Exhibitor Aisles Jammed at AGI’s ‘The Rally’
The 11th Annual “The Rally,” sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), opened this morning (July 22) with a rush of humanity bursting into the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky.
“It was like opening the gates to a rock concert,” said Terry Thompson, AGI vice president of sales, RV media division. “We opened at 10 and you can’t walk through the aisles. It’s jammed wall to wall with people.”
The Rally has attracted the owners of more than 2,500 RVs from all parts of North America to enjoy the event, which includes some 1,000 new RVs on display, 500 vendor booths, 120 educational seminars and nightly entertainment.
For the first time, all exhibitor booths and RV displays are inside the KEC’s South Wing, which is an added bonus to this year’s event, as the weather outside is hot and humid.
“We knew it was hot in July in Kentucky but we didn’t know it was this hot,” Thompson said.
The Rally early-bird events got off to a good start Wednesday afternoon with a Coach Preview from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“It was jammed with people, units were sold, things went better than they expected. We don’t always have a preview but we’re glad we did it,” Thompson said.
He called The Rally a “shot in the arm” for the RV industry.
Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com, echoed Thompson’s observation on The Rally’s early going, from the bulging crowds to the manufacturers’ early responses.
“Manufacturers seem to be upbeat,” Goldenberg said. ”The Rally seems to be particularly well-timed, pulling together a nice number of consumers at a time there would have been no national event. They appear to be happy about that.”
Thompson added, “When you have every aisle in an hall selling product, it shows you they (consumers) are alive and kicking, using their units and buying new units. I view it as a great commercial for the RV industry. This is the heartbeat right here; these are the people getting it done.”
Thompson said show sponsors expect a big day crowd to attend the event, which runs through Sunday.
AGI President Mike Schneider noted The Rally’s growth since its inception 11 years ago.
“We’re at the level with the show where we want to be to help service the industry, where additional exposure to the RV lifestyle and additional sales opportunities are important. That’s where we see our role in both those areas,” Schneider said. “The event itself speaks to the vibrancy of the market and Affinity’s role as a conduit between the industry and the consumers. We see ourselves providing a number of different forums that the industry can reach the consumer when they are thinking RV. We do it through magazines, websites, shows and this rally, among other places.”
Schneider tonight will host the Good Sam Club’s Welcome Mat Awards program, which annually recognizes RV friendly business across the U.S.
Comedian Bob Newhart wil entertain the crowd tonight, with Tanya Tucker scheduled for Friday night.