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John Stewart

Bold New Idea for RV and Camping Industry in Washington State

New Camping Website

New Camping Website

With today’s busy lifestyles and endless commitments to calendars, nothing is more relaxing than getting away from it all. Washington’s 172 State Parks offer a return to nature. Each state park has a unique offering that meets the needs of the nature seeker in all of us. Before DiscoverWashingtonNow.com, knowing what these parks offered was limited to books and a few black and white pictures. This is exactly what the Jensen family faced when they bought their first family RV. “We never knew what we were going to find” says Eric Jensen, the creative mind and producer of DiscoverWashingtonNow.com.

"We've all been hearing about our states cutbacks and how state parks may be closed to save money. We have spectacular parks in Washington state. We all need to do our part to keep them open. This is something I thought I could do to help people understand the value of our park system."

Backed with 24 years in the video industry, he came up with an idea. Short, informative videos that take the guessing out of planning a family vacation. A website that allows the user to look, feel and hear what each park includes. Categories within the website bring focus to only the parks with the characteristics the user is looking for. Hiking, biking, riverfront, oceanfront, beach, forest, equestrian and more. Each video is professionally produced to exemplify key characteristics in selected state parks.

Know before you go with this new and exciting idea for the RV and Camping industry in Washington State.

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John Stewart

Let's Avoid "Weapons of Self Destruction"

For the RV industry, failing to understand the post-recession consumer would be a big mistake.  We'd like to share some advice on understanding the post-recession consumer and the trends that define them so that we don't self-destruct.

Gaining that understanding begins before the recession when home values were high, credit was plentiful and investments were booming.  It was common for consumers to spend freely on luxury goods, prestige brands, high-end technology, exotic travel experiences and second homes.  It brings to mind the marketing mantra -- "Whoever has the most toys wins."  In pre-recession times, many Americans would pay dearly to show they were affluent and successful.

In the RV market, this was seen in the dominance of larger units with all the bells and whistles, including kitchens worthy of an Iron Chef, over-the-top luxury touches, and electronics galore.

While the recession hasn't stopped cold the demand for such amenities, it has slowed the buying binge, bringing customers with a new mindset to RV dealerships.  For many consumers, the recession has also changed "shop till you drop" to "don't shop."  This means that shoppers will be more cautious and conservative about their RV investment.

Fortunately, the innate value of the RV travel experience and the versatility of our products mean that our industry can readily adapt to this new breed of careful shoppers — if we take time to understand them and respond to their needs.

According to the latest market research, post-recession consumers will be affected by these five new trends:

Simplicity. Consumers have had a lot to worry about over the past couple of years — investment and income losses, credit card debt, job fears — and they want to simplify their lives, reduce stress and have more time for themselves and their families.

They're cutting back on eating in restaurants, reducing air travel, and they're doing without luxuries like spa and salon services, instead focusing on simple family pleasures like board games and picnics.

These consumers are ripe for the message that RVs simplify travel by putting them in control.  RVers go where they want, when they want...in their own home on wheels. No hassles — RVing is the family-friendly way to travel affordably, eat home-cooked favorites on the road, and enjoy the stress-busting effects of the outdoors.

These buyers will also be attracted by product lines that offer comfort, durability and quality, but not necessarily all the extras emphasized in pre-recession product development.  Experts advise that offering diverse product lines with multiple price points is the key to market recovery in these times of frugality.

Discretionary Thrift. In our current state, even those with good incomes and significant wealth are economizing — even if they don't have to.

Disillusioned with excessive consumption, these consumers are seeking value without paying big name premiums.  They are looking for savings at every opportunity.  The recession has made this kind of thrift fashionable — and parents want to pass this habit on to a generation raised on instant gratification.

RVs can be a good fit for this emerging consumer behavior.  An RV is an investment with long-lasting returns — not only in financial savings over other types of travel, but in memories that can't be valued in dollars.  These are the RV value messages your sales and marketing staff should be communicating — on your websites, in your sales brochures, on your lots.

For today's thrift-oriented buyers, fuel economy is also paramount.  The industry trend toward lighter-weight, more fuel-efficient products must continue in order to attract the buyers of today and tomorrow.

Mercurial Consumption. Before the recession, consumers were moving quickly from product to product to keep up with the Joneses and find "the next big thing."  This mercurial consumption still happens, but now saving money is a primary motive.

For example, when the recession hit, many coffee drinkers quickly replaced their Starbucks habit with a daily fix at Dunkin Donuts, McCafe or even 7-11.

As reported by USA Today, in the travel and tourism industry, there were mercurial shifts to camping last summer.  As cost-conscious families looked for options to replace their expensive pre-recession vacations, camping became an attractive alternative, even to those who hadn't tried it.

How do we make sure these new campers become confirmed RVers? Dealers, campgrounds and manufacturers should work together to create displays at campgrounds, dealerships or outdoor recreation shows to make sure campers know that RV camping is an ideal vacation alternative for the times, and for the future.

By now it may be apparent that these post-recession trends present opportunities to bring new people into the market that may not have considered RVing in the past.

But as these new buyers arrive, market research indicates we may find them fickle and harder to please than repeat buyers loyal to the lifestyle.  Should these new consumers experience problems with quality or service, they may go back to other options, or just stay home — after sharing their bad experience on the worldwide web.

Instantaneous Influence.
That leads us to our fourth trend: Instantaneous Influence.  The rise of social media has accelerated the potential for customer dissatisfaction, because now word of mouth is immediate and global.  This can work for us or against the RV industry.

If companies take the time to create their own Facebook, Twitter or MySpace pages, or encourage their customers to become Go RVing Facebook fans, they can turn their satisfied buyers into online ambassadors.

But social media isn't enough.  In today's business environment, it's more important than ever to treat the customer right and make products that don't disappoint.  Individual brands will almost certainly get just one shot to wow a new customer.  A bad experience may leave a sour taste forever.

Living Green. Our fifth and final consumer trend: Living Green.  In recent years, consumers have shown a rising interest in going green. They're recycling more, avoiding waste, conserving resources — and even spending a little more for products they perceive to be eco-friendly.  While the recession slowed this down, it's not going away.

For example, some companies that track car-buying habits suggest there's a landmark cultural shift underway leading to the rise of products like Zipcar hourly rentals and Smartcars.  These researchers have observed people questioning auto purchases like never before.  They are delaying their first car purchase, cutting back to one car instead of two or even three, or even riding bicycles.

Their reasons?  They want to save money and be more green.  Carmakers fear that these buyers, while extreme in their behaviors, may not return and may inspire others to follow suit.

What must our industry do to keep such a damaging cultural shift from ever happening to RVs? Manufacturers should be commended for their progress in making RVs more eco-friendly, but must continue to strengthen product lines that offer fuel-efficient, environmentally engineered units.  We must educate consumers to understand that research shows that RV travel actually conserves resources and impacts the environment less than flying, driving and staying in hotels.  Our future is Living Green.

As we look closely at these five emerging trends, it's clear that RVs can be the perfect vacation vehicle for the post-recession consumer.  We offer a simple, traditional, family-friendly outdoor experience at a cost far less than the competition.  And we can do it in a way that's friendlier to the environment.

Responding to these consumer trends in product development and marketing efforts will keep the RV industry from becoming the victim of Weapons of Self Destruction.

By: B.J. Thompson, RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman and Gary LaBella, RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Thompson and LaBella, authors of this article, initially presented this paper on Dec. 1, 2009 at "Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine" at RVIA's National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

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John Stewart

Recovery for the RV Industry is Forecast

Pedata RV Center reports turnaround in consumer purchases and long-term hopes for the RV Industry.

Phoenix, AZ  December 24, 2009 -- The RV Industry has long been an indicator for the economy. Attendance has been on the rise at national RV shows and positive sales numbers reported. To confirm the turn in the economy, New York Stock Exchange Chief Economist Emeritus William Freund stated in his seminar at the National RV Trade Show “The worst of the Great Recession is behind your industry.” Freund predicted a total economic recovery in three to five years with consumer interest gearing towards affordability and innovations with baby boomers contributing to the recovery.

The RV lifestyle has become the affordable means for family travel. While extravagant vacations have declined, families are hitting the road in a motorhome. Purchasing an RV is an investment in family and in the affordability of future get-aways.

“There is no doubt the last few years have been rough on the RV Industry, says Gerard Pedata of Pedata RV Center, “however, with a focus on customer service, cost-effective options for customers, and an ability to listen to what the consumer wants, we are confident a full recovery is right around the corner.”

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John Stewart

Top Safety Towing Tips

Ecustomhitch.com Announces Top Safety Towing Tips

Naples, FL, (Nov 22, 2009) --(PR.com)-- Perform a towing safety inspection before each trip. Make sure that you:

1. Check that the ball and trailer coupler are the same size (1 7/8”, 2”, or 2 5/16”)

2. Check that the balance of the load is not too heavy on the tongue of the trailer. (the front) If the center of gravity is too far forward onto the trailer this could cause whip lashing. This is when the trailer has put too much weight on the back of your vehicle and affects your steering and braking.

3. Attach the trailer to the vehicle

4. Make sure that the hitch lock is unlocked before lowering the trailer onto the ball.
• Once the tongue of the trailer is on the ball, lock it in place.
• Place a bolt or padlock through the ball lock mechanism to prevent it from accidentally opening.
• Attach the safety chains to the hooks near the vehicle hitch or the vehicle frame; be sure there is enough slack in the chains but not so much that they drag on the ground. Safety chains are a requirement and should be crossed under the tongue of the trailer so that the tongue will not drop to the road if it becomes separated from the hitch.
• Using the tongue jack, try to raise the tongue off of the ball. If you are able to do this, the ball and tongue sizes do not match, or the ball is not locked properly. In this case, replace the ball with the correct size and try again.
• Finish raising the tongue jack to give maximum clearance.
• Attach the lights with the wiring harness.

5. Accelerate and brake slowly. Give yourself extra space while driving as if you are driving on ice or snow. It takes a longer distance to stop with a loaded trailer.

6. Secure your load! Just because you have loaded your trailer with harmless tree clippings does not mean that you do not need to secure it. You are responsible for anything that flies out of your trailer and causes damage.

Equipment Guide

Receiver: Hitch platform fitted to the tow vehicle.
Ball Mount: A removable steel component that fits into the receiver. The hitch ball and spring bars (only on load distributing hitches) are attached to it.
Sway Control: A device designed to lessen the pivoting motion between tow vehicle and trailer when a ball­-type hitch is used.
Coupler: The ball socket at the front of the trailer A-frame that receives the hitch ball.
Spring Bars: Load-leveling bars used to distribute hitch weight among all axles of tow vehicle and trailer in a load distributing ball-type hitch.

Ecustomhitch.com are experts in towing and have been around for over 20 years. They can be contacted through their website at www.ecustomhitch.com or call them directly on 1-800-966-5905.

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John Stewart

Dow Introduces Enhanced RV Winterization Fluid With New Formula

DOWFROST RVR ™ is a Safer Alternative for RVs, Vacation Homes and Other Seasonal Equipment

Midland, MI - The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) is introducing an enhanced seasonal water system winterization product for recreational vehicles, vacation cottages, boats, pools and spas that is readily biodegradable, blended with renewable ingredients, and packaged in a container produced using proprietary Dow technology.

DOWFROST™ RVR seasonal freeze protection fluid is a ready-to-use solution that provides protection against bursting of potable water systems when exposed to freezing temperatures and contains proprietary corrosion inhibitors to help prevent rusting and corrosion of plumbing system components in seasonal equipment. It will be available on store shelves beginning September 2009.

Originally introduced in 2008, the product formulation is now blended with twenty five percent more renewable, vegetable-based ingredients. DOWFROST™ RVR is available in convenient, one-gallon containers manufactured with a new proprietary plastic from Dow. CONTINUUM™ from Dow is stronger, lighter and requires fewer raw materials to manufacture than traditional plastic. This new packaging contains eight percent less plastic than the bottle used in 2008.

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