Rural Live Streaming on Tour with Camping World
After the 2020 COVID lockdown derailed Camping World’s critical RV show season, pivoting their entire business model and becoming experts in rural live streaming became the challenge nobody saw coming. As the country’s largest RV and outdoor gear supplier, Camping World normally spends their first quarter focusing on executing over 140 in-person RV shows across the United States; most of them in remote locations with space to showcase the newest trends in outdoor exploration. This period is not only vital for their annual sales, but important to many customers and the outdoor community, who love attending the shows every year.
What’s a business to do when everything changes?
After some creative thinking, Camping World decided to take a chance and try something that had never been done before—a fully virtual RV show experience. The production team quickly went to work planning a 10-week tour where they could showcase their inventory and deliver the same energy as an in-person RV show, through live streaming. Broken up into 5-day intervals per location, they streamed content daily for 10-12 hours using an array of systems including a full production team, hosts, outdoor influencers, drones, stages, and more. With this method, Camping World was able to successfully execute a fully virtual show that paralleled what normally 50,000 people experience in-person at an RV show.
Location isn’t everything.
We traveled to Camping World’s tour stop in Arizona to talk with the producers behind this virtual experience to explore what elements have led to their success. Bradley Keller (Director of Content Marketing, Camping World) began by explaining that when Camping World initially set up their filming area in rural Marion, North Carolina, which included over 113 onsite RV’s, they were excited to be able to use such a vast location.
However, the excitement quickly turned to anxiety when the production team began experiencing disconnections and drop outs during their live stream tests due to the spotty internet connection in the area. With less than 24 hours before showtime , they realized there were two options. The first option was overly complex, involving cellular bonding, multiple providers, expensive hardware, and expensive data caps. The second solution? Using Resi.
The secret to reliable rural live streaming.
The production team “was very confident in (Resi’s) technology,” stated Bradley. After overnighting a Resi encoder from Georgia, the hardware was up and running and their live stream launched without a dropout in sight. Due to Resi’s patented Resilient Streaming Protocol, videos are able to stream reliably, even with major internet disconnections. “Resi allowed us to…time slip about 10 or 20 minutes, and even if we lost the connection…we wouldn’t lose our stream,” explained Andrew Wiliams (Lead RV Show Engineer, Custom Media Solutions).
With the perfect live stream in operation, the virtual show hit the ground running and sales came flooding in. “We’re having some of the best sales months we’ve ever had as a business and we believe fully it has to do with this show, this experience, and obviously a lot of the technology that’s powering it,” explains Brandon Mulhall (VP of Digital Marketing, Camping World). “People are constantly asking us, ‘How are you doing this? How have you had literally zero technical glitches throughout a 10 week tour, where you’re bringing all of this equipment (state to state) and connecting to all of these different networks,” he continues. “Quite honestly we’ve been a bit apprehensive to spill the secret, but it’s been Resi.”
Quite honestly we’ve been a bit apprehensive to spill the secret, but it’s been Resi.
– Brandon Mulhall, VP of Digital Marketing, Camping World
The future of camping is streaming.
Camping World has continued to use Resi throughout their entire tour and the excitement and success they have seen with live streaming has only grown as months have gone on. Bradley Keller concludes, “We’re able to bring the content we’re creating and the energy and excitement around the RV and outdoor space to anyone in the country, wherever they may be, and live streaming is the best way to connect to our consumers and be able to do that.”
The above video unpacks so much more about how Camping World was able to adapt their business model to streaming.
Here’s some of what we covered:
00:00:00 • What is Camping World all about?
00:00:20 • The RV Show season.
00:00:36 • Pivoting a business model.
00:01:22 • Rural meets virtual.
00:01:54 • Streaming solutions.
00:02:13 • Introduction to Resi.
00:02:45 • A workflow only made possible by Resi.
00:03:16 • How did streaming affect sales?
00:03:51 • The future of business is streaming.