The 2020 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) was moved to a virtual event, but that didn’t stop the event from remaining one of the premier attractions on the outdoor industry calendar. The virtual OHCE2020 attracted attendees from more campgrounds than last year’s OHCE2019 in Knoxville, Tenn., which set a modern attendance record for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) annual conference.
ARVC's first-ever virtual event attracted 752 registered attendees from 377 unique campgrounds from Nov. 2-5, 2020. The unique campground total is an improvement from OHCE2019, representing a 10.5% increase. The registered attendance figure is the second-highest total in the past 10 years of OHCE data, finishing just behind last year’s modern record event that attracted 937 registered attendees.
“To top or come close to the numbers that we attained last year, while dealing with all the challenges we have had this year, is an incredible testament to the strength of our industry and the trust that our members have in ARVC,” says Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO. “It shows that even when it is difficult and new, our members interest in this event and their passion for getting together to learn, share and interact will always shine through. The industry is continuing to grow, adapt and overcome, with ARVC members leading the way.”
OHCE2020 saw more than 8,326 visits to virtual platform, showing attendees were logging in to the site multiple times throughout the days of the event, taking advantage of the on-demand capabilities available for the first time. Those numbers should continue to rise, as all OHCE2020 content was recorded and is available for registered attendees to view through the virtual platform for 30 days, before transitioning to the My Learning section on the ARVC member portal.
“We didn’t know what to expect for OHCE this year, going virtual, but we were excited about new opportunities that this new technology would provide, and we are so thrilled that ARVC members embraced it and found it valuable” says Paula Horwitz, ARVC executive director of education and events. “We had to adjust almost everything about the conference, but still wanted it to remain familiar and stick to the reasons why our members come back to this event year-after-year. We are happy that the numbers continue to rise and want to be inclusive of everyone interested in attending and learning at OHCE. We will be soliciting feedback via surveys to make sure we can still create the learning and networking environment for all OHCE is known for each year.”
ARVC’s new Hosted Buyer Program was an immediate success, with 958 one-on-one meetings between pre-qualified attendees and exhibitors taking place during the event. This sparked over 3,076 visits to the booths of the 88 exhibitors on the virtual Expo floor, creating connections and transactions.
“We are thrilled with success of this program, helping streamline the connection between attendees and vendors,” says David Basler, ARVC vice president of membership and marketing. “The Hosted Buyer Program saved time, energy and money for both sides, allowing our members easier access to the products, technology and knowledge that they need to improve their businesses, while making sure our sponsors and exhibitors were able to get face-to-face with customers.”
While ARVC is proud of the numbers that attended the virtual show, it is eager to return to an in-person event next year in Raleigh, N.C., from Nov. 8-11, to get OHCE back to its roots.
“We know that Raleigh is a fantastic location for OHCE, having been there in 2017, and we can’t wait to see the excitement that our industry will feel when we can get everyone back together in the same place,” says Horwitz. “We can’t wait to get planning on how we can again make this event even better. We know we can find ways to incorporate the technology that allowed us to make OHCE2020 great, but there’s no better feeling than being in the same room, learning, laughing and growing with your outdoor hospitality family!”
OHCE2021 will take place in Raleigh, N.C. from Nov. 8-11, 2021. OHCE is a four-day event held annually by ARVC. This year’s event has included more than 25 educational seminars, a trade show with more than 80 vendors, Takeaway Tours, ARVC’s Awards of Excellence, a Reservation Management Panel, the ARVC Foundation Silent Auction and more. Visit arvc.org/OHCE for more info.