RVDA Con/Expo Reports a 3% Hike in Attendance

  Print Print

November 13, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

NTP-STAG’s Retail Tech & Idea Center drew a lot of attention at the Con/Expo

Nearly 1,400 people attended the 2017 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo last week (Nov. 6-10) at Bally’s in Las Vegas, a 3% increase from the prior year. Sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), RVDA of Canada and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, the dealer-centric Con/Expo had a final gate attendance of 1,395, reported RVDA President Phil Ingrassia.

“It’s always good to be going in that direction,” Ingrassia told

Eleonore Hamm, president of the RVDA of Canada, said the Con/Expo was “fantastic” and expected the final tally of Canadian dealers – which, it should be noted, are included in the 1,395 total – would be the best yet.

“If not our highest attendance, then probably our second highest, and definitely our highest attendance in a long time,” she said. “The Quebec association brought a contingent of about 50 dealers and dealer personnel down and we were able to provide simultaneous translation into French. We’ve had great feedback for that. Obviously, that assisted us in boosting our attendance.”

Eleonore Hamm

Another reason for a boost in Canadian dealer attendance, Hamm noted, is that the country’s retail sales are back on a positive track after a couple of sluggish years. She said the Con/Expo keynote speaker, Chris Helder, was another highlight as he brought an energy and enthusiasm that spilled over to the opening of the Expo portion of the convention. Ingrassia also called out Helder’s presentation when listing his highlights of the week, which included the installation of a new board of directors and Tim Wegge of Burlington RV Superstore in Sturtevant, Wis., as the new chairman.

“I thought Tim’s speech was a highlight,” Ingrassia said, mentioning in particular Wegge’s touching on the importance of service after the sale. “I think we’re going to be hearing a lot about that for the next couple of years as we try to move forward in that area.”

Two other highlights Ingrassia cited were the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards as well as NTP-STAG’s Retail Tech & Idea Center, a special display of technology, design and merchandise combined into a model store that demonstrates what’s possible at RV dealerships.

“The exhibit offered a kind of a ‘retail vision of the future’ and it was very well received. It gave you a taste of what’s ahead for parts- and accessory-retailing stores, and NTP-STAG came up with a nifty job of demonstrating that and what that looks like,” he said, adding that staff will be reviewing attendee evaluations as it seeks ways to improve the Con/Expo for next year, which will move next door to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

Ingrassia noted an increased “buzz” and “energy” of the event this year – corroborated by dealers and suppliers alike – and attributed it to both the industry enjoying unprecedented success as well as dealerships bringing a cross section of multiple personnel to take advantage of Con/Expo’s variety of educational seminars, including up-and-comers as part of the Young RV Executives track.

Phil Ingrassia

“The Convention/Expo committee has done a lot of work on really trying to focus on what’s important for dealers, and then the young executive committee also helps a lot by updating the topics. A perfect example of that is the social media and marketing track. We didn’t have that five years ago and now that’s a huge part of the seminars. That certainly attracts a younger demographic,” Ingrassia said.

“We do have some vehicles there, obviously,” he continued. “But the focus is really on the back end of the dealership operation. There are a lot of data management software companies, marketing companies, parts and accessory companies, and, of course, we have all our service providers like finance firms and warranty providers. At a lot of shows the focus is on the units, as it well should be, and we certainly have some units here. But the bulk of the space is devoted toward things that dealers need in the back end.”

“There are a lot of things that go into being a successful dealership, vehicles being No. 1. But you’ve also got a lot of other things to go on and that’s where this Con/Expo is focused. There are a lot of different vendors, suppliers and service providers who make vehicle sales possible,” Ingrassia said.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [Facebook] [Google] [StumbleUpon]


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!