Upscale motor coaches, along with popup tents, travel trailers and accessories – everything from travel coffee mugs to golf carts – enjoyed strong sales at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., during last week’s America’s Largest RV Show, hosted by the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA).
“They’re cranking. Business is booming in every aspect,” said Frank Davis with Camping World RV Sales.
The Patriot News reported that show organizers saw a record turnout Wednesday (Sept. 12) with more than 6,000 people through the gates. Davis said in two days he sold 29 motor coaches and a total of more than 200 items including trailers and campers.
Shoppers were out in full force, despite higher gas prices, checking out the latest models and taking advantage of interest rates as low as 3.9% for a 20-year loan, according to Davis, adding that he hadn’t heard anyone say gas prices are not preventing them from making a purchase
“It’s like buying a Corvette and asking about fuel economy,” he said.
Mario Pelletier of Annapolis, Md., said his motor coach gets about seven to eight miles per gallon but the trade-off is he and is wife, Denise, save money by pulling into camp grounds where it costs about $30 to $40 a night versus $200 for a hotel room.
He was canvassing the show in search of accessories, things like a GPS designed for Winnebago owners listing camp sites, service stations and restaurants. He was also checking into electrical isolation systems and tire sensors.
“Camping is a lifestyle. You have to love it,” he said.
“Sold” signs decorated several trailers at Grumbine’s RV lot at the show. The company is based in Harrisburg.
“This by far has been one of the best shows in three years,” said Steve Jablonski, sales manager. “I really think it’s kind of a renewed confidence in the economy. It seems to be a lot stronger than the past couple of years.”
He said he has noticed everyone from retirees to young families making purchases. They are spending $20,000 to $30,000, and not just on any one type of travel trailer.
“It’s all over the board. I can’t nail down a trend. It’s everything,” Jablonski said.
Rick and Beth Roberts of Columbia, Md., Were eyeing a Starcraft travel trailer at Grumbine’s. The couple , with two young boys in tow, said they are considering trading up from their current travel trailer.
Rick Roberts was especially enticed by the deals.
“They come here ready and willing to deal. They’ve already marked down a lot of their product line,” he said.
Crystal blue skies provided a fitting backdrop for Wednesday’s (Sept. 12) opening of Public Days during this week’s America’s Largest RV Show, as organizers reported a record gate far eclipsing any first-day attendance for the longstanding event in Hershey, Pa.
“We tallied total attendance of 6,485,” said Dan Saltzgiver, show chairman for the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), which annually hosts the event held on the expansive grounds at the Giant Center. “We thought last year was great when we had 5,057 attendees. We’re looking at a 23% increase over those numbers. It just never stopped. At 11 a.m. the line was back across the bridge into the Giant Center and into the parking lot.”
Salzgiver said that the show, which kicked off Monday and Tuesday with Industry Days, was not only attracting strong numbers but also generating sales for the approximately 100 rolling stock dealers and the host of suppliers manning the indoor exhibits at the Giant Center. Prior to the show, PRVCA Executive Vice President Rebecca Lenington reported that over 1,000 RVs would pack the outdoor display area.
“Dealers have been telling me that sales were going great,” Saltzgiver said, adding, “Everyone I talked to was very upbeat.”
In addition to “perfect weather,” Saltzgiver attributed the overflow crowd to a heightened promotional effort by PRVCA. “We spent more money on advertising than ever before – including social media like Twitter and Facebook – along with running billboards across Pennsylvania that went up around eight weeks prior to the show,” he said.
Saltzgiver said another factor behind the record numbers was the Hershey Show’s standing among RVers as “the place to come and see what’s new in the industry.”
“I have talked to a lot of people, and it was apparent that Hershey has evolved into the perfect venue for people shopping for a new RV,” he said. “It’s just grown year after year. They’re not just coming from the Pennsylvania region, but all parts of the U.S. and Canada. And they come to buy. I heard that a lot of people that had bought during a previous show were back to purchase again, so we’re getting repeat Hershey Show buyers.”
The show runs through Sunday and Saltzgiver is looking for a continuation of opening day. “The weather forecast is great,” he said, “so I don’t see a major slowdown in traffic. We are looking to add to those record first-day numbers.”
Industry Days at America’s Largest RV Show, held Sept. 10–11 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., offers “something for every facet of the RV industry,” according to a news release.
The annual show, hosted by the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), will feature a full roster of education clinics at affordable prices.
Scheduled events include:
• The opening day lineup includes an F&I Clinic with speaker Tim Spencer from Protective Asset Protection. This one-day training course focuses on the finance and insurance function in the RV dealership. Learn everything from the laws and regulations to creating a higher rate of customer satisfaction. Fee is $50 per person, which includes lunch.
• During a seminar offered on both Monday and Tuesday, Don Bary will explain how to get RV technicians certified without having to pay for costly hotels and travel expenses. The RV Technician Distance Learning Program allows students to study from the comfort of their home. Registration is free.
• Tuesday kicks off with an all-star morning at Chocolate World that includes a breakfast, inspirational message and “Meet and Greet” with former NFL running back Marcus Allen. Autographed footballs, mini-helmets and photos are available for purchase and benefits the PRVCA PAC fund. Allen will also share his secrets on how you too can become a champion. Fee is $25 per person, which includes breakfast.
• A service writer clinic, conducted by Chuck Marzahn, starts off a full education day at the Giant Center. The clinic will allow service writers, service managers and others a chance to look at the very basics of service writers and learn practical strategies to help their businesses. Fee is $50 per person, which includes lunch. Bonus: Earn 5 RVDA CEUs for attending this seminar.
• Bernie Jwaszewski will show how to navigate the sea of social networking. Learn how to make it work for your business with the help of Jwaszewski’s insight and experience. Registration is free. Bonus: Earn 1 CPO credit by attending this seminar.
• Ron Wheeler of Wheeler Advertising, which specializes in marketing for RV dealerships, will lead “How to Advertise in a Complex Marketplace.” Advertising in today’s world is a difficult job, especially with so many different choices. Wheeler will offer tips on understanding the world of digital, mobile social and traditional marketing. Fee is $50 per person. Bonus: Earn 3.5 CPO credits for attending this seminar.
To register for any of the events, visit www.largestRVshow.com, select Industry Info, then view the Show Invitation or call (888) 303.2887.
This year’s Red Carpet Breakfast at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., will include a meet-and-greet with former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who will deliver the keynote address at the Sept. 11 event.
According to a press release, the breakfast is slated to begin at 7:30 a.m. at Chocolate World in the Giant Center with the meet-and-greet scheduled for 9 a.m. Autographed photos, helmets and footballs will be available for purchase with proceeds going to the PRV PAC. The registration fee is $25.
Allen played more games (222), rushed for more touchdowns (123), and caught more passes than any other running back in his era. The former MVP of Super Bowl XVIII and NFL Rookie of the Year was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 3, 2003.
He began his NFL career in 1982 and played 16 years with both the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. During that time he posted 12,243 yards rushing, 5,411 yards receiving and scored 145 total touchdowns. At the time of his retirement he was the only player in NFL history with over 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving.
America’s Largest RV Show, hosted by the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA), will run Sept. 12-16.