The Winter Texan Whisperer

I’ve been told that I’m the Winter Texan whisperer.  I laughed when I first heard it; then I heard it again…and again…and again.  People always ask me how I do it – how I have the ability to connect with so many retirees from across the United States and Canada.  Well, to be honest, it’s not rocket science.  But there IS a secret ingredient.  You have to care.  And I do.  A LOT.  The truth is that I really, REALLY love them.  In order to have any strong relationship, you have to show you care.  I know that is what sets us apart from others who are ‘in the business.’

One thing’s for sure, I want prospective Winter Texans to know that they’ll be in good hands while they winter in South Texas.  And for those of you who are ‘seasoned’ Winter Texas or Converted Texans – you already know you’re about to have an amazing winter.  At Welcome Home RGV, we work tirelessly to keep you informed of what’s going on across the Rio Grande Valley and, in some cases, beyond!  We’ll not only keep you up to date, but we’ll be right there in the trenches with you, whether that be on a bike ride, at happy hour, at a craft show, or on the dance floor.  We might even try to beat you at a game of cards!

We truly look forward to spending the winter with you.  Safe travels to those of you who are on the road, and we’ll see you in South Texas real soon.

We’re just connecting the dots,

Kristi

The Accidental Publisher

I have made investing in my education and networking with industry leaders a priority.  Over the course of my life with Welcome Home RGV, I have attended conferences, seminars, and conventions on topics ranging from social media strategies to the recreational vehicle industry, as a whole.

Much of the work we have done at Welcome Home RGV has been organic, stemming from seeing the demand for more and more of what we do and pushing ourselves to think outside the proverbial box and to improve each and every day.

I just returned from a conference in Austin for niche publishers.  What I found was that there is a need for a publications on just about everything you can think of.  From industry news to hobbyists, the potential to self-publish is out there.  What was interesting to me was that, at first, I felt so out of place.  With so many ‘real’ publishers at this conference, I felt silly calling myself a publisher.  As I interacted with others and got to know some of the conference attendees, I found that I am not alone – so many folks came into the publishing world quite by accident.  Going through the sessions on topics like content marketing, marketing automation, consultative selling, and media strategies made me realize how much we actually do; we just don’t call what we do by those ‘official names.’

I think what makes us successful at Welcome Home RGV is that we do what we love, do right, not only by our audience but also by our customer, and we package our passion into a variety of products, which creates an amazing company culture.

As I left the conference, I walked away with a long list of to-do’s and a whole lot of fresh ideas.  It will be exciting to see what the next year brings, and we can’t wait to take you along for the ride.

We’re just connecting the dots,

Kristi

History repeating itself

I had the opportunity to be the guest speaker for the Tropic Star (Pharr) Canadian get-together.  There are a lot of Canadians at Tropic Star, the dinner was held at the Junction Café in Pharr, and we were literally bursting out of their private room.  I had such a lovely evening.  The group invited me join them for dinner, and we had the chance to visit prior to my presentation.
While I was speaking about life in the Rio Grande Valley and thanking our Canadians for choosing the Valley as their home away from home, I canvassed the crowd, and a thought crossed my mind.  I wonder who’s been here the longest and who’s been here the shortest length of time?  I was amazed that hands went up when I asked if anyone in the crowd had been coming down for 25 years or more!  Even more exciting was seeing the hands go up when I asked who’s here for the first time.I know many of you celebrate the folks who have been coming to the Valley for years and years – you can generally spot them in an instant as they have the dingle dangles hanging from their name badges to indicate how many seasons they’ve been here.  But what about the new folks?  How do you identify them in your parks?  I ask because I don’t know.  I do know that at some parks there are first-timer socials and the new people are asked to stand at park meetings, but it would serve us well to survey these folks–an exit survey, if you will.  Find out what they liked, what surprised them, and what didn’t exactly float their boats. After all, these newcomers are the future of our parks, and if history repeats itself, they will be the ones to spread the word about our “magic Rio Grande Valley.”  We need to celebrate them just as much as we need to continue honoring our long-timers.I’d love to hear from you about how you celebrate newcomers in your park.  I’d also like to hear directly from those of you who are new to the Winter Texan lifestyle – hear your thoughts on the Rio Grande Valley and your first experience with us.  Seeing our Valley from your fresh perspective will help us as a region in developing marketing strategies to attract more of you to visit our area.I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you, Ron Desrochers and all of the Canadians from Tropic Star for the lovely evening and paperweight with the maple leaf.  It is proudly displayed on my desk!  O Canada!We’re just connecting the dots,Kristi

Tell everybody about it!

Posted on March 5, 2015 at 2:38 am.

One of the many things I love about the Valley is the diversity of our area.  Each one of our cities has its own feel and flavor.  The same rings true with our RV resorts and retirement communities.  It is evident that the wants and needs of the residents are reflected in the place each Winter Texan chooses to live.

This is the time of year when everyone starts making decisions about whether to stay in their current community or to try something different next season.  It is also the time when parks start to roll out their move-in specials and to announce rates for next year.  This is also the time to strongly encourage YOU to convince your friends from back home to join you in the Valley next season. Share the joy!  Share the fun!  Share the sun!

Finding the right park to call home can be overwhelming.  There are so many to choose from that it could take forever!  At Welcome Home RGV, we came up with a way to highlight “The Best of the Best,” allowing you to tour these properties in a short length of time so you can get back to your dancing, happy hour, or crafting!  The 2nd Annual Communities on Parade will be held February 26 – 27 and March 5 – 6 and will showcase numerous properties throughout the Rio Grande Valley.  From Brownsville to Palmview, and all points in between, you will have the opportunity to tour properties, walk the grounds, see the many amenities they have to offer, and take advantage of a number of specials and incentives they may be offering.  Whether you are looking for a rental, park model, mobile home or the perfect RV site to call home – make your search an experience!  For more information on the Communities on Parade, visit www.communitiesonparade.com.

I’d like to ask you to become an ambassador for our area, if you aren’t already.  You probably already are and don’t even realize it.  What does being an ambassador mean?  It means spreading the word.  Share your love for the Valley and the Winter Texan lifestyle with others.  I’m sure your park would love for you to take their flyers and brochures with you to distribute to your friends back home.

It’s no secret that word of mouth is the number one reason Winter Texans flock to the Valley.  I bet that’s why YOU are here.  You likely had a friend, an aunt, an uncle, or maybe even your parents who spent their winters sunbathing while you were shoveling snow.  You probably decided you didn’t want to ever see a snow shovel again and decided to give it a whirl and head to South Texas.  I only spent a few days in Indiana, and that was certainly enough to convince ME!

We’re just connecting the dots,

Kristi

What came first, the Winter Texan or the butterfly?

Posted on November 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the first of November! While our friends who are still up north are packing their things, those of you who never left or who have already returned to the Rio Grande Valley are in for a BIG treat! You’re here just in time for prime butterfly season!

Did you know you, our Winter Texans, and Monarch butterflies have a lot in common? You both try to escape the cold winters and usually start your migration south in October. And both of you have been known to flee even earlier if the weather warrants a quick escape.

People tend to get really excited about our Winter Texans and our Monarchs, and rightly so! The flurry of activity and the economic impact we enjoy, thanks to you and our butterflies, is something the Rio Grande Valley both recognizes and appreciates. While the butterflies don’t bring their checkbooks, people from all over the world come to see them, and they certainly bring theirs!

While you are in the Rio Grande Valley, there are plenty of things to see and do. Whether you want to soak up our sunshine on South Padre Island, hike along our many nature trails, get out your clubs and hit the golf course, support the arts and theatre, shop in our stores or our famous ropa usadas and flea markets, dance the day away or step back in time at any one or all of our museums – there is certainly something for everyone in south Texas.

I speak on behalf of the entire Rio Grande Valley when I say we’re glad you’re back. Even though you, like the Monarchs, start your journey to your northern homes in the middle of March – we appreciate the opportunity to be your home away from home in the meantime.

I’ve always loved Monarch butterflies and never really understood why. I think I have finally figured it out.

We’re just connecting the dots,
Kristi

It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it

Posted on October 27, 2014 at 4:46 am.

I hope you know that when I say that I have a big grin on my face.  I absolutely love what I do,  I almost feel guilty when I talk to friends who are frustrated with their jobs, or are just plain unhappy.  I’ve found that when you aren’t happy with your job, not only does it show, but it affects everyone around you.  TRUST ME, I know.  I had a job like that and my family and I suffered through that for almost five years.  I can’t tell you how many award ceremonies, field trips and meet the teacher functions I missed over those five years – and those are things that I will never be able to get back.  Not to mention the gray hair that I’m certain came from my tenure at that company, and I’ve been paying the price for that ever since (every four to six weeks).
As the daughter of self employed parents, I was raised by parents who taught me to work hard, do it right, and always pay it forward so the entrepreneurial spirit was already instilled in me.  I was laid off from that J-O-B in October of 2007 and at that moment I made a promise to myself that I would find a way to do something on my own and never work for anyone but myself again.
I wanted something to do that would allow me to surround myself with people who enjoy life to the fullest.  I wanted to do something that would make a difference in the lives of others.  And most importantly, I wanted the flexibility to spend time with my family, especially my daughter.
As a McAllen native, I grew up with Winter Texans all around me and never knew there was a time when they didn’t exist (officially, here in the Rio Grande Valley that is).  As a matter of fact, all of my adult working life I’ve worked with Winter Texans in a variety of different ways (aside from the 5 year stint at that company that will remain nameless!).  My very first job was when I worked for the American Red Cross and I would go from park to park to make presentations on Red Cross activities and recruiting volunteers.  So the Winter Texan world was a familiar one to me, and that’s where I found myself in October of 2007 and Welcome Home, RGV was born.
So!  With that being said, I hope that you get to know Welcome Home RGV – who we are, what we do and in the words of Ron Berquist, Converted Texan/Retama Village “watch us grow”.  We are here to be of service, whether you are looking for a place to call home, a specific product or service, or simply the best hamburger in town – we want to help you make the most of your experience in the Rio Grande Valley.
Visit our website, www.welcomehomergv.com and sign up for our e-newsletter and we’ll keep you posted on all sorts of events and activities that we just know you’ll love.
We’re just connecting the dots,
Kristi

What’s so great about retirement in South Texas, anyway?

Let me start out by offering a quick disclaimer:  I’m not retired.  Unfortunately, I’m far from it.  And, I’ve never been to retirement destinations in Arizona or Florida, so I personally have nothing to base this column on except the conversations I’ve had over the last 10 years with the hundred-thousand-plus (yes, 100,000+) Winter Texans who come to the Valley each year.

Now that that’s out there – back to the question.  What is it that makes the Rio Grande Valley such a wonderful place to ‘winter’?  First of all, we want you here.  WE are lucky to have YOU, not the other way around.  Not only do you energize our local economy, but you also bring your time and talents to so many of our schools and nonprofit organizations.  In Texas, we don’t see you as ‘snowbirds.’  We see you as one of us, so we gave you a name to prove it.  To us, you are Winter Texans.  We are also incredibly friendly people by nature, so the friendliness of our people is just as important to the Winter Texans we visited with as what you’ll read below.

 Next…well…you just can’t beat the cost of living.  Some people say it’s cheap down here, but we prefer the term ‘affordable.’  Your hard-earned money goes farther down here.  Period.  Trust me, you’ll save the money you spent on gas and then some.  We know it’s a long drive.

 Another great thing about South Texas is the sense of community.  All of our RV resorts and retirement communities are incredibly welcoming.  Almost all dances, craft shows, entertainment, jam sessions, and meals are open to the public, so you can zip from one resort to another without a worry in the world.  We have a wide variety of festivals and events outside of the RV resorts, as well, so you can find yourself at a world-championship barbecue contest one weekend and a butterfly festival the next!  You might even hit both the same weekend!

And we haven’t even talked about the weather!  We have great weather.  Our ‘winter’ lasted about four days in 2017, and while the locals called in sick, wore parkas, and complained an awful lot,  there were sightings of Winter Texans on bicycles sporting long pants and a light jacket.

The Rio Grande Valley is a wonderful place to live.  Now that’s something I can speak on as a ‘resident expert.’  I’ve lived in McAllen most of my life (40 out of 47 years!).  We know you have choices when it comes to retirement destinations, but we also know you’ll love it here, so we kindly ask that you give us a try.  Sure, it’s a long drive.  Once you hit the Texas border, you still have 10 hours before you see our smiling faces.  But, trust me and the 100,000+ Winter Texans who call the Rio Grande Valley their home away from home–it’s definitely worth it!!!

Safe travels, and see you in South Texas soon!

We’re just connecting the dots,

Kristi

Kristi Collier is a McAllen native who loves to share her passion for the area with others.  Her company, Welcome Home RGV caters to the Winter & Converted Texan market through their events, activities, special interest publications and more.  For more information, call the Welcome Home RGV office at 956-687-5115 or visit their website at www.welcomehomergv.com or on facebook at facebook.com/whrgv and  facebook.com/wintertexan.