By Dyana Kelley, CalOHA President & CEO
The mission of the California Travel Parks Association (presently CalOHA) is now and has always been to support and serve its members as they provide a positive RV and camping experience to the consumer.
Our vision is rooted in our ability to enable California RV parks and campgrounds to be profitable, protected and a recognized segment of the travel industry.
While both are honorable statements neither the mission nor the vision address growth of our industry. Is it not also our responsibility to create a pathway for growth? During a recent conversation with the CalOHA board of directors the question of growth was discussed. I had been under the assumption that creating growth was part of our vision and yet it does not exist in black and white. The mere mention of growth was enough to cause some to bristle.
The past few years created an explosion of new campers but the RV park and campground industry failed to keep up. For many new to camping the “experience” was less than favorable. Recently, the Dyrt reported that more than 47% of California campers had difficulty finding available campsites to the extent that they elected other types of vacationing. Many who wished to continue camping sought after dispersed camping options.
At the International Sportsman’s Expo in Sacramento, CA (January 2023), we distributed nearly 4000 Camper’s Guides to California while simultaneously showing the ease of use in finding a perfect campground on Camp-California.com. However, many “campers” we spoke with echoed the sentiments of the Dyrt findings. Has the lack of growth started to create a deterrent for many potential campers? Are we headed for a generational gap?
Based on this information, the assumption could be made that by stifling growth we are no longer able to provide a positive “RV and camping experience to the consumer” and therefore, is it not the responsibility of CalOHA to look at opportunities for growth?
What are your thoughts on growth? What do you fear about it? What challenges do you see ahead?
If this has given you a pause for thought(s), please write them down and send them my way. I would appreciate hearing from the membership on this subject, bristly or not.
See you on the road.
John Grant, the founder of Park Brokerage Inc., has retired after 35 years of real estate brokerage specializing in the sale and financing of RV and mobile home parks throughout California.
After some reluctance on walking away from the industry due to all the great people John has met and had the privilege to represent, John has opted to now concentrate on purchasing additional RV parks to add to his current holdings of RV parks in San Jacinto, Kingsburg, Sacramento, Auburn, and Minden.
Working the entire state of California, John brokered RV parks everywhere from his home and office location in San Diego, all the way up to Crescent City. He started off driving throughout the state visiting with RV park owners, but it's a big state which later led John to learn how to fly. Aviation was an important tool that allowed him to visit RV park owners and see their properties more readily. John, his wife Sandra, and their son Taylor would occasionally turn the business trips into a family adventure, traveling together in their RV trailer during their summer vacation, and visiting different RV parks throughout the state.
A lot of changes to the economy, technology and general business practices have occurred in the last 35 years and when asked about the evolution of the brokerage business over the time John spent working in the industry, this is what he had to say. "In the '80s and '90s there was no internet, and the brokerage business was a much more personal business than it is today, relying more heavily on phone calls and in-person visits. RV parks then were also considered specialty properties by most investors and lenders, and the market was thin for buyers. Most buyers were couples and individuals commonly called "Mom and Pops". Financing was very difficult with most RV parks being sold with seller financing. But the RV park market continued to accelerate during my career, and the last five years has seen it climb to a favorite property type for many institutional and large private capital buyers, and there are now a large number of banks financing RV parks".
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