RV enthusiasts flocked to shows all over the country last week, including the 21st Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, 81st Annual Chicago Boat, RV, & Outdoors Show and the 25th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo.
The shows set up in Denver, Chicago and Chantilly, Va., filling the venues with 2011 Class A, B and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, toy haulers, truck campers and tent trailers, as well as information on campgrounds, RV and camping accessories and entertainment.
All three shows reported impressive sales and steady high attendance, leading many to look forward to strong post-recession RV sales, according to a news release.
According to Dianne Seymour, show manager of the Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, “The show was a great success. All of the RV dealers sold above and beyond what they had anticipated, with people coming to the show ready to buy.”
Jim Humble of Windish RV Center, agreed. “It was a fantastic show for us and it more than exceeded our expectations. We are up 45% in unit sales over last year and look forward to doing it again next year.”
According to Regional Manager Vilma Fraguada, “The success of the dealers at the Colorado RV Adventure Show validates earlier comments by RVIA that the RV industry is recovering from the recession. Consumer confidence continues to rise and the number of qualified buyers at the show makes that evident.”
At the same time, the Chicago RV Pavilion at the Chicago Boat, RV, & Outdoors Show had a similar positive turnout. John Slick of Collier RV Center said, “The turnout was phenomenal with better than expected attendance. We were overwhelmed, yet pleasantly surprised, by all the excited and enthusiastic attendee traffic.”
Chicago RV Pavilion Show Manager Harry Lutz, concurred. “The attendance was great and our dealers sold a lot of product. We received many compliments and are excited to see how the rest of show season goes.”
At the Washington Camping RV Expo, Show Manager Dave Body said, “The attendance was strong, comparable to our banner show last year, but with an increased amount of selling. The attendees were happy, the dealers were pleased and many of the campgrounds ran out of literature early each day.”
Robert Lentz, sales manager at Chesaco RV, agreed. “Since the show this past weekend, we’ve had a tremendous amount of direct responses through phones calls, appointments, and customer activity on our lot. The show definitely helped get our name out and we are more than pleased with the results.”
Affinity Events welcomes RV enthusiasts to get ready for the great outdoors with upcoming RV shows in Edison, N.J.; Kansas City, Mo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Richmond, Va.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Denver, Colo.; Providence, R.I.; Greenville, S.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Albuquerque, N.M. These shows will feature a variety of RVs, campground information and accessories along with expert advice and entertainment.
Visit www.agievents.com for information about upcoming consumer shows, exhibitor lists and discounted online tickets to the shows.
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More people are answering the call of the open road, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Recreational vehicle dealers report big sales increases, and RV show organizers say there’s been higher attendance at their events in early 2010.
The number of RV units shipped from national manufacturers to dealers rose by 116% from January 2009 to January 2010, from 7,300 units to 15,800, according to the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The numbers have spurred RVIA officials to predict shipments will increase 30% this year, a predictor of vehicle sales.
That growing interest in motorized homes and non-motorized trailers was visible at two Denver-area RV shows this year. Attendance at January’s Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show at the Colorado Convention Center rose by 24% over last year. And it was up 14% at March’s Colorado RV, Sports, Boat and Travel Show at the National Western Complex, said Vilma Fraguada, regional manager for Affinity Events, organizer of both shows.
That increased interest is apparently leading to more sales. Chris Sach, vice president of RV America, said that sales at his four Front Range locations are up 22% in the first 2½ months of this year compared to the year-ago period. Buyers range across the age spectrum, he said.
There is no one reason for the jump in sales, RV officials said. But with the economy loosening up, buyers are more apt to make purchases. Also, there’s an apparent change in the way people vacation in this country.
“As people start looking for ways to spend less on vacation … an RV is a really good way to do that,” said Kevin Broom, director of media relations for the RVIA. “[The industry is] coming back. We’re not all the way there yet, but we’re on the way.”
The RV business got hit harder than many others in the past two years, as shipments to dealers fell 32.9% from 2007 to 2008 and another 30.1% the next year, according to RVIA data. Those numbers were exacerbated by the fact that while sales of lower-cost trailers fell by 26.9% last year, those of higher-cost motorized homes dipped 53.4%, Broom said.
High-end motorhomes can cost in the low six figures, and may be equipped with 32-inch TVs, surround-sound home theater systems and full-sized refrigerators.
About 6%, or 180, of the roughly 3,000 dealers nationwide at the beginning of 2008 closed by the end of 2009, said Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the national Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) of Fairfax, Va. Fraguada said she knew of at least four Colorado dealers that closed during that time.
And Broom estimated that, counting manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, as much as 50% of the industry lost jobs in 2008 and 2009.
Lower consumer confidence and a tight credit market were the biggest factors affecting RV sales, Broom said. Potential buyers were denied loans for the six-figure vehicles, just as home buyers and startup businesses couldn’t get credit.
But things began to turn around in the second half of 2009, then jumped at the start of 2010, and the RVIA predicts 215,900 units will be shipped in 2010. Dealers are restocking, consumer confidence is at a reasonable level again and credit markets are returning to normalcy, Broom said.
RV dealers haven’t slashed prices drastically as some other retail industries have done. But they have started making former luxury features such as GPS systems and washer-dryer sets standard in their new vehicles, Fraguada said.
The newer RVs also are more fuel-efficient, appealing to people who want to travel more cheaply and be more environmentally friendly, she said.
RV America locations are attracting new customers, who talk about the advantages of being able to cook their own food and avoid paying for motels on vacations, Sach said. Longer trips are in line with the trend of families spending more time together or using vacation time to visit friends and other family members, he said.
Linda Frederickson, who is nearing retirement after 32 years as a network manager for Qwest Communications International, purchased a 34-foot motorhome for $105,500 in mid-March — and sold her Lakewood house. She hopes to travel with friends and to see family members, and she didn’t want the hassle of trying to catch flights and book rooms constantly, she said.
“I just don’t think flying or staying in a hotel room would have as much appeal for me,” Frederickson said. “This way, I can just take my time, go around and check things out. … I think I got an excellent deal.”
RVs won’t be taking over the world. The 33,683 motorhomes registered in Colorado in 2009 were just 0.7% of all vehicles registered in the state, according to the state Department of Revenue.
But Sach, who has seen several industry cycles, said this feels like a permanent shift in which people might be coming back to a home on wheels.
“I believe people are ready to have fun and spend time with their families and quit worrying about whether the market is up or down,” he said.
RV enthusiasts turned out in better than expected numbers last week at the 20th Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show as well as the 24th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo, sponsored by GEICO, according to a press release.
The shows rolled into Denver and Chantilly last week, filling the respective venues with new 2010 Class A, B and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, toy haulers, truck campers and tent trailers, as well as campgrounds, RV and camping accessories and entertainment.
Both shows reported strong sales and significantly increased attendance over 2009 – a 28% increase in Denver and 65% increase in Chantilly – leading many to question if the recession had indeed abated.
According to Dianne Seymour, show manager of the Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, “Attendees were lining up at the doors each morning, and we had quite a crowd that stayed until the show’s end every night. People were clearly excited about the RV lifestyle and eager to see what the dealers and exhibitors were offering.”
Jim Humble, general manager of Windish RV, said, “It was a fantastic show. This year, we sold double the units we sold last year. This was a quality crowd that was here to buy. We are just thrilled.”
Chris Sach of RV America concurred, “The show absolutely exceeded our expectations. Sales were very strong and we sold a lot of units, many more than last year. Sales of high-end fifth-wheels were especially strong.”
Numbers at the Washington Camping RV Expo were at an all-time high. Thom Beckley, of Endless Summer RV, marveled, “The crowd on Friday was phenomenal as far as number of attendees. At one point, we had 35 people inside one of our RVs with another 30-40 lined up outside, and that is something we don’t typically see. This definitely looks good for the upcoming season.”
Jeff Haughton, Eastern vice president, regional manager of Affinity Events, added, “We are very excited to see large crowds at these early shows. This demonstrates that there is a solid demand in RVs for 2010.”
Affinity Events will welcome RV enthusiasts to get ready for the great outdoors with upcoming RV shows in Edison, N.J.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Raleigh, N.C. These shows will feature a variety of RVs, campground information and accessories along with expert advice and entertainment.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of Affinity Events and RVBUSINESS.com.
Attendance at the bellwether Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa that ended Sunday (Jan. 17) increased 12% over last year, despite questionable weather on the last day of the show’s five-day run.
”The show was very, very upbeat,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA). ”The weather was iffy on Sunday, but the dealers we talked to all said the same thing — that they didn’t hear any negative talk at all. People weren’t complaining about the economy or gas prices. They were just happy to be there.”
Some 50,753 people passed through the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds Wednesday (Jan. 13) through Sunday.
”We had a nice increase (in sales) from last year,” said Ken Stumpe, Florida Show sales manager for Lazydays RV SuperCenter in nearby Seffner, Fla., ”There was a lot more traffic than last year. It was a totally different atmosphere. A lot of people said they were tired of waiting.”
Camping World RV Sales, which had a dozen displays at the show, sold 179 units, 37 of them Damon and Four Winds motorized RVs, according to President Marcus Lemonis.
Increased attendance at the Florida Show generally mirrored that of other early 2010 shows in Denver, Cleveland, the Washington, D.C., area and Greensboro, N.C.
“Seeing all the aisles full and the dealers not being able to handle all the customers is great,” said Tom Gaither, senior vice president of Affinity Group Inc.’s Affinity Events division.
Gaither reported positive attendance results at three U.s. shows that his organization operates:
- The 20th Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show Jan. 13-16 in Denver increased 26% compared to 2009.
- The 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show Jan. 8-10 in Greensboro was up 1%.
- The 24th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Chantilly, Va., increased a startling 154%.
”Just the fact that attendance was up tells me that people are looking for RVs and want to go camping,” Gaither said.
Elsewhere, the 34th Annual Ohio Supershow Jan. 6-10, sponsored by the Great Lakes Recreation Vehicle Association, saw a 30% increase in attendance.
”It was one of the best shows in 34 years,” said Great Lakes President Bruce Wolfson. ”It was a great start to the year. People were very upbeat, so the dealers were upbeat because of it.”
Bob Moore, co-owner of Moores’ RV, North Ridgeville, Ohio, said this year’s Ohio Show was the best he’d had in three years.
”The public’s attitude is improving,” Moore said. ”People came in in much better spirits and were much more interested in buying. Their level of creditworthiness and their willingness to put money down was up substantially. That has made us very optimistic about how things are going to go for the summer.”
Not all reports were upbeat, however.
At the Tarrant County RV Show Jan. 7-10 in Fort Worth, Texas, attendance wasn’t quite as strong as last year, said show director Pat Hahn.
Considering below-freezing temperatures for four days before the show and competition from a Dallas Cowboy’s playoff football game, ”I was very pleased with attendance,” she said. ”It was almost as good as last year and last year’s show was terrific.”
Stacy Rist, general manager of Bennett’s Camping Center, a towable dealer in Granbury, Texas, said that while sales at the Fort Worth show weren’t strong, the dealership got a lot of leads.
”There was lots of traffic, but nobody was turning lose of any of their money,” Rist said. ”We might not be over the hump yet. I’m not completely disappointed, but the days of the impulse buyer are gone. You have to work hard for each sale.”