By Don Moore, F154921
Convention Committee Chairman/National Senior Vice President
Conventions play a significant role in the success of the Family Motor Coach Association. FMCA president R.G. Wilson asked me to chair the Convention Committee shortly after I was elected national senior vice president last summer in Buffalo, New York. The committee also includes Royce Bishop, F62577; Charlie Painter, F23514; Jim Phillips, F158824; Duane Pindell, F105443; and Corbett Pool, F140306.
R.G. Wilson and Jerry Yeatts, Commercial Services Department director, and his staff also play important roles in convention planning. In addition, volunteers are essential to the success of all conventions.
Members of the Convention Committee, FMCA national office staff, and logistics personnel have traveled many miles this year seeking potential sites for future conventions. It’s very difficult to find the perfect facilities for our needs.
Finding adequate land with buildings for seminars, entertainment, food functions, and so forth is one of our goals. One most important task is to find sites in states that are friendly to out-of-state motorhome manufacturers and dealers who are interested in exhibiting and selling coaches.
It also is important to measure the parking areas to ensure that a sufficient amount of parking space is available for volunteers, handicapped individuals, indoor and outdoor vendors, motorhome displays, officers, Governing Board members, and all other members and visitors. The parking layout crew plays a significant role at conventions and is efficient at utilizing all possible parking areas. We could not hold a convention without them. The crew also meets with local law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies. Most convention locations also require the use of additional suitable parking that is close enough to the activities and also the use of trams to transport members.
The planning process requires a minimum of two visits to each convention site “” one at least a year prior to the event and the other approximately six months before. This year we have been scheduling our visits in conjunction with other travel to save time and money.
As Convention Committee chairman, I’m very concerned with expenses. With the consent of R.G. Wilson and the Executive Board, I have made some cost-cutting changes to the volunteer staff without changing the overall quality of conventions. The security volunteer staff was adjusted to be equal with other volunteer staff. Some of the volunteer staff members chose not to work after the change.
I also reduced the number of people that we usually employ as temporary workers at the convention entrances and used more member volunteers to fill these posts. To cut costs, the past national officer (PNO) dinner was not held at the March 2004 convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but it will be held at the convention this August in Redmond, Oregon.
Two international conventions are scheduled each year. Each one is unique, largely depending on its location. The Albuquerque convention was one of the best I’ve been involved in, for many reasons. First, once overhead expenses are factored in, conventions normally are not profitable for FMCA. We look upon the events as member benefits in that convention fees are kept low, with FMCA absorbing expenses, and members receive great value for their registration fees. The Albuquerque convention is no exception; however, the actual net loss for this convention should be well under the budgeted net loss. Second, the weather was great for March. Third, the entertainment was excellent, and we received many positive comments. It seemed everyone enjoyed John Davidson, who performed one evening. Most members also liked the earlier starting time of 5:30 p.m. for the evening shows.
Yet more reasons: Our first Chapter Fair, which was held on Monday during the convention, was well attended. On Thursday night we had a balloon glow and, with the help of volunteers, served 5,000 FMCA members a chuck-wagon meal.
The fact that the majority of family member parking in Albuquerque was not at the fairgrounds but at Balloon Fiesta Park, 12 miles away, may have been inconvenient for some folks, but wasn’t it a beautiful sight to see the balloons each day?
Convention locations have been selected and approved by the Governing Board through 2006. They are as follows: 72nd International Convention “” Redmond, Oregon, August 16 through 19, 2004; 73rd “” Perry, Georgia, March 21 through 24, 2005; and 74th “” Minot, North Dakota, August 15 through 18, 2005. We plan to meet in Pomona, California, in March 2006, and in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the summer of 2006.
I hope you plan to attend FMCA’s 72nd International Convention, “Cascade Mountain Magic,” in Redmond August 16, 17, 18, and 19. The Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center is located in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. Check the June, July, and August issues of Family Motor Coaching for information about convention exhibits, seminars, entertainment, and directions, plus travel articles that describe sites of interest in the beautiful state of Oregon. Information appears on FMCA.com as well. And don’t forget to register for the convention “” either by mail, phone, fax, or online at www.fmca.com “” by July 30 to save $20 off the gate registration price. A registration form is located on page 128A of this magazine.