Following a four-year hiatus since its inaugural run in Düsseldorf, Germany, the World RV Conference will conduct its second edition on American soil as the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) serves as host for the Jan. 17-20 gathering at the Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina in Tampa, Fla.
“The genesis for the conference stemmed from our good relationship with Germany’s industry association,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We invited them to our annual meetings and vice versa, and at some point we came up with the idea to put together a global forum where the significant players could share ideas about the RV industry. The mission is to provide a better understanding about the sizes of the different markets around the world and the types of products being produced.”
Initially scheduled to run every two years, the conference was canceled in 2010 “when the bottom fell out of the economy,” Coon said, adding, “We hope to get back on that original schedule.”
Coon reported in early October that confirmed attendance for the Tampa conference stood at 150, noting that RVIA was anticipating around 250 people.
“Next to the U.S., China and Europe represent the largest contingencies,” he said. “But we have a nice cross section, including places like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The key thing is that it’s a who’s who of the real players across the globe – primarily upper management from the OEM and dealer sectors along with representatives from the various associations. We are also hoping to see more involvement from the campground community.”
Expanding from the one-day format in Dusseldorf, which attracted around 200 attendees, the Tampa event will feature daily plenary sessions augmented by a full roster of breakout workshops. Marco Annunziata, GE chief economist and executive director of Global Market Insight, will deliver the convention’s keynote address during a lunch on Jan. 18.
“We will be addressing a lot of topical issues in the breakout sessions,” Coon said. “I think one of the more interesting programs will be the World Product Standards seminar. The hope is that we can form a centralized group to improve the accessibility to standards information and how everything works in the various countries. We will also be offering a seminar that looks at the different facets of the Go RVing campaign and why it has been so successful.”
Other workshop topics include: world campground standards; RV/caravan rental business; an RV/caravan CEO-chairman panel discussion; and newest emerging RV/caravan markets.
Capping off the conference on Saturday will be an optional tour of Lazydays RV Center in nearby Seffner, Fla. “We think that will be a big draw,” Coon said. “We’ll tour Lazydays then head to the Florida State Fairgrounds for the Florida RV SuperShow where the Florida RV Trade Association will be hosting a barbecue dinner and party. I think it will give people a real hands-on look at how far our industry has progressed.”