18 June 2021
18 June 2021, Comments Comments Off on National Conference Australia 2021
National Conference Australia 2021

The unique must-attend event

The 25th Australian National Conference, organised by Caravan Industry Association of Australia, was held at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast from 5 – 7 May 2021. After an incredibly challenging 18 months with bush fires, floods and COVID-19, the Australian Caravan and Parks Industry came together to learn, network, get inspired and, above all else, reconnect with each other

Words Irene Viergever
Photos Harry Elks – Caravanning Queensland

With almost 800 delegates over the three days, the 2021 Caravan Industry National Conference has been the 2nd biggest National Conference since the first edition in 1996. Overall theme for this year’s Conference is reconnection.

Caravan Industry Association of Australia Chairman Grant Wilckens: “Reconnection has been the theme that has seen the industry rebound with strength across manufacturing, retail and tourism. The caravan industry, since the lifting of lockdowns nationwide, has facilitated the experiences that Australians have sorely missed: quality time with their families and loved ones, bucket-list road trips and time in nature – all bound by this theme of reconnection”.

The Caravan Industry National Conference is a premier national educational event for the RV and parks industry. The conference provides first-class networking opportunities with industry colleagues, three days of interactive masterclasses, focused presentations by leading speakers and an interactive trade exhibition that keeps getting bigger every edition.

Future leaders forum

Like previous years, the 2021 National Conference kicked off with the Future Leaders Social Event on Tuesday night, followed by the Future Leaders Forum on Wednesday morning. The Future Leaders of the Australian Caravan and Camping Industry is a group of young professionals under the age of 40 from the caravan and camping industry. The purpose of this dedicated group is to provide a platform and information hub to allow the next generation of leaders to influence the future of their industry, to professionally develop their careers and opportunities. Furthermore, it is a support network for likeminded people that are passionate about their industry. The day started with the great news that 2018 Future Leaders Award Winner Margaret Shannon, Future Leaders Committee Chair, has been invited to join the National Board as an observer. For the next 12 months, Margaret will attend the board meetings to represent the young leaders of the Caravan and Camping Industry.

Margaret Shannon, General Manager at Tiona Holiday Park, opened the Future Leaders Forum with an authentic opening speech. Margaret: “It could have been anyone up the stage during the Forum, talking about the colour of the paint on the walls – what mattered was that we were all there; experiencing it together and feeling connected for the first time in over a year.”

The Future Leaders forum continued with an inspirational presentation of James Kelly, Founder and Managing Director of the ASX listed Lifestyle Communities. James Kelly shared the essential steps to Start and Build a Great Business, where culture is key. Because a goal without a plan is just a wish!

Next on the program was Justin Hales, CEO and Founder of Camplify. Justin shared his tips on pitching for investment. Whether you are speaking to a bank, a sponsor, or a venture capitalist, it is vital to put your best foot forward and present your concept for success.

The Future Leaders forum concluded with a panel discussion around ‘Employee to decision maker’. As young employees transition into senior roles or start to take on the family business, managing relationships is key. Four young industry leaders from different parts of the industry shared their experiences in recent years.

Interview With BMPRO

Multiple interview with David Bayliss, BMPRO Brand Ambassador, Olga Kustova, Marketing Coordinator, and Richard Johnstone (Systems Engineer):

Aboutcamp BtoB: BMPRO is the co-sponsor for the Future Leaders Program. What is the main reasoning behind this?
David Bayliss: BMPRO’s purpose “Empowering your competitive edge through innovative and reliable solutions”, encompasses the two key attributes of why BMPRO strongly supports the Caravan Industry Australia’s Future Leader Program – “Empowering” and “Innovation”. Our business is heavily based in electronics engineering and providing young professionals with leadership opportunities is paramount to our long-term success. Ensuring an ongoing continuity of management leadership is critical to any business but even more so to a business that holds specialised intellectual property which requires a highly skilled workforce. For this reason, it is especially important that we support the caravan industry, partners like the CIAA, programs such as this and of course our amazing BMPRO team. We are strong believers in supporting young leaders in developing and growing their skills sets within their career, to provide the business with leaders not just for managerial positions but providing general leadership to the business, customers, and industry.
As proud supporters of the Caravan Industry Australia and Australian innovation and manufacturing we proudly support those of you who “give it a go”. Through the benefits we see in growing and providing opportunities to our young leaders, BMPRO wants to extend that value to future leaders who show potential and character in the Caravan Industry.

Aboutcamp BtoB: How do you mentor and support the younger workforce within your own business?
David Bayliss: BMPRO believes that our brand is not just about now – it is about a journey and to do this successfully we need engagement and ownership through our organization across the generations of campers that we observe engaging with our product. As a consequence of this we feel it is extremely important to mentor our young leaders through the different stages of their career. Some of the activities which we do to promote this are:
 – Engage younger leaders in courses which specialize in our areas of expertise and innovation.
 – Internal program which encourages young leaders to take advantage of minor leadership roles and create a supportive environment to make this happen.
 – Enrol our leaders in conferences or industry related events which increases their exposure to the overall market, opportunities and networks.

Aboutcamp BtoB: BMPRO exhibits at CIAA National Conference. What is new for this year?
Olga Kustova: This year BMPRO has exhibited at the National Conference with a launch of a new product, ProSmart, bringing the concept of a smart home to ‘on-the-road’ travellers – equipping a RV, caravan, 4WD or boat with technology to remotely monitor multiple parameters on their adventures. A user-friendly ProSmart app enables users to monitor various functions such as tyre pressure, gas bottle levels, temperature, water levels and battery status. ProSmart can be paired with up to 40 SmartConnect Bluetooth sensors, allows connecting up to 4 water tanks, a 12V battery and a wired temperature sensor to monitor vital parameters all at your fingertips. ProSmart will be available to the customers not only in Australia, but also in the United States.

Aboutcamp BtoB: What part of the conference did you enjoy the most?
Richard Johnstone: For the team BMPRO, CIAA National Conference is not only networking opportunities and obtaining the fresh knowledge of the newest industry trends but also a great catalyst of the new ideas, born in talks with the park and caravan owners, caravan industry manufacturers and influencers, discussions of the panellists, and more.

Chairman’s welcome

Who better to open the 2021 National Conference than Grant Wilckens, Chairman of Caravan Industry Association of Australia.

Grant Wilckens' opening presentation

Who better to open the 2021 National Conference than Grant Wilckens, Chairman of Caravan Industry Association of Australia. Grant’s opening presentation did not leave any heart untouched, as he took the almost 800 delegates through the events from the last two years. It all started in October 2019, when devastating bushfires haunted Yeppoon (QLD) and Harrington (NSW). The 2019 fires were nothing compared to what happened later that year though: Christmas 2019/2020 has seen the fiercest bushfires in a long time, which forced park owners to close their parks, losing the peak season of Australian tourism. And just when you think it could not get any worse, COVID-19 hit – a global pandemic resulting in empty parks and factories at a standstill. Grant Wilckens: “I have been heartened by the way the industry pulled together and supported one another. It’s so significant to be together this week, on the other side of a period that has marked our lives so significantly.”
“While the rest of the tourism industry was scratching its head, the Caravan Industry was already readying for revival”, Grant continues. A key to this success has been drawing on connection and inspiration, with “Camp at Home Heroes” being one of the most significant campaigns during the first lockdown. Grant: “We saw the opportunity ahead – and the need for people to stay connected yet feel safe in their own backyards – we pulled on the heart strings and gave our customers that sense of nostalgia”.

COVID has created a captive domestic market. People that never would have considered caravanning & camping before are now entering ‘our world’:
– RV sales are up 56% in Australia
– 55% of first timers decided to camp in 2020 due to pandemic
– 28% of first-time campers choose to glamp
– 60% of RV owners say it is a COVID-safer way to travel
– 30% of non-RV owners want to purchase in the next year
– 52% of RV owners plan to upgrade

It is time to get ready!
– The opening presentation concluded with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s focus points for the near future:
– Presenting the industry to “newbies” as an exciting and rewarding holiday option;
– Making sure that those already familiar with our product remain connected and use their product more often;
– Continue to analyse business data and consumer sentiment to inform business and marketing decisions
– Continuing to raise profile to Federal politicians that caravanning is a $23 billion industry not just an activity;
– Advocating strongly on behalf of the sector around key issues – legislative changes, old chestnut insurance, etc;
– Looking ahead to encourage new technologies which will impact the industry and improve safety for its consumers;
– Making sure industry is compliant to new RVSA legislation – the biggest change for manufacturers since GST; and
– Looking for ways of working closely with the state association colleagues around industry issues and opportunities

Practical masterclasses

The 2021 National Conference hosted several practical Masterclasses for all delegates, to get specific and practical insights into issues important to different parts of the industry. Aboutcamp BtoB highlights three of these masterclasses below.

Avoidable headaches – advice for safe marketing and prudent contracting

This Masterclass, presented by Douglas Caillard of Kyard Business Law, focused on the recurring problems that dealerships and manufacturers face when writing contracts of sale and agreements. The goal of the presentation was to provide businesses with information to improve existing documents, including Do’s and Don’ts on topics such as Contracting, Warranties, Timeframes, Force Majeure, Marketing and Advertising, among others.
Ana Maria Osorio, Marketing Manager at Crusader Caravans: “I found the presentation highly informative and relevant for the caravan industry. The presentation touched on topics that are affecting the industry at the moment and exposed a view on how to deal contractually with issues such as warranties, shortage of products and delivery timeframes. One important point that I take away from this presentation is to try not to make general statements about a product that could be misrepresented by the customer. All the descriptions of a product need to be as precise as reasonably possible and if there is a claim about a specific feature of the caravan, there needs to be proof and records to confirm this assertion.”

Road Vehicle Standards Act: are you ready?

A new era for road vehicle standards in Australia starts on 1st July 2021, as this year new Road Vehicle Standards (RVS) legislation for trailers will be introduced. The RVS legislation replaces the existing Motor Vehicle Standards ACT 1989 (MVSA). The 2021 National Conference invited the Department of Infrastructure to educate all present manufacturers, suppliers and dealers about the impact of the largest change to manufacturing since GST. An impressive number of manufacturers and suppliers attended the Masterclass, including New Age Caravans, MDC, Essential Caravans, Track Trailer and Goldstream RV’s.
Under the new framework, a Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV) is being introduced. All road vehicle types, including cars, trucks, trailers and caravans, must be entered on the RAV before they can be provided to the market for the first time in Australia.
Two approval pathways will be available:

 – Vehicle Type Approval: Under the RVS legislation, trailer manufacturers and importers providing more than 4 low ATM trailers (Including Caravans) to the Australian market in a 12-month period will have to get a vehicle type approval for their trailer type.
 – Concessional RAV entry approval: Manufacturers or importers may apply for a concessional RAC entry approval for 4 low ATM trailers of less in a 12-month period. These vehicles will be entered onto the RAV, on behalf of an approval holder, vehicle by vehicle.

Remon Raffaello, Managing Director Masterpiece Caravans: “The RVS Masterclass was remarkably interesting and exceeded my expectations. Having been in the industry for 15 years it is refreshing to see regulation and better standards to improve our industry. The new regulation will stamp out rogue operators and manufacturers that cut corners and do not provide the consumer with reliable products. It will also increase the confidence of the consumer knowing that they are buying a regulated product with increased standards and open up more markets for us as manufacturers and sellers.”
Applications open on the 1st of July 2021. Australian RV manufacturers are urged to already create an account in the online IT portal ROVER, to prevent a backlog later in the year. Rover integrates all RVS legislation activities and approvals.

Source: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Tap Edit Go

In a nutshell, Tap Edit Go was created to help owners with the basics of video marketing through a smartphone. The idea behind this is that during this digital age, everything you need to shoot a decent and even a professional marketing video can be done using your phones.
Wes Alan, Founder and CEO of Tap Edit Go explains what the Masterclass was all about: “During the masterclass, we introduced the idea of video marketing and taught the participants how to plan, shoot, and edit using only what’s already there in their pocket. We guided them through the process of understanding how to position their camera correctly when taking their shots, what equipment works best for whatever type of video they have in mind and where to get it (this includes editing apps and royalty-free music), how to present themselves in front of the camera, etc. Ultimately, we discussed how important it is to plan their content and align them to their brand for a more effective marketing strategy.”
“In addition, aiming to provide a more in-depth discussion of the topics covered for those interested, we use the booth to advertise our online workshop called the “Tap Edit Go’s 8 Week Program” which will also cover the topics introduced during the masterclass – only with more comprehensive course materials and guided homework which we will review and provide feedback on so that students will be able to know how they are doing and improve on their craft.”
The team from Tap Edit Go also exhibited during the trade exhibition, selling smartphone video accessories that the team, as professional filmmakers, have found useful, the best value, and what they use in creating our smartphone video’s. These products have been tried and tested through their own experience and can be trusted to be the best that you can find in the market.
Wes Alan: “As the founder of Tap Edit Go, I believe that each one of us is capable of creating our own stories. Doing it through video is as easy as Tap, Edit and Go!”

Interview with Trent Rowe

We had the chance to interview Trent Rowe, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand of Dometic, the main sponsor of the event.

Interview with Trent Rowe

Since June 1, 2020 Trent Rowe is the Managing Director of Dometic Australia and New Zealand. We catch up with him for a short but very interesting interview.

Aboutcamp BtoB: The 2021 National Conference would not have been possible without the Support of Principal Sponsor Dometic. What is the reasoning behind supporting this major event?
Trent Rowe: Dometic is a significant and long-standing supplier to the Australian RV industry. The Company’s relationship with the industry has been built on good times and tough times. We feel that, with any relationship, we can ‘give back’ to the industry through connecting people, products, and ideas. Re-establishing face-to-face contact is especially important during these COVID challenged times.

Aboutcamp BtoB: What was your favourite part of the 2021 National Conference?
Trent Rowe: Personally, my favourite part of the conference was the People’s Choice Awards. Behind each bronze, silver and gold award is a story of focus, determination, and leadership. It’s all about everyday people doing that little bit extra in the spirit of making Caravan & Camping experiences and memories ‘more memorable’. Professionally, the trade expo and evening functions are my favourites for being able to network and communicate over a drink or two.

Aboutcamp BtoB: How did COVID-19 impact Dometic and your role within the business over the last 12 months?
Trent Rowe: The impact of COVID was significant, not just for Dometic within Australia, but the entire global RV industry and the associated supply chain.
Firstly, like most Australians, we endure the COVID lock-down March/April – Lockdown 1.0 as I refer to it. This affected the whole country as we entered a period of great uncertainty. Businesses everywhere, inducing Dometic, were forced to scale back and prepare for the unknown.
The second notable event was the Victorian lock-down which almost lasted four months ending in October. This lock-down 2.0 was particularly hard for a number of reasons: a) it was personally hard for many Victorians living & working remotely (where they could) under very tight restrictions, b) Victoria as the ‘manufacturing heart’ of the Australian RV industry was suspended, and c) the rest of the country could go about their work & play relatively unaffected. Because we have national operations, this created ‘two-speeds’ for our business. Where our Queensland and Western Australian operations were operating at a vastly different rhythm compared to our Victorian operations.
Finally, with merely being confined to a computer screen or telephone and being unable to see or visit our operations & staff, my role was having to constantly adapt and interpret the everchanging situation. Some days you would act as therapist – purely listening to the personal challenges that people are going through. Other days it would be like a front-line paramedic where you need to make very important decisions with little information and time. On reflection, COVID has (and still is) forcing flexibility and adaptability on our business and through the entire supply chain.

Aboutcamp BtoB: You are going through the process of another rebrand, could you tell us a bit more?
Trent Rowe: Dometic is a large group with several business units and a multitude of product groups. Sometimes it can be confusing for consumers and our customers. What is Dometic? RV appliances? Hotel minibars? Marine? Truck climate control? With the launch of our sub-brands: Dometic Outdoor, Dometic Home and Dometic Professional, we start to make a visual connection to our stakeholders that they are interacting with the relevant products and part of Dometic.
Take Dometic Outdoor for example. Dometic Outdoor provides great solutions for people who enjoy outdoor activities enabled by a vehicle – typically a car, recreational vehicle or boat. We offer smart and reliable products to meet our users’ essential needs when living mobile.
What does this mean? This is where RVers, boaters, campers, and anyone else with a longing for adventure, will find what they need. We even cater to the regular car owner, who can now convert their vehicle into a recreational vehicle with smart accessories.
We also see a growing number of consumers who would like to use our solutions at home. For them, we have created a sub-brand aptly named Dometic Home, which offers a range of solutions for outdoor residential living. Products currently include mobile bars, grills, outdoor kitchens and wine refrigerators, though new ones will be added in the future.
Whereas Dometic Professional is our arena for B2B-solutions. Our customers operate in a variety of industries, including lodging, marine, automotive, mobile deliveries, healthcare solutions and more.
That leaves us with the Dometic Group, which ties all our sub-brands together. Regardless of whether we are serving consumers or professionals, every Dometic product is designed for reliable performance in demanding environments.
Whatever the future has in store, we are better placed than ever to serve our users with smart, reliable, and aspirational solutions.

State of the Industry Breakfast

A well worthy early start on Friday as Peter Clay, General Manager Insights and Government Relations at Caravan Industry Association of Australia, shared key statistics for the Australian Caravan and Camping industry during the State of the Industry Breakfast. The Caravan and Camping State of Industry research is undertaken in partnership between the National Association and the Individual State Associations. Although the Australian Caravan & Camping Industry is in an exceptionally good position at the moment, Peter started his presentation by emphasizing that we are still in a global health and economic crisis, something we should not underestimate. Besides the Statistics, Peter shared his insights on how to sustain this momentum the Australian Industry is currently in to position us for the decade ahead.

RV manufacturing

Although RV production figures are looking good for 2021, last year’s figures show a major dip. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns production between April and September 2020 has been down from previous years. As soon as the borders opened again, RV demand went up. And it is still up. This is something we have seen multiple times in the past as well: history suggests the demand for RV manufacturing increases in times of global crisis as Australian’s seek the security of domestic travel (September 11, SARS, GFC and now COVID and bushfires).

Caravan trailer imports

With 90% of the Australian imports coming from Asia, Imports were directly impacted by the situation in China. The start of 2020 shows a slight dip; however China did not experience the disruption to local supply chains like the Victorian manufacturers, which actually resulted in record levels of imports by the end of the year (+1.8% compared to previous year).

Domestic visitor economy and overnight trips

The impact of COVID-19 is also showing in the Domestic Visitor Economy and Overnight Trips. The number of overnight trips over 2020 is down with 25% compared to previous year. After a decade of solid growth for our tourism industry, this means the number of overnight trips crashed down drastically over 2020. On a positive note, Peter Clay pointed out that by the end of last year the growth period started, something we look forward to seeing in next yearís State of the Industry Report.

The floor to Justin Hales

Camplify CEO and Founder Justin Hales won the 2021 RV Boss Future Leaders Award and Aboutcamp BtoB spoke to Justin soon after

Interview with Justin Hales

Camplify is an RV rental marketplace, that connects RV owners with people seeking to hire them. Camplify is on a mission to become the world’s largest and most trusted caravan & motorhome sharing community, making ‘van life’ accessible to all. Over the last 6 years Camplify has helped its community of van owners earn over $30m by hiring out their vans and helped holiday makers enjoy over 1.5m nights under the stars. The Camplify business is evolving and growing on the back of domestic tourism and staycations being the most sought after breaks for many deserving Australians after the last 18 months of the pandemic.

Aboutcamp BtoB: Congratulations on winning the Future Leaders Award! What did the Award process look like?
Justin Hales: It was extensive. Formal nomination process, from a member of my team, my Head of Growth who kindly nominated me, then an interview panel of 5 members of the caravan industry association who questioned me about leadership, my background, and how I have and would contribute in the future.

Aboutcamp BtoB: As a youth ambassador for the caravanning and camping industry, how would you like to contribute?
Justin Hales: Two key ways. Helping the industry get more exposure and introducing younger people to the industry. Building a sustainable future with people who become generational RV enthusiasts. Secondly promoting innovation both inside the industry but also helping innovative people and companies to enter the industry.

Aboutcamp BtoB: What would you like to say to other young industry leaders out there?
Justin Hales: This industry has so, so many opportunities in it. The growth we will see over the next few years will be immense, and everyone wants innovation, and young leaders to step forward and contribute, so dont be afraid to seek guidance from people in the industry who can help you take the next step forward.

Aboutcamp BtoB: How will winning this award help you in the future?
Justin Hales: It will provide opportunities to work with likeminded people who what to promote innovation, and the industry overall, as well as provide the ability to work with key stakeholders on how I can help grow the industry overall.

Aboutcamp BtoB: What’s next for your and Camplify?
Justin Hales: 2021 is going to be massive for camping and caravanning globally. I committed to helping my team, and my customers grow, and provide amazing experiences for our fast-growing customer base across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Spain.

People’s choice awards

ReviewPro People’s Choice
Caravan Park of the Year

2021 Caravan Park of the Year People’s choice winners:
Gold: Holiday Haven Lake Conjola
Silver: Ocean Beach Tourist Park
Bronze: BIG4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park

2020 Caravan Park of the Year People’s choice winners:
Gold: Mandalay Holiday Resort and Tourist Park
Silver: Caloundra Waterfront
Bronze: Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park

Caravan Industry awards

Winners 2021

Eric Hayman Award for Excellence, for Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Caravanning & Camping Industry at a National level: Geoff Olholm, Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort (2020) & Peter Buttigieg, Founder/Managing Director RMS (2021).

Richard Davis OAM Award, for Outstanding Contribution to the Peak National Body: RMS.

The Chairman Award, in recognition of the contribution made as a long standing supporter of the Australian Caravan & Camping Industry: Theo Whitmont & The Hon Greg Hunt MP.

The Gerry Ryan OAM Award for Innovation, in recognition of the innovative contribution towards the Australian Caravanning and Camping Industry: Pedders Suspension and Brakes.

RV Boss Future Leaders Award, for outstanding passion and ability in contributing to the Australian Caravanning & Camping Industry: Justin Hales, CEO and Founder of Camplify.