10 Important Steps for Organizing an RV Rally
10 Important Steps for Organizing an RV Rally
Beginner tips for owners wanting to host a larger-scale RVer meetup.
By: Greg Bond
If you’ve been to an RV rally, you know what a great time these events can be! You get to have fun, relax, make new friends, and see old friends. I’ve attended six Winnebago rallies, two View/Navion rallies, three EKKO rallies, and Winnebago’s Grand National Rally.
Each rally has been different and very enjoyable to attend, and you get to meet some awesome people that all have one thing in common: RVs! You may have even thought of organizing your own rally, but don’t know where to start.
If you decide you want to organize an RV rally there are numerous things you need to consider before embarking on this journey. I’m in the process of organizing my third Winnebago EKKO Rally and I’ll break things down into ten major steps you should take into consideration before organizing an RV rally.
1. Commitment & Organization
The first thing to factor into your decision is the time it will take you to organize your rally event. It takes a considerable amount of time to plan every aspect of the rally. Many people don’t realize the amount of time and effort it takes for an organizer to gather everyone together in one place and have an awesome event. However, most rally attendees are grateful to the organizers and will be sure to tell you “Thank You” and how much fun they had at the rally.
Organization is also a key factor in making a rally successful. You don’t have to be a professional event or party planner, but you do need to have some organizational skills. You’ll need to keep track of everything that needs to take place for the rally as well as all the information that you’ll need to collect from and provide to the attendees. Being organized will help you keep track of all the info you’ll gather, and it will end up saving you time in the long run.
2. Target Audience
Who is your target audience for the rally? Are you targeting a specific RV model and their owners? Do you want a mix of RV types and models? Would your target audience prefer an RV park or are they boondockers? Is the target audience active and adventurous? Do they want to do outdoor activities or indoor activities?
The answers to all of these questions will have an impact on the remaining steps. It will help in determining a location for the rally, what amenities should be available, what activities you will set up, and what expectations you need to communicate.
3. Timing & Location
When and where will you have your rally? The timing will depend on several factors:
Choosing the Time of Year and General Location
The time of year you are targeting needs to complement the general area of the country you want to meet in. Try to align the region with the best season (weather) for that location.
Avoid Conflicting Event Dates
Try to avoid the same dates of other RV rallies and events your attendees may want to join. Look up major events in the area to see if there may be an impact on accessibility, availability, or activities scheduled during the rally. There may also be a local event that you would like to use to compliment your rally, such as an RV show or outdoor show in the area.
The location for the rally will have many determining factors and they are all important to consider when choosing a location.
Below are some items to focus on when choosing the right location for your rally:
Type of Venue
The type of location will have many elements to consider. RV rallies can be held in many different places, but you will need to either estimate the number of attendees/RVs, or set a limit that is based on the size of the location you choose.
- RV Parks are an option but normally you would have to plan far in advance and likely pay some reservation fees that could be hefty, depending on the number of spots you are reserving. Some RV parks may have an overflow or group camp spot, that may be available.
- Regional Parks with group campsites are a great option and usually come with a minimal reservation fee. When assessing a group site, take into consideration the number of RVs you can fit, and be sure to calculate tow vehicles or trailers (if needed). Group sites are typically dry camping sites and do not include power, water, or sewer hookups. But those amenities are normally available within the park.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also a good choice and normally a minimal cost or free. When picking a site, be sure to pick some back-up locations in case someone is already camping in that location when you arrive. Typically, there are no BLM areas that can be reserved, but there may be exceptions depending on the location and amenities. The BLM areas would most likely be boondocking locations. Meaning there is no power, water, or sewer.
- Fairgrounds could also be a possibility. Some fairgrounds have large grass areas or RV areas set up for fairs and events. There would be reservation fees associated with this venue.
- Vineyards, Breweries, Distilleries, Farms and Event Locations are other possibilities. All are normally limited in size so these may be great locations for small and medium-sized groups. Even ski resort parking lots could be an option in the summertime.
Site amenities are important to consider. Any of the site options mentioned above could be used for boondocking. If your rally attendees require full RV hookups, then you will be limited to fewer choices.
4. Communication & Sign Up
How are you going to communicate the existence of your RV rally and get people to sign up to attend? Being part of an existing owners’ group or RV-specific group will help get the word out. The use of sites like Facebook, MeetUp, RV forums, and other platforms that let you schedule events, are great places to post your rally information.
You will want to gather all the details of the rally and include a “What to Expect” section and provide as much detail as possible about the venue, requirements, limits, fee, dates, activities, etc. Once you post all the details of your rally, you want to have a way to for people to sign-up and register for the event. If there is a payment that is required to sign up, be sure to post that information and make sure to provide details on cancellations if they are needed.
A great free way to keep track of registration is to use Google Forms and Google Sheets. You can easily create a Google Form and capture all the info you will need from each attendee and include the link to the form in your event posting. When they fill out the form, the results go to a Google Sheet that you’ll have access to, and all their info will be added to the sheet automatically.
5. Rally Events & Activities
Once you decide to host a rally, you’ll need to decide on what events and activities the attendees will be able to experience. There are numerous activities that can be done, and some may depend on the theme of the rally or the location.
Here are just a few activities that may spark some ideas: Hiking, biking, horseback riding, beer/wine/spirits tasting, RV tech talks, RV Mod talks, RV vendor/product talk, group exercise/yoga, cornhole, horseshoes, other outdoor games, potluck, fireside chat, RV tours, and raffles.
Ask your rally attendees if they have any knowledge, experience, skills, or hobbies they might be able to teach a class on. You might be surprised by what you discover!
Once you determine the events and activities, be sure to post a schedule on the event site and have a whiteboard at the rally so you can post the daily schedule. The whiteboard helps when the agenda is fluid or flexible.
6. Setting Expectations
Be sure to take into consideration exactly what each attendee can expect. Not everyone has the same experience, so be sure to include details about the rally as if you’ve never been to a rally before.
Here are some questions to make sure you answer:
- What is the arrival and check-in process?
- What kind of camping will there be?
- What are the fees?
- When should attendees plan to arrive and leave?
- What should they bring with them, including any items for a specific activity or event?
- Where can they get water and dump waste?
- What’s the typical weather like in that location at that time of year?
- What are the directions to the rally?
- What are the area services (including cell service, gas, food, and propane)?
The more information you can provide, the better prepared the attendees will be when they arrive.
7. Amenities, Services & Attractions
Identify all the rally site amenities that will be available to the attendees. This would include: RV site types, power, water, sewer, WiFi. Basically, what is available from the site location, if anything?
Be sure to look up all major services that are available nearby. Some locations could be out in the middle of nowhere and not have any nearby services. As mentioned, provide a list of nearby services including cell service (provider/coverage), gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, water and waste dump locations, and propane refill locations.
List any local attractions or must-see places that are nearby, including museums, galleries, festivals, shopping, local foods, outdoor attractions, etc.
8. Rally Goodies & Raffles
Everyone likes to win stuff or get free stuff, right? Rally goodies and raffles are always great to have at your rally. This part of organizing is one of the more time-consuming activities when planning a rally.
Welcome bags are a great start to greet your attendees when they arrive. This can be a simple bag with their name badges, a sign for their RV with their names, and a few small swag-type gifts (pens, clips, koozies, etc.). You can be as elaborate as you want. If you decide not to do a welcome bag, at minimum you will want to have name tags for the attendees.
Raffle items can be tough to get, and it takes many emails and phone calls to different vendors to persuade them to donate a product to support a raffle. Focus on RV-related products and services. Be sure to note to the company donating the level of exposure they will have to your RV group. You also may want to ask the attendees if they have anything they would like to donate to the raffle.
9. Gather Necessary Equipment & Be Prepared
Be prepared to take some extra items with you to the rally to help support your efforts. At minimum bring one or two large folding tables, a whiteboard with markers, raffle tickets and box, and name tags with holders/lanyards.
Nice to haves: 10x10 or larger popup canopy, ice chest and ice, propane fire pits, extension cords, string lights for canopy, and direction signs (if needed).
You never know what could happen at a rally, so you will also need to be prepared for weather changes, including rain, snow, wind, lightning, etc. Bring what you think you might need in case the weather changes.
10. Take Pictures/Video & Have Fun
Be sure to take many pictures and video. If you have a drone, bring that if you’re allowed to fly it in the area. If not, you could (safely) stand on your RV roof and get some pictures and video of the group.
Also capture pictures of rally events and activities. Post all your pictures and video to the same sites you posted the event. If you decide to have another event the following year, you can show what the rally is like to those who may have never been to a rally.
Finally, have as much fun as possible! Being a host does take time before, during, and after the rally. If you have people who are willing to help organize and assist during the rally, take them up on the offer. It will allow you more time to participate in as much as possible.
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