Ohio Rally Recap

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 022011

Baby, it’s cold outside! Yesterday started with more wind and rain, and it never got over about 50 degrees. The rain and wind stopped sometime in the morning, but the cold never let up all day long. And the overnight low was just 33 degrees! I’m ready to head south right now!

Terry and I had hoped to sleep in, but I guess waking up so early everyday during the rally had reset our internal alarm clocks, because we were both awake around 8 a.m. But since it was so cold, and because we had not had any time to ourselves for so long, we stayed under the covers snuggling, talking, and just enjoying some quiet time. We really needed that.

Eventually we got dressed, and Miss Terry opened our window blinds and the curtain over our windshield. During the rally, she was up before dawn, and working at the registration booth in the vendor building all day long, and never got home until after dark. She said she needed to see sunlight, even if it was cold, dreary sunlight.

Howard and Linda Payne, who operate the popular RV Dreams website, were here weighing RVs for RVSEF the last couple days, and they stopped over to say goodbye before leaving. Then we walked over to say goodbye to Charles and Chris Yust. Jack Allen and his wife Nell were parked behind Charles and Chris, and they were getting ready to hit the road too, so there was a big round of hugs between all of us, and Greg and Jan also came out to bid everybody farewell. Then we all hurried back inside our motorhomes to escape the cold.

When we are running a rally, there is little time for anything else. We hit the ground running early in the morning, and if we are lucky we crawl under the covers sometime around midnight. Needless to say, a lot of our regular chores get put on the back burner, and then we have to work like mad to catch up. Miss Terry started on a big mound of laundry that had piled up during the rally, while I attacked a backlog of e-mail.

In mid-afternoon, Terry went to WalMart to pick up some things, and I spent a couple of hours going over the feedback forms from the rally, and making notes for future events. We had 110 RVs here for the rally, and people liked the size, and the fact that it was so informal. We like that too, and never want our rallies to get so big that we lose that feeling.

The feedback forms are always interesting, and we always learn something from them. It’s always nice to get the ones that say things like “You’re great, we had a wonderful time!” or “Don’t change a thing, we loved it!”, which we get our share of, and really appreciate. But the ones that offer suggestions, or tell us what we could have done better are especially important. We can’t improve the rallies if we don’t know what people want that we are not offering.

There were several comments suggesting roundtable discussions on working on the road and volunteering. I’ll try to include them in our upcoming Arizona rally. There were also requests for more technical seminars on things like RV solar, batteries, and maintenance. I agree that we need them, we just have not had a lot of luck finding qualified people to present them. We had a few at this rally, including Roger Marble’s great seminar on RV tires, Dennis Hill’s seminar on testing air brakes, and two seminars on RV electrical systems, one by Kevin Mallory of Cruising America RV Service, and another by Larry Cadman. I’ll keep trying to get more.  

We got rave reviews on many of our seminars, including the computer seminars by the Geeks on Tour and Greg White, Dennis Hill’s driving seminar for women, and the For Women Only Roundtable. Carol Hill’s daily line dancing was also a big hit.  

Quite a few comments were very complimentary to our vendors, and some said we needed more vendors. I agree. Our vendor numbers were down this year, because an FMCA rally caused a conflict and kept some of our regulars away. Most of those who were here reported excellent sales, and Charles and Chris Yust said they wrote more insurance policies here than they have at any other rally. And those two go to a lot of rallies!

Some of the comments are ones that we get every time, and that we never can understand. At every rally, we get two or three comments that say we have too many seminars, and that people want more free time to just sit around and visit with friends, or to explore the local area. Educational seminars are the hallmark of our rallies. Terry and I will never be so vain as to think that we could ever compare to the great work that the late Gaylord Maxwell did with the Life on Wheels program, but with Life on Wheels now gone, we hope to fill at least a part of the void. But at every rally opening, I tell people that we don’t take attendance, and they are not required to to attend each and every class session. You can play hooky if you want to, or you can soak up as much knowledge as we can offer. It’s all up to you. 🙂

There were a number of comments on the terrible weather we had all week, but people acknowledged that we have no control over that. There were a few comments about the fact that some of the buildings had no heat, which made it uncomfortable sitting through seminars. We can work on that, by not scheduling the eastern rally so late in the year.

Some people said that they want full hookups, and parking on gravel or cement slabs. A few suggested that we hold future rallies at campgrounds instead of a fairgrounds. Unfortunately, there are few campgrounds that have the number of rooms we need for our seminars, and the cost is also much more than at a fairgrounds, which few people want to pay. As fairgrounds venues go, this is one of the best we have found in thirteen years of fulltiming and vending at rallies all over the country.  

We had a few comments that people did not enjoy our evening entertainment, and I think a big part of that was due to the poor acoustics in the building. I’m not sure what we can do about that, because the buildings here, and at most fairgrounds, are built to serve multiple duties, but being a concert hall is usually not one of them.

Several suggested that we have a food vendor for lunch. We had one here a couple of years ago, but his sales were so low that he declined to return.

All in all, we had a lot more positive comments than negative, and most of the negative ones were very helpful in giving us food for thought to help us do better the next time around. Thanks to all who came to the rally, and gave us their feedback, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Thought For The Day -  Every wrong decision is in fact a correct decision taken at a wrong time.

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Nick Russell

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  9 Responses to “Ohio Rally Recap”

  1. It still amazes me how you both can put on two rallies a year, publish the Gypsy Journal, post a wonderfully informative and entertaining daily blog, travel and visit places, and still have a life. You do have a life, don’t you?

    We are getting ready to head for Nappannee and warranty work on our MH after helping our recently widowed friend with her apple orchard – boy, do we appreciate what apples cost after seeing all the work involved! We hope to see you both if we’re all still in the Elkhart area at the same time. Rest up – well deserved!

  2. Normally you allow early and late RVer’s and there are normally campgrounds nearby and what is keeping people, if they want to attend all seminars, arriveing early and staying late to see what they want in an area. The lifestyle lends itself for a person to set the time they will be somewhere. You do not hold a gun to their heads and make them be there for a certain time. That is their choice.

  3. For those who want to be entertained all day long with funny skits and craft shows and day trips, there are plenty of rallies that supply that. We go to your rallies to learn. Don’t underestimate yourselves, you do an excellent job of filling the empty space Life on Wheels left, and still have the rally atmosphere. For those who don’t want to attend classes, go have fun. But why in the world would you go to a rally and pay the rally fee just to go sightseeing locally? You can do that before or after.

    I guess some people have a constant need to be taken by the hand and entertained. We were at an American Coach rally once that was just a big party. I think there were 2 real seminars and then a pet show, a catered dinner, and such. A waste of time and money. We stopped going to Good Sam rallies because all it is is a bunch of old codgers drinking coffee and playing cards. That’s fine if that’s your thing, but there is a real need for education out here in the RV world, and you guys supply it like nobody else.

    That’s why we keep coming back.

  4. Don’t change a thing! We love the educational seminars! You provide information we can’t find anywhere else. I am not into the internet to do research like so many people, but at every one of your rallies I learn lots of good things. Thank you and Terry for being so open and making each of us feel like family.

  5. Greg White did an excellent job on his computer seminars and I learned some things I really needed to know. I hope he does more in the future. You are wasting his talents having him parking cars and fixing stuff!!!!

  6. Watch it, Tom, we don’t want Greg getting a swelled head. Next thing you know, he’ll be demanding a raise. Of course, more of nothing is still nothing, so I guess I can afford that.

  7. For those who need to be told how to see the local sites, you might invite a speaker from the local tourist bureau. We went to one of those at a rally once and found out things like where to go to get the best giant cinnamon rolls and where to find the local museums and why we should go see them. That makes it easier to commit to spending more time in their town which, in turn, makes it easier to use all those restaurant gift certificates you give as door prizes without missing your events. I recommend you schedule that speaker on day one, maybe right after introducing the vendors, so people realize they can stay and do those things so they don’t have to miss any of your events. But, if that speaker also provides tips on where to go for good lunches during the week it will be even more popular.

  8. Nick and Miss Terry–

    We had a wonderful time last week, despite the weather! It was our first rally with you folk, and we were both impressed with how smoothly things ran. I have worked with conventions in hotels before, and I know the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes, before,during, and after the event. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for all you do.

    I was one who suggested more seminars on working on the road. My husband and I are wanting to start fulltiming in the next 5-10 years, and neither of us will be retired at that point. We did get a lot of helpful tips and even a job offer this weekend (wish we were closer to moving out), but I for one would really like more information about working on the road, especially for those of us who will need to get all our income that way. Examples: where to look for work, how to handle taxes, dealing with health insurance, etc.

    We are anticipating next year’s eastern rally already. See you there!

  9. I am sure you know that you can never please everyone but as a person who
    helped put on a yearly event for over 10 years I guarantee the people who
    complain the loudest never volunteer to help.

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