Teetering On The Edge

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 312012

We are running into one frustrating snag after another with our Arizona Gypsy Journal Rally and we are teetering on the edge of whether or not to even hold it, so I’m going to vent a little bit here, if you will allow me.

Two years ago the fairgrounds changed the starting time for our Early Bird day from first thing Sunday morning to noon, and this year they moved us back to 1 p.m. I got a phone call the other day telling me that they had booked another event before us and at our rally scheduled for next February we would not be able to start parking people until 3 p.m. That gives us about 2½ hours of daylight. We normally park in excess of 120 RVs on Early Bird day. Can you see a logistics problem here?

Our original agreement allowed us to bring in two other RVs with us for our advance crew, a week ahead of time, and for us to be able stay over on the fairgrounds for about three days to get all of our after-rally paperwork caught up. This year we had to leave by 1 PM on Friday because they had booked another event.

There has been no consideration for the cuts that have been imposed upon us, we have just had to suck it up and deal with it. But we’re done giving in. The fairgrounds manager is out of town this week, but I plan to call him next week and try to get things back on track as originally agreed upon. I will know more after that conversation takes place.

Meanwhile, the cost of everything, from fairgrounds rental to insurance, to morning coffee and donuts, paper cups and plates, etc. has all gone up. Some over 400%. But we have kept our price the same, which is the lowest by far of any rally around, and we offer more seminars than most.

We have lost money, a lot of money, on our last three or four rallies, and finally (reluctantly) decided that for the Arizona rally, we had to raise the price by $25, to $150 for the four days of camping, over sixty seminars on everything from RV driving to RV fire safety, computers, internet access, boondocking, RV electrical systems, solar power and a lot more. Not to mention our evening entertainment and tons of door prizes.

Suddenly we started getting e-mails complaining and telling us we were getting too greedy, that four days of camping at a fairgrounds without full hookups is not worth $37.50 a day no matter how many seminars we offer, and such.

I have to be honest. We are asking ourselves if it is really worth it? We love the camaraderie of our rallies and we try very hard to make them the best events we possibly can. But it takes months to plan a successful rally; the Ohio rally has not even begun yet, but I’m working on the Arizona rally. For the weeks leading up to a rally, we both work 10 or 12 hours a day, and even more during rally week. Not to mention the work put in by all of our volunteers. After a rally we are physically worn out and this year after the Yuma rally Terry became very sick.

So again, is it worth it? We are burned out and cannot continue at this pace. Our options are to stop holding rallies altogether or to go down to one rally a year, possibly in different parts of the country. Either way, the cost has to go up, because even with the $25 price increase we won’t do much more than break even.

I am interested to know what you folks think. Especially those who actually come to our rallies and know what kind of event we put on. Should we cancel Arizona for 2013? Should we hold it and then go to a reduced schedule? Or should we get out of the rally business altogether? If we do continue, how much are you willing to pay? What’s fair?

Thought For The Day – Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

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Nick Russell

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  63 Responses to “Teetering On The Edge”

  1. I just finished paying for 3 nights in the Okanagan area around Kelowna, BC in Canada. The total bill was $204.00 Canadian (about $206.00 US dollars). This is the going price for this area. The RV park has 10 sites with one coin laundry washer and dryer and 2 bathrooms with a shower. There is a great view and we are in an Apple orchard but we are 4 km from the lake. The lakeside RV parks have much higher prices.
    My suggestion for your rallies is raise the price to $200.00 and be happy.

  2. We are among the folks who have not been able to get to one of your rallies due entirely to our limited schedules. The cost seems to me to be a huge bargain. As for “37.50/day for a campsite with no hookups”…. you are not selling campsites. You are selling seminars, social events with other RVers, and a fun experience in general. The campsite is FREE with entry to the Rally, at least that is MY opinion. No businessman can give away his product at a loss and stay in business, even if it is NOT exhausting. So it seems to me that the only sensible business decision is to raise the price of the Rally so you can make a profit commensurate with the time and energy you put into it. Those who don’t need information from seminars and want to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere can choose to find another free campground for a few nights.

    I just hope you don’t go out of business before we get to a rally! After 8 years, we still have SO much to learn!

  3. Nick, you seem to be the low price rally guy. You don’t even charge the price of a tank of diesel. Not even a half tank 🙂 Another un named rally starts in Riverbend RV resort in Oregon in September. He charges 280.00 for 2 people. That’s just for the rally, not space for camping. 400.00 for a family. Small discount is offered if you have been to a previous rally. Few will ever tell you you are to cheap, so all you will get is the complainers. Just a thought

  4. Sorry to use this kind of language but the term “cheap bastards” keeps running through my mind. We would gladly pay an additional $100 to make the price $250. It’s about the seminars and knowledge offered, not for the camping.

  5. Don’t put on rallies that don’t make money. Raise your price in order to make money. You are a BUSINESS not a CHARITY!!!!. All things are going up. And as others have said, the rally fee is NOT a camping fee. It covers everything: food, seminars, entertainment etc, There will always be whiners. If they don’t want to pay the price, tough. Those of us who enjoy your rallies want them to continue. And let us help as volunteers. Give volunteer pins/badges/stick on volunteer ribbon/or something to pin/stick on out name tag. That’s thanks enough!!!!!!

  6. Nancy & I agree with most of the commenters, you deserve a fair profit for the massive effort you put into these rallies. We’ve been to both the east and west rallies and they are worth a lot more than you charge. We have seen the effort that you and Terry put in during the rally and can only imagine the amount of work involved in planning and organizing – just dealing with the fairground issues would be enough for me to throw in the towel!

    We were not very impressed with the Yuma area and would prefer somewhere else like Tucson, but that is just us. For the folks who complain about the price, hey, just save your money and only come every couple of years. We have skipped a couple of years for various reasons.

    As others have suggested, how about one a year that moves around from the east to the west from year to year. Maybe even a three year rotation – southeast, midwest, west. Lots of options, but we say for starters raise the price and make it one a year.

    As our doctor often says: “Well, as we get older …” Might be time to slow down a bit.

  7. I agree with the above comments – you aren’t selling RV spaces, but seminars and activities and such. As far as your question about cancelling Yuma – yes, I think you should. Perhaps as the above poster says, just one a year and move around. I cannot believe people are complaining. Cheap *&^$s.

  8. Nick, Things to consider
    Of the people who complain about the raise in rate for the rally. How many of them actually have come to the rallies in the past? Are they just complainers?
    As an alternative, how about just charging for the rally, not the camping space. Then negotiate the best rate with the campground and let the individual campers make their own reservations.
    I think there may be enough time to get a different RV park for the rally.
    I know I would come to the rally even if it were $200.


  9. Sorry we can’t make the rally in Celina this year but it wasn’t the price. We have enjoyed the three rallys we have attended, rain and all. I would miss them if you didn’t have them but as everyone said, you have to at least break even. Also, thanks for the information about the kayak. We have been enjoying our 370 for a month now.

  10. You know how much we enjoy the Arizona Rally and it would be a shame to cancel it, BUT, we know how hard you work to make it a success and it is our feeling that you shouldn’t lose money doing it. Raise the price to make it profitable for you and those of us who know a good deal will still be there. Keep up the good work and we look forward to seeing you both soon.

  11. The 2012 Yuma Rally was our first and we enjoyed it very much and already put the dates for the 2013 Yuma Rally on our calendar. That said, you must to what is best for you and Terry. After all, we only go around once in this life and need to make the best of it that we can. While we will be disappointed if you cancel Yuma for 2013, we will understand. You put on a very nice, informative and fun Rally especially for individuals (meaning not a manufacturer or big name ‘club’) and we were thrilled to save $700 a year on our insurance! (That alone more than paid for our trip.) With fuel prices again on the rise, more people will opt to stay put so that is something else to consider.

  12. Hey, Nick,

    You and Terry (and your loving helpers) maybe COULD just do one rally a year. I’m thinking something like:

    Even years = east coast or towards the eastern central USA
    Odd years = west coast or towards the western central USA

    And, charge what you need to in order to make a profit, since you and Terry should not be a philanthropy for RV rallies, unless you have money to burn. Your devoted public and RVing friends will adapt to your newer prices.

    Yes, they will.

    Remember: your health comes first.

    A profitability for all that work comes next.

    And the whiners and grouchy complainers don’t fit in the mix anywhere.

  13. We are currently attending the rally in Celina. This is the third GJ rally in four years we have been able to attend. In that time, we also went to another rally two years ago in Goshen. We find your rallies to be more informative, more diverse subjects and in general a greater value. We would pay $200 to come to one of your rallies. They are WORTH IT!
    Thanks for all you and Terry do!

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