Apr 15, 2016

RV Podcasts for Practical Tips and Inspiration

Excited for the New Camping Season? Check Out These RV Podcasts for Practical Tips and Inspiration!

If you are like most RVers, you are in the midst of dewinterizing and welcoming the arrival of a brand new camping season. Maybe you already took that first shake down trip. Maybe your first big trip is right around the corner. Or perhaps you are still shopping for the RV that will take you on your summer adventures.

Either way the RVFTA Podcast Network has podcast episodes that will help you stock the RV, plan your trips, and research an RV purchase.

If you are opening up the camper, check out our Spring Gear Guide Episodes #79 and #80, with dozens of recommendations for products inside and outside the RV. Does your RV need a bit of a facelift? Listen to our RV Makeover 101 Episode #82.  Stuck on what trailer to purchase, we have entire episodes devoted to the Pros and Cons of a Hybrid, Toy Hauler, and Travel Trailer.

If you are still nailing down your travel plans for 2016 camping season, Campground of the Week will inspire you to visit great RV destinations around the country. Recent episodes covered urban camping options in San Francisco, a major fishing destination in Missouri, and the Lazydays RV Resort outside of Tampa, Florida. From dry camping in national parks to waterfront resort RV parks, this podcast has something for every type of camper.

Our resident Girl Camper, Janine Pettit is busy teaching women how to tow and where to go. If you are trying to find the perfect trailer for your solo adventures, check out Episode #20: Tab Trailer Talk or Episode #26: Sylvansport's Coolest Camper Ever. She will also talk you through all those features in your tow vehicle on Episode #18. Want to maximize your travels this season? Then take notes on Episode #21: Cutting Camping Costs.

Tune in, get inspired, and we will see you at the campground!

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Apr 14, 2016

The ABC's of TV for RV

Post originally seen on WinnebagoLife.com
WinnebaGoLife: The ABC’s of TV for RV
Mobile TV watching has come a long way since my parents traveled in their RV in the early 1970’s where a “compact,” 12-inch square, black and white Sony, with a single telescoping wand antenna was their only option.  And even at that, the channel selection was usually limited to four or five channels in a big city and maybe one in a rural town.
Now, inside our Navion motorhome in a rainy Tampa with two flat screens, HD TV antenna, cable input, satellite dish, and AppleTV, the only reason we’d be bored is because we’re dead.  But, all this entertainment choice comes with a trade-off: complexity.  At this point, if you’re part of that exclusive class of book readers only, you can stop here while the rest of us ascend the hierarchy of television reception options.
If you’ve been plugged into cable at home over the past decade you probably missed the part of the digital revolution where the FCC required over-the-air broadcasters to switch to digital signals.  This required new frequencies and tuners and, for the past decade, all TVs have this circuitry built in.  It all means that rabbit ears now refer only to Bugs Bunny, not the twin v-rods extending from the rear of the TV.  To receive over-the-air TV signals you now need an HDTV antenna.  In our case its a batwing shaped KINGJack TV antenna that can be rotated around by a manual ceiling control with five little blue LEDs that light up when you hone in on the best signal.
Broadcasters continue to air their main channels as usual, but there are sub-channels they also broadcast alternative programs on.  The result is that there are far more channels to chose from over the air, but don’t expect to see cable/satellite only channels like CNN or Discovery off your antenna.
If your rig is wired for cable input, you can get basic programming tiers in standard definition.  This usually is 20-40 channels.  Hi-definition channels usually require a digital tuner (ex. cable box).  In one case, when we were hooked up to a cable in Moab, Utah I was shocked to see some high-def signals appear, but that’s rare.  Park cable systems range from poor to crystal clear signals and often the lower band channels are poorer in quality (there’s a technical reason for that, but it’s not worth going down that rabbit hole).
Depending on whether or not you are feeding your TV with an over-the-air or cable signal, all modern TVs will require you to go into the menu settings and have the TV scan for the available channels – a process that usually takes 10 to 20 minutes.  Inside psychological tip: if you stare at the screen while it’s scanning, it will seem like it’s taking twice as long, so busy yourself with something else while your TV does it’s thing.
And here’s the number one tuning tip than many RVers overlook:  make sure your outside antenna booster circuit is turned off.  Many late model RVs (Winnebago included) use antenna amplifiers for off-the-air digital antennas.  When that little switch is on (and there’s usually an indicator light) it can cause distortion in the cable signal. Turn he switch off — your picture quality should be much better.
Satellite service
In the US there are only two satellite providers:  DirectTV and Dish Network. Bell Canada is the Canadian provider.  While both US services offer a gigantic range of signals, DirectTV does offer exclusive services like NFL Sunday Ticket that allows you to watch any NFL game.  Satellite service is the ultimate TV lover’s choice with both Dish and Direct offering 100+ channel packages starting around $60 per month.
Adding satellite to your RV requires several decisions to be made up front. The first is which service and the second is which type of dish.  Let’s start with service.
While Direct and Dish are very comparable in their offerings and prices, they use completely different satellites.  In DirectTV’s case if you want high definition channels, then you’ll have to go with an open style satellite dish.  If Direct’s standard definition is okay, then you can use a dome covered antenna.  Unlike DirectTV, Dish allows you to use a dome covered dish for both standard and hi-def signals. If you already have Direct or Dish service at home, you might consider taking one of your receivers on the road.  If you are buying a service from scratch, then Dish has the edge for several reasons.
One feature Dish provides at no extra cost is allowing you to change your service address so you can get local channels. If we’re going to be staying in a particular state or region for a week or two I’ll call Dish and give them a local address (such as a campground) for our service address.  That activates the local channels so you get all national networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS and CW.  (There used to be an additionally priced service for national networks from the east and west coasts, but that’s no longer offered.)
Dish works with a dome antenna for both hi-def and standard-def signals.  So products like the Winegard Mission RT, G2 and Tailgater work well.  Dish also has a “pay as you go” plan that allows you to basically pay for satellite service on a month to month basis when you’re traveling.  But here’s the irritation with that.  While Dish advertises and markets this service to RVers, the actual process is painful and confusing.  When I first started the service I asked several Dish agents about the consequences of not paying my bill.  I was assured that it was not a problem and service would simply be turned off, until I wanted to re-activate by paying for the month ahead.
Well, when I stopped paying, the notices via mail and e-mail started coming with dire warnings should I not keep my account current.  I called several times and was assured that, “no, everything’s fine and you should discard the insistent e-mail and mail payment reminders.”  I held my breath to see if Dish would ultimately report this as a credit problem — fortunately, they didn’t.  Usually we turned service off for a month or two, but in our most recent stretch at home we didn’t use Dish services for over 90 days.  That caused my account to be deactivated and I had to pay a small reactivation fee.  That particular agent said I should call and “suspend” my service and I would only be assessed a $5 dollar a month maintenance fee.
Man, all of this is far more complicated, confusing, and as customer unfriendly as it gets — especially since it’s so contradictory from the promise of Dish’s pay as you go marketing.  Yet despite this continuing aggravation I still feel that Dish is the best choice because of the ability to get both high and standard definition channels and the rather torturous ability to save money by suspending service.
Satellite dishes
Dishes are either fixed to the roof or detachable with a cable that runs from a dish unit placed on the ground. King and Winegard are the two big suppliers and both make good products.  We’ve had Winegard dome models on both our Navions and have been very happy with their dependability and good customer service.
If you do a lot of camping under the trees, you’ll want a detachable antenna dish that you can place with an unobstructed sky view.  I prefer the roof mount and, if TV watching is important to us that evening, we’ll often ask for a satellite friendly site when we check into a campground.  My signal’s been thwarted by very sparse branches.  There are also inexpensive apps for both the iPhone and Android that show you where the satellites are so you can park for an unobstructed view.
The traditional open style, concave satellite dishes need to be stowed in a lockdown position for travel.  Domes protect antennas from highway wind and the elements. If you remove the lightweight dome cover you’ll see a similar, though smaller, concave antenna underneath. Many dome units offer in-motion satellite tracking for continuous video viewing when traveling.  And if you have a coach with multiple TVs, you want to make sure that the antenna you buy has the ability to send two different signals to two or more TVs.
Satellite in Canada and Alaska
If you’re a Canadian, you’ll have a choice of providers between Bell or Shaw.  As of 2012, Bell no longer has signal service below the border.  Shaw does provide service in the US so you can keep up on your favorite curling competitions.  For Alaskan travelers, the general consensus is that satellite signal quality degrades the further north you get.  The satellites used for TV are in a geosynchronous (rotating at the same speed of the earth)  location 23,000 miles above Brazil.  This means that the more north you get, the lower in the sky you have to point your dish (almost to the horizon) which increases the problems for a blocked signal.  Satellite signals are very weak and that’s why dish antennas are curved to concentrate the signal (like cupping your hand over your ear).  In the case of extreme north locations you generally see larger four foot dishes to gather in the weak signal.
A new option on the horizon
I’ve discussed the three different ways (over the air, cable and satellite) that most people will use to watch TV, but there’s a fourth one that is starting to get some traction:  streaming.  Streaming is getting a TV signal through the Internet.  There’s a growing list of streaming media players vying for consumer’s love.  And there’s a lot to discuss about the ins and outs of this emerging technology which will appear in another article in the near future.  Streaming may have a very bright future for RVers, but for now the three “old school” ways of getting your favorite shows will be with us for a long time to come.
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Fantastic 4: 2016 Journey

Post originally seen on WinnebagoLife.com
We’re putting the finishing touches on the 2016 Journey/Meridian and want to spotlight four of our favs.
#1 & #2  It’s a cook’s kitchen
JR-Galley-16Don’t use the word galley for this one. Feature #1 in the 38P floorplan is a brilliant wraparound kitchen design that offers a countertop extension and behind the sink riser.  This is perfect for complex meal prep before, and serving later.  Feature #2 is the pot filler faucet behind the range.   Beyond the convenience, this luxury residential feature points how how easy it is for two people to be working at the same time.
#3 The best Infotainment System. . .period
JR-Dash-16At the heart of our dual screen Infotainment system is a 10.5” display – the largest in the industry.  This is approaching Tesla territory in terms of display size.  With multiple exterior camera display, AM/FM radio, Sirius XM, auxiliary input, and Rand McNally RV-specific GPS integration, this truly changes the driver’s experience in terms of visibility and control.
#4 Max storage with the Maxum Chassis
JR-Ext Storage Tray Out-16Another Winnebago exclusive is our Maxum Chassis.  By lowering the frame rails the handling characteristics of the motorhome improve, but when you hook up at your site the real magic unfolds with huge roll-out storage.  Not only can you have it all. . .you can take it with you.
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Apr 13, 2016

How to Get New Customers Into Your Dealership

You have a strong customer base, but you're not getting as many leads as you used to from traditional marketing methods. You sink more money into television advertisements, paid search ads, radio commercials and billboards, but your ROI isn't hitting the mark. It's time to consider inbound marketing strategies.

What is inbound marketing?

With traditional marketing, also called outbound marketing, you're sending out your message and hoping your audience responds. Inbound marketing takes the opposite approach by attracting customers to your marketing assets: Instead of using straightforward advertising messaging, inbound marketing focuses on creating value for the customer. Common forms of inbound marketing include blog posts, online videos, email newsletters, guides and infographics.

The benefits of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing's biggest benefit is drastically reducing the cost you pay per lead; Hubspot reports the typical company pays 61 percent less for inbound leads compared to its outbound costs. Customers also self-screen themselves with inbound marketing, since only interested people click through to view your marketing assets.

With inbound marketing you take the role as a trusted advisor for potential customers instead of someone trying to actively convince them to buy. While you spread marketing call to actions throughout your inbound marketing materials, you also know they're always relevant to the content; you can therefore build trust with your leads and give them a reason to return. Customers associate your dealership with a knowledgeable and authoritative business, so they come to you when they're ready to buy.

Inbound marketing ideas

You have many options for implementing inbound marketing strategies and bringing in new customers. The following ideas will get you started on attracting customers to your dealership, instead of sending your message out blindly.

             RV owner tips newsletter: Email newsletters provide you with a valuable way to connect with your customers. Your tips provide a helpful resource for new and experienced RV owners, and you can ask your email list to contribute their tips.
             Guide to the best places to drive: Create a local guide to scenic routes, and help your customers imagine doing these drives in one of your RVs.
             Video reviews of RV models: Put your leads right in the action with engaging video reviews of your favorite RV models.
             Twitter chats on RV topics: Social media channels let you engage directly with potential customers. Use a Twitter hashtag to coordinate a RV chat and catch your audience's interest.

Your dealership gains many benefits from adding inbound marketing to your existing marketing strategy. Bring your leads to you, and keep them around by offering exceptional value. Reach out to us at RV Trader for more assistance.
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Apr 11, 2016

Winnebago Minnie Winnie 31G

The full-length slideout on Winnebago’s new MinnieWinnie 31G floorplan opens up a world of possibilities for families who love to camp.

With a walkaround queen bed in the master bedroom, plus bunk beds, cabover bed and convertible sofa, the 31G offers a variety of sleeping accommodations, while the large angled galley makes feeding the troops a breeze.

And like every Minnie Winnie, the 31G features a patio awning, LED lighting, stylish vinyl ceiling, large exterior trunk for added storage and of course, Winnebago’s proven SuperStructure construction.

Learn more about the Minnie Winnie, and see why it’s the #1 choice for value-conscious families here.

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The next best thing to being there

You can browse through photos, study floorplans or even take a video tour.  But as experienced RV shoppers know, there’s nothing like actually walking through an RV to truly understand how it feels to be right there inside.

Until now, anyway.

With the recent launch of WinnVision, Winnebago has introduced a virtual reality experience that lets you seamlessly “walk through“ an RV so you can see it from all perspectives.

And while WinnVision goes far beyond a 360-degree view shot from one position, the technology can be viewed on computers, tablets and smartphones, with no special software required.

“It’s truly a game changer,” noted Scott Degnan, Winnebago’s Vice President of Sales and Product Management.  “Not only is this a first for our industry, but Winnebago is one of the first major consumer brands in the world to put this extraordinary technology to use.”

To experience WinnVision for yourself, see the Grand Tour gallery here or check out the growing library of WinnVision “experiences” for Winnebago models at winnebagoind.com.
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Apr 1, 2016

Industry Leaders Launch The "Big Outdoor Adventure RV Giveaway"

One winner will win a toy hauler and one year of unlimited camping from Keystone RV, Thousand Trails, Cycle Trader, RV Trader and ATV Trader

Keystone RV, Thousand Trails, Cycle Trader, RV Trader and ATV Trader partnered to launch The Big Outdoor Adventure Giveaway at 9:00 a.m. ET on April 1, 2016. The sweepstakes will run for three months, ending at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, 2016 and the winner will be selected by random drawing after the conclusion of the promotion.
One grand prize winner will receive a 2016 Keystone Fuzion Impact VaporLite 26V RV and a pass for one year of camping at any of the Thousand Trails locations in the United States. The RV is valued at approximately $40,000 and the camping pass is worth $2,995, bringing the total prize value to $42,995.
“Through this partnership with the Trader brands and Thousand Trails, we will be reaching out to millions of families who enjoy the outdoors and the RV lifestyle,” said Jeff Runels, president of Keystone RV Company.  “Keystone RVs are among the top-searched brands on RV Trader, and many Thousand Trails members own Keystone RVs.  The Big Outdoor Adventure Giveaway is a golden opportunity for us to reacquaint these families with all the benefits Keystone has to offer and to introduce new families to the Keystone brand.”

“We are excited to partner with RV Trader, Cycle Trader, ATV Trader and Keystone RV Company to sponsor this fantastic giveaway,” said Dan Perlis, senior vice president for Thousand Trails. “The winner will enjoy access to more than 80 campgrounds across the country with a Thousand Trails Camping Pass. There’s simply no better way to make the most of a new RV!”

Outdoor enthusiasts can enter to win the Big Outdoor Adventure Giveaway at: www.BigOutdoorGiveaway.com. In addition, motocross and supercross fans will be able to view the RV and register in person at select CycleTrader.com/Rock River/Yamaha race team events across the nation.
As Paige Bouma, vice president of RV Trader, Cycle Trader, and ATV Trader said, “All of our consumers are passionate about being outdoors which is why we are thrilled to offer a grand prize that allows them to do what they love - take a great adventure! We hope they will spend the rest of the year enjoying their new Keystone RV at all the great campgrounds Thousand Trails has to offer.”
About Keystone RV
Keystone RV Company is the #1 manufacturer of fifth-wheel and toy-haulers in North America and a leading manufacturer of travel trailers.  With over 1,000 retail locations in the United States and Canada, you are never far from a Keystone dealer. Keystone is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of RVs.

About Encore and Thousand Trails
Encore RV resorts and Thousand Trails campgrounds feature more than 180 locations across North America comprising nearly 70,000 sites.  Owned and operated by Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc., Encore, Thousand Trails and their affiliates offer RV and outdoor recreation enthusiasts opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in top vacation destinations, complemented with resort-style amenities. For more information please visit RVontheGo.com.

About Cycle Trader
Cycle Trader is made up of a unique portfolio of premier powersport buying and selling sites. These include: Cycle Trader, ATV Trader, PWC Trader, and Snowmobile Trader. With its wide variety of products, Cycle Trader provides a comprehensive digital marketing solution for all businesses serving the powersports industry. With over 450,000 units for sale and over two million visitors every month, Cycle Trader reaches more active buyers across all devices than any other source, making it the leading online powersports marketplace. Private sellers are able to take advantage of the site’s free basic listings in order to sell their bike online.

About RV Trader

RV Trader is the premier online classifieds website for buying and selling RVs. Over 145,000 new and pre-owned recreation vehicles are available from dealers and private sellers across the country. With over 2.5 million visitors every month, RV Trader is the perfect place to search, shop and sell RVs. RV Trader.com offers dealers a comprehensive suite of digital marketing products to help them advertise their products to potential buyers across all devices. Find your dream RV today on RV Trader!
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