Winnebago V.O.I.C.E. - Putting RVers at the Core

Winnebago V.O.I.C.E. - Putting RVers at the Core
An inside look at how owner feedback is highly encouraged at GNR and other RVer events.
By: Lindsey Quick

During a warm week in late July, I had the opportunity to attend my first Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR). At this event, all Winnebago RV owners are invited to a giant campground just across the road from their headquarters and factory service center in Forest City, IA. 

Winnebago RVers from across the U.S. and Canada travel to this rural Iowa town to join together in celebration, community and comradery. Winnebago staff are there to get in on the fun, but they're also gathering feedback at every turn of the event. From the educational sessions to the evening entertainment, to informal conversations happening on the grounds, Winnebago staff are asking, "What's working? What's not?" 

This is not a new practice. Winnebago has been seeking out this feedback for years, and many attendees come prepared with a list of suggestions, such as how to improve the comfort of the mattress or how the swing-arm for the television should work over the dinette table. Every Winnebago employee is eating this feedback up; taking notes and asking questions when they need clarification.

Introducing the Winnebago V.O.I.C.E Feedback-Collection Project 

Five years ago, Winnebago started the V.O.I.C.E. (Visits on Innovation and Customer Enhancements) project with the goal of getting more first-hand feedback from product owners. 

In prior years, Winnebago staff would meet with owners in their personal RVs – even owners of non-Winnebago products – at rallies across North America to find out how owners were using their RVs, what modifications they'd made on their own or wish they could make, and how could their experiences be improved. 

At this year’s GNR, Winnebago focused on receiving feedback on current models. 

Team members from across the company, including Product, Training, Sales and Marketing, were on-hand to tour various Winnebago RVs with GNR attendees. Winnebago staff carried a questionnaire used to get conversations started, but in nearly every case, owners were ready to share their thoughts and opinions. 

I overheard discussions about the positioning of the bed, comfort of the driver seat, layout of the bathroom, and so much more. Winnebago has created such a welcoming environment for feedback that owners had no problem sharing what they loved and what they didn't. 

Extending V.O.I.C.E Efforts Across the Rally Grounds

While Winnebago does create these V.O.I.C.E. sessions that are focused solely on gathering owner feedback, that wasn't the only opportunity for rally attendees to share their thoughts. In fact, customer feedback was a thread woven through all aspects of the event. 

Every session I attended, no matter the topic, always ended with ample time for questions and feedback from the audience. And it was clear the audience was used to this because no one held back – they asked tough questions and gave critical feedback about the things that frustrated or confused them. And while there were some questions Winnebago couldn't answer directly, they assured the audience that it was something they were working to address.

Winnebago hosted multiple educational sessions and each one included time for Q&A

When I spoke to Winnebago team members about why hearing from customers was so important, each echoed the same sentiment: "We don’t live in these units – our customers do. When we design them, it makes sense to us, and we want to hear how that translates to the people using these rigs on weekends or as their full-time living space." 

They also said it came down to common sense: "Why wouldn't a brand seek feedback from its customers and then work to incorporate it into their products? We want to give our customers what they need. The best way to do that is to let them tell us what that is."

Winnebago also hosted ‘Design Your Own Coach’ sessions, where attendees were asked to draw what they'd like to see both inside and outside different RVs. Designs were judged and prizes were awarded for most creative and most functional.

As information from these events is collected, it's entered into a feedback database for the Product team to review. The suggestions are then prioritized and changes are implemented. There have been countless updates made to Winnebago products that were a result of this feedback. 

These include changes to furniture choices and functionality, such as theater seating and tables that convert to a standing workspace, along with the expansion of storage capability and the creation of pet-friendly spaces.

I already knew Winnebago valued customer feedback. As an admin in the Winnebago Solis Owners and Wannabes Facebook group, I had seen first-hand how conversations in the group resulted in changes to the Solis. What I didn't know about was the deep relationships Winnebago staff have with their customers. At both GNR and other non-Winnebago rallies across North America, many of the attendees have been coming for years and have developed relationships not only with one another, but also with the Winnebago team. 

GNR attendees host "row parties" where groups of owners share special foods and beverages while decorating their rows. Other GNR attendees make their way through the rows to sample food, listen to music and enjoy each other's company.

Listening to & Caring for the Winnebago Family

That was probably the most surprising thing to me: How accessible all of the Winnebago team makes themselves to rally goers, and how intensely the team cares about what these owners have to say. 

Winnebago team members and rally attendees asked each other about the products, but then covered topics like recent family vacations, milestones in their kids' lives, and new additions to the family, like grandkids and pets. I felt like I was at a family reunion, and the kind of family where you genuinely want to hear how things are going for one another. 

Winnebago places a high value on the feedback and experience of its customers, and they'll use every opportunity to collect customer input, whether you own a Winnebago or not. Plenty of brands ask for your feedback via emailed surveys, but very few make hearing from and understanding their customers a part of their core. 

And very few brands are as equally interested in your feedback about the mattresses they use as they are in the latest photos of your grandson. It was an incredibly moving experience for me and something that reiterated what I value about this brand.

Comments

User commented on October 18, 2021 12:24 PM
User commented on October 18, 2021 12:25 PM
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:44 AM
Winnebago if not already happening, should be focusing on making an all electric motorhome. Battery Electric Motorhome. I know you have a beta version of one now with not much in the way of range but this will be the future and Winnebago should strive to be the leader in this space. The Tesla of electric motorhomes.
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:03 AM
After spending over 3 weeks on the road in our new, 2022 K Travato, I do, indeed, have some minor, but important, suggestions. Who can I contact?
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:55 AM
Is there a way to submit product feedback other than rallies? We purchased a new Winnebago vista and have never been asked fir feedback from Winnebago.
User commented on October 23, 2021 12:05 PM
when are you going to make a class C 24ft gas engine-no slide outs with twin beds? you almost had it right with the Fuse. If you can make one of those with a gas engine NO DEISEL, I will buy it tomorrow.
User commented on October 23, 2021 12:09 PM
Hi Winnebago, We are enjoying our second Winnebago. Sure would like to see larger windows overlooking the curb side instead of our hookups on the street side. Stan Searing Paulding, Ohio
User commented on October 23, 2021 12:16 PM
Het rid of camping world as a dealer in alabama. Give us someone else for service please!!!
User commented on October 23, 2021 12:37 PM
We are 2015 Aspect owners, 27K. We are very disappointed that Winnebago dropped this class C model. We bought it for the walk around bed, huge “garage” storage area in the back, and two slides. We don’t want the family friendly Minnie Winnie as we don’t want a cab over bed. We don’t want a Diesel engine as it is more costly to maintain. Is Winnebago designing an upscale Class C on the new Ford V-8 engine?
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:06 PM
A few thougths. Forward opening on a horizontal plane exterior storage compartment doors. Opening out/up makes storage access very difficult for the typical age group using them. Auto transfer switches (shore/generator/?) in all motorhome models. Take the worry out of plugging in. Dimmer switches on all DC lighting, to save power when full/half is a bit too much. LED lights in all exterior storage compartments. Battery operated would be fine, if access was easy. Better manual assistance on slide room retraction. It should be easy, and a one person job to bring in a slide which has failed. On/Off switches on all manually operated dumping assist pumps. Having to crouch and maintain pressure on the "on" rocker switch for the gray tank is difficult and time consuming. Why not just on/off? Shurflo pumps can stand a little "dry" run time. All ASME propane tanks should always have a "stay longer" or "extend a stay" fitting plumbed into them at the factory, for propane use with BBQ grills, or to connect portable propane tanks, to allow other appliance operation while stationary and "plugged in" at a campground when the main propane tank runs out.
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:16 PM
We have been searching for a new Class A for a number of years, as this will most probably be our last. So we wanted it to be extra special. We camp mostly in COE and State Parks, and National Forests. So we want a smaller Class A to camp. In the late 90s early 2000s you made a 36’ Journey with a North/South bed and tons of storage. Why can’t you bring back that floor plan to the new updated Journey ? It was one of your most profitable models as well as your best selling Class A. ?
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:37 PM
My Dream RV, By Randy Simpson email [email protected] As much as possible of the roof should be solar panel . The platform should be an electrical driven coach, allowing for massive kw storage to allow for power to move the coach and run appliances . This is my vision of a self contained unit , it could pull into charging stations or hunker down and let the sun charge the battery to allow the owner to continue with the exploration of life. Thank You for your attention Randy Simpson
User commented on October 23, 2021 2:10 PM
As a Winnebago buyer owner, I would suggest that the companies building the RV’s do a better job of quality control. When we first got our Vista, there was a of 25-30 things that needed warranty work. That meant multiple times to the dealership to correct stuck doors, squeaky front door (still squeaking after 4 years), etc., all of which has kept us looking for the “perfect” RV for us. I would like to address RV design. After 2017 there has been an attempt to create more “living” space by making the galley even smaller and pushing it mid-coach, which positions it (refrigerator and pantry) right across from the bathroom! That is disgusting as well as unsanitary. I would like to see it completely abandoned. I will keep looking for an RV to suit our personal needs better.
User commented on October 23, 2021 2:18 PM
As a first-time RV owner, I realized there are about a half dozen I am disappointed with. 1. No elbow room while sitting on the toilet 2. Too small shower 3. No room on both sides of the bed 4. a table to eat at 5. Theatre seating and 6. Why no toilet paper holder!
User commented on October 23, 2021 2:36 PM
As a retired senior My RV hope and dream vehicle would be a totally electric RV built with a fully solar panelled roof and fold out solar panels as awnings to recharge when parked. This vehicle would have an Ekko type interior and could be built over a Ford Transit/F-150 electric platform. Winnebago should be working on this concept before companies like Tesla, Rivian, etc beat you to the punch. Please contact me if your working on this as a viable product as I want to invest in this project. Would volunteer to live in and drive such a prototype. I have owned and driven two RV's and now have the time and desire to invest in a third fully electric model.
User commented on October 23, 2021 3:13 PM
I would trade in my Travato today for an EKKO but for one thing. I can not handle a cassette toilet. When the original advertisement and announcement came out with two versions the one with the slide and regular rv toilet I was ready to buy. Not all of us are able to lift and empty one of those and even my 34 year old son who also uses the Travato wants to deal with that issue. Just a suggestion and we live in the pacific nw and would love something that did not have to be winterized for year round use. Thanks Diann L
User commented on October 23, 2021 3:32 PM
Hi. I would like to see better, more comfortable, home-like mattresses in RV's. Especially the main bed. Also, it would be nice if the jack-knife sofa was flat on the floor, with nothing underneath of it. That would make if a lot easier to swap it out for recliners or theater seating. Thank you.
User commented on October 23, 2021 3:48 PM
When is the Class B going hybrid?
User commented on October 23, 2021 6:02 PM
I wish I could have come to the conference. How do I send my ideas to Winnebago. We had a Winnebago motorhome in 1976. But we have changed to a travel trailer. Pat Reier
User commented on October 23, 2021 8:37 PM
My next RV (motor home) will be battery electric-powered (BEV), with adaptive cruise and lane-centering. Will you be heading in this direction?
User commented on October 24, 2021 8:57 AM
How about holding your venders responsible For the junk they are furnishing you that costs both of us money to keep replacing such as Locker hardware, locks , valves in the water system, jacks, slidesyncro motors etc. Also how about more diesel options In your smaller class A offerings
User commented on October 24, 2021 10:29 AM
We have a 2010 Reyo...we were not able to attend...but when our warranty is expired I have plans on redoing our kitchen. I have a passion for cooking, but we find ourself using Harvest Host or staying in places that I can't pull out my kitchen gear...things on my dream list...a larger sink with a hose that could be removed and laid in the sink with a spray (think turning on the pump and the handle was bumped during driving) a cutting board that would fit the sink...the stove would be induction...but not sure that is possible...I would love a window in the kitchen...a low profile microwave...we have installed pull out storage where the closet goes...I do not put garbage under the sink (I have a mouse issue...never had one...but don't want that to happen) but I would love a prep table that is fine for cutting on....I would love suggestions how to begin this...we have put on 45,000 miles on our rig in 3 1/2 years...we are not full timers but have spent enough time to know how we travel...take care! Ellen Cook [email protected] If you are interested....we just drove from Wisconsin to Newfoundland...it was amazing...lots of pictures and stories...my Facebook ellencook milwaukee not the Ellen Cook Photographer my website is www.ellencook.cpm
User commented on October 24, 2021 11:01 AM
You can see from latest models that Winnebago listens to feedback! Would love to see Travato G replace table with lounge chair or loveseat for more flexibility 👍🏼
User commented on October 24, 2021 11:37 AM
One thing that annoys me about most American rv aesthetics is the utter over use “swoops” in the exterior graphic and paint schemes of Class A motor homes. Seems the rv industry is in a race to see how “busy” they can make their products look year after year. Why not let the vehicle’s body design speak for itself in a simpler, more elegant way like your Class B and Ekko variants that allow the customer a choice to delete the graphics. Also, most European rv’s At least the Revel allows the choice to nix the graphics.
User commented on October 25, 2021 8:01 AM
So we are Newmar owners however leaning heavy to Winnebago. The V.O.I.C.E. program is one reason why we are looking at Winnebago for another RV. The new Journey looks amazing and I hope they have some production units to visit at the Tampa RV show.
User commented on October 25, 2021 3:45 PM
I would love four three point seatbelts in a Class C. Driver and passenger. Two comfortable chairs in coach. Please do not put exterior doors hinged at top on class Cs like my Winnebago View. They need to hinge on the side.
User commented on October 27, 2021 9:34 AM
Why did Winnebago stop making the Aspect models? My wife and I began looking into changing from are Minnie Winnie to the Aspect to only find Winnebago stop production in 2019. We both liked that they were shorter in height and narrow in width without the bunk bed over the cab that ALL your class C models have and we don’t need. We’ve noticed GulfStream is still making a comparable model BT Cruiser but don’t want to purchase a used Aspect and really want to stay with Winnebago.
User commented on November 1, 2021 7:01 PM
I purchased a 2021 Minnie Winnie 1808FSB. I love it BUT there are a few issues that were/are concerning. First, why is the shower stall not one piece instead of having a bottom/base and then walls which leaves a seam for moisture to enter and create mold and mildew? Second, the door and drawer pulls are a very hard, VERY sharp metal. The one over the sink(and I'm only 5'5") is right where it hits you square in the forehead while trying to do dishes. And the ones on the under dinette storage compartments were a MAJOR safety hazard when trying to move around in the trailer when the slide is in! I tore pants as well as my leg several times till I was able to finally remove them!!!! The storage compartment along the side of the fridge needs a small lip installed on the shelves. And lastly, why weren't the same little stopper things that are on the drawers to keep them from flying open during travel, also installed on all of the doors! This would have been very helpful. Other than that it's a great trailer and I love it! I do wish Winnebago would make a series of YouTube videos on 'how tos' for those of new to RV'ing alone! My dealership was very useless and somewhat rude!
User commented on November 3, 2021 1:29 PM
Hello! Thank you for your comment! Can you please send an email to [email protected]? We would love to follow up with your feedback on the Minnie Winnie 1808FSB. Thank you! Winnebago Social Team