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Old 02-15-2014, 02:00 PM   #29
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I might reach out to our New England Unit membership person to ask about that for starters. Really interesting!

I signed up (originally w/Charter Oak unit) because the dealer suggested I should. I did zero research. Once I went to a few rallies (one co-sponsored but others led by New England Unit) I just resonated really well with the NEU members and transferred membership to NEU for this year.

It's a great group of folks and there are some GREAT rallies planned this year! Can't wait! We're even going on a weekend with another NEU couple just for kicks! Just a great group of folks!
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:15 PM   #30
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Maybe an officer in the club or someone involved in membership could answer your questions for you. I know some on this forum who have probably been following this thread who could shed some light on them.
I'm the VP of the Heart of Texas Camping Unit this year, and I'll tell you what seems to work for us. (The emphasis in camping was intentional, btw.)

We actively invite Airstreamers to camp with us, and we camp a lot. Our goal is to have at least one unit event per month from October through May or June. (We typically avoid scheduling events July-September because it's usually hot enough in Texas during those months that's it's not very fun to camp.) Our campouts range from full-hookup campgrounds to boondocking on federal land or even at a brewery. We also keep our membership informed about other events in the area, and often have joint campouts with the VAC or in conjunction with other events. For example, in March we'll be boondocking in Dublin, TX during their annual St. Patrick's Day festival.

We keep our events casual and our costs low wherever possible and put more effort into Fun and Fellowship than into tight schedules and non-camping activities. Since we camp regularly, for example, we tend to discuss what business is necessary during a campout rather than having stand-alone business meetings.

Our members range from young families to retired folks. Since we have a high percentage of people still working (including our oldest member... go figure!) we gear our events to weekends and within a reasonable distance of most of the membership. (What constitutes a reasonable distance may be different for Texans then for some others, I warn you!) Our members fortunate enough to have no one else to answer to for their time usually arrive early and leave late, and I'm jealous.

We have a lot of pot luck dinners... maybe we're just lucky, but our members can COOK. We passed the hat a year or two ago and bought the Unit a big propane grill with a flattop in addition to the grill top, and when the weather is cooperative everyone who wants will gather 'round at breakfast time, bringing eggs and bacon and other goodies and we'll cook and eat breakfast together. Perhaps these sound like small things, but I look forward to them on every campout.

We find that a pretty good percentage of people who camp with us join the unit, often during the campout. It's working for us!
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:24 PM   #31
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PS: Oh, and by the way, Heart of Texas Camping Unit has 4 new members since the directory roster was finalized.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:25 PM   #32
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I would love to know how many members of each unit actually camp regularly and are active in the unit. Or are they members that you never see.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:34 PM   #33
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There are a few members of our Unit who only camp with us rarely. Like 4CU, we have some members who are located far from our usual sphere of operation so they camp with us when they can.

We have a core group of about half the membership who try to attend every campout, but as I mentioned previously we have lots of members who are still working to support our Airstream habit so it's hard to make every event. Another quarter or so of the total membership makes it to a few events a year, and some units only HAVE a couple of camping events a year so I still think the fact that we camp regularly helps, since it makes it more likely that we'll have an event when they have the time to participate.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:59 PM   #34
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I keep my old Blue Berets in my trailer and if I see another AS in the campground I try to say "Hi," tell them about WBCCI and give them the Blue Beret. Hopefully it will pay off someday...

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Old 02-17-2014, 10:11 PM   #35
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I'm the VP of the Heart of Texas Camping Unit this year, and I'll tell you what seems to work for us. (The emphasis in camping was intentional, btw.)

We actively invite Airstreamers to camp with us, and we camp a lot. Our goal is to have at least one unit event per month from October through May or June. (We typically avoid scheduling events July-September because it's usually hot enough in Texas during those months that's it's not very fun to camp.) Our campouts range from full-hookup campgrounds to boondocking on federal land or even at a brewery. We also keep our membership informed about other events in the area, and often have joint campouts with the VAC or in conjunction with other events. For example, in March we'll be boondocking in Dublin, TX during their annual St. Patrick's Day festival.

We keep our events casual and our costs low wherever possible and put more effort into Fun and Fellowship than into tight schedules and non-camping activities. Since we camp regularly, for example, we tend to discuss what business is necessary during a campout rather than having stand-alone business meetings.

Our members range from young families to retired folks. Since we have a high percentage of people still working (including our oldest member... go figure!) we gear our events to weekends and within a reasonable distance of most of the membership. (What constitutes a reasonable distance may be different for Texans then for some others, I warn you!) Our members fortunate enough to have no one else to answer to for their time usually arrive early and leave late, and I'm jealous.

We have a lot of pot luck dinners... maybe we're just lucky, but our members can COOK. We passed the hat a year or two ago and bought the Unit a big propane grill with a flattop in addition to the grill top, and when the weather is cooperative everyone who wants will gather 'round at breakfast time, bringing eggs and bacon and other goodies and we'll cook and eat breakfast together. Perhaps these sound like small things, but I look forward to them on every campout.

We find that a pretty good percentage of people who camp with us join the unit, often during the campout. It's working for us!
DKB_SATX:

Great job with the Heart of Texas Camping Unit.

We in the Northern Illinois Unit are looking to adopt the successful activities of the growing units. Our camping season is only from April to October as the other months are too cold and can be snowy. Over the next two years we have planned 10 campouts in ten different Illinois State parks. We will also be inviting non-unit members to join us in the fun. In 2015 we have planned a unit caravan to Alumapalooza. We are in the talking stages of having a unit caravan in 2016 covering the Michigan UP. This will be a two week caravan so that families can be part of it as well as working folk (like myself).

Keep up the great work.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:08 PM   #36
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There are some units that have showed a nice gain in membership last year. Doing this every year, most of the units listed here are not unexpected as they have been gaining members at a regular basis and seem to have really healthy and vibrant units. That is my personal opinion only. Here are the units with a membership gain of 10 or more since the 2013 Directory.

Unit 004 - Four Corners Unit of New Mexico 114/2014 104/2013
Unit 009 - Heart of Texas Camping 71/2014 51/2013
Unit 011 - Northern California 95/2014 80/2013
Unit 024 - Denver Colorado 140/2014 120/2013
Unit 064 - New England 107/2014 83/2013
Unit 090 - Oregon 149/2014 127/2013
Unit 103 - Texas Gulf Coast 78/2014 67/2013
Just a note about the membership counts, etc... The "closing date" for submissions to International for the next year's International Directory is 1 Nov of the prior year. Therefore, the membership numbers derived from the International Directory are generally less than the actual count on the first day of the year. For instance, the 4CU had an official membership of 128 members as of 1 January 2014. And already this year we have grown to a total of 135, and I suspect that we will continue to grow through the year.

We make a proactive membership recruitment effort, reaching out to potential new members through a variety of avenues. That said, I believe what really draws members in are the dynamics and culture of our Unit ... a genuinely welcoming, laid-back, diverse, inclusive and in general easy group to be around. That and our reputation for rallies with emphasis on fun and camping and not rules and regalia. Many (but not all) of our members sign up after visiting a rally as a guest, and once a new member experiences a rally first hand, chances are very good that they will make a real effort to attend rallies as often as they are able ... resulting in gatherings numbering in the 25-35 rig range most of the time. That's pretty good participation. For members who live further away from our general "operating area", it's very much like "old home week" when they are able to participate. We really enjoy seeing our long-distance members, and appreciate their commitment to the Unit.

As to displaying numbers on rigs ... it's a personal choice. A good share of our members do not display their numbers (including us) for the simple reason they do not want to stick anything on their rigs. We are called "Baldies". We do, however, display our numbers in other ways when we need or desire to. For others, the numbers are part of the aura of membership.

It's nice to see even slight overall WBCCI membership growing this year ... it's a slow process, but at least we're beginning to head in the right direction again. Rally on!
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:27 PM   #37
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I am a new owner, taking possession of our 2014 30ft FC this week. Because of a 30 year member, Dan Ziles, he encouraged my wife and I to join WBCC and followed up with us. Once we received our vin number we joined. Also joined the 4CU again, because of another member. I never heard of these organizations all the years we considered an AS. Maybe have some representation at dealerships at the high traffic times with an information booth etc. There are many misconceptions out there, as perceptions are reality. As I attend Rally's, week end get togethers , perhaps a caravan, I will strive to pay it forward.
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:53 AM   #38
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I understand that up to 50% of the new members joined online.
That is correct.
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Old 03-03-2014, 07:13 AM   #39
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A while ago, Lynn was asking about attracting new members. Is there a way to reach out to the new members of these units and find out how they came to join? Who shared information with them? Who invited them? What kind of materials were they aware of? What attracted them? Why now?
We joined in 2007 when we bought our 19 Bambi form the Out of Doors Mart in Colfax, NC. We were living in Morehead City, NC and had visited the dealer every summer on the way to Black Mountain for vacations. I believe the dealer either had the sign-ups or they sent our information to the local club and they sent it to us. I don't remember any other contact with the local club at that time. I was in the wholesale sporting goods industry and was extremely busy during the camping season so we never made a contact with the NC club although we renewed membership each year.

When we retired and moved to Oregon in 2011 we only knew our son and daughter-in-law, and desperate for friends we walked into one of Unit 90's monthly breakfasts (found it online) and were welcomed with open arms. It is a great pro-active unit, does a lot of camping, and works well with the local dealer in Portland, Airstream Adventures Northwest.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:28 AM   #40
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Considering 60-60% of 2014 AS are first time buyers, I would say WBCCI has an identity crisis. Like any organization Brand Equity is a "push" not a "pull". I would recommend dealers award a first year membership with every unit sold and reimbursed by the "Mothership". It needs to start somewhere. Charge every member with recruiting one member in 2014 title it " One plus One" campaign.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:31 AM   #41
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That prior post should have read 60-70% are first time AS buyers.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:15 AM   #42
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Considering 60-70% of 2014 AS are first time buyers, I would say WBCCI has an identity crisis.
That's not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. Airstreams aren't a "trade the old one in and buy a new one" commodity like automobiles.

I only joined WBCCI 2 years ago. One thing I noticed right away: The only thing you get for your membership is the Blue Beret magazine and some red numbers to stick on your trailer. Seemingly everything else about the club costs extra. That turns off some folks who feel that $65 membership dues ought to stretch a little bit farther.

Granted, your membership also grants you access to a few Airstream-only parks scattered around the country. And it grants you access to a network of courtesy parking providers. But not everyone uses those benefits, either due to a lack of awareness of the benefits, inconvenient locations compared to where the new members live and camp, or whatever.

Where WBCCI has a problem isn't the fact that 60-70% of new Airstream buyers are first-timers. It's the number of first-year WBCCI members who fail to renew for a second year, on the basis of (1) "I don't get benefits that are worth the price I pay," or (2) "I don't want to deal with the politics and infighting of the organization," or (3) insert a personal reason here.

I think that most members who renew for a second year will stick with the club for many more years. But I have no clue how to make the club more attractive to first-year members so that they will renew when the time comes. And I don't think free first-year memberships alone will necessarily lead to second-year membership renewals.

Standard disclaimer #3 applies: The statements above are my own personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of management.
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