The crowds and exhibits were smaller than last year, but manufacturers reported brisk sales at the California RV Show that ended Sunday (Oct. 24) at the Fairplex in Pomona.
”We saw a definite upswing in retail traffic,” said Bryan Walczak, product manager for Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC’s Elk Ridge and Big Country fifth-wheels. ”The biggest thing that we sensed this year over last is that there were more qualified buyers than people who were coming just to look and see.”
Walczak reported that Heartland’s dealer — McMahon’s RV, Los Angeles — sold a considerable number of the Elkhart, Ind.,-based manufacturer’s fifth-wheels during the show.
Attendance at the 11-day Pomona Show was 19,194, a drop of 9% from 2008. And spacewise, this year’s show booked 404,360 square feet of space compared to 857,904 last year, according to Mary ” Mike” Hutya, vice president of meetings and shows for the sponsoring Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
And 21 dealer were represented at the show. ”I was pleased that the dealers started reporting right away that they were making sales and that they were seeing more qualified buyers,” Hutya said.
”We did well; we were up over last year,” said Mark Rosenbaum, sales director for Mike Thompson’s RV, Santa Fe Springs, which represented Keystone, Itasca, Tiffin, Forest River Georgetown and Fleetwood brands at Pomona.
”We didn’t know what to expect. We had better buyers and we saw much better credit than we saw at Pomona last year. People came in with the intent to buy.”
”It was a tough crowd, but we were able to hold our own,” said David Middleton, Gulf Stream Coach Inc.’s national sales manager for motorized. ”We sold a few. It’s all about price right now.”
The Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer’s dealer — RV Peddler, Bakersfield, Calif. — displayed 10 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C and Montaj Class A motorhomes.
Sid Johnson, marketing director for Jayco Inc., Middlbury, Ind., said it was apparent that attendance was down.
Nonetheless, he said, Richardson’s RV Center, Los Angeles, sold more than twice the Jayco units than it did at the 2008 Pomona Show.
”The people who did attend the show were very interested in buying,” Johnson said. ”The interesting thing is that interest was across the board — from motorhomes to folding camping trailers. There didn’t seem to be any product type that was moving faster than any other. It was pretty encouraging.”
The largest RV show on the West Coast has shrunk in size, but the builders of trailers, toy haulers and motor homes who remain in business parked their homes-on-wheels in Pomona, Calif., optimistic that the worst may be in their rear view mirrors, according to the Riverside, Calif. Press-Enterprise.
On display until Oct. 25 during the California RV Show at the Fairplex in Pomona sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) are rows of recreational vehicles from towable trailers for $30,000 to veritable tour buses equipped with fold-out balconies and slide-out flat-screen TVs. Those, joked 61-year-old Jerry Presson of Fullerton, were for an RVer’s wife who wanted a hotel room, not a camping trip.
He takes two trips a month in his 1991 Winnebago motor home and plans to journey “a lot more” now that he’s retired. He was shopping for a Class A diesel motor home on Friday.
”I was going to buy one last year, but then the economy turned,” he said, so he stayed with his job as a technician for an aerospace firm until he was forced to retire this year.
The recession severely curtailed motor home sales as banks were skittish to lend to customers and RV dealers alike. Manufacturers went under; dealers closed.
Nonetheless, Bill Gibson, president of Jag Mobile Solutions based in Howe, Ind., decided to get into the RV business. With his first Galileo trailer model — a solitary vehicle parked next to the fence across from a wall of RVs — Gibson sees it as the perfect time to come into the RV market with something new. His 5,000-pound trailer starting at $30,000 has room for four adults to sleep, stereo surround-sound and a solar panel on the roof.
His company still makes custom-ordered portable restrooms, showers and trailers for films. As for RVs, “I only need a very small number of people to buy,” he said. “I have time to wait.”
Dick Graham, regional sales manager for Forest River Inc., Elkhart, Ind., sat surrounded by his company’s 2010 model motor homes.
“We’re eternal optimists,” he said. The economy that felled RV giants, most recently Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. (now owned by a New York equity firm and renamed Fleetwood RV Inc.), Weekend Warrior Trailers Inc. and National RV Inc., has left the market open to those remaining, Graham said.
Tom Powell, chief executive officer of Riverside-based Pacific Coachworks Inc., showed off his company’s use of plywood instead of particle board inside its brand of Tango trailers. After stopping production and laying off most of his workforce, Powell ramped up production again earlier this year.
He said his firm has an advantage being one of the few RV makers left in the Inland region — others include Skyline in Hemet and Eclipse Recreational Vehicles in Riverside — since local buyers can rest easy with a factory nearby if a fix is needed.
John Collins, 34, a feature film art director from La Crescenta, has been to the Pomona RV show before but hadn’t made a purchase.
This year he said he was willing to spend $75,000 to $125,000 for a motor home for his family that had bunk beds for his 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, and anything but easy-to-stain white carpeting.
“We have to find one we absolutely love to spend that much money,” he said.
The 57th Annual California RV Show, sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), will kick off Friday (Oct. 16) at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., offering consumers access to the newest and best in RVs and RV products.continues to be a popular place for RVers to visit and find show information as well as tips on how RVers are adjusting to higher fuel costs, how driving an RV is different but not difficult, how RVs have less of a carbon footprint than air/hotel travel, and more – all designed to support RV sales and show attendance.
Set to run through Oct. 25, the California RV Show is the largest consumer show on the West Coast, according to RVIA Express.
This year’s show theme is “It’s All About Fun” and highlights that with an RV you take your resort with you. With many American families looking to save money on vacations, show promoters have been working to highlight the fact that RVing is still less expensive than flying or driving, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. RVing also provides quality family time.
Seminars at the show will help attendees select the right RV and provide tips for full timing and extended RV travel.
One of the most popular seminars from previous shows that will be continued this year is “Yes, You Can Drive an RV,” while ”green” RVer and RVIA media spokesman Brian Brawdy also will be featured in a special green camping display at the center of the show.
“Despite the tough economic conditions, I think we are going to have a wonderful show,” said Marsha McInnis, RVIA’s Western Region show director. “Enthusiasm is high among exhibitors and consumers alike.”
The show’s website, www.carshow.com,
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 57th Annual California RV Show, the largest consumer RV show on the West Coast, is just around the corner. The “Fairplex,” Los Angeles County’s Fair and Exposition building in Pomona, Calif., will once again host manufacturers and suppliers displaying the latest in RVs, products, and accessories during the 10-day event Oct. 16-25.
Occurring just as the nation’s economy is expected to begin a recovery, the California RV Show could usher in a strong start to 2010 for exhibitors, according to an RVIA release.
Mike Hutya, RVIA vice president of meetings and shows, said, “There is no better way for RV manufacturers to kick off a strong 2010 than by exhibiting at the California RV Show, one of the most important retail shows in the country. California is one of the nation’s top RV markets and each year the California RV Show draws thousands of potential consumers to see the latest in RV products.”
The show generally draws approximately 30,000 consumers – 90% of whom are between the ages of 23-65 years old with an average household income of $60,000.
At its June 11 meeting, RVIA’s board of directors voted to add incentives to manufacturers who exhibit at this year’s show. Those manufacturers that purchased space at the California RV Show by March 30 now have the ability to purchase up to 50% more space at a rate of $2 per square foot on a first-come, first-served basis.
To give manufacturers flexibility while ensuring that the products on display represent the newest in RV innovation, the board voted that vehicles to be displayed at this year’s show are limited to each manufacturer’s current and previous model year, not including 2008 models, and the previous model year may only consist of up to 50% of the total number of units.
The board also voted to increase the availability of “be-back” tickets to manufacturers and dealers exhibiting at the show and added an additional dollar admission day to the event, bringing the total number of “dollar days” to four.
Hutya continued, “RVIA is working very hard to ensure that the California RV Show continues to be a must-attend event for both exhibitors and attendees. This year’s show will have an updated look and feel that will energize our exhibitors while targeting consumers who might be new to RVing.”
For more information on the California show, visit www.carvshow.com or call RVIA’s Western Region Office at (951) 274-0696.
New “RV Buddies Online” content this week includes a segment starring Robert where he discovers a number of accessories at a California RV show.
While Mark and Elise continue to walk the show, Robert disappears and discovers some cool, fun and practical accessories ideal for every RVer.
Robert stumbles upon the Hobie Kayak, CordPro cord and hose reels, and X-Treme Scooters – ECO friendly gas and battery powered scooters.
This is the first of two accessory segments scheduled to air on “RV Buddies.” The next segment is planned to air the first week in July.
Additional content on the site include a news section with topical RV reporting, and a tech section with reviews of products of interest to the RV community.
Meanwhile, “RV Buddies” is soliciting content from OEMs and related companies and for inclusion on the site. Reach the show via e-mails Mark@RVBuddiesonline.com, or call at (818) 823-6160 for special coverage to support product launch and marketing schedules.
“RV Buddies” is an RV adventure-lifestyle show featuring reviews of RVs, accessories and gear. The show chronicles Mark, Elise, Robert, and their two RV Buddies, Toby and Alex, as they visit America’s most beautiful campgrounds and resorts. The program is distributed as an Internet Television production on its own website, on Apple iTunes and through other distribution channels.
For more information, advertising, reviews or other marketing opportunities, contact Summers at Mark@RVBuddiesOnline.com. Be our friend on www.Facebook.com - search: RV Buddies. Tweet them at www.Twitter.com/RVBuddiesOnline.
Interest in RVs among consumers remains high, RVIA maintains, with more than 44,000 people attending the Florida RV Super Show, 35,000 showing up for the Utah RV Show and 30,000 crowding the Maryland RV Show. The large crowds at these shows and others have pleasantly surprised organizers and dealers, says RVIA, adding that people are not just looking at RVs, but buying them, too.
“Our sales were up 20% over last year’s (Maryland RV) show,” says Charlie Wolf, sales manager for Beckley’s Camping Center. “People are still buying RVs. They still want to go camping, get away and have fun.”
And while RV manufacturers have requested about 35% less space for the upcoming National RV Trade Show, slated for Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, some in the industry feel that the show still promises to fulfill its designated role in a big way this year in terms of business relationships as well as outright wholesale trade.
“The National RV Trade Show remains one of the most important and valuable events on the RV industry’s calendar,” says RVIA’s Mary “Mike” Hutya, vice president of meetings and shows. “In addition to providing the opportunity to launch new products, the show is invaluable for helping companies gauge trends and generally stay competitive.”
There are those who contend that trade shows, especially important during a down economy, are a highly cost-effective means of reaching potential customers. An Exhibit Surveys Inc. study indicates that the average trade show enables exhibitors to reach more prospects in three days than they could with their sales force in three months, RVIA reports, adding that the average cost of reaching a trade show visitor is $177 compared to the average $295 cost of a field sales call.
Trade shows also require less closing effort – 0.8 calls to close a qualified lead compared to 3.7 calls to close a typical business sale, according to the study. And, on average, 54% of all orders placed as a result of a trade show lead require no personal follow-up visits, according to a separate McGraw-Hill Research Foundation study.
One of the biggest benefits of trade shows is the opportunity they provide for face to-face meetings with prospects, typically the fastest way to build relationships.
“In any industry, these shows provide a huge amount of networking,” says Peter MacGillivray, vice president of communication and events for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), Diamond Bar, Calif. “In this day and age, you’ve got websites that offer virtual networking on line. But nothing can replace face-to-face meetings. When you see how much networking takes place at a show, you realize what a bang for the buck they provide.”
“Whether they’re trade or consumer, these shows provide the most economical use of people’s time and money, enabling them to ‘do it all’ in one place,” maintains Ben Wold, executive vice president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in Chicago. “We live in a three-dimensional environment, and the Internet only gets you so far. The ability to meet, talk face to face, see products is vitally important for staying on top of what’s happening in the industry and also for staying one step ahead of the competition. And that’s true in good times or bad.”
Jayco Inc., Middlebury, Ind., still hosts its own dealer meetings/shows. Even so, says Jim Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing, no individual manufacturer’s show can provide the cost efficiency of a national show like Louisville in terms of reaching dealer customers and prospects. “We feel it’s extremely cost effective for showcasing products, getting with current dealers and signing up new ones,” Jacobs says, adding that the company tends to drive its new products around its June/July dealer meeting and follow that with the Louisville Show.
Dropping out of the show altogether, RVIA maintains, can pose risks to a company’s image and reputation. SEMA’s MacGillivray agrees, adding that exhibit size isn’t as important as just showing up. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money (on a trade show),” he said, “but it’s important to be part of the mix, part of the industry. If you’re not at the show, you’re really doing your business a disservice. If you miss out and rely on hearsay, you’re giving up a competitive edge. Once consumers get back to spending money, you won’t have your pulse on the latest products and technology, if you skip such a major event.”
Skipping a show can also send a strong negative message about a company’s commitment to its market and dealers and its financial conditions, which competitors can exploit. As Jayco’s Jacobs points out, “A lot of dealers will question your staying power.”
RVIA is currently offering exhibit space for the 2009 National RV Trade Show and the deadline for securing exhibit space is July 7. To reserve space, contact RVIA at (703) 620-6003 ext. 305.
As the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s leadership prepares to convene June 8-11 for its annual Committee Week meetings in Washington, D.C., one of its main goals will be to infuse new ideas and energy into the association’s two shows — the National RV Trade Show and the annual retail California RV Show.
“These are two of the most important events on the RV industry calendar, and we’re working hard to ensure that they continue to provide our exhibitors and attendees with tremendous value,” said RVIA President Richard Coon, in a news release. “With many indicators now beginning to point to a recovering economy, we believe that these two shows will help kick start the industry.”
The National RV Trade Show is slated for Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., with the California RV Show taking place Oct. 16-25 at the Fairgrounds in Pomona, Calif. With the economic conditions “wreaking havoc” earlier in the year on the RV industry, says RVIA, demand for exhibit space at the two events is understandably down.
This falloff in show business is not exclusive to the RV industry. Major trade shows in various industries have felt the pinch, including the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Association (SEMA) show, the 18th International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) in Miami and the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS). MAATS, which is moving to Orlando, Fla., is now under the management of Affinity Media, the same division of Affinity Group Inc. under which RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com are managed.
In response, show officials are considering various means of providing more value for their exhibitors. “The trick is to do so without increasing costs to our exhibitors because our budget is just as affected as everyone else’s,” reports Mary “Mike” Hutya, RVIA vice president of meetings and shows.
Ideas on the table for the National RV Trade Show include showcasing new and exciting products introduced at Louisville on a website after the show and providing a link to contact exhibitors as a means of extending the “shelf life” of their displayed products. In addition, RVIA is also looking at bringing in “strong business people” to discuss survival experiences and strategies for tough economic times.
The Reston Va.-based association is also looking into the potential of joining its retail California RV Show with another show from a related industry facing similar challenges like boating or motorcycles to help bolster attendance.
Coon feels that some new enhancements combined with a recovering economy will help RVIA’s two shows outperform expectations. “These shows are going to surprise people,” he said. “If you already have space, buy some more. If you’re not an exhibitor, reserve your space now. Both of these shows are going to be strong venues for exhibiting companies.”
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is now offering manufacturer exhibit space for the 2009 California RV Trade Show, scheduled for Oct. 16 to 25 in Pomona, Calif.
The California RV Show is one of the most important retail shows in the country, providing exhibitors unparalleled access to buyers in one of the top RV markets in the country, the RVIA noted in a release. The event draws approximately 30,000 potential customers with 90% between the ages of 23-65 with an average household income of $60,000.
“Exhibitors can talk to more people face to face during the course of the 10-day show than they may see in months on their dealer lots,” said Mike Hutya, RVIA vice president of meetings and shows. “And, these are solid prospects who have an interest in owning an RV, have buying power and plan to spend money.”
Hutya added that the association is hard at work to ensure the event continues to be a must-attend event for both exhibitors and attendees. “This year’s show will have an updated look and feel that will energize our exhibitors while targeting consumers who might be new to RVing,” she said.
She also said the promotional messages are being re-tooled in light of the uncertain economic times. “Our advertising messages will focus on how RV travel and camping provides economical, quality family time in a healthy, wholesome environment,” Hutya reported.
The California RV Show will have a comprehensive promotional plan targeting consumers, including commercials on network and cable television and radio; advertising in top newspapers and magazines; an aggressive public relations outreach; and a targeted direct mail campaign.
Members interested in exhibiting at the California RV Show should contact RVIA’s Western Region Office at (951) 274-0696.