Sierra Nevada Airstreams: Owner's Guide - Participating

A caravan is a small business operating for a defined period of time

Anyone planning a caravan needs to consider the activity in the same light as running a business or association. Success will depend upon many factors including proper capitalization, effective and complete planning, good marketing and publicity, staffing excellence, product quality, and effective leadership.

The number of caravaners is one of the most important factors to consider. A couple of friends on the road can function in an ad hoc manner. Even up to five or ten rigs can often just drop in on a tourist attraction, restaurant, or campground and find parking and seats. But when you get more than a few rigs together, the odds of success are greatly improved if prior arrangements are made to accommodate the group ahead of time. Coordination and planning become more and more important as the group size increases. The impact of the group on the places they intend to visit must be considered. As the group size gets larger, the significance of the small things, the generally assumed OK things, becomes more and more important.

Keep in mind that there are commercial enterprises that offer caravan services or even complete caravans with special tour guides. Over time they develop contacts and resources that allow them to provide their customers a unique experience and themselves an income. Your caravan fills in to visit areas or serve needs that these commercial enterprises do not, but that does not mean you are competing with them or that you cannot learn from them.

Effective and complete planning

There are some who eschew planning (see USA Today column in Resources below) in favor of executing but when you start dealing with groups of people, explicit planning is a necessary aid to make sure that everyone is on the same page and going the same direction.

Focus, theme, common thread

A clearly articulated central theme or focus for the caravan will provide a starting point for finding events and activities to include and assist in marketing. A caravan is a structured long term event for its participants and they will gain more from that event if its components compliment and augment each other.

This focus articulates the goals, purposes, and mission of the caravan and provides the skeleton from which the rest of the plan hangs.

Proper capitalization

Calculating a plan for all expenses is a crucial first step to determining the capitalization needs of the caravan. The money for deposits and down payments will need to come from a club's treasury in anticipation of being recovered through caravan fees as people sign on to join the caravan.

Good marketing and publicity

There is a Catch 22 in planning a caravan: you need to know how many people and rigs are going to participate in order to plan events and activities but you need the events and activities to obtain commitments to participate. You find out about such things by doing effective marketing. Your market studies will help you learn how many people might be willing to put the buck on the table for the length of tour and the kinds of events you plan.

Staffing excellence and effective leadership

Marketing and publicity is also necessary to encourage volunteerism and participation. The quality of the caravan experience will depend upon the people you can encourage to get on board.

Product quality


Business Plans are one of those standard things that everybody and their sister will sell as a magic bullet to business success. You might even have some good material from a previous caravan or rally. Proper planning, however, is much like the so called scientific method: There are commonly known steps and practices and components but the real success belongs in the leadership, creativity, and thoroughness of the entrepreneur or scientists who actually implement. Here are some resources that will help you learn about business plans and what is needed, but keep in mind that it is up to you to adapt these ideas to your needs and style and to create success.

Please let us know what you think of these links and pass along any suggestions or other links that might be of use to those investigating this site-

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copyright 2003 Leipper Management Group. All rights reserved Please address comments or questions to Last updated 07/14/2003

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