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Old 02-12-2016, 12:51 PM   #1
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Airstream/Interstate Survey

A couple of weeks ago I answered an online survey for Airstream about my 2016 Interstate. At the end of the survey I said that I would accept follow up questions. Well, today that happened via a 30 minute Facetime call with the survey group that has been hired by Airstream.

Nice call. The questions were what you would expect, but one was particularly interesting. Do I think that Airstream should create a membership "club" just for Interstate owners? I said no, that I don't think the owners of the brand should be fractured in that way.

There was a real emphasis put in the questions about the Interstate luxury, the partnership with Mercedes, the elite status of the ownership. I told them that I own both an AS trailer and the Interstate, that I use them both for very different purposes, that my Interstate has been well received by other trailer owners when I attend rallies in it, and that I don't want them to "pit" one group of owners against the other.

But, I'd be interested to hear how you other Interstate owners feel about this issue?
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:30 PM   #2
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Personally I'd like to see the luxury emphasis downplayed because it I think it tends to impose baggage and limit conversations. It drives some of the less wealthy buyers into a type of mental and social underground (searching for the right turn of phrase... can't find it). I've had people mention to me off-record that their Interstate was THE only expenditure of the type that they've ever made in their entire lives (with their decision often revolving around retirement) but you won't hear them say it publicly. They are not wealthy, not looking to perceived as "elite" or luxury-chasing, and it makes them uncomfortable to be lumped into that hype. That sub-population of owners is only going to grow to be a larger fraction of the total as the Interstate fleet ages and devalues and more second and third owners of mainstream middle-class financial means join the ranks.

I wouldn't want to see the trailer folks and Interstate folks separated in any way for much the same reason. There's probably a wider socioeconomic community represented among trailer owners given the much longer production interval and corresponding wider range of valuations.

I like to hear the conversations and the ranges of ideas floated in them, so that's my perspective.
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Old 02-12-2016, 02:23 PM   #3
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I think there is enough distinction already made by many Airstream owners that Interstates are "not really Airstreams", without a separate club for Interstates only to enunciate that even further.

Interstates are more recently on the scene than the iconic trailer, it makes sense that there would be an amalgamation phase.

It would be interesting to know the results of the survey. I hope they share that with the rest of us.


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Old 02-12-2016, 08:33 PM   #4
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WBCCI, also known as the Airstream Owners' Association, is not directly affiliated with Airstream. WBCCI is owned by the dues-paying members, and not by Airstream at all. If Airstream doesn't sponsor the owner's association that thousands of trailer owners belong to, why would they have an interest in sponsoring an Airstream Interstate Owners' Association?

That would REALLY drive a wedge between the trailer owners and the B-van owners, if one club had official status with Airstream, Inc. and the other didn't.

I vote for not having a separate club. However, I don't see a problem with having an Airstream Interstate Intra-Club within WBCCI, on a par with the Vintage Airstream Club. In other words, a special-interest group within the same club, rather than a different club.
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:19 AM   #5
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I find the whole club idea silly to begin with - I'd rather my travel friend not be based on the brand of trailer they buy. Are the tow-vehicle-type sub-groups too?

I too participated in the survey. I used it as an opportunity to focus on the design flaws I've found - many of which are contained in this forum. I hope any follow-up that I get is focused on making the Interstate better - not on image and marketing. I am extremely proud to show it off when it generates interest - but that's not why I bought it.
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:56 PM   #6
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Another thing that I have found interesting is that since I purchased my Interstate I have been receiving emails directly from Airstream advertising items/opportunities that would be of interest to me because I am an Interstate owner. (I have never received these because I owner a trailer.) They are obviously geared toward a certain type of buyer as perceived by AS. The most recent, about a week ago, was from Justin Humphreys at AS offering "Airstream's Best Of: Farms and Wineries." Do the rest of you Interstate owners receive these emails? Or, have they started these communications with only recent buyers?
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Old 02-13-2016, 01:06 PM   #7
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NO communication, as second owner they probably don't know I exist. AEW
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Old 02-13-2016, 01:59 PM   #8
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We had a survey our first year or so of ownership. I think we oldies drop off the radar at the factory after awhile.

I know that JC follows AirForums, so expect they know what we think whether they solicit our opinions or not.


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Old 02-13-2016, 02:01 PM   #9
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I received the farm and wineries communication, perhaps because i had requested a new interstate brochure
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Titus View Post
I find the whole club idea silly to begin with - I'd rather my travel friend not be based on the brand of trailer they buy. ....
I agree with this, except that I must concede secondary commonality value deriving from the Interstate price point. A lot of the owners are highly educated and/or highly skilled (the skills need not have derived from post-secondary sources - e.g., I know people who developed very sophisticated and successful businesses who barely set foot in a university... another example is advancement in the military). Furthermore their educational or business or career developmental tracks tend to put them disproportionately in what's been called the Creative Class.

The work they did in being highly educated and/or highly skilled is what provided them with the means to afford their Interstates. So while I don't care what actual brand of motorhome or trailer they drive, I do care how they developed themselves as individuals, because those who engaged in more intensive self-development are the ones I most enjoy interacting with socially. And there is a bit of Interstate ownership effect of concentrating more of those people in one place.
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Old 02-14-2016, 02:00 PM   #11
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I'm not yet an Interstate owner but I'd really appreciate it if someone mentioned quality control concerns when taking their surveys or talking to them directly. In my book, these issues severely tarnish their attempts at marketing the Interstate as a luxury brand.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:43 PM   #12
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I also received the Farms and Wineries email from Justin Humphreys. I also noticed he included the following verbiage:
"As always, if there's anything we can do for you, don't hesitate to ask."
So since he is Vice President of Airstream Sales, I duly responded with my two cents worth on QC and low technical advancement of the Interstate (which is my other pet peeve). He then replied with a somewhat typical corporate response, similar to one I had received from Bob Wheeler a couple of years ago. Just confirms to me that Airstream currently lacks the inertia and willpower to be the market leader.


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Old 02-15-2016, 06:23 AM   #13
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Just confirms to me that Airstream currently lacks the inertia and willpower to be the market leader.
Define "market leader." If that means "sells more product," the fact that they already sell more product— at least in the B-van category— means that they ARE the market leader.

Remember the old Avis rental car commercials, "When you're second best, you try harder." If Airstream QUIT being the market leader for a while, you'd probably see positive changes so that they could reclaim the top spot. But as long as they're already in the top spot, there's no incentive to change.
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:36 AM   #14
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Protag nailed it. Plus, layer into that market leader mentality the fact that every marketer is trained to exploit the human tendency for willful blindness. They are counting on people submerging themselves in the hype, the infatuation phase of ownership anticipation, and thus not seeing what's more precisely there until it's too late.

But there's a flip side. That's also precisely where and why the relentless American drive for innovation kicks in with its complacency-toppling market upset forces. Based on more than a year of reading Air Forums threads, I've been making a list of redesigns and workarounds for every quality problem that has been called out during all this user experience. Today that list is 15 paragraphs long. And of course my husband and I already both have careers that don't involve designing Class B motorhomes. And we might never choose to build our own custom Class B after we retire. But the point is, if I am combing over the threads this way, chances are other people are as well. And who knows what they might design and produce for sale in the future.
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