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Old 06-04-2009, 07:53 PM   #61
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Honestly, the Scout idea feels like it came out of a marketing committee.

yeah, M.B.A.'s conversant in "perception management".

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Old 06-04-2009, 08:59 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post
There is yet another company that manufactured a luxurious aluminum canned ham. ( Star ....something )

Barth made a handsome squared example.

The point is smaller is lighter and the European design might be a way to go in the US and Canada so you can tow with a smaller vehicle—and development costs are very small because you already make them.

I've corresponded at some length with a lady from Austin looking to retire and use a trailer for several years. Size, ease-of-use, and re-sale value would be of high interest to her. Restoring an old trailer isn't an option (past a certain point). Gene's point about the European models would be right up her alley. There are any number of fit & adventurous older people who will travel lightly AND have an income reasonable to the purchase of an Airstream. But without the trailing ease (and safety IMO) the purchaser looks askance . . where is the trailer that fits?

Avions were once beautiful trailers. I may wind up with an older one as my next home-on-the-road, and happily. But what was done to them was greatly unfortunate: the name applied to generic junk by the 1990's. When I search for an example it is for one with their superior in-house design independent suspension, etc. I cut off search parameters at about 1992, as it all disappeared.

Hampstead38's point is well-advised. I looked for an answer to my earlier questions, and skimmed over what "response" was made so as to not be irritated. I'll further his point by saying that preliminary answers are ordinary & reasonable. We all know that "concept" is only that.

Good luck. Post more pictures, we like good looking trailers around here!

You were close... just add the stream part.. who knew
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:58 PM   #63
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My opinion.

Hi, I think the Scout is a cute trailer, but it should not bear the name Airstream; It should, and others to follow, be it's own line of trailers simply named Scout. I'm sure if it does make production that there will be at least two larger sizes introduced later. [18' and 20'] Any larger would defeat the purpose of making it in the first place. If they want to have Airstream build it, then they could put a little sticker on it saying it is a product of Airstream such as my trailer states it is a product of Thor. [or something close to that] I'm also concerned that with the size of this trailer and the lack of weight, that a moderate wind could blow it off the highway. [picture a large sail on a small boat] Note: has 40 gallon fresh water tank mounted close to the axle and must be full when traveling for your safety. [I made this up] This trailer should not sale for more than $20,000.00 and dealer profits should be low enough so as to not allow for huge discounts. Fair market value at list price.

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:52 PM   #64
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a harley is not a harley unless it is a 45 degree 'V' twin, HD knew this with the new design bike. an airstream is not an airstream unless it has round edges. both factions are die hard. i love my minuet and super glide,enough said.
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Old 06-05-2009, 02:12 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Janet View Post
Not sure I agree... There is a huge market for retro looking products. Look at the slew of 40's styled appliances at home shows, retro styling in cars (think PT cruiser). Not everyone can or wants to restore an vintage rig - they want the retro look with modern function and they want to buy it that way.

Exploring the design possibilities of a concept vehicle is a cool idea. Figuring out how or if to market it is a separate issue however. It will be interesting to see where this goes and I'm thrilled to be asked for an opinion.
caveat: remember the old adage about opinions

You brought up a good point that made me rethink the whole idea. I still don't like the concept trailer in the picture, but if Airstream would make a new retro trailer like the old ones that can be polished to a brilliant shine, now that is a trailer I would be interested in buying. Those type of old trailers are beautiful. Ya, lets see a narrow body bright polished unit that when it is seen on the road no one will mistake it for some Indiana stick trailer painted a gray color.
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:22 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
What Gene is talking about is co-branding, e.g., Harley Davidson model trucks. Some companies have abused co-branding badly. Others--like Airstream aka Thor--have not capitalized on this concept. Gene is also right in focusing on quality. Slapping a logo on something isn't going to sell it... making it better will. The key to co-branding is vendor relationships that work for everyone. The Pendleton fabric example is great. You can improve the quality of an Airstream, get a superior product at a better price and create a marketing opportunity for both players. I like the idea of small run limited edition Airstreams built on the narrow, lighter Euro model. How about a fly fisherman's Airstream partnered with Orvis? There are many natural relationships between high end, high quality outdoor-focused firms.

Honestly, the Scout idea feels like it came out of a marketing committee.
I too am on board with co-branding and I think Airstream has done it before in the Quicksilver, CCD (Christopher C Deam), DWR (Design Within Reach), and their latest pairing with Victorinox (the makers of Swiss Army Knife products). I don't know that their first two match ups were mainstream enough. Truth be told, I knew nothing of Christopher C. Deam or Design Within Reach until I saw the Airstreams and it would not induce me to purchase one of them or their mates products, but then again that's just me. Now the Victorinox union is a bit more in line with the zeitgeist and might strike a chord with the buying public. I like the Orvis pairing and since we are spit balling how about L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, or Cabela's. All companies that go hand in hand with outdoors and camping.

I would love to see a Harley Davidson Airstream Pan America 34 footer, being pulled by the Harley Davidson Ford Then I could take my Ultra Classic along with us.
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:45 AM   #67
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The only thing missing from this thread are

Pix of the 1936 20' Clipper!!!

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Old 06-05-2009, 05:57 AM   #68
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A couple of years ago, a snow load collapsed a shelter holding a 1954 12' Casita that I was in the process of restoring. We called if Ralphie as the interior was redone with Ralph Lauren materials and style (co-branding?). It was a trailer we used and had been in the extended family since it was purchased new.

Rather than buy another project or a restored "canned ham", we purchased an '09 t@b that went out the door for a hair under $14,000. Why would Airstream even consider the Scout as a viable entry in the travel trailer market when Thor already has the t@b and t@da? I've had a bunch of RV's over the years and the top three quality wise include the t@b as #1 and then a Featherlite 5th wheel car hauler with living quarters and the '06 Safari SE is in the third spot.

Instead of diluting the Airstream brand, marketing guy should take a look at expanding the cache of the t@b and t@da.
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:23 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by muddy_hollow View Post
PS. I think the big broohahah will be the cranks at the WBCCI talking about weather or not to allow it in
Its already pre-approved! IIRC, the new rule states that if its got hard sides, and is made by airstream, its "in".
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:46 AM   #70
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I'll Bite on this thread.
I would rather see Airstream make a slide up than the dis-continued slide outs.

I see a lot of those type of trailers on the road. Much less wind resistance while towing. Of course using the bathroom in the trailer could be a problem at a rest stop.
Converting the current shell would not be that difficult. Splint it at the mid-line run a rib around the girth and you have two seperate structural pieces.The top would have to be bigger than the bottom and keeping the thing water proof would be the big challenge. Bot I would rather see a squashed AS than an un-recoginizeable one.
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:52 AM   #71
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Airstream Inc. needs long-range marketing strategies and above average products to survive It benefits current A/S owners that the company prospers. I shouldn’t care what other products Airstream (or Thor Industries ) makes as long as it supports their primary RV business and customer base. Non-traditional shaped trailers or 5th wheels made by Airstream wont bother me.

Survival of the business is the primary concern. If or when the decision comes that trailers or major components can be produced better, faster and cheaper in China with perfect fit and finish and fewer warranty problems, how will people react? Will such products attract a new customer base, such as the younger family and singles looking for an affordable up-scale RV with low maintenance? I don’t hear complains about our major aircraft and auto components made all over the world. I like “Made in USA” but we now deal in a very competitive global economy.

Lets hope the company does what is in their best interest. Remember Mr. Spock greeting: “Live long and prosper.”
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Old 06-05-2009, 10:43 AM   #72
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What is Airstream's priority?

I looked for a website about RV reviews since quality has been part of this discussion. There are websites for all sorts of things—restaurants, hotels, RV parks, etc. All I could find for RV brands was RV Rating - Customer Survey of RV Makes and Models

Many manufacturers are included, but for a lot of them there are only a few results. Winnebago has the most, 271. Airstream has 67. Ratings are in the form of numbers and stars. The highest overall number anyone can get is 75. Most brands get 50's and 60's with the numbers dropping off around 67 or 68. There aren't many ratings in the 40's or 70's and some of them are meaningless because they only reflect the views of a few people. Star ratings (1-5) are broken down by quality, value, and "recommend to others", and are broken down further by brand after another click. People seem to like their RV 's for the most part because the ratings overall are pretty high, but where there are a fair number of results, the differences between brands has some significance. This website may only be starting out and over time the statistics will be more relevant, but it does give us some information.

Airstream gets an overall rating of 61.9, just about in the middle which means to me average or mediocre. Not good for a "premium" brand. In the breakdown of results, the highest marks are for design (4.5 stars), lowest for manufacturer and dealer support and maintenance costs (3.5 stars).

How do Thor brands fare? Dutchman, 55; Crossroads, 64.1; Damon, 59.9; Four Winds, 56.2; Komfort, 63.5; Breckenridge, 42.8; Keystone RV, 60.6; Thor, 59.5. Some of these have very few results, Breckenridge, for ex., has only 5. Add it all together, though, and Thor is below average or submediocre (57.7, not including Airstream).

How do other brands fare? It's a long list and I may have missed some of the better ones, but I tried to pick out those with ratings over 70 (the A List) and having more than 30 results: Casita, 71; BornFree, 71; Driftwood by Fleetwood, 74.9; Nu-Wa, 71; Snowriver, 72.6. Driftwood gets a virtually perfect score.

What are the scores of the most popular brands gauged from the number of results on this website: Winnebago, 60.5; Holiday Rambler, 61.3; Fleetwood, 57.5; Gulfstream, 50.6.

And Prevost? There were only 17 results, and the score was 71.1.

This site is not easy to find through Google, but there's a thirst for this kind of stuff and I imagine it will grow. If AM isn't conscious of it yet, it's time to look and ponder. The Airstream ratings are not at all what a premium brand should be getting.

The case of Mercedes Benz is a good comparison for what happens when a famous brand with a high quality reputation slips. For years MB was known for quality, but quality began slipping until MB was rated very low by Consumer Reports and other rating agencies. Sales dropped as people heard about MB's new and bad reputation. MB has improved quality recently, but it'll take time, because a bad reputation whacks you fast and takes a long, long time to fix.

Companies have different answers to a reputation for quality issues. Some advertise with lies or try misdirection (talk about design, how green they are, often a lie itself). Others co-brand (putting trailers in KOA's is an example, though KOA has a mixed reputation). Some bring out another brand (Saturn), but the new brand is automatically crippled with the core brand's quality reputation. Some companies work hard on quality, but GM's lack of success with that is a warning. It's not a warning to ignore quality, but a warning to act before it's too late. Reputations change faster than ever with the use of the internet, and a reputation can be reformed in months, not years or decades.

So, AM, what's the priority at Airstream?

It appears Thor is only interested in average trailers including the "premium" ones.

It appears there is a desire to appeal to younger people, but it hasn't worked too well. The Basecamp must have been thought up by people older than me who designed what they thought young people would like—that was like my father telling me what kind of music I should listen to in the 1950's when rock 'n' roll came along.

It appears another attempt has been made to attract people by hiring designers with high class (or is it nouveau riche?) design reputations. This would be the Architectural Digest approach. The various interior design options—CCD, DWR, have had limited success—have they been bought by a different demographic?—I don't know. It seems to me they are too arcane for a wide acceptance.

It appears there is a change in co-branding lately. This would be the Common Man plus Quality Approach. The Swiss Army Knife Co. is a better fit for marketing since it is well known and has an excellent reputation and is very practical (as is Pendleton). KOA is more along those lines, though not as strong in the quality fit.

The kind of co-branding I am suggesting is to match Airstream with quality products and that means Airstream must improve quality by a lot to be accepted by the other brand for co-branding, improve dealer quality and go out of its way to help disgruntled owners who are publicizing their disappointment. Co-branding is effective only if backed by substance. The irony is that it could cause Airstream to improve its own quality so it would be accepted as a partner by quality companies.

I don't see how the Scout fits into any of this at all.

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Old 06-05-2009, 11:31 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
I don't see how the Scout fits into any of this at all.

<Moderator Hat ON>

Gene, Michelle, JS... that's fascinating stuff... but kind of off-topic here. AM is looking for your reaction to the Scout's construction, amenities, and styling, not how to run the company or improve QC... at least not in this thread.

Your further opinions on Airstream's marketing and production might be better shared with them in a PM or letter than in this thread. Please let the members get back to giving Airstream Marketing their opinions about this particular product.



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Old 06-05-2009, 12:07 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post

It's also great to see some real design innovation. It sounds like some real R&D time was spent on materials, equipment, design, and layout on the Scout prototype. Well done!

Roger, does your enthusiastic opinion about the Scout affect your opinion about what this thread is about?

I believe threads are dynamic and the members determine where they go.

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Old 06-05-2009, 12:19 PM   #75
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I wonder - has Airstream ever thought of making a fiberglass egg trailer? I know Airstream did a couple of prototypes back in the 50's with the Wally Bee....

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Old 06-05-2009, 12:27 PM   #76
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I would like to see more pictures of the Scout to better evaluate it. But like some, don't think the Airstream name should be put on it. I do like Bluto's idea of polishing them right out of the factory. Not all of them, just a few. And bring back some of the older name plates that many of us are attached to.
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:24 PM   #77
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AM is looking for your reaction to the Scout's construction, amenities, and styling, not how to run the company or improve QC... at least not in this thread.
Actually, we've been asked for our feedback on the protoype brochure. The forum is compromised of many people who have taken Airstreams apart and put them back together again. This is not a group of ordinary consumers; it is a group of Airstream experts, afficiandos and some, like me, who simply aspire. Rather than a post on the Airforums, Thor would be better advised to invite some of the Airforums most experienced hands to inspect the prototype hands-on. I imagine some, if not all, would travel on their own nickel to see the prototype first hand. After a paintaking hands on inspection, let them tear it apart and look at every element of construction. Video them. YouTube them. Make the process open, honest and completely transparent.

These forums represent thousands of person-years of experience with Airstream... every design success and every design failure. With all due respect to Airstream and Thor, I believe the people here know about their products than they do themselves.

Airstream owners are iconoclasts. We are passionate, devoted and more than a little eccentric. If you ask about the Scout, you're not going to get a well-behaved classroom of fourth graders raising their hands and waiting for teacher to call on them. You're going to to get incisive, intelligent, probing questions and insights. If you give us the Scout brochure, we're going to want to see the Scout. And you let us see the Scout, we're going to want to take it apart. And if you let us take it apart, we're going to want to put it back together our way.

The Scout will sell a few units and it will go the way of the Base Camp... and someone in the marketing department will say, "I just don't understand. This should have worked." This, of course, will lead to increases in pay and hiring additional staff for marketing. The Scout will not succeed because it does not reflect what is quintessentially Airstream. It is a collection of design compromises that place it squarely in a competitive canned ham market.

If I had the investment capital (or a white knight) I would love to take the Airstream geniuses on this forum (and there are many) and design a prototype for Thor. If for no other reason, I would like to distill that which is Airstream and build it in a way that would inform Thor and Airstream what the brand really means.
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:30 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Ken J View Post
I wonder - has Airstream ever thought of making a fiberglass egg trailer? I know Airstream did a couple of prototypes back in the 50's with the Wally Bee....

Ken J.
I thought of this myself. Put the new technology and materials in a fiberglass bullet shape. Try a limited production, but keep the traditional Airstream shape rather than go with a historic, non-Airstream shape and see how it goes. Maybe go with an off-white color or even a silver color like the Star-stream did (even they wanted to capitalize on the reputation and concept of the Airstream), but not the canned ham shape.
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:51 PM   #79
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I love Hampstead's idea of a panel of advisors to go through the Scout, offer design ideas, critique the present lineup and advise the company on all things Airstream. I know I went farther than he did, but I just can't help myself. It's the focus group on steroids. It could include restorers, purchasers of new Airstreams, wantabes, experts on engineering, sales, electrcal, plumbing and some renaissance men and women. Actually a lot of Forum members have become experts at many things. I'd go if they were crazy enough to ask me, would others?

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Old 06-05-2009, 02:09 PM   #80
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I would go, if only to buy Gene a cold beer... but I'm not an Airstream expert like some of the titans of the Airforums.

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