Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Last month I discussed the benefits of FMCA’s information exchange and travel services. This month I’ll complete the travel services category and discuss two more favorite types of FMCA member benefits “” discounts and events. Here’s how to save money and have a great time while seeing the continent in the company of wonderful people “” your fellow FMCA members.
FMCA Travel Services, continued
FMCA has partnered with PowerNet Global to provide discounted telephone services at a calling card rate of 13.9 cents per minute for calls made within the continental United States. The vendor, American Telecom Network (ATN), has been providing calling-card services to FMCA members since June 1997. Members are also offered the opportunity to sign up for residential long-distance service at a rate of 5.4 cents per minute for state-to-state continental U.S. calls. Members should call ATN for Alaska and Hawaii rates. This program also offers up to three personal 800 numbers at a 5.4-cent-per-minute rate. Toll-free calls can ring to any designated phone, including cellular phones.
Historically, FMCA has not entered into member benefit programs with the idea of generating revenue for the association, but this one, like other programs of its nature, pays royalties to the sponsoring organization. FMCA requested that these royalties be returned to the members (in lieu of being paid to the association), but because the rates are federally mandated, this is not possible. If FMCA does not accept these royalties, they stay with the company providing the service. Therefore, when members take advantage of the phone service benefit, they are not only helping themselves but benefiting FMCA. For more information, members should call toll-free (888) 443-FMCA (3622). Please note that you will be asked to provide your Social Security number for credit-checking purposes, and you must supply a street address for the mailing of the card.
FMCA extended its partnership with ATN and PowerNet Global to offer Internet service. Those who sign up receive unlimited usage of the Internet, including e-mail, for $14.95 per month. PowerNet Global has agreed to offer the Internet service for $9.95 per month for a limited time. Subscribers call a toll-free number to learn the local Internet access number as they travel. All of these services “” including the calling card and other phone services mentioned above “” can be combined into one monthly bill for members’ convenience.
Four special travel-related benefits depend on the kindness and volunteer spirit of FMCA members. To take advantage of these benefits, turn to the current Membership Directory, which was printed in the January 2003 issue of Family Motor Coaching and also is found in the “For Members Only” portion of www.fmca.com.
Look for the directory’s Stoppin’ Spots listing, and you will find the names, hometowns, and phone numbers of FMCA members who have volunteered to assist fellow motorhomers. The “Stop Over Spot” category in the Stoppin’ Spots listing is full of FMCA members who welcome you to park at their homes on a 24-hour emergency basis. The “Come Visit” designation lists FMCA members who welcome a visit from other members on a friendship basis for a 24-hour period, unless they are invited by the host to stay longer. Remember, if these members didn’t want you to stop, they wouldn’t have offered this friendly gesture.
The “Mechanic’s Helper” portion lists members who are available to advise FMCAers whose motorhomes have broken down on the road as to where in that area they can obtain good, knowledgeable service. The “Pinch Hit Driver” listing is for members who, because of an emergency situation, need someone to drive their coach for them. Keep in mind that pinch hit drivers who live in the vicinity of the current location of the coach or its destination may be of help. Also, please remember to defray any costs incurred by the pinch hit driver. The Stoppin’ Spots listing is described in the January 2003 issue of FMC on page 186 and on page 317; the listing itself begins on page 1034 of that issue.
FMCA membership affords many types of discounts to motorhome owners. The Business Directory, printed in the January and June issues of Family Motor Coaching and also accessible via FMCA.com, contains a list of more than 700 commercial campgrounds that belong to FMCA. The majority of these RV parks offer at least a 10 percent discount to FMCA members. To find them, turn to the latest Business Directory listing, which begins on page 263 of this issue of the magazine. FMCA member campgrounds are listed in the Business Directory by state or Canadian province, and then under that heading alphabetically by city.
FMCA has an agreement with Camping World to offer new FMCA members a free six-month membership in the Camping World President’s Club. If an FMCA member renews his or her President’s Club membership, he or she will receive additional discount coupons to be used when purchasing Camping World items, in addition to the 10 percent discount enjoyed by all Camping World President’s Club members.
FMCA also has agreements with three car rental companies “” Avis Car Rental, Hertz, and National Car Rental. These agreements identify FMCA through a discount code number. More information about these discounts is available on page 188 in the Member Benefits section of the January 2003 issue of FMC magazine. New FMCA members receive discount coupons from these car rental companies in their membership packets, and updated coupons and information are available upon request.
Fuel and fuel-stop-related discounts also are available. The Flying J RV Real Value Club is one benefit that you really should be using to your advantage. All new FMCA members are automatically issued a Flying J Real Value Card, which entitles them to a 1-cent-per-gallon discount on all gasoline and diesel fuel purchases. The RV Real Value Club offers bigger discounts based on monthly non-fuel purchases. The card also entitles you to a 5-cents-per-gallon discount on all propane purchases. Flying J Travel Plaza locations have made great strides recently in catering to the RV community. Among other RV-friendly services, they have installed RV fueling islands that also provide accessibility to the propane pump and dump stations “” sort of a one-stop shopping concept. I think their facilities and their interest in serving the motorhome community will pleasantly surprise you. If you no longer have the Flying J Real Value Card that was originally issued to you, or you need a replacement card, call Flying J at (888) 438-3537.
Along the same lines, if you are traveling the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, you may be interested in applying for an Irving Oil credit card. The Irving Oil credit card entitles FMCA members to special savings on gasoline and diesel fuel purchases at Irving Oil locations. The credit card can also be used for purchasing convenience store items and to pay for automotive items and service at Irving Oil facilities. For information about obtaining this card, phone (800) 544-1120 from the United States, or (888) 310-1924 from Canada.
See page 188 of the January 2003 issue of FMC for details about fuel discount offers from Irving Oil and Flying J.
FMCA has a partnership agreement with Passport America on behalf of its members. Passport America invented the 50 percent discount camping club in 1992 and has continued to improve on that great concept. As a Passport America cardholder, you can stay at nearly 1,000 campgrounds across the United States, Canada, and Mexico at 50 percent off the regular rate. The number of nights certain RV parks extend the discount varies “” one night, two nights, a week, a month, etc. Access to Passport America campgrounds is on a space-available basis.
The Passport America discount RV travel card costs $44 for 12 months. Our agreement with Passport America enables FMCA members to receive an additional three months (an $11 value) when they purchase the one-year program, or an additional six months (a $22 value) if they join for two or three years. The two-year program costs $79, and the three-year program is $109. You may use your Passport America card as often as you like, for the term of your membership. For more information, look for the Passport America order form on page 93 in this issue of Family Motor Coaching. Join those who already are enjoying discount camping.
FMCA events and activities
Another category of FMCA member benefits has to do with FMCA gatherings, both large and small. To me, this is the heart and soul of the association. FMCA activities enable members to really experience the fun and fellowship of belonging to FMCA. They consist of the following:
- International conventions
Conventions rotate across the United States through three regions “” East, Central, and West. Within these regions, conventions alternate between winter (southern) and summer (northern) locations. Twice each year, FMCA members gather for three days of fellowship; informative seminars; live entertainment; and browsing through the exhibits. Approximately 1,000 new motorhomes are on display at each convention, and usually more than 500 vendors can be found in the indoor exhibit buildings and outdoor display areas. The locations and dates of FMCA conventions are published in the “Association Calendar” in each issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
Another fun aspect of FMCA conventions is that they offer activities for FMCA members’ children and grandchildren. FMCA’s Youth Activities Committee schedules age-specific activities for four groups of children at international conventions: Teen-Age Travelers, or TATS (ages 13 to 18), PRE-TEENS (ages 10 to 12), TWEENS (ages 6 to 9), and TOTS (ages 2 to 5). Youth activities are open to all children in the above age groups who attend FMCA conventions with their parents, grandparents, or guardians.
- Area rallies
FMCA has divided the North American continent into nine geographical areas and an International Area. A national vice president represents each area on the Executive Board. One of the responsibilities of the area vice president is to direct an annual area rally, which generally is coordinated by a group called an area organization.
Area rallies usually offer activities that are similar to those at international conventions, but on a smaller scale. Area rallies typically have between 500 and 2,000 member motorhomes in attendance. Depending on the rally, motorhome manufacturers and RV dealers may exhibit between 50 and 400 motorhomes, and indoor exhibits typically occupy 50 to 200 booths. Area rallies also are known for informative seminars and evening entertainment that has a local flavor. The dates and locations of FMCA area rallies are also published in the “Association Calendar” in each issue of FMC magazine.
- Chapter rallies
Chapters are the foundation of the Family Motor Coach Association. Membership in a chapter can greatly enhance one’s enjoyment of the association. Chapters were created to enable FMCA members to come together to exchange ideas about their lifestyle and to enjoy the company of fellow motorhomers. Chapter gatherings are frequently held on weekends, and they are often organized locally, so long trips aren’t necessary to reach them. These chapter rallies take place throughout the year, and, as such, FMCAers have a wide choice of rallies to attend.
FMCA recognizes more than 440 chapters across the United States and Canada. Many of these chapters encompass specific or general geographic regions. Others are made up of FMCA members who own a particular brand or model of coach. Still other chapters are based upon some common interest, such as music, amateur radio, sports, or coach conversions. Check the “Association Calendar” each month in FMC magazine for chapter rallies that you may be interested in attending. Rallies listed in the magazine are open to all FMCA members, and their organizers want you to come and join in their fun. Chapter rallies afford FMCAers the opportunity to come together with other members who share their interests and to forge long-lasting friendships based on those mutual interests.
When you joined FMCA, you were given a “Join A Chapter” card to fill out so that we could assist you in locating an appropriate chapter. If you are interested in finding out more about chapter membership, please call the Chapter Services Department at the national office. They will be more than happy to assist you in finding a chapter that interests you.
I will complete my discussion of member benefits in next month’s column. Get the best possible enjoyment out of your motorhome investment by taking advantage of all the benefits of being an FMCA member.