The Hershey Show, officially known as America’s Largest RV Show by the sponsoring Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA), has become the kickoff venue for the RV industry to unveil its new model year lines on a national scale to both a trade and consumer audience. And this year’s event — set for Sept 9-15 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. — should go a long way toward reinforcing that reputation.
“The show is doing as good as it’s ever done in the sense that we’re virtually sold out for vendor space inside and we created more area outside,” Show Chairman Dan Saltzgiver, general manager for Camping World of Hanover (Pa.), told RVBUSINESS.com. “And then there’s the manufacturers’ space, which was all but sold out at the show drawing going back to the first week of May. Since then, what little space we had, Becky (Lenington, PRVCA executive director) pretty much has it all sold. She actually converted one area that we haven’t used in the manufacturers’ space to try to accommodate some more manufacturers.”
The good news, in a nutshell, from PRVCA:
• Through the end of June, the Hershey Show’s sold space totaled 817,120 net square feet versus 745,127 net square feet in 2012.
• The show’s total square footage as of mid-June: 1.54 million gross square feet.
• Outdoor manufacturer space is up 18% for this year’s show and the number of displays has increased by about 50 booths.
• The sold-out Giant Center is scheduled to house 238 booths.
“Inside the Giant Center, the arena downstairs is sold out and then there is the upstairs mezzanine,” Saltzgiver said. “We are sold out all around there for retail days for sure. And we’re working to get it sold for wholesale days as well. We sell some of that space twice. If someone is only coming for retail, then we resell it for wholesale.”
PRVCA, in turn, wants to top 2012’s record-breaking, public day attendance of 43,131, a 29% uptick from 2011. And it wants to surpass the 2,022 attendees registered on last year’s trade days, a nearly 13% from 2011. “Even though it doesn’t appear that way, we’ve been increasing the wholesale number of dealers each year,” said Saltzgiver. “So, while that’s not the size yet that we’d like to see it, we’re being told by the manufacturers that it’s still important to them.”
That said, PRVCA won’t be attempting to return the show’s square footage to its all-time, pre-recessionary high because the association has decided not to try to expand beyond the eastside foot bridge to the adjacent Giant Center parking lots, a configuration that just didn’t seem to work for everybody. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get over that (modern high point) as long as the show committee agrees with me that we shouldn’t go across the road again,” said Saltzgiver.
“That just created a lot of problems for the manufacturers on that side, as well as customers going over to that side,” he added. “It’s one of the things on which we made a decision as a group. Things could change. But right now we’re deciding not to use that side so that it’s better for our retail customer coming in as well as the manufacturers and suppliers that exhibit at that show.”
Meanwhile, PRVCA is adding some new thought-provoking trade day sessions: Lippert Components Inc. and Gary Motley, a master certified RV maintenance technician representing Motley RV Repair, Oklahoma City, Okla., will be presenting a full-day training clinic, qualifying attendees for six recertification hours. David Gorin, an RV park owner, consultant and founder of Best Parks of America Inc., will present a seminar on “RV Park Trends.” And consultant Chuck Marzahn will present a Parts Manager Clinic.