ARVC Leadership Profile: Joann DelVescio
LEADING STATE ASSOCIATIONS AND THE INDUSTRY TO NEW HEIGHTS!
Executive Director, New Jersey Campground Owners Association (NJCOA)
President, Campground Association of Management Professionals (CAMP)
How did you become involved in the campground industry?
It was 2011 and Jay Otto, who was the longtime executive director of NJCOA, was retiring. I knew Jay from my position as the executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and he thought that I would be a good fit to replace him. At that time, I was the tourism director in Stone Harbor, N.J. The board of NJCOA asked me to interview for the position and the rest is history.
What appealed to you about the opportunity?
I had been in the tourism industry, directing or leading tourism organizations, for about 30 years, and this was a segment of the tourism industry that I really had not much involvement with. It was a statewide association, as opposed to a regional association, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of the camping industry. After meeting the board, I knew it would be a great time for me to take the association to a new level.
What is the objective of the CAMP organization?
It was formed in 1977 when several state campground and RV park association executives got together and decided to have their meetings in conjunction with the annual ARVC conference. They learned that sharing information about their own state’s issues and programs helped each of them run a better association. We meet twice a year.
What was the outcome of CAMP’s recent spring meeting in Tampa?
There were 10 of us who attended CAMP—executive directors from state associations throughout the country. We had two-and-a-half days of meetings and networking. We also went to the Tampa RV Super Show. It's always a good time to be able to get together. We learn so much from each other.
What were some of the most important topics on the agenda?
We had a lifestyle coach who came to talk to us about how to de-stress. We had the marketing director from Miles Media, a national marketing company, to talk about the state of the American traveler. The Vice President of Visit Tampa Bay spoke to the group about what in-person conferences may look like in 2021 and going forward. We also had three campground owners who came to talk about how owners dealt with the pandemic in 2020 and what state executives can do to help our owners in 2021.
What are the plans for CAMP’s fall meeting?
ARVC Chairman and CEO Paul Bambi reached out to me last week and has offered to work with us on accommodations for meeting space at the convention center in Raleigh during the Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) in November. So, we plan on meeting in Raleigh in November.
How is the 2021 season shaping up for your member campgrounds in NJCOA?
Some of our campgrounds will begin to open throughout the month of March since Easter is early this year. I am hearing from members that they are very busy taking reservations. I can tell you just by the calls we are taking in the office, and the requests we're receiving through the website and our advertising initiatives, that camping is definitely top of mind for people this year. People are looking at campgrounds for workcations and staycations and 'schoolcations' with kids being in school at the campground and folks working from the campground. Some people may be staying close to their homes for the time being until they get vaccinated and are looking at campgrounds in their regional areas. Our RV dealers in New Jersey are telling us that lots of inventory is going out the door. We're working with the dealers on promotions to get these owners to stay at a campground in New Jersey. We had many folks new to camping in 2020 and we anticipate that will continue into 2021. We are predicting and hoping that 2021 will be very strong camping season.