian associations that are members of camp?

[00:40:55] I think we are a member

[00:41:00] there. Shane, why weren’t you at the meeting? I’m going next time. Couldn’t cross the border that week. That’s fair. All right. That’s good point. Oh, no, you were in RVDA weren’t you Shane. So your work went to Vegas and partied instead of going rallies, it would have been, it would have been a less expensive on me.

[00:41:28] What are the most important factors that we share with one another is when our conferences are so that we are not overlapping on each other and having our conferences at the same time, which creates issues obviously for any of our supplier members who want to be at our trade shows. So that’s something that’s really important.

[00:41:44] We do try to make sure that we spread out our conference dates so that they can get from conference to call it. It’s a really good topic to bring up and we’ll touch on it briefly. Joanne, because that happened I think that I heard multiple people say that vendors had to split time between the Yogi bear Jellystone conference and Arvik at the same time.

[00:42:02] And that’s been a constant problem for us at Insider Perks for a decade and something is always overlapping something else. And I know that Lori has that excellent campground owners expo. That’s coming up in December. I really want to go. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to make it just due to the timing, but somebody also mentioned to me that’s when Arvik conference used to be was in December, is that accurate?

[00:42:23] This conference was always the first week in December.

[00:42:29] Did we lose you join or is that. No. Okay. We’ll wait and see if Joanne comes back so she can gives me insight into that. But while we’re waiting for, to come back to the camper and under his expo is December 15th to the 18th. I think Angela, you and I were looking at it. It’s taking place in Branson, Missouri, and it’s it’s a conglomeration of, I think I was looking at 12, 13 states, something like that, or 15 states throughout the Midwest that are going to come together and have this brand new trade show.

[00:42:53] They’re going to go behind the scenes of some of the cool shows and brands. And if you’ve ever been to Branson sort of Christmas time, it’s absolutely amazing. To see with all the decorations and shows and things that go on and take you behind the scenes that entertainment and clean some insights about maybe pieces and parts you could take away from those shows to help run your campground more efficiently, but she’s going to have educational sessions, a trade show, things like that.

[00:43:11] I really was hoping to get down there. I’ll definitely do my best to be there next year. It was just a timing thing at a border crossing thing for me, because I’m in Canada as well. Hopefully we can get Joanne back on here to talk about that and touch. Overlapping issues, but yeah, if we could all work harmoniously together for vendors and attendees, then that’s just more shows more education, more vendors we can network with and things like that.

[00:43:31] So I think 2019, nothing overlapped for the first time and since article in December, maybe and then things, the whole world fell apart. We had it going and then we couldn’t build on the streak. I just want to comment on what Joanne said about, RVIA and Chris Burnham, and I know Chris he’s a.

[00:43:48] Phenomenal government affairs, individual, and somebody who really cares. And it’s it, as far as I’m concerned it’s really encouraging to see RVA do what they’re doing to get closer to the campgrounds and the campground associations, because we’re fortunate at, up here in Canada to have, while we used to have all those meetings where CCR BC RVDA CRV get together frequently, at least, 2, 3, 4 times a year.

[00:44:15] And I knew that RVA were, we’re looking at that and I applaud them for for their efforts to get closer to the campgrounds. Down there, we were just talking about Chris, Joanne, I know him. He’s a great guy and somebody it’s great to have at your meetings. Oh, he is. He’s he?

[00:44:31] And he’s very willing to work and make sure that this partnership comes together. So we’re really grateful for. And Joanne, please finish your thought on the campground owners expert while you were gone. We just I talked to them about the dates and that things and Lori and doing all that stuff.

[00:44:47] So please finish your thought. We just lost you. Obviously the, as I said earlier, we try to make sure that our campground conferences are not overlapping one another. And RX conference was always the first week. And like that last week in November, first week of December, I’m not sure why they changed it.

[00:45:03] I guess they must have had their region reasons. It may have been because of availability and the different locations that they were going. Oh, But, yeah, so now they are backing on to Koa and to the jelly conference. But, Laurie C Everson is putting the the new conference it’s called the campground owners expo on December 15th through the 18th in Branson.

[00:45:24] And we’re, we’re all going out there to S w many of us are going out there to support Laurie in this new endeavor, it’s, a regional conference and, for me in New Jersey, we’ve uh, uh, we’ve we don’t have any Jersey conference. I put on the Mid-Atlantic conference for campground members.

[00:45:38] It’s New Jersey, it’s Pennsylvania, it’s Delaware, it’s Maryland, it’s those states in the mid Atlantic region. And hosting that conference for years. So we are a regional conference and our conference was obviously for two years, we were not able to have the conference.

[00:45:52] Actually one year and last year, my board decided since New Jersey wasn’t open and really nowhere in the middle Northeast was opened. We went to Florida, we went to Tampa and held our conference and the campground owners was thrilled to death to be able to be in Florida. A lot of them are in Florida anyway.

[00:46:09] So we’re bringing in the mid Atlantic conference back to Florida this year. We’re going to be in Orlando, February 28th, March 1st and second. And our expo is going to be on Tuesday, March the first. Worthwhile, listen, I’m thrilled to death and be back in Florida in March, for many years.

[00:46:25] And we had the conference in Dover downs, we had six inches of snow. There was ice and sleep. There was a snow storm coming where, everyone had to leave. Yeah, so it’s all good. And I think you’re going to probably see more and more kind of regional collaborations is what you talked about.

[00:46:40] I think we’re going to that’s the way that the future is looking right now, which is awesome. Again, there’s nothing negative to collaboration and yeah, I will miss some portions of New Jersey being in New Jersey. Cause I remember the one year we got to bet on horses and go down on that track and it was super cool.

[00:46:55] That was your conference, I think. Yeah. So Florida is Florida, right? You can’t beat the sun and the floor and the beaches and all those kinds of things, but hopefully I’ll be able to be down there for that one. Just depends on again, if it overlaps and anything else on February 28th, March 1st and second, are we willing to make sure you reach out to Angela because we were building this fancy new events calendar on Modern Campground and also we’ll put up your thing on there alongside all the other we’re putting RV shows and all that kind of together.

[00:47:23] And so we can just get you one more place that’s that is listed and people can find in the tent. So thank you. Yeah. You’re welcome to come. It’ll be warm.

[00:47:34] There’s your RV show? Shane it’s in March, right? Yeah. It’s March 3rd to the sixth. That’s perfect. You got to 24 hours. You’re going to fly back, trying to figure out how to do the Orlando thing. You get to the Montreal show too much. I’m trying to figure that all out. Yeah. It’s always busy that time of year, but yeah, we’re used to it.

[00:47:55] I remember, I think I remember bef pre COVID, we, I think Wisconsin and Lori show is the last one we were at when the NBA got shut down and all that kind of stuff in 2020. But I think at that point I had 45 days straight booked on the road where I was going to conferences back to back to back to back before they ended up canceling.

[00:48:10] But yeah, it’s a busy season. Hopefully Angela is going to split some of that with me this year. We’ll see if I can convince her to talk her into that. But what else we got anything else I’m going to talk about with, about the border or anything else that we missed that people need to know about camp Joanne before we wrap up our last five minutes here we, we have the website, we launched the new website, it’s campground executives.com.

[00:48:27] So if there’s any, thank you. If there’s any, state executives out there who are. Not members of camps certainly go on there and, we will start to post some legislation on that’s happening in each of our states. That, that was, that’s another big issue that we deal with. We certainly do talk about legislation.

[00:48:46] That’s impacting the states and what’s happening from state to state executive directors. When we were, when we went through the whole COVID thing, who was essential, who was not essential. There were certainly a lot of conversations taking place amongst the executive director. The executive directors are so willing to impart their knowledge on one another and to share information.

[00:49:04] We really don’t feel like we are in competition with one another. And I think that’s, what’s so important and that’s what keeps, camp going straight. Yeah. And I may know the answer to this question, Joanne, but I’m getting old and my memory fails me. I think at one point, was I a supplier supporter of camp?

[00:49:22] And then I, maybe I just didn’t renew or something. For some reason you may have been I’m not really sure. I’ll have to check with our treasurer and find out, what your membership status is and I’ll get back to you and let you know. I heard her, I was a supporter. Yeah. If it’s expired, I want to join again.

[00:49:37] So something invoiced and also send me one for Modern Campground too. We’ll both join because it’s too valuable in an organization not to support in my mind. I will make sure and listen again, we’re always looking for sponsors, Conestoga wagons was a sponsor of camp this past week as was AGSM, they print a lot of the guides Michael Moore.

[00:49:59] Yes. Anderson’s brochure, Don Bennett, the brochure distribution company, one of our. Yup. I’m trying to think of who else was some of our sponsors? Oh

[00:50:09] kinda struggle. I say Conestoga wagons, right? He was already there. Camp spot was another one of our, yeah, he was great. A lot of information. I was totally unaware of exactly how much camp spot was able to to provide to the individual under. So it was really good information.

[00:50:27] Awesome. Yeah, definitely. We’re going to, and again, we’ll set up a call with Angela and talk about that, but I want to cover more about what camp’s doing. The executive directors are doing showcase more of that stuff. And in any way we can support in any fashion, please let us know because I keep, obviously it’s just me doing my small part.

[00:50:42] But yeah. Anything else you want to talk about the border crossing Shane before we head out or? No, I’m okay. I like to hear more about pitching. Yeah, me too. We got two minutes. Give us the elevator pitch, Justin what’s pitch up. So again, we’re UK based company out of London. We’ve been around for 11 years.

[00:51:02] We have over 4,500 active clients and we are an online travel agency. So we want to connect campgrounds to the actual campers themselves. We’re free to join where no contract, you could go to our website, pitch up.com and from there, get some more information. We’d love to just discuss how we can maybe help you out a little bit.

[00:51:23] So it’s a risk-free way of trying to attract new clients. If you own a campground and otherwise for the campers themselves that are wanting to join. I think one thing that really differentiates us, I know we talked before a little bit about booking systems. We have integration with 90 different ones.

[00:51:40] So for those campground owners it’s very important to ensure they don’t have double bookings and whatnot. We do a great job of integrating with all the major, players within the industry themselves and going back to the campers and their perspective. I think something that’s really cool that a lot of other OTAs I’ll call them our competitors do that.

[00:52:00] We don’t is charge a service fee towards the end. So the price is the price you’re paying. I’ll throw out another example. I use Uber eats all the time to get food. And then right at the end, there’s an extra $4 surcharge that just goes to them. We don’t do anything like that. So we pride ourselves on the flexibility and we give both the host themselves and the camper, all the opportunity to figure out what’s best for them and their.

[00:52:26] Obvious question, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna play hardball with you for a second. So how does pitch up make money then? Great question. We do take a 15% commission, but of course that’s only if we do a good job and get you direct bookings through our website for your campground. So if you do have a campground, that’s not a capacity it makes sense to use our service and that 85% of something is better than a hundred percent of nothing.

[00:52:50] If you are at full capacity certainly we wish you all the best. And if you want to expand, let us know. But of course, no campgrounds always at a hundred percent, be it during shoulder season, during the weekdays, maybe for new accommodations that you’re pushing forward. We’d love to help out. And if it makes sense, it’d be me.

[00:53:09] Awesome. Thank you so much, Justin, for joining us. I think we lost a Joanne here at the end. We’re running a little bit over she’s been there’s Joanne. Hey, welcome back to keep going off. You just figured, like you had some important meeting that you had to get to because we were 33 seconds over.

[00:53:23] I don’t know how you wear as many hats as you do Joanne, so it’s pretty, it’s you know, Shane only does one thing I think from, so is that I’m just messing with Shane does seven things as well. All right, so thank you so much. I really appreciate everybody joining us, Justin, from pitch up Shane, from CCBC, Joanne from.

[00:53:41] New Jersey Koa as well as camp and Cara from wherever you are and Angela from Modern Campground. So really appreciate that everybody has lots of great insights on the Canadian border, all those kinds of things, lots of great insight and learning about camp, looking forward to bringing that to the forefront more, as much as we can here on our show and on our website.

[00:53:59] If you are interested in listening to us and you didn’t have a chance to catch the whole video, we were available as a podcast on apple, Spotify, Google podcasts, all those places, you can watch the show archived as well as all previous episodes, MC Fireside Chats dot com. And we are really looking forward to seeing you for our open discussion show, which will happen in two weeks.

[00:54:16] We’re going to take next week off for Thanksgiving, which is in the states, even though we am I Canadian. Now, I already had my Canadian Thanksgiving back in October. So it’s really weird for me. I don’t know. There was a whole debate about that, that we won’t go into that. Ryan Reynolds, was talking about Americans and Canadians and moving up here.

[00:54:36] And I don’t know anyway, but thank you all for joining us again. I appreciate it. We will see you in two weeks for another show and take care. Thanks, Brian. Thank you so much.

[00:54:48]

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Brian Searl
Cara Braeutigam