JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — Nearly 5,000 small businesses across the country have opened themselves up to the recreational vehicle (RV) community.
For many, the reward of added revenue and increased exposure has made the experience well worth it — and it’s all made possible thanks to a company called “Harvest Hosts.”
Harvest Hosts is an RV membership program that allows self-contained travelers — such as those in RVs — to enjoy an overnight stay at unique locations around the country including farms, museums and attractions, breweries and distilleries, golf courses, and wineries.
Instead of parking the RV at a rest stop along the interstate, folks can stay overnight at a Harvest Host location instead. It allows RVers to discover unique locations across the U.S. while supporting small businesses through their travels.
“It really helps the small businesses in these rural areas that would not get a lot of attraction otherwise. At the same time, it’s great for the RVers, because they get to have an overnight experience in a unique location where they’re not paying for camping. As an RVer, you feel good knowing that you’re supporting a small business, and honestly, that’s very natural for an RVer — that’s what we do. We go from point A to point B, and we want to support local businesses. We’re wanting to experience each location as a local would, and I think that’s why a lot of our RVers like Harvest Hosts,” said Carrie Price, Director of Brand Marketing at Harvest Hosts.
One Southwest Missouri business benefiting from its partnership with Harvest Hosts is Keltoi Winery. For nearly ten years, Keltoi has welcomed the RV community to their Jasper County winery through Harvest Hosts.
“Usually the RV folks are from far away. So they come in from other states — from all over the country — bringing in all kinds of information. They’ve usually been through a lot of wineries already. So they come in all excited and with lots of information and ideas that we can use. A lot of times we will even sit and talk to the people that are here. Everybody enjoys it because it’s interesting to sit and talk to somebody from a different part of the country,” said Erv Langan, owner of Keltoi Winery.
Throughout the months of autumn — Keltoi’s busiest time of the year — the winery will see an average of 30 Harvest Hosts members stay at their location. That translates to an increase in business revenue.
“99% of the time they’re in here spending money buying wine — sometimes it’s large quantities,” said Keltoi Winery manager, Donna Thomason.
“We’re really trying to help the economy by bringing more RVers to these places that would not necessarily be visited,” said Price.
Harvest Hosts says there are around 20 host locations in the Joplin area. If you include the Four State region, you’ll easily find 50 or more hosts — each one offering something unique to their RV visitors.
“Essentially, we ask RVers to pay a yearly fee and that allows them to find host locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. For us, the goal has always been to bring together the RV community and local businesses — therefore creating these unique experiences between the two,” said Price.
“If we have 100 folks with RVs come through here each year and stay at the winery, and you figure each one buys an average of four bottles of wine — that really adds up. Then, there are times when those folks share their experience at our winery, with other members of Harvest Hosts, or with other people they know. All of that has been great for our small business, which has grown over the years. We certainly have the RV community to thank for some of that growth,” said Langan.
For more information on Harvest Hosts, you can check out their website, HERE.