We spent most of the last couple of days wrapping up the paperwork from our recent Eastern Gypsy Gathering rally, and logging in all of the subscriptions we sold there.
At each of our rallies, we ask attendees to complete a feedback form, telling us not only what we did right, but what we could improve as well. Looking over the rally feedback forms, it seems like overall folks had a good time and went away happy.
One frequent comment is that they like the small laid back feeling of the rally. This is something we strive for at all of our events, because that’s the kind of rally we enjoy ourselves. We’ve been to too many of the huge mega-rallies where there are thousands of RVs, and nobody knows anybody. A lot of folks tell us our rallies are more like a family reunion.
It also seems like people really appreciate the variety of educational seminars we offer. Mac McCoy told the audience at the rally that our events are the “new Life on Wheels,” and Joe Kieva agreed, which was a great compliment to Terry and me. As core Life on Wheels (LOW) instructors, these were the guys we looked up to when we went to LOW as new RVers ourselves. Getting to know them personally years later when we became instructors ourselves only increased our admiration for them, so their comments on our rallies are high praise.
Writing about the rally in their RV Notebook blog, Joe and Vicki Kieva said in part “The Eastern Gypsy Gathering Rally is over. And it was a good one. Great location, informative seminars, relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Nick and Terry Russell know what it takes to put together a successful rally. They have experienced rallies as attendees, vendors and seminar presenters. So now, as rally producers, they understand the expectations, needs and interests of rally participants.”
Our vendors also liked our idea of having them inside, in the same building where we held registration and served morning coffee and donuts. It really helped their sales!
Of course, we can’t please everybody. One lady wrote that she did not appreciate me telling her on two different occasions that she could not bring her dog into the seminar buildings. We announced several times that only service dogs were allowed in the buildings, but some people just don’t get it.
Another complaint was that there were not enough full hookup RV sites at the fairgrounds, and that two remained unused through the rally. We reserved the few full hookup sites for handicapped attendees and those with special needs. Some folks did not show up, even though they had registered and paid, but we did not want to give their sites away and then have them arrive and not have a place to park them. There were also a few of us on full hookup sites who arrived a week before the rally began to make preparations, and who stayed after the rally ended to handle post-rally details.
And we had a couple of comments that there was not enough free time to socialize. While we usually have a lot of impromptu get togethers around the RVs during our rallies, the weather did not cooperate very well for that this year. But while we offer a lot of activities for those who want them, nobody has to attend each and every one. That’s why we had a hospitality area in the vendor building, with tables and chairs where people could just sit and visit, play cards, and get to know one another.
We keep learning with every rally, and try to implement those lessons to make future events even better.
With this year’s Eastern rally behind us, it’s time to start focusing on our Western Gypsy Gathering, which will be March 8-12 in Yuma, Arizona. We have made a change to our vendor policy at future rallies, starting with the Yuma event. In the past, we have only allowed one vendor per type of product, but we have had so many requests for more vendors that, after talking to the vendors at Ohio, we have decided to start allowing vendors in who sell competing products by a different manufacturer. So while we may have a vendor selling PressurePro tire monitoring systems, for example, we may also have a vendor selling Doran systems.
One final word on our rallies before I close this blog. We have set the location and dates for our next Eastern rally. It will be August 30 to September 3, 2010 at Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana. This will be two weeks before the Escapees rally in Goshen, which will allow vendors and attendees to come to our rally, then have a week off before they go in to Escapade.
And for those who have complained about not having full hookups at our rallies, we will have both 50 and 30 amp full hookups available by pre-registration, as well as sites with just water and electric. This is a departure from our previous rallies, and we’re looking forward to seeing how folks like it.
Thought For The Day – Drive carefully! Remember, it’s not only a car that can be recalled by its maker.