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Old 12-08-2013, 02:04 PM   #21
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In truth, I have no idea whether instituting something like the parks discount or the cross-acceptance of relevant members with another club would make any difference at all.

The cross-acceptance idea would have the least chance of helping, I think, and it would almost surely result in a huge headache for the office staff, so that one should probably wind up in the bit bucket in the sky.

I just don't know about the RV parks discount thing. It would be a good deal of work to set it up. And, yes, while some current members might really appreciate it, I'm not entirely sure that it would attract new members. It's kind of like AARP discounts in a way: It's nice to get them, but that's not why we joined. I just don't know.

Does anybody else have any ideas? I don't think there's a magic bullet here, so it may boil down to a string of different things, all of which combined might do something to turn the tide. I certainly don't want to consider throwing out activities or other things that a good number of our current members happen to like, though: Attracting new members by turning off current members is just not smart.


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Old 12-08-2013, 02:56 PM   #22
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Why don't we ask the potential members what would it take to cause them to sign up? Airstream tool a survey of 14,000 of them 5 years ago and then changed their product line up and designs to satisfy the needs and desires of the majority of them. Airstream weathered to recession and are now doing very well. No more class A motorhomes, no 34 footers, no slides, more products like Eddie Buar and smaller size front bedrooms that meet younger people's active lifestyle . The harder thing will be to get the old timers, that run the club, to accept those changes and maybe lose their titles.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:05 PM   #23
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With many working folks scared to take even a day off from work for fear of losing their job, the ability for many to take a "long" trip seems to fall into the folks in the "retired" status where there are no job related time constraints.

Other groups I belong to have declining memberships as their member's free time becomes more constrained. This decline seems to impact nearly all activities.

From my personal experience, that even includes service clubs like Rotary.

Thus there is a growing need for the long weekend type group activities across the country to be put on by local units where the travel time is a day or less each way.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:40 PM   #24
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Humm. Ok, so more weekend and local orientation.

Of course, one could ask units to put on more weekend stuff (though I suspect that a fair number of them already are weekend events). If events are longer, then they should at least include a weekend and should make a point of accepting those members who arrive Friday night/Saturday morning.

Regionally, we could ask that each region have at least (say) four region rallies through the year, each one a weekend event, and each one at a different geographic location within the region (very important especially for our very large regions in the west).

Do you think that kind of thing would help?


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Originally Posted by switz View Post
With many working folks scared to take even a day off from work for fear of losing their job, the ability for many to take a "long" trip seems to fall into the folks in the "retired" status where there are no job related time constraints.

Other groups I belong to have declining memberships as their member's free time becomes more constrained. This decline seems to impact nearly all activities.

From my personal experience, that even includes service clubs like Rotary.

Thus there is a growing need for the long weekend type group activities across the country to be put on by local units where the travel time is a day or less each way.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:04 PM   #25
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For the heck of it, I looked up benefits of membership for FMCA. I'll link to their page here:

Member Benefits | Family Motor Coach Association

1. Travel Assistance and Medical Evacuation
2. FMCA Connections
3. Family Motor Coaching magazine
4. Campground discounts
5. Office Depot National Discount Program
6. FMCA Mail Forwarding Service
7. Motorhome Trip routing

Ok, so if you look these over, those in (1), (2), (4) and (5) are what we might call "bang for the buck" benefits: Various discounts on this and that.

The magazine is not a benefit in the usual sense, but the mail forwarding service and trip routing are.

For these, let me throw out a couple of questions:

a. Do you think that "bang for the buck" strategies would help us to recruit more AS-owning members?

b. If you do think that "bang for the buck" strategies might help, what others can you think of (other than campground discounts)? Even more interesting, what benefits could YOU arrange for club members from your business, if any?

c. Do mail forwarding and trip routing seem feasible as ways to recruit more AS-owning members? (My gut feeling is that these are nice benefits, but more aimed at the older crowd, but maybe I'm flat wrong on that.)


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Old 12-08-2013, 04:57 PM   #26
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For these, let me throw out a couple of questions:

a. Do you think that "bang for the buck" strategies would help us to recruit more AS-owning members?

b. If you do think that "bang for the buck" strategies might help, what others can you think of (other than campground discounts)? Even more interesting, what benefits could YOU arrange for club members from your business, if any?

c. Do mail forwarding and trip routing seem feasible as ways to recruit more AS-owning members? (My gut feeling is that these are nice benefits, but more aimed at the older crowd, but maybe I'm flat wrong on that.)


Lynn
Different people need or want different services.

Full timers use mail forwarding however if I was full time I would use the escapees service as that club offers a number of other services that appeal to the full timer also.

Does anyone use trip routing anymore with all the map programs and google maps available plus plug the destination in your GPS? I know I haven't in over 30 years.

I rarely use private campgrounds so campground discounts aren't much of a draw. I do belong to PA and have lost money on it every year. A campground discount needs to be pretty hefty to be a significant benefit.

I joined the WBCCI to meet other Airstream owners and learn more about the product. In 40 years I have made a lot of good friends and at this point that is what keeps me in the club.
We no longer attend the International since 3 amp was eliminated. Not willing to pay the extra $200. It should be noted International attendance has dropped by over 50% since that time. (We have instead attended the Birthday Bash)
The Florida State Rally is gone. We were regular attendees there. WE will not be at Alumapalooza except for maybe a quick visit. I wish them success but they have exceeded my price criteria, plus there are several other options in FL in the same date range.
At this time the club is not large enough to provide many of the services larger clubs provide yet the dues are higher than any of the others. FMCA is about 1/2 the price for example.
I realize some of this is pretty negative but I really don't know what needs to be done.
I am encouraged to see people in the upcoming officer chain that have a good grasp of reality and that is encouraging.
As others have said all organizations seem to be losing members but our situation seems to be worse .
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:36 PM   #27
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I just looked at the FMCA site. They also have discounts for Costco and a Sam's offer too. They only charge $50 year and have discounts if you pay for more than one year.
How do they give so many benefits and charge less for membership fees? Interesting.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:17 PM   #28
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The cost of the four ladies at HQ is $200,000/yr. including benefits and FICA. That is $34/yr./membership. We only take in $360,000 in dues. In 1975 we had 25,000 members and the dues were $7.50 and we had 4 ladies at headquarters. There is no added cost to the International to have the local units put on more weekend rallies. More short caravans are also no cost to the national club. The ads on this site for WBCCI emphasize the family camping theme. This is a good. The Blue Beret should also stress it and show young people enjoying themselves.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:46 AM   #29
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I hope all will understand that I would in no way offer a suggestion of allowing anybody into the WBCCI who does not own an Airstream. Ever. Not under any circumstances.

Now, maintaining that stance toward SOBs does not prevent us from entering into a cooperative arrangement with something like FMCA, specifically where numbers count for obtaining discounts from businesses. Suppose that we were to gain some advantage with such an arrangement in obtaining discounts from Costco or Michelin or somesuch.

Similarly, suppose with such an arrangement, we (both) approached, say, Passport America to say that we'd like to have steeply discounted PA membership for all members of the club(s). It might be hard for PA to say no to an offer to add many thousands of members to their ranks. This move would require no money from the RVing clubs, just a deeply discounted way of joining PA.

Again, I wouldn't support any such arrangement (1) if it results in any SOBs in the WBCCI and (2) it does not confer some financial advantage to us all.

I'll come with other suggestions in a separate message.


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Old 12-09-2013, 08:09 AM   #30
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One area where I think we could use a change of course involves the two IBT meetings, the International and the Mid-Winter.

Currently, these are basically business meetings. As such, they do not draw much of anybody who isn't really "into" the WBCCI and its traditions and practices. This is not to say that these traditions and practices aren't important, but in order to draw newbies to the club, more has to be offered.

So these two rallies need reconfiguration. Of course, there's the business meeting; that's a given. In addition, however, there must be events, seminars, classes and more that are not just extensions of the business meeting and/or our traditions and practices. (In other words, a seminar on how to conduct a good caravan would not count.)

Of course, a good deal of this involves where the event is held. I note, for example, that we'll be having the International in Farmington, NM in a couple of years. Whoa!

-A flyfishing class with outings is a must. Maybe a couple of them.
-Classes/seminars on Native American culture of the SW with side trips to Chaco, Aztec and more.
-Geology in the area is magnificent for hikers and photographers. Classes/seminars separately on both with side trips

In addition, one could imagine stuff that it not related to the area, but interesting nonetheless for newbies:

-Of course, multiple seminars and hands-on workshops on Airstream maintenance and repair.
-More seminars/workshops on stuff that is RV-related, but not specifically Airstream: Propane, various appliances, best solar, and much more.
-Add in workshops and hands-on sessions for other stuff, including photography, trip scrapbooking, trip mapping software reviews, cooking (indoor, outdoor) and more.

I understand that a transition from a rally in which the business meeting takes precedence over other stuff to a rally in which the business meeting is secondary to other stuff won't be accomplished at once. There is inertia to overcome, and it is always significant. Furthermore, such a change may engender other changes, including, for example, shifting more matters literally offsite to electronic or other means of handling affairs, freeing more time at the rally on events that attract new people to the club.


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Old 12-09-2013, 08:25 AM   #31
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Let me add just one more thought on reconfiguring the International and Mid-Winter. By adding tons of events, seminars and classes, one flashpoint that might come up involves conflict of timing. Suppose, for example, that a flyfishing event conflicts with one of the business meetings. Do you schedule the flyfishing event or not?

My response is this: Absolutely schedule the non business-related events that conflict in time with business-related events. The point here is to offer a plethora of activities that will attract people who would otherwise not even consider attending these rallies. For every time slot, there should be multiple offerings. So for folks who are really "into" the WBCCI and its practices and traditions, well, there are the various business-related meetings in various time slots. Attend them! But that's just one of the offerings for a given slot, hardly the only one.

Think of it this way: The business meetings are needed, but the well-being of these rallies depends on at least as much (if not more) on offering non-business things to do.


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Old 12-09-2013, 08:35 AM   #32
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Here's another suggestion, albeit one that would hardly attract younger members: Get somebody from the AARP to come to the rally and do a workshop on Medicare add-on plans.

More generally -- and less laughable -- would be to consider workshops or seminars that really don't have that much to do directly with Airstreaming, but would nonetheless attract people.


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Old 12-09-2013, 08:38 AM   #33
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When I bought my AS in 2006, I was encouraged by the dealer to join the WBCCI. Quite frankly the Blue Beret was a total turn off and other than providing a warm body so that the FCU could get their charter, I dropped my membership.

The only constructive idea that I can offer up is to cut a deal with Rich Luhr to have AIRSTREAM LIFE sent to WBCCI members with an 8 page WBCCI insert containing news and notes. It's not that difficult to have a separate WBCCI insert and it will enhance Rich's circulation numbers so that he can charge more for advertising! If there's paid staff doing the BB, this is a good excuse to cut back.

In reading through the 34 pages of posts here, it appears that the two main reasons for joining WBCCI is exchanging ideas and socializing. To be real blunt, I find that a lot of the members with older trailers are not as welcoming to new members with newer trailers. I have a number of interests and the AS is not even near the top of that list. While we have friends with Airstreams, we also have friends with SOB's whose company we enjoy just as much. Actually we recently bought a Leisure Van as it fits our needs for touring better than the AS. The AS is being repurposed as a TT that will remain in the same place for more than a few days.

As a lot of people have pointed out, clubs are losing members right and left. Overhauling the WBCCI communication process and focusing on the needs of new members is paramount to bringing the club back to life. Even if it steps on some toes.
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Old 12-09-2013, 10:41 AM   #34
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Ok, last suggestions, and then I promise to keep my trap shut. For a while.

Suggestion #1:

I don't know if this would be financially feasible or not, but imagine an International or Mid-Winter specifically organized such that you can choose to stay at the rally site or elsewhere. The rally fee for staying on site would be more, of course.

I'm thinking, for example, of a major rally not at a very large facility like at Gillette or Perry, but rather at a smaller site with fewer expected to stay on site. However, the location must offer a significant number of other opportunities, including both RV parks and boondocking.

Imagine, for instance, a place like Moab.

Of course, The Big Challenge would be to locate such a place that also offers plentiful meeting facilities at the rally site. That might be tough.

Suggestion #2:

Ok, here's a different, but much more radical version of the same idea: Choose the major rally location based only on meeting facilities. Everybody (or nearly everybody) stays elsewhere. You'd have to select a location that offers plenty of RV parks, campgrounds, and boondocking opportunities, but the rally site itself is effectively independent of all of them.

Of course, the earlier ideas on offering non-business activities apply. Perhaps even more so.


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Old 12-09-2013, 01:15 PM   #35
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regardless of what the WBCCI was in its early years, we have to deal with the real, present situation.

Today, the WBCCI is somewhat fractured by a list of different, though not exclusive, interests. You can certainly be active in several.

The following is only a quick list and i'm sure there are other divisions that could be added - but hopefully you'll see where i'm going with this. [feel free to add more as you see fit - but be kind - no Coke vs Pepsi splits!]

The WBCCI cannot remain top-heavy with one type of member or activity. How it goes about appealing to the different groups to maintain and grow its membership is the question


Caravans
Rallies
------------
"Young" <50
"Old" > 50
------------
with Kids
w/o Kids
------------
Rich
"OK"
Not-So-Rich
------------
Working
Retired
------------
Campfires/Games/Happy Hour
Seminars/Side Trips/Etc.

lastly - since most [all?] here seem to agree that the moho issue is DEAD i will not longer refer to it.
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:22 PM   #36
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I have been following all this, and Lynn, I really appreciate all your thoughts and questions/ideas as to how to improve things. Jon, I believe you are correct that we need to live in the present ... and while it's good to recognize our rich heritage, it's not wise to hang our hats solely on past traditions. We need to be forward thinking.

I won't dwell on the club's leadership culture — something that obviously needs to change and modernize in order for the club to remain relevant and flourish. That is a slow process, and while I do think that inroads are being made, whether it will happen quickly enough I don't know.

I'll skip to the issues aside from the club's leadership culture that effect membership growth in a more "immediate" way. I see three things that impact heavily on membership retention and growth: (1) cost, (2) benefits, and (3) diversity.

(1) Cost: I personally think the WBCCI dues are too high. Presently dues are $65 + Unit Dues. For the 4CU that's a total of $65+$1=$66/yr, one of the least expensive units to belong to. If total dues were more reasonable, joining would require less pondering by potential members. It's one of the reasons the 4CU keeps its unit dues so low.

(2) Benefits: We need more tangible benefits to membership — benefits beyond the fun and good times we have with our unit members, and the romance of being part of an international group of fellow Airstreamers ... as Lynn proposes, more "bang for your buck". This might come in the form of the organization cutting deals for its membership for discounts in areas such as camping, shopping, insurance , fuels, etc ... and/or more and improved direct benefits from the organization itself ... a better magazine, more appealing/less expensive regional and national rallies, more accessible caravans, etc ... and work to continually search for new innovative ways to benefit members.

(3) Diversity: This speaks to Jon's last post about club demographics. We need to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, making the club welcoming and relevant to all types of people of all ages, income levels, working status, etc. And because membership is built at the unit level, this is on the units to accomplish, developing unit cultures that make everyone feel welcome and valued ... holding events/rallies satisfying and fun for everyone in terms of activities, food, venue, length of time, etc etc. If we can do this, we will grow and retain membership.
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Old 12-09-2013, 06:02 PM   #37
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I just had the opportunity to read the newer posting to this thread. It almost would be better to split it off from the original MoHo issue which is thankfully dead. (I posted on that earlier and won't repeat).

I'm not sure if I fall in the "old" or Young" group. I am 51 with an 8th grader and a freshman in high school. I work full time as does my wife. We also have a dog just to round out the demographic. We belong to the newly formed Southeastern Camping Unit of the WBCCI. This unit plans to concentrate on camping in State and National Parks around the Southeastern US (hence the name). You can find the unit on the web at: Southeastern Camping Unit (012) | Moving WBCCI Forward!

Some thoughts after reading the above thread comments and where my family falls in our Airstream experience.

Caravans: I can't wait until I retire and have time to go on some of the long caravans up to Newfoundland, Alaska, and the Southwest. In the mean time we went on a 9 day caravan (two weekend and the week in between which is doable for a working guy) up the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway fall of 2012. It was fantastic and I look forward in keeping my caravan craving satisfied with shorter caravans for the next 15 years or so.

Rallies: Our unit has something planned almost every month of the year. True, I won't be able to make all of them, but they are available. The last one was coupled with a paddle trip in the Okefenokee Swamp! All of the rallies have activities beyond just sitting around the campsite. There are places to visit and things to do in addition to that at each rally. There are things my kids enjoy, there are things the younger kids enjoy, and there are things adults older and younger than I enjoy.

Diversity: We have retiree's, young children families, older children families, working empty nesters, and no children working couples. We have married and non-married families. Our membership pretty much runs the gamut of America.

WBCCI: Those of us in the unit believe (and hope) we are headed in the direction which will see the rich history of the WBCCI preserved for us and those who follow us. Our family appears to be the center demographic of those buying Airstreams. Contrary to the mantra chanted by others, both my generation and the several behind me are joiners; if there is something of perceived value. Camping, short caravans, exploring, and friendships along with the history and shared ownership of Airstreams is the value we believe those who haven't yet joined are looking for.

From what I have read, we are doing many of the same things with much the same philosophy as the Four Corners Unit and the Oregon Unit. We hope that our activities are attractive to others as well, both member and not yet members of the WBCCI.
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:54 PM   #38
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First, if the dues about 40 years ago were $7.50, inflation would make them about $32.50 now. But if people can afford an RV, are the amount of the dues really that much more? I think the complaints about dues are about what you get for them—if you see it as squabbling over the club leadership, then the dues are too high. If you join for the rallies, it is probably well worth it. In my opinion, the dues are low compared to other clubs, and the income is too low to really have the resources to find and recruit new members.

Second, I keep reading the club has to appeal to younger people. Maybe that is not a demographic worth mining. How many young Airstream owners are there? Does anyone know what age groups own what percent of Airstreams? It seems to me that young owners seem like more people than they are because they stand out. So, it would be a good idea to find out what age group to go after before you allocate resources to get them to join. I think Lynn has a lot of good ideas—and those ideas need to be matched up with age groups they appeal to and then see whether they are worth going after.

Third, young people tend to join virtual internet groups and keep in contact that way. This club (and many others, also declining in membership) has a hard time grasping that.

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Old 12-10-2013, 09:31 PM   #39
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Kind of depends on one's definition of "young," Gene. For an oldster like you, they're all young. For me, shucks, just because I suggested a seminar on Medicare doesn't mean ... well ... ok, ok, I can see that I'm about to make a fool of myself again, so best end this sentence right here.

Seriously, though, I don't think too much about age per se as about what it means to spend one's time, especially one's free time. Some folks want to get involved in leadership or at least in the direction of groups, often passionately so and to the exclusion of all other activity; other folks think that's droll at best, an absolutely boring turn-off at worst. So what happens when the leadership/direction types basically dominate the scene? Predictable results.


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Old 12-11-2013, 01:02 AM   #40
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I can't afford this club.

Hi, well this is how I feel about it; Seems to be a rich persons club to me. We took a 50 day round trip to Alaska. We took bus, boat, river boat tours, and did a lot of things on our own. This trip cost a ton of money. What would it cost to do a trip like this as part of this club? Seems to me that these Rallies are way out of range for a lot of people. Maybe tone them down some and greatly reduce the cost. For example: when we stop at a camp ground, we don't use their restrooms, showers, play grounds, hot tubs, or what ever they have. We unhook and visit places of interest, like Airplane museums, or take a factory tour. I'd love to go to Nascar or Indy, but when I see a cost $3,500.00 to gosh knows how much, for a three day event, that's just out of the question for us.

I may be wrong in what I see, but that is the feeling that I get. So no clubs for me.
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