GuestRated Identifies 2014 ‘A’ rated RV Parks

Only 34 out of about 4,000 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts across America received all around ‘A’ ratings in GuestRated.com consumer surveys completed in 2014.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“If you do the math, that amounts to fewer than one in 100 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts receiving all around ‘A’ ratings in our consumer surveys,” said Bob MacKinnon, a former Disney Company executive who founded GuestRated.com, an online rating system for public and privately owned and operated campgrounds.

Indeed, while online surveys typically give consumers the ability to post their comments, most online survey forms ask consumers to rate only a few things, like value, location, cleanliness, and service. GuestRated.com, by contrast, solicits consumer feedback on 55 different guest satisfaction questions in addition to providing consumers the ability to post written comments and suggestions, according to a news release.

“We drill down to specifics with our surveys,” MacKinnon said.

“For example, we ask, ‘How clean were the showers compared to the toilet areas? Was the bathroom well stocked with supplies? What was the attitude of staff? Did staff have a professional appearance? Were they quick and efficient? How would you rate the safety and security of the park?’”

Ultimately, MacKinnon said, GuestRated.com aims not only to provide consumers with meaningful reviews that can help them identify the best campgrounds, but provide campground operators with letter grades covering every aspect of their park so that they know where to prioritize their improvements and create a better guest experience.

“Sometimes campgrounds have terrific facilities, but their staffing needs attention, or vice versa,” MacKinnon said.

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Or maybe the park’s facilities and staffing are very good, but their reservation process needs attention. Our surveys help park operators zero in on the trouble spots that don’t show up in most online survey forms.”

In 2014, consumers filled out more than 30,000 surveys involving nearly 4,000 public and privately owned and operated campgrounds across the United States.

But while the vast majority of the nation’s campgrounds do not receive overall “A” ratings, there are several across the country who have received overall “A” ratings several years in a row. Here is a listing of the latest “A” rated parks:

Anaheim Resort RV Park, Anaheim, California, a four-time “A” grade winner, www.anaheimresortrvpark.com

AtRivers Edge RV Resort, Brookings, Oregon, a two-time “A” grade winner,  www.atriversedge.com

Beaver Dam Campground, Berwick, Main, a three-time “A” grade winner, www.beaverdamcampground.com

Buffalo Lake Camping Resort, Montello, Wisconsin, a five-time “A” grade winner, www.buffalolakecamping.com

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Maryland, a six-time “A” grade winner,  www.cherryhillpark.com

Cross Creek Camping Resort, Delaware, Ohio, a three-time “A” grade winner, www.alumcreek.com/cccr/

Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota, a three-time “A” grade winner, http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/

D & W Lake Camping and RV Park, Champaign, Illinois, a five-time “A” grade winner,  www.dwlake.com

Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort, Plymouth, California, a three-time “A” grade winner, www.49ervillage.com

Geneseo Campground, Geneseo, Illinois, a first-time “A” grade winner, www.campingfriend.com/geneseocampground/

Hartford Beach State Park, Corona, South Dakota, a first-time “A” grade winner,  http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/hartford-beach/

Kalyumet Camping & Cabins, Lucinda, Pennsylvania, a four-time “A” grade winner,  www.kalyumet.com

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keen Lake Camping Resort, Waymart, Pennsylvania, a four-time “A” grade winner,  www.keenlake.com

Lake George RV Park, Lake George, New York, a seven-time “A” grade winner,  www.lakegeorgervpark.com

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, Canistota, South Dakota, a two-time “A” grade winner,  http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/lake-vermillion

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, a five-time “A” grade winner,  www.lasvegasrvresort.com

Leaf Verde RV Resort, Buckeye, Arizona, a two-time “A” grade winner, www.leafverde.com

Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, Yankton, South Dakoa, a two-time “A” grade winner,  http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/lewis-and-clark

Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, a six-time “A” grade winner, www.mtnvistacampground.com

Newton Hills State Park, Canton, South Dakota, a two-time “A” grade winner,  http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/newton-hills

Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a six-time “A” grade winner, www.oceanlakes.com

Pioneer Campground, Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania, a seven-time “A” grade winner, www.pioneercampground.com

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, Pismo Beach, California, a five-time “A” grade winner, www.pismocoastvillage.com

Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine,  a six-time “A” grade winner, www.redapplecampground.com

Shadow Hills RV Resort, Indio, California, a three-time “A” grade winner,  www.shadowhillsrvresort.com

Smuggler’s Den Campground, Southwest Harbor, Maine, a first-time “A” grade winner, www.smugglersdencampground.com

Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Michigan, a seven-time “A” grade winner, www.sunnybrookrvresort.com

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California, a five-time “A” grade winner, www.springsatborrego.com

The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine, Texas, a seven-time “A” grade winner, www.vineyardscampground.com

West Canada Creek Campsites, Poland, New York, a four-time “A” grade winner, www.westcanadacreekcampsites.com

West Whitlock Recreation Area, Gettysburg, South Dakota, a first-time “A” grade winner,  http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/west-whitlock

Wine Country RV Resort, Paso Robles, California, a three-time “A” grade winner, www.winecountryrvresort.com

Wishon Village RV Park, Shaver Lake, California, a four-time “A” grade winner, www.wishonvillage.com

Yellowstone Holiday Campground, West Yellowstone, Mountana, a four-time “A” grade winner, www.yellowstoneholiday.com

Details

GuestRated

Address: PO Box 968 , Murrieta, CA 92564-0968

Phone: (877) 707-7080 (toll free)

Website: www.guestreviews.com

Worth Pondering…

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

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More RVers Will Travel the Road This Summer

More than 20 million Americans will travel in RVs throughout the summer months, heading to our country’s 16,000-plus campgrounds and enjoying time outdoors with family and friends, according to a recent Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Cvent.

20 million Americans will travel via RV this summer. (PRNewsFoto/Recreation Vehicle Industry Association)
20 million Americans will travel via RV this summer. (PRNewsFoto/Recreation Vehicle Industry Association)

According to the new survey, 66 percent of RV owners intend to use their RVs more this summer than they did last year, and 28 percent will use theirs the same amount. Just 4 percent said they’ll use their RVs less.

“RV ownership is at an all-time high because it provides families with a comfortable and cost-effective way to get away from the day-to-day grind and spend time together,” said RVIA president Richard Coon.

“RVs allow families to take whatever kind of vacation they want — and not break the budget.”

Top reasons for increased RV use include taking more mini-vacations (76 percent), enjoying outdoor activities (72 percent) and escaping pressure of the daily routine (52 percent).

While fuel prices continue to fluctuate, just 30 percent of RV owners (down from 58 percent two years ago) said fuel prices will affect their RV travel plans. Those who say their plans will be affected still plan to travel with their RVs, but will adjust their plans by traveling to destinations closer to home (71 percent), driving fewer miles in their RV (51 percent) and staying longer at one location (52 percent).

One reason so many RVers will be on the road is the built-in cost savings of RV travel. A 2011 study by travel industry experts PKF Consulting found that a family of four can save 23-to-59 percent when they travel in their RV, even when factoring in purchase price, maintenance costs, and gas prices. RV owners agree — 86 percent of survey respondents said RV vacations cost less than other forms of travel even when fuel prices rise.

“Millions of Americans travel in RVs every year because of the unmatched freedom and flexibility they provide when traveling,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Lake Winnipesaukee and its unmatched scenic beauty and its small town New England character. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Lake Winnipesaukee and its unmatched scenic beauty and its small town New England character. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“RVers can adjust their plans to take a long road trip or a quick weekend getaway. An RV is perfect for what many people want most: more quality time outdoors with loved ones.”

The summer holidays are a big time for RV travel, according to the survey. Nearly three-in-five RV owners will be on the road over July 4th (62 percent), and Labor Day (58 percent).

Many families are taking shorter, more frequent getaways in their RVs to accommodate busy schedules. According to the survey, 76 percent of RVers plan to take more one-four day mini-vacations this spring/summer.

Approximately 26 percent of RV owners are engaging in “seasonal” or “destination” camping, according to the survey. Destination campers leave their RV parked at one location for the entire spring/summer (or longer) and travel back and forth to it using a family car.

RV owners appreciate the control RVs offer in today’s travel climate. Unlike air travelers, RVers can bring anything they want on vacation — including pets. According to the survey, 65 percent of RV owners bring pets along on trips. Most RVers traveling with pets bring dogs (93 percent) and cats (14 percent). Three-fourths of survey respondents cited flexibility as a favorite benefit of RV ownership.

RVing is a great way to stay active while on vacation, according to RV owners. More than 75 percent said they’re more physically active on an RV trip — 82 percent said their children are more active. RVers cite the ability to enjoy outdoor activities (80 percent), and escape everyday stress and pressure (71 percent) as primary benefits of RV travel versus other types of vacations. Other favorite benefits include being on the open road (62 percent), and bringing pets (60 percent).

From the Gadsden Purchase, to the Civil War, to the Butterfield Stage Coach Trail, to the trial of Billy the Kid, to being a lively social center in the 1880s--Mesilla has been a prominent part of the rich history of the Southwest. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
From the Gadsden Purchase, to the Civil War, to the Butterfield Stage Coach Trail, to the trial of Billy the Kid, to being a lively social center in the 1880s–Mesilla has been a prominent part of the rich history of the Southwest. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America’s state and national park systems are popular destinations for RV trips this spring/summer, according to the survey — 77 percent will visit a state park, and 74 percent plan to visit a national park. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) plan to visit historic sites this spring/summer.

Favorite Activities

RVers enjoy an array of activities while traveling in their RVs. Favorites include:

Sightseeing — 79 percent

Grilling/cooking out – 76 percent

Hiking – 63 percent

Visiting family and friends – 58 percent

Fishing – 55 percent

Attending festivals and fairs – 50 percent

Other popular activities include antiquing, biking, festivals or fairs, visiting museums, and attending family reunions and events.

Worth Pondering…

Escape to the open road…life is calling!

Read More

27 RV Parks Receive ‘A’ Grades in Annual Survey

Twenty-seven campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts earned all around “A” grades in the sixth annual consumer satisfaction survey of campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts.

ARVC-logo3The top parks were announced November 7 during the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which took place at the Knoxville Convention Center.

More than 30,000 camping and RV enthusiasts participated in the online survey, which evaluated guest experiences at more than 3,000 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated with ARVC campgrounds, according to a ARVC news release.

“Consistently earning an overall ‘A’ grade from guests is difficult, and our 27 winners this year represent less than 2 percent of all of the nation’s campgrounds. But what is even more impressive is that four of this year’s winners have also received this award for six years in a row,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of GuestReviews.com, the Murrieta, Calif.-based company that conducted the online survey on behalf of ARVC.

“Consumers should take the time to check out the ratings that are posted for each campground on GoCampingAmerica.com because it is the quickest way to tell which parks are best meeting – and exceeding – guest expectations,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.

The 27 parks earning “A” grades this year include:

Details

National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC)

ARVC is the only national association exclusively representing the interests of all commercial RV Parks and Campgrounds in the United States.

Phone: (303) 681-0401 or (800) 395-2267 (toll free)

Website: arvc.org

GuestRated, LLC

Guest-Rated-logoIn February of 2008, GuestRated introduced the nation’s first ongoing guest satisfaction rating program covering all independent, privately-owned RV parks and campgrounds in the U.S. This online survey program was launched in cooperation with ARVC as a member benefit to provide parks with the opportunity to measure and improve guest satisfaction and better serve today’s camping and RVing enthusiasts.

Website: guestrated.com

Worth Pondering…
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.
—Susan Sontag

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Summer 2013 Travel Plans Reveal Trends

According to a survey conducted By DreamPlanGo, the website and social community devoted to bringing travelers vacation ideas and trip inspiration, Americans are already busy making their summer travel plans.

Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The national study of 1,000 adults (split evenly between males and females age 25-64) revealed some interesting answers and insights surrounding that age-old question, “What are you doing this summer?”

True to form, America still loves the family vacation: 42 percent of respondents overall (and almost 50% of those age 35-44) who are planning to travel indicate that a family trip is in the works.

National parks are a traditional destination, and this summer is no different, with Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Acadia mentioned frequently. Many travelers also said South Dakota (Badlands, Black Hills, and Mount Rushmore) or the beach (Sanibel, Panama City, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Wildwood Crest NJ, and Lake Michigan) was their destination.

Today’s lifestyles are busy though, and 26 percent of respondents (34% of those age 45-54) say a weekend escape is the longest they can manage. Adventure travel (13 percent), romantic getaways (11 percent), and guys or girls getaways (8 percent) round out the top five trip ideas. Not surprisingly, respondents in the 18-24 age group were more likely to name adventure travel. Males and females were equally likely to name romantic getaway.

Encompassing over 1.2 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Encompassing over 1.2 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cost of getting to their destination hasn’t changed travelers’ plans much, if at all. Three-quarters of respondents say that fuel prices have not altered their summer travel plans. Likewise, 75 percent of travelers considering flying say that airline ticket prices have not changed their plans.

Rural and suburban residents are 10 percentage points more likely than urban residents to drive. Women are more likely than men to say “yes” to flying, as is the 25-34 age group.

The road trip is alive and well in America, with 64 percent of respondents planning to drive to their summer travel destination. And a robust 28 percent of travelers say they will fly this summer; Alaska, Ireland, Paris, Belize and Costa Rica emerged as popular destinations for these big trips. Bus and train transportation have a small following, at 4 percent each.

Once travelers arrive at their destination, comfort and convenience are big factors, as indicated by the 41 percent of respondents who said a hotel or motel was their lodging choice. Bed-and-breakfasts and inns get the nod from 7 percent of travelers. The outdoor experience has its own following, with 15 percent camping in a tent, trailer, or motorhome, and 14 percent staying at a resort, cabin, or cottage, often near a lake or beach.

Visiting family and friends is big on the travel list, as evidenced by the 23 percent of respondents lodging with family and friends at some point in their travels. Here’s a typical comment: “This summer I’m dreaming of returning to my home area near Erie, Pennsylvania, so I can reconnect with family and attend my class reunion!”

Americans’ travel plans are shaping up for the summer, and this DreamPlanGo survey revealed their intentions. What’s the classic summer trip? That’s up to the individual. It might be a road trip to see some sights and visit family or friends along the way, a memory-making family vacation, a weekend getaway with a significant other, or perhaps the trip of lifetime.

Access to Cumberland Island is by a concession operated passenger ferry, The Cumberland Lady. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Access to Cumberland Island is by a concession operated passenger ferry, The Cumberland Lady. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bottom line: As this DreamPlanGo survey reveals, America’s getting out and getting away this summer.

Details

DreamPlanGo

DreamPlanGo is a popular website and social community devoted to inspiring every person to get out and explore the world beyond, and wonders close to home.

DreamPlanGo brings travel and vacation ideas, insights, and inspiration to seasoned travelers, budding tourists, and beginning adventurers.

Through a steady stream of exciting articles, colorful pictures and reader experiences, eyes are opened to the endless travel possibilities out there waiting. DreamPlanGo’s message: If you can dream it, you can plan it and go.

Phone: (877) 374-5270

Website: dreamplango.com

Worth Pondering…

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

—Ursala K. Guin

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Survey to Determine Why Winter Texan Numbers Have Declined

The number of Winter Texans coming to the Rio Grande Valley has fallen, and folks at the University of Texas-Pan American want to know why.

RGVThey’re asking Winter Texans to fill out a survey on its website.

Penny Simpson, director of the Valley Markets and Tourism Research Center, said it will take about 15-20 minutes.

“We want to know what we can do, both in the Valley to improve the Valley to make it very winter Texan friendly and for the parks, so they know what kind of amenities to offer,” Simpson told The Valley Morning Star.

Winter Texans make a big impact on the Valley economy. The report estimated each household spends almost $11,000 during each stay and estimated the total impact to the local economy at $751 million.

The Tourism Research Center conducts a survey every two years.

In 2010, it showed 140,000 Winter Texans in 75,000 households. By 2012, that number dropped to 133,000 in 69,000 households.

It also showed the average age of the Winter Texan had increased from 70 in 2010 to 71 in 2012. A study in 2004 estimated the average age at 68.

Simpson said it’s unclear if the younger baby boomer generation is just not coming to the Valley or if previous Winter Texans are not returning.

“The big concern is the age was also increasing,” Simpson said.

“The bigger question is are the younger ones going to come and replace the older ones as they no longer come?”

“This is, I think, a Winter Texan’s voice,” Simpson said.

“This is the opportunity to share their opinions. The results will be shared with the parks and valley leaders.”

The survey is available online at http://utpa.edu/wintertexan

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site
Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site

Those who respond to the survey by February 26 will be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.

The survey is an important tool for the university Tourism Research Center to measure the economic impact of Winter Texans in the Rio Grande Valley.

“All information provided will be kept confidential. The data will be tabulated and only statistical information will be made public,” said Dr. Penny Simpson, associate dean of the College of Business Administration at UTPA.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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Tampa SuperShow RV Resort Participation & Kidd-Eyster Fuel Survey

Tallahassee, Florida-based Kidd RV Resort Consulting, an integrated marketing firm specializing in the RV industry, reports on RV resort participation at the recent Tampa RV SuperShow and the Kidd-Eyster annual motorcoach resort fuel survey gathered at the show.

RV Resort Participation

2013 Tampa RV SuperShow
2013 Tampa RV SuperShow

RV resort participation remained flat at the recent Tampa RV SuperShow.

Twenty-five resorts were represented this year, the same as last year, but down from 53 during 2011. The 25 resorts represented 10 no-shows from the previous year, replaced by 10 new resorts to the show this year.

According to self reports, sales and interest at RV resorts represented at the show have been strong year over year.

“The resorts that we are associated with, such as Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort, Sunnybrook RV Resort, Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort, and Heritage Motor Coach Resort, enjoyed double-digit sales this past year, which we find very encouraging,” says Jerry Kidd, president of Kidd RV Consulting in a news release.

“The 10 new resorts represented at the 2013 Tampa RV SuperShow are at lower price points than the more luxurious resorts that didn’t attend this year, such as Heritage and Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama. In fact, Heritage did not attend the show this year due to selling out most of their lots prior to the start of 2013.”

Kidd-Eyster Fuel Survey

Regarding the Kidd-Eyster annual motorcoach resort fuel survey gathered at the show, this year’s results demonstrated that RVers’ driving habits were unchanged during 2012. Sentiments have remained the same with respondents indicating that if fuel prices continue to decline, more than 70 percent of RVers would increase their travel plans or behaviors.

“As in 2012, the majority of RVers responded that they would travel until fuel prices reach $8/gallon which is looking like it’s a long way off. Fuel prices are continuing to head down, and RVers are beginning to feel more positive, indicating RVers will be getting out on the road even more in the year to come,” Kidd said.

Details

Kidd RV Resort Consulting

Kidd RV Resort ConsultingKidd RV Resort Consulting specializes in working with RV developers and industry related partners to create a vision, articulate an idea, own the process, and relentlessly pursue its execution with the goal of exceeding expectations through measurable results.

Kidd RV Resort Consulting helps clients reach goals through extensive service capabilities including design and illustration, web solutions, advertising, public relations, brand consulting, and strategic planning.

Phone: (800) 323-4869

Website: kiddrv.com

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

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Outdoor Recreation Participation Increases

More than 90 million U.S. residents age 16 and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011, up three percent from five years earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last week.

Combining Birding and Photography with our life on the road is like enjoying pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert following a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In addition to nearly 30 bird species found nowhere else in the US, the Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to an astonishing concentration of more widespread birds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In total, wildlife recreationists spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities, accounting for about one percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

These findings come from the final national report with results from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation released by the Census Bureau on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, according to a news release from the Census Bureau.

Conducted since 1955, the survey is one of the oldest continuing and most comprehensive recreation surveys in the U.S., collecting information on the number of anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers, as well as how often they participate in wildlife-related recreation and how much they spend on these activities.

According to the survey, wildlife recreationists spent $70.4 billion on equipment, $49.5 billion on travel, and $24.8 billion on other items, such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.

The number of people fishing, hunting, or both rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011, with 33.1 million people fishing and 13.7 million hunting.

The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The survey showed that 71.8 million people participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity, such as observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife.

Wildlife Watching Highlights
About 71.8 million U.S. residents observed, fed, and/or photographed birds and other wildlife in 2011. Almost 68.6 million people watched wildlife around their homes, and 22.5 million people took trips of at least one mile from home to primarily watch wildlife.

Of the 46.7 million people who observed wild birds, 88 percent did so around their homes and 38 percent on trips of a mile or more from home.

People spent $54.9 billion on their wildlife-watching trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $981 per spender.

Fishing and Hunting Highlights
Of the 33.1 million people who fished, 27.5 million fished in freshwater and 8.9 million in saltwater.

The most popular fish sought by freshwater anglers, excluding Great Lakes fishing, were black bass (10.6 million anglers) and panfish (7.3 million anglers).

The most popular fish sought by Great Lakes anglers were walleye and sauger (584,000 anglers) and black bass (559,000 anglers).

About 1.9 million people ice-fished and 4.3 million fly-fished.

Anglers spent $41.8 billion on fishing trips, equipment, and other items in 2011— an average of $1,262 per angler.

Of the 13.7 million hunters that took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds, and 2.2 million hunted other animals.

Ninety-three percent of hunters used a shotgun, rifle, or other similar firearm; 33 percent used a bow and arrow; and 22 percent used a muzzleloader.

Nearly all hunters (approximately 94 percent) hunted in the state where they lived, while 14 percent hunted in other states.

Hunters spent $33.7 billion on hunting trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $2,465 per hunter.

State reports with detailed information on participation and expenditures will be released on a flow basis beginning in January 2013, according to the release.

The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the initial data collection phase, the Census Bureau interviewed approximately 50,000 households nationwide to determine who in the household had fished, hunted, or watched wildlife in 2010 or 2011, and planned to do so again, states the release. In most cases, one adult household member provided information for all members.

In the second phase, a sample of individuals identified as likely anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers were interviewed; each individual had to be at least 16 years old and provided information pertaining only to his or her activities and expenditures.

All comparisons made in this news release are tested at the 0.10 significance level.

Worth Pondering…
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is a society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

—Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

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Could Winter Texans Become Extinct?

The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), which has tracked Winter Texansfor 25 years through a voluntary biennial survey, found that the average age of respondents in 2011 was 71.2, compared with 70 in 2010, 69.5 in 2008, and 68.7 in 2006.

The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bil to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 2006, nearly 10 percent of respondents were younger than 60, but last winter only 4 percent were. Similarly, respondents this year said they had been coming to the Valley an average 10.4 years, compared with 9.1 years in 2010 and 2008 and 8.8 years in 2006.

The responses suggest that the same Winter Texans may be returning to the Rio Grande Valley year after year without being replaced with new, younger ones, reports The Monitor.

“It is (a concern) to me and I would think it should be to the Valley businesses that are interested in targeting Winter Texans,” said Penny Simpson, who co-authored the study.

There is no way to tell for sure if the survey results from 1,443 of the estimated 133,400 Winter Texans represent an accurate sample. It is possible that older people responded more, but if so, that would be a shift from past years.

Overall numbers of Winter Texans are difficult to capture, but believed to be down slightly from an estimated 144,000 in 2010.

Janet Poor, manager of Shady Acres RV Park in Donna told The Monitor that every year at her 300-plus-site park the faces are the same. “We’re getting the same ones coming down,” she said.

The great kiskadee is a large member of the flycatcher family. It is about ten inches in length. It has black and white stripes on the crown and sides of its head. It has a white line above its eyes. Its chest and undersides are a bright yellow and its throat is white. Its back and wings are brown and its bill and legs are black. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I would love to get new people down here.”

Poor said that in her experience, national media attention on border problems made it difficult to recruit new visitors.

“When we get calls from new people asking about down here, the first thing they ask is: ‘How bad is it down there?’” she said.

But the vast majority of wintering retirees who do come to the Valley are still visiting Mexico — 84 percent, down from 95 percent in 2006. Several observers said the study is on par with their experiences.

Joe Nelson, 71, who has lived year-round at the McAllen Mobile Home Park for a decade, said that park has some 14 new units this year—but they’re all moving from other area parks.

“The young stuff isn’t coming,” he said.

Others in the Valley said they are still seeing young retirees come to town. Rod Graham, who operates a San Juan business creating photo directory books of Winter Texans for dozens of parks and operates the website, The Winter Texan Connection, said the survey findings did not align with his experience.

“I won’t dispute their average, but from my experience, I am seeing the baby boomers come,” said Graham, 57.

“I’ve been down here 13 years and when I came down here, everything was country western … Within the last three or four years we’ve had rock ’n’ roll bands go play in the parks and to me that’s indicative of my generation.”

Graham added that he has not noticed any demographic shifts in the hundreds of Winter Texans he photographs and has seen hugely increased traffic on his website, which he attributes to a potentially younger crowd viewing it.

Area cities are paying attention to the needs of the Winter Texans, who contributed some $800 million to the economy in 2010, according to the study.

Martha Noell, president of the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce, presented the findings to the City Commission last month and discussed things the city could do to attract visitors from colder climates, including keeping areas clean and marketing up north.

The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Luis Bazan, president of the Pharr Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses in the city had noticed a Winter Texan decline overall, but that there did seem to be some newcomers, which he called “a new breed” looking for different activities.

Simpson agreed and said she would consider further analysis on what types of activities the next generation of retirees prefers.

“That’s an important question I think we need to have answered: How do we target baby boomers?” she said.

UTPA Survey Average Winter Texan ages by year:

  • 2012: 71.2
  • 2010: 70
  • 2008: 69.5
  • 2006: 68.7

Texas Spoken Friendly Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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RVers Plan More Travel this Fall & Winter

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) biannual Campfire Canvass, 36 percent of RV owners plan to travel more this fall and winter than last year, 38 percent plan to travel the same amount and just 9 percent plan to travel less often.

Top reasons for taking more RV trips include enjoying outdoor activity (76 percent), escaping stress and pressure (67 percent), and spending more time with family (51 percent). Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they plan to take more mini-vacations of two to four days.

“RVing the best way to see our great country, spend time outdoors, and reconnect with family and friends,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.

“No other travel option offers consumers the freedom, flexibility, and value that RVs do.”

Along with getting outdoors, escaping stress, and spending time with family, another primary reason why millions of owners will be traveling and enjoying the RV lifestyle this fall and winter is because they appreciate the value that RV travel delivers, said Coon.

Nearly 90 percent said that RVing is an affordable way to travel. Three quarters said they save at least 25 percent when traveling in their RV compared to other types of travel, while 34 percent save 35-50 percent.

This echoes a 2011 study by PKF, an international travel and tourism consulting company, which found that RVing is 23-to-59 percent less expensive than other types of vacations for a family of four, Coon noted.

Let's Go RVing to Joshua Tree National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Let’s Go RVing to Joshua Tree National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to saving on rising hotel costs and airfares, RV owners also avoid the expense of eating most meals in restaurants as other forms of travel require. According to the RVIA survey, 92 percent of RV owners said they eat at least two meals a day onboard their RVs.

Despite these uncertain economic times, 47 percent said that they’re considering another RV purchase, with 79 percent of those respondents citing the availability of “great deals” in today’s RV market. More than 57 percent will attend RV retail shows this fall and winter.

Of those not considering another RV purchase within the next two years, 85 percent said it’s because they’re happy with their current RV.

Owners surveyed will use their RVs in a variety of ways during the fall/winter travel season.

  • 73 percent of the respondents said that they plan to sightsee
  • 64 percent visit state parks and 57 percent national parks
  • 53 percent plan to visit friends/family
  • 50 percent will attend festivals or fairs

The survey also reveals that owners are physically active on their RV trips. For example, 54 percent said they enjoy hiking, 48 percent fishing/hunting, 31 percent biking, and 14 percent canoeing and kayaking. Approximately 14 percent of RVers plan to tailgate at football games this fall — 53 percent will tailgate college games, and 39 percent NFL.

Results also show that holiday travel remains popular with RV owners. Among the respondents, 48 percent said they plan to travel in their RVs over the Thanksgiving weekend and 25 percent over the Christmas/Hanukkah season.

Let's Go RVing to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Let’s Go RVing to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Empty nester couples are planning to hit the road in a big way, as well. Nearly 80 percent said they’re planning to travel with schools back in session. With children in the classroom, empty nesters enjoy smaller crowds (64 percent), more peace and quiet (59 percent), and lower cost because of off-season discounts (52 percent).

Details

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is the national trade association representing recreation vehicle (RV) manufacturers and their component parts suppliers who together build more than 98 percent of all RVs produced in the U.S.

Headquartered in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Reston, Virginia, RVIA is a unifying force for safety and professionalism within the RV industry and works with both federal and state government agencies to protect the interests of its members.

A clearinghouse of industry facts and information, RVIA also provides free materials to consumers and other publics about RV travel and camping and actively works with the media nationwide to educate the public about the benefits of RVing.

Address: 1896 Preston White Drive, Reston, VA 20191

Phone: (703) 620-6003

Website: rvia.org

Worth Pondering…

Recreational vehicles are wonderful… To travel by RV is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life.
—with apologies to Agatha Christie

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High Number of RV Buyers Rely on the Internet

An RV dealer or manufacturer without a strong presence on the Internet is probably jeopardizing sales according to a June survey by RVtravel.com.

Of the nearly 1,400 RVers who responded, approximately 68 percent said that researching an RV and finding it on the Internet was important or very important in their buying process. Only 21 percent reported they did not use the Internet at all when purchasing their current recreational vehicle.

“Our readership is an Internet savvy group,” said RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury in a news release.

“So it’s no surprise they would be inclined to use the Web to research a purchase more than others. Still, the fact that nearly 70 percent of them relied on the web to at least some degree is highly significant. I’m sure the percentage will grow in the years ahead. Any RV dealer or manufacturer who does not have a strong web presence is probably losing sales.”

RVtravel.com has published a weekly survey of its more than 240,000 monthly readers for nine years. Reading the questions and responses presents a treasure trove of marketing insights into RVer behavior and buying habits.

Responses from past survey results include the following:

Compared to three years ago, how much of your use of the internet is on a mobile device rather than a computer?

With 1,173 responses recorded, 20.38% spend much more time using a mobile device, 19.86% use a mobile device more, 40.07% use a mobile device about the same as three years ago, and 19.69% use a mobile device less. Several respondents commented that they do not have a mobile device.

When planning where to camp, how often do you rely on a printed directory over digital media (GPS, Internet, Smart Phone, etc.)?

With 1,888 responses recorded, 18.70% rely all or mostly on a printed directory, 19.65% rely mostly on a printed directory but also digital media, 17.69% rely on both equally, 19.49% rely mostly on digital media but also a printed directory, 23.15% rely mostly or always on digital media; 1.32% responded other. Selected comments follow:

  • I just drive and follow the signs. We boondock a lot. I followed rules for too many years, now I just follow my nose.
  • I look it up in the trailer life directory then look it up on line.
  • I use all methods mentioned including a wet finger in the air. But all of my planning goes out the driver’s window when I see a interesting sign or sight, or ad flyer while filling up at stops.

Complete survey results can be viewed at rvtravel.com.

Worth Pondering…

USA Today has come out with a new survey—apparently; three out of every four people make up 75 percent of the population.

—David Letterman

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