The days went by so fast, and we were having so much fun, I just couldn’t keep up with the posts! Here’s the recap of Days 3 and 4…..
The absolute highlight of Day 3 at Alumapalooza was the Airstream Product Feedback session. Not only was this a fantastic idea, but the buzz of excitement about being asked to give your opinion about Airstream was almost too good to be true! There were actually two sessions, divided up into The Men at 9am and The Women at 10am, which was a brilliant idea. There were three representatives, Justin, Bruce and Ann, each from a different division within the company, all taking notes and having endless patience for, what seemed to be, one of the most attended program events so far. As I listened to what the ladies had to say, most things were agreed upon by all with applause. Don’t get me wrong, we all LOVE our Airstreams… love them to death, but we DID take this moment to tell you what was on our minds.
The three biggest complaints mentioned over and over again were:
- Putting carpet in an Airstream stinks. Everyone that had carpet tore it out and everyone that still has it, wants to replace it. Most said that having carpet was not even on their list of priorities when purchasing — they bought their units for the layout and the size. But as they lived with the carpet, they quickly realized its a priority to replace with vinyl floors.
- The quality control at the factory needs to be better. Many women in the group gave specific examples of items that they felt the company should’ve caught before the model left the factory. One woman actually had no awning when hers was delivered and others mentioned missing drawer handles, tears in the vinyl floor and missing rivets and screws. Obviously with any factory line production, things get missed — but my take on their frustration was the fact that they paid a lot of money for their Airstreams and really expected the quality control to be there.
- Many women who spoke were on their 3rd, 4th or even 5th models, but as they traded in for newer models, they lost some of the features that they loved in the old. They found trade offs where there should have been upgrades. The layouts from year to year changed a little bit in their model, forcing them to make compromises when all they really wanted was a new version of what they had. Everyone had their examples (Airstream made the sink round, Airstream put a bench in the shower, etc) but the best one was “I’ll never trade my model in no matter how worn out it gets because you don’t make the floor plan any more and I’ve never seen another floor plan I like better.” (I read that as a lost opportunity to sell an Airstream, but maybe they see it differently.)
The list went on and on and on, but we all had our say and felt like at least someone (besides our partners or dogs) was listening. You can’t please everyone, but I applaud Airstream for reaching out to this incredibly opinionated, passionate and captive audience to get feedback. Now, what they do with it will be the true test.
Also on Day 3, we got to meet Rhonda of www.airstreaming.net who included us in an article for Airstream Life on savvy (maybe geeky?) Aistreamers, including Kyle of WhereIsKyleNow?, and how we’ve tricked out our models to fit the necessities of the age (the Xbox, the Wii, 3G/4G internet, etc…). We’re so happy we finally got to meet her! Here she is participating in the Dutch Oven Cooking with the fabulous Matt Hackney!
Day 3 also included a talk from Kristiana Spaulding of Silver Trailer— jewelry designer and Airstream interior designer who started off remodeling one Airstream and ended up with five! She has some great ideas about making the interiors more comfortable and more personalized, plus her Airstream themed jewelry is beautiful.
The final talk before the much anticipated daily Happy Hour was from John Long who had, what we would call, the most eye catching model on the field — the Bowlus Road Chief. You can read all about John and his Road Chief (the first Riveted aluminum trailer ever made) on his site about Bowlus Trailers.
Getting up at 9am and talking taxes are not two things that typically go together in my world, but at Alumapalooza it means you’re at Day 4 with Marty Shenkman ! I loved Marty’s talk. The man is obviously a no-nonsense CPA and lawyer who understands the concerns we RVers have when it comes to our money. I learned some great basics from Marty, possibly the best advice that sunk in happened to be– don’t believe everything (or anything) you read online. The Internal Revenue Service is really the only place to get factual information to your tax questions online. So many times I take airforums discussions as gospel, so this was a good lesson for me. Also, registering your car or truck in an income tax free state isn’t enough to claim residency in that state. In Marty’s own words: They will find you! Marty also had a full 11 page handout with his entire Powerpoint presentation on it. I’d like to hire him to do my taxes.
Day 4 also included Towing with Andy Thompson. I had heard about Andy — his name popped up while we all stood around and checked out each others tow vehicles. Apparently Andy has a reputation for towing a 31 ft with something like a minivan. You need to see it to believe it, and I did. His lecture was definitely interesting — and what I took away from it was this: many tow vehicles work well for your Airstream. Don’t rule anything out!
After towing came awnings…. The Zip Dee guys showed up with demonstrations and how-tos for their product. It was so interesting, Im doing a separate posting on it later!
The rest of the afternoon had some great programs like Dutch Oven Cooking with Matt Hackney and Geocaching with Laura Steinberger, but I was exhausted.
Happy Hour on day 4 was especially fun because Bob Wheeler, Airstream President joined us! It’s always nice to be recognized by the Big Boss, and he made us all feel very VIP. Of all the Airstream reps, I felt he genuinely appreciated our business and I hope he takes the comments from all of us into consideration as the company moves forward!
We also got a treat in being introduced to David Winick tonight, who made the trip from Grand Rapids. David is the designer of the 75th anniversary Airstream, but he’s also our key player in 6 Degrees of Separation from the likes of movie stars and rock legends. David has a true gift in being able to see the design potential within an empty Airstream shell. His work can be seen at vintagetrailering.com and in his new book Airstreams Custom Interiors