Yesterday I was walking across a courtyard at the Daytona Speedway, enroute to meet Jim, who was attending a seminar on electrical systems. At the time I was passing by, Marcus Lemonis, the dynamic young (under 50) CEO of Good Sam/Camping World was addressing a group of RVers gathered in the courtyard. I think this was a meet-and-greet of some sort. I didn't stop to listen to his talk, but I did hear him say something interesting...that these Good Sam Rallies would be offered free of charge to people who were customers of Camping World.
I didn't linger to hear any qualifiers...like how much someone would have to spend to be admitted free. I did hear him say that he wanted to continue promoting the RV way of life, and he felt that a $200 fee, plus the cost of driving an RV, stopped a lot of people from participating in the rallies.
Me? Well, you know me well enough to know that I don't give a hoot about the rallies and all the "camaraderie" that they are supposed to engender. I agreed to come to this one because (a) it was a national rally; (b) it featured name entertainers; (c) it promised to have a lot of useful information through seminars; (d) it would have a large exhibition; and (e) it was free.
Yep, free was the clincher. If it hadn't been free, I probably would have nixed the idea. (I did say OK to going to the national FMCA--Family Motor Coach Association--meeting last August, but only because it was in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, we had to cancel because of Jim's recovery from hand surgery.)
Everything was free--even the evening meet-and-greet especially for life-time members. (It was a Candyland theme. Except for a few chocolate bars, we had to look and lust after the gluten-filled desserts that were available--cherry cobbler, various types of brownies, cakes, and cheesecake.) Although everything was free, Good Sam was smart: I'm sure we were like many thousands of others. We spent more than $400 on RV stuff, specifically a water softener and some microfiber cleaning components.
If that's not enough, now Jim is drooling over later-model motorhomes. Our friend Ed, who sold us Baby, was at the show. He'd love to upgrade us to a newer model with more room. Well, we'll see.
Probably half of the people who were camping here at the rally left sometime today. We are leaving in the morning. I'm glad we stayed the evening. The rally ended with a spectacular fireworks display. My camera wasn't good enough to capture the spectacle; it was one of the best fireworks displays we've ever seen!
So, Good Sam is smart. It gives away a lot of stuff--from merchandise (like the in-motion satellite dish and the Fantastic Fan that we won last spring), to dessert receptions, to name entertainment, to a spectacular fireworks extravaganza. But it gets back a lot, in return.
Will we go to another national rally? Well, if it is free, there is a good chance we will. But we will bring our credit card anyway.
There is no such thing as a free rally.
Your Reluctant Rover, Linda