I’ve had a chance to read over all of the feedback forms from our Yuma rally, and Terry has most of the paperwork wrapped up. Much of the results are about what I expected, though some are a bit surprising.
There are always a lot of feedback forms that tell us we’re doing a good job and not to change a thing, and while that makes us feel good, we know that there is always room for improvement. Overall, the feedback forms tell us that the selection of seminars we offered met the needs of most of the rally attendees.
As always, we had requests for more travel destination seminars, which we are constantly looking for but not having a lot of success in finding. The selection of technical seminars got a lot of positive feedback, especially Greg White’s computer seminars, the smart phone seminars by Barbara Westerfield and CoolJudy Rinehimer, and all of the seminars put on by Larry Crutcher of Starlight Solar. Other popular seminars were For Women Only, and the roundtables on topics like RVing Grandparents and volunteering.
I’m always surprised by the people who complain that we have too many seminars to choose from. If we had less, would people complain that we don’t have enough? We always get a couple of people that say the seminar schedule is too busy and there is not enough downtime. Folks, we don’t take attendance! You don’t have to attend every one.
Most attendees praised our parking crew, though a couple of people complained that they had to wait as much as three hours to park. It takes a long time to get that many rigs moved and parked safely. One person asked why he had to wait if we started parking rigs at 1 p.m. and he arrived at 1:15? It was probably all of those RVs that arrived ahead of you and waited their turn. 150 RVs and three gates to bring them in and then get them parked safely. You do the math.
And then we have some comments that make me chuckle. Most people say that the noise of the aircraft from the Marine base across the road is an inconvenience at times, but it’s the sound of freedom. But one person e-mailed asked if we could arrange to have them not fly during the rally, or to take off and land from the south instead of flying north over the fairgrounds. That would involve invading Mexico’s air space, and I just don’t think I have that much clout.
At every rally we have held, we have lost money on rally T-shirts. I won’t buy cheap shirts that fall apart in a month, and decent shirts cost money, and we have to order a minimum of 100 shirts. I don’t think we’ll continue to have rally shirts available. We broke even on the pizza party, which is fine. We don’t expect to make a profit on everything at the rally.
Which brings us to the bottom line, which is not pretty. Every year costs have gone up, Insurance, rally supplies, fairgrounds rental, building rentals, chair and table rentals, you name it and it goes up. Meanwhile, we charge much less than any other rally of our size, offering the same number of seminars, entertainment, etc. The low cost is one of the things that both attendees and vendors always say they like about our rallies. But we can’t live on accolades. We are a business, and no business can continue to lose money and survive.
When we factor in the negative return, the months of hard work it takes to put on two rallies a year, and the fact that we are physically and mentally wiped out for a couple of weeks afterward (which I believe is a big part of Terry’s present health problem), something has to change. I’m just not sure what that change is.
Do we start charging more for the rallies, to at least break even or make a small profit? Do we cut back to one rally a year? If so, where? Do we even continue to hold rallies past the Ohio rally this September, or next year’s Yuma rally? I don’t have any answers yet. But we’re open to suggestions.
Thought For The Day – Expectations are premeditated resentments.