With the economy on an upward trajectory, consumer confidence rising and the passing of recent legislation beneficial to RV dealers such as the newly signed small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, executives with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) expect an upswing in attendance at the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo which begins today (Oct. 4) and runs through Friday (Oct. 8) at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
“We anticipate being up 10-15% over last year,” said Phil Ingrassia, RVDA vice president of communications. “We expect upwards of 500 dealers to attend.”
RVBusiness magazine (and RVBUSINESS.com) will host its 3rd Annual RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards during a Wednesday ( Oct. 6) reception and dinner at the Rio hosted by Affinity Group Inc. President & CEO Mike Schneider and keynoted by conservative political commentator and author Ann Coulter.
While the award eligibility has been expanded this year to include recreational park model dealers – just as it was expanded last year to include Canadian retailers — the awards format will include five Blue Ribbon retailers and one individual receiving the Altman Lifetime Achievement Award.
According to Ingrassia, the event’s schedule — which includes more than 100 exhibitors for the expo — offers “something for everyone” this year.
“We will have information on the running of the business, the use of social media, fixed operation parts and services — things that are extremely important for dealers. And, of course, a rental track for people in the business or looking to get into it.
“There’s also a retail financing panel, moderated by Mark Beecher of Bank of the West,” Ingrassia added, “and Statistical Surveys’ Tom Walworth has some great people of his panel, which will take a look at the market and where it’s headed.”
Chaired by Peter Albano of American RV, Olive Branch, Miss., the con/expo also marks the 40th anniversary of the RVDA, and Ingrassia noted that the association plans to commemorate the milestone with a special celebration during the RVDA Annual Meeting Thursday (Oct. 7) that will include guests from the early days of RVDA. The dealer group was incorporated as a not-for-profit association in July 1970.
While the con/expo began today with meetings scheduled by the boards of RVDA of Canada (7:30 am) and the RVDA (8:00 am), followed by Partners in Progress Brand Committee meetings hosted by a number of RV manufacturers — Brand Committee meetings continue Tuesday and Wednesday (see schedule, below) — the opening general session is slated for 4:00 pm Tuesday, with remarks by Dirk Kempthorne, former secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“I talked with Secretary Kempthorne last week,” said Ingrassia. “He’s very excited about speaking to the dealers in the industry. He’s actually planning on driving his motorhome to the convention, and has some forward-thinking thoughts from his perspective to share.”
The five-day program also offers dealers a choice of about 50 educational seminars/workshops focused on sales, parts, service, F&I and dealer management. Two late additions are “Economic Destruction Requires F&I Reconstruction,” a Dealer/GM track chaired by Lorraine Mariotti of Priority One Financial Services on Thursday, Oct. 7 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.; and “ESCs: Bringing Customers and Revenue Back,” a F&I track with Rob Wing of Diversified Insurance Management Inc., on Thursday from 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
RVDA Con/Expo Agenda:
Monday, October 4
• 7:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. RVDA of Canada Board Meeting
• 8:00 – 11:30 a.m. RVDA Board of Delegates Meeting
• 12:45 – 2:00 p.m. Coleman-FTCA Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
• 2:15 – 3:30 p.m. KZ Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Monaco-Holiday Rambler-R-Vision Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
• 3:45 – 5:00 p.m. Fleetwood Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
• 5:15 – 6:30 p.m. Heartland Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
• 6:45 – 8:00 p.m. Damon/Four Winds Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
Tuesday, October 5
• 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. CrossRoads Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Proprietary Workshops
• 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. Dutchmen Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Proprietary Workshops
• 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Winnebago/Itasca Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Proprietary Workshops
• 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. Keystone Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Proprietary Workshops
• 2:30 – 3:45 p.m. Jayco Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting/Proprietary Workshops
• 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. General Session with Former U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne
• 5:15 – 8:00 p.m. Expo Open/Reception
• 8:00 – 9:15 p.m. RVDA of Canada Reception
Wednesday, October 6
• 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. Dealer/GM & Sales Super Sessions
• 8:45 – 10:00 a.m. Sales, Service, Parts, & F&I Education Workshops
• 11:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Expo Open
• 10:15 – 11:30 a.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
• 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. Forest River Partners In Progress Brand Committee Meeting
• 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch Stations in Expo
• 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
• 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Dealer/GM, Sales, & Service Super Sessions
• 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
• 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
Thursday, October 7
• 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. RVDA of America Annual Meeting & RVDA of Canada Annual Meeting
• 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. Town Hall Meeting for Dealer Principals Only & Sales, Service, Parts, F&I, & Rental Employee Education Workshops
• 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
• 11:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Expo Open
• 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch Station in Expo
• 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. Second General Session: RV Market Outlook
• 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. Employee Education Workshops – All Tracks
• 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Women Leaders in the RV Industry Happy Hour – all attendees welcome (cash bar)
Friday, October 8
• 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Two-Part Compliance Super Session