The recently completed Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey posted record attendance with a turnout of 36,410 people for the Retail Days alone, according to a press release.
Event organizers reported that the Sept. 12-18 event, billed as America’s Largest RV Show, saw a 4% increase in attendance from 2010 and set an all-time record. The show encompassed over 1.3 million square feet and had over 1,050 new units on display – an increase of 6% compared to last year. There were 165 booth vendors in attendance, representing a 15% increase over 2010, while manufacturer square footage increased by 5%.
This year’s show battled national media attention as flooding hit the area the week prior to opening. “We received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails asking if the show was still opening,” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the host Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA). “Thanks to the PRVCA staff and the understanding and the cooperation of our exhibitors, set-up of the show went as scheduled and we opened on time without having to make any changes to the show’s program.”
Industry Days were held the first two days of the event allowing dealers one-on-one time with manufacturers and the opportunity to see the debut of the 2012 products. “There’s a lot of value in Hershey’s Industry Days,” said Dan Saltzgiver, owner of Reicharts RV and Camping Center and show chairman. “We send staff to the show both days so that everyone has a chance to see the new product and get a chance to talk with manufacturer representatives and suppliers.”
The educational events were a popular draw with eight featured industry experts. Keynote speakers Randy Sobel and Scott McKain focused on operating in today’s economy, allowing attendees to walk away with some new approaches to their businesses.
PRVCA said that Retail Days attracted consumers who were ready to shop, representing a good sign for the industry as the show is generally regarded as a bellwether for the coming year. Comments included:
• “Consumer attitudes were positive and it looks like we’ll bypass our 2010 sales,” Nick Palm of Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. said. “We had an excellent show. (Owner) Bob Tiffin attended all retail days and was impressed with PRVCA’s management and consumers’ attitudes.”
• “PRVCA did a phenomenal job,” said Chris Colton, owner of Colton RV. “Sales have exceeded last year’s sales and we’ve sold more gas products than in the past. It was a good show and Mother Nature was on our side this week.”
• “We are very happy with how the show has been,” offered Gene Ulrich, sales manager of Stoltzfus RV of West Chester. “As of Saturday night, we surpassed any sales we’ve ever done.”
• “The show finished well for us and we’re pleased,” Don Laird, president of Lime Lake RV said. “A lot of people are really getting into the green phenomenon and that’s been a real plus for us.”
• “It was very encouraging to see such a positive consumer attitude,” said Jeff Kline, owner of Gayle Kline RV. “Sales are good.”
Supplier booth vendors also experienced good sales. “For a product debut, it was everything and more,” noted Drew Schiller, president and inventor of Bag Rack. “I received a lot of validation for the product and signed six distributors during Industry Days.”
The show also provided hourly seminars for both new and experienced RVers. “I get a lot of attendees in my seminars who have yet to purchase an RV,” Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, said. “They find value in being able to apply what we discuss in the seminars to make a better informed decision when they buy. And they know the Hershey Show is THE place to get a good deal on a brand new RV.
“Those who already have a coach, love, not only to look at the new models, but they glean value from the great educational topics presented at the show. I’m guessing everyone walks away with something; a new recreation vehicle, or a new product, or valuable information about maintaining their recreational investment. Everyone wins.”
The universal appeal of RVing, as well as the ability to shop and compare 56 manufacturers at one place, continues to attract thousands of people to Hershey. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the 2011 Show,” Lenington stated. “We are in planning mode for next year’s show to make it even better.”
The 2012 PA RV & Camping Show will be held on September 10–16. For more information, visit www.largestRVshow.com.