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Old 12-17-2013, 04:32 PM   #155
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Jim, you may be right with this: Younger folks just don't want to do the club thing.

But it really depends on what one means by the club thing. Surely, if we define it in just the way that it has been defined for the last few decades, then we may find ourselves as out of business as the "snowbird" businesses.

So, then, it's really up to us to redefine what the club thing means. I've been suggesting that it may involve the notion of "benefit," where we define that term in two ways:
  • Benefit qua finances. This traditional understanding of benefit would involve various ways in which paying for the club dues results in an ROI that is potentially greater than the dues themselves. As many vendor discounts as we can come up with, basically.
  • Benefit qua fulfillment. This kind of benefit involves looking at essentially every event we currently put on and asking a simple question: Would people want to attend this event even if there were no WBCCI -- and, perhaps, even if there were no RVs involved at all? If the answer is yes, then we're probably doing the right thing.
At the upper level, there isn't a whole lot we can do, but there are some things. Of course, continue to support lively units; that's a given. Put the pedal to the metal and support them even more. But, again, I'll pound on my little drum and repeat that the International must be made into a real rally, one where a multitude of activities trump business meetings at every possible turn.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
Young folks want the same things we want.
They want to travel, see new places, and gather with their social friends.

We have three grown children. Only one wants, and has, a travel trailer. He and his wife have their own circle of friends with whom they go on outings. They do not need, or want, to join any group, pay any dues, or get any magazine. They communicate with their friends and go "camping" without any of that.

This is not to say that WBCCI should not try to get younger members, it is only to say that there is a big difference between now and many years ago when "camping clubs" were in vogue.

This may be the biggest battle, and one that is hard to overcome.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:53 PM   #156
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I have only been a member of WBCCI for 8 years. We are able to go on the caravans so we have a lot of participation and value for our dues.

WBCCI does have some things going for it. It has a large cash reserve built up from the glory days of high membership. It has a corporate structure that provides a lot of stability. It is hard to change but that might, in the long run, be an asset. It certainly provides some stability. I have some respect for the IBT type of management. But then I also respect and appreciate the electoral college for electing the US president.

We do not go to the international meetings. I am not sure how they could change it to make me want to go every year. The people that do go attend to reunite with their old friends and the officers attend. And I have to admit that the pomp and circumstance in that meeting was a turnoff for me. This year we are going on the Landmarks west caravan. My choice is to speed a week a Gillette for about $500 and attend the meeting or to drive right past Gillette and fish the Firehole, the spring creeks, or the Bighorn for about the same cost. Have not decided yet, but...

I was in another group, The Forest Products Society, that addressed the problem of declining membership by hiring a public relations firm to do a campaign. Net result is we lost a quarter million dollars (mortgaged our building to raise the cash) or so and did not gain a single member. In fact it launched a 3 or 4 year decline. It might be better to approach some problems with subtle, long term change than with a full frontal assault.

As Rick Davis points out more of the problem may be retaining members than recruiting them. An marketing push may not help that problem. Our unit is declining in number of members and in volunteers for positions and running rallies. Sorta a local death spiral, I think. We do have members in their 50's and we load them very heavily. But when someone who has been a member for years suddenly puts their Airstream only lot and their trailer up for sale it suggests that they have just decided to go another way. Not sure how you would keep them. We have had new people come to one rally or dinner, express their liking of it, and then never show again.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:28 PM   #157
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Good contribution, Bill!

Now I want you to use your imagination: Suppose that International in Gillette were to include club-sponsored outings to fish for trout at Cook Lake and for walleye and pike at Keyhole? Plus, say, some expert fish cooking advice for open-fire grilling? And a fish fry. And ... well, use your imagination!


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Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I have only been a member of WBCCI for 8 years. We are able to go on the caravans so we have a lot of participation and value for our dues.

WBCCI does have some things going for it. It has a large cash reserve built up from the glory days of high membership. It has a corporate structure that provides a lot of stability. It is hard to change but that might, in the long run, be an asset. It certainly provides some stability. I have some respect for the IBT type of management. But then I also respect and appreciate the electoral college for electing the US president.

We do not go to the international meetings. I am not sure how they could change it to make me want to go every year. The people that do go attend to reunite with their old friends and the officers attend. And I have to admit that the pomp and circumstance in that meeting was a turnoff for me. This year we are going on the Landmarks west caravan. My choice is to speed a week a Gillette for about $500 and attend the meeting or to drive right past Gillette and fish the Firehole, the spring creeks, or the Bighorn for about the same cost. Have not decided yet, but...

I was in another group, The Forest Products Society, that addressed the problem of declining membership by hiring a public relations firm to do a campaign. Net result is we lost a quarter million dollars (mortgaged our building to raise the cash) or so and did not gain a single member. In fact it launched a 3 or 4 year decline. It might be better to approach some problems with subtle, long term change than with a full frontal assault.

As Rick Davis points out more of the problem may be retaining members than recruiting them. An marketing push may not help that problem. Our unit is declining in number of members and in volunteers for positions and running rallies. Sorta a local death spiral, I think. We do have members in their 50's and we load them very heavily. But when someone who has been a member for years suddenly puts their Airstream only lot and their trailer up for sale it suggests that they have just decided to go another way. Not sure how you would keep them. We have had new people come to one rally or dinner, express their liking of it, and then never show again.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:31 PM   #158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
Young folks want the same things we want.
They want to travel, see new places, and gather with their social friends.

.........

This is not to say that WBCCI should not try to get younger members, it is only to say that there is a big difference between now and many years ago when "camping clubs" were in vogue.

This may be the biggest battle, and one that is hard to overcome.
Excellent point, and likely very, very true.

Another thing to remember is that many younger people who have a trailer may still have to make daily decisions about how to allocate limited resource $$'s.

International and local dues are expensive, and no tangible benefit compared to mortgages, shoes, dental/medical bills, etc.

What thought has been given to reducing WBCCI costs to then lower, rather than raise, dues?

Are the costs of 4 employee salaries + benefits justifiable at this point in time?

If they don't cost $200,000/year, Lynn, what do they cost?


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Old 12-17-2013, 05:46 PM   #159
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I know that the four employees are pretty expensive, but at this point I don't think anybody really has the heart to fire people. I understand that these four have put in good and faithful work for years on behalf of the club and are not idle. Again, I'm not in any position of authority and never will be, but I'm pretty sure that some thought has been given to natural attrition.

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Old 12-17-2013, 06:20 PM   #160
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We had one lady retire two years ago and they replaced her with another younger woman. We have three levels of employees in the 4 person staff. They have plenty of time to answer the phone on the second ring. They are very friendly and helpful. We used to have Cindy's husband as executive director, until 2000.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:54 PM   #161
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Originally Posted by doug&maggie View Post
Excellent point, and likely very, very true.

Another thing to remember is that many younger people who have a trailer may still have to make daily decisions about how to allocate limited resource $$'s.

International and local dues are expensive, and no tangible benefit compared to mortgages, shoes, dental/medical bills, etc.

Maggie
These young folks live in a different world. They are just not interested in rallys. They want to go with their friends to the mountains or the beach in small groups. They take off on Friday evening and return home Sunday night. They don't want anything structured. That's what they deal with all week.

If the membership of WBCCI is to grow, we have to look at those who have just retired or are about to do so. Wanting to travel and RV is one thing, being able to do so (time and money) is quite something else. It would be nice if when folks sign up to start getting their social security checks, when they are finished, they would be sent to the WBCCI web site. LOL

As far as discounts or things of that nature, I don't think that will do any good. Folks already get those things with their AAA card, AARP card, or by just using a particular credit card that gives money back at the end of the year. Not worth the effort which may yield nothing in the end.

Just my thoughts and observations.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:10 PM   #162
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I'm not sure that that's the way to view it, Jim!

Younger folks may not want anything structured, but that evaluation depends entirely on our aging/aged definition of structured, not theirs.


Lynn

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These young folks live in a different world. They are just not interested in rallys. They want to go with their friends to the mountains or the beach in small groups. They take off on Friday evening and return home Sunday night. They don't want anything structured. That's what they deal with all week.

If the membership of WBCCI is to grow, we have to look at those who have just retired or are about to do so. Wanting to travel and RV is one thing, being able to do so (time and money) is quite something else. It would be nice if when folks sign up to start getting their social security checks, when they are finished, they would be sent to the WBCCI web site. LOL

As far as discounts or things of that nature, I don't think that will do any good. Folks already get those things with their AAA card, AARP card, or by just using a particular credit card that gives money back at the end of the year. Not worth the effort which may yield nothing in the end.

Just my thoughts and observations.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:40 PM   #163
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I'm not sure that that's the way to view it, Jim!

Younger folks may not want anything structured, but that evaluation depends entirely on our aging/aged definition of structured, not theirs.


Lynn
I'm sure you will get this all worked out.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:43 AM   #164
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I have to agree with Jim that young under 40 Airstream owners are not what we should bet our membership on. I would say 80 percent of the 27 new members of the Oregon unit this year are between 50-65 years of age and all of them act like they are 39. Active adults wanting fun, new friends and adventure. I think fly fishing seminars at International and Kayak caravans are what the club needs to attract new members and keep members active.
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:21 AM   #165
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Problem Identified - What To Do???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
Young folks want the same things we want.
They want to travel, see new places, and gather with their social friends.

We have three grown children. Only one wants, and has, a travel trailer. He and his wife have their own circle of friends with whom they go on outings. They do not need, or want, to join any group, pay any dues, or get any magazine. They communicate with their friends and go "camping" without any of that.

This is not to say that WBCCI should not try to get younger members, it is only to say that there is a big difference between now and many years ago when "camping clubs" were in vogue.

This may be the biggest battle, and one that is hard to overcome.

This statement, in my opinion, identifies the reason for the WBCCI declining enrollment.

Think of where the WBCCI organization would be right now if they would have had the foresight to start the "Airstream Forums" on the World Wide Web instead of permitting an independent to establish the premier Airstream Information Forum. I know that the present leaders of the WBCCI are of a different mindset now as opposed to the military, police, and government contractor backgrounds of leaders of the recent past. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and it may be impossible to rectify the demise of the organization.

To be sure, there will be pockets of holdouts all over the nation, the 4CU, many Vintage Enclaves, the various WBCCI retirement communities to name a few. But even the WBCCI only campgrounds are having to change the old rules and allow SOB's to maintain a full membership.

I live in such a community, Texas Airstream Harbor on the banks of the largest lake totally within Texas, Lake Sam Rayburn. I love it, we are a self contained volunteer community, with members sharing all duties of maintenance on the roads, the water and sewerage systems, the grounds, and the community buildings. Is this lifestyle for everyone? Absolutely not, but it works for the residents that live here.

I really wish a had a magic bullet with which the WBCCI could shoot itself in the foot.

In order to attract most "younger" people I think the first thing to do would be to eliminate all of the costly business meetings and conduct all financial and corporate discussions in a transparent online venue. The BB would also only be on line. These two changes could possibly allow the dues to be cut in half and still keep the WBCCI business organization in Jackson Center intact.

I propose some very radical changes and to accomplish these changes I believe that the change must originate at the unit level.

Will it happen? I doubt it, but I also believe that the WBCCI will be around in some form for a number of years, but never anywhere near the strength and numbers of the 70's.

The sooner the WBCCI management comes to realize the inevitable outcome, the more of the organization that could be salvaged.
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:46 AM   #166
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I have no problem relying on a younger demographic to deal with our smaller size. Remember that we're not exactly talking about teenagers who are running around, buying brand-new Airstreams, and not joining the club.

But I also think that Teresa put her finger on one of the keys to dealing with the membership problem, even if she didn't know it. I'll reiterate one of the two "benefit" ideas from an earlier post:

  • Benefit qua fulfillment. This kind of benefit involves looking at essentially every event we currently put on and asking a simple question: Would people want to attend this event even if there were no WBCCI -- and, perhaps, even if there were no RVs involved at all? If the answer is yes, then we're probably doing the right thing.
Ah, yes, fishing seminars and kayak caravans? Note that these might be successful even if there were no WBCCI: Fishing and kayaking are both fulfilling activities, independently of the WBCCI. Combining them with the WBCCI is exactly what I meant by benefit qua fulfillment.

And would it really matter if a participant in the fishing or kayaking adventure is 35 or 55 or my age? Nope.


Lynn



Quote:
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I have to agree with Jim that young under 40 Airstream owners are not what we should bet our membership on. I would say 80 percent of the 27 new members of the Oregon unit this year are between 50-65 years of age and all of them act like they are 39. Active adults wanting fun, new friends and adventure. I think fly fishing seminars at International and Kayak caravans are what the club needs to attract new members and keep members active.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:58 AM   #167
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I think you need to target all Airstream owners, and not specific age groups. IMO, you are likely to get older, more financially secure and established people than the younger set.

Members need to get something from the hefty WBCCI dues that they can't get elsewhere.

WBCCI needs to do what other organizations do when money is tight, and cut costs, not expect to find hundreds of new members willing to raise the standard to that to which some have become accustomed.


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Old 12-18-2013, 10:35 AM   #168
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I agree, Maggie, though it's also true that some things appeal more to some age groups than to others. And that's ok: I think we need to appeal to everybody, including both younger and older.

And not just to younger and older, but also to folks who do have an interest in constitutional issues and to those who think constitutional issues are a major turn-off.

Returning to the "benefit" notion, I think that the idea of benefit qua fulfillment is one we should pursue. It's a nice way not just to reexamine things, but also to offer activities that may appeal across the ages. Naturally, the IBT can't force this way of viewing activities/events onto units, but it can inform, train as needed, cajole (lightly), and otherwise just be as supportive as possible.


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