The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is expected to make a preliminary decision next month on where it will hold its 2013 international convention. It’s considering a site in Hutchinson, Kan. It could be a welcome boost to the Kansas economy, as it would bring in millions of dollars to Kansas, KAKE-TV, Wichita, Kan., reported.
Management at the state fairgrounds have been making a push to attract the event, which first made its appearance in Hutchinson in 2002. The 2002 event brought in around 4,700 RVs. It’s a week the owner of the Anchor Inn restaurant in Hutchinson remembers well.
“They would call in and say, ‘Hey this is so-and-so, we’re coming in with 25 people.’ And that went on Monday through the weekend,” said Anchor Inn owner Greg Flores.
The event made a multimillion dollar impact on Hutchinson, and the state, as travelers stopped across Kansas on their way to the convention. That’s why the fairgrounds wants to bring it back.
“It’s a competitive process, and so we know there are others out there. We don’t know who, but we know we’re up against some folks so we’re trying to put the best foot forward that we can,” said Kansas State Fair General Manager Denny Stoecklein.
The State Fair is hoping to host the summer 2013 event, which is expected to bring in up to 3,000 RV’s, and 6,000 people, from every corner of the continent. And all those people would also attract out-of-town vendors.
“I know in 2002 virtually every hotel room in Hutchinson and the surrounding area was filled, and so there’s a great impact there as well,” said Stoecklein.
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) reports that owners of 2,707 motorhomes and towable RVs attended its 85th Annual Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase March 14-17 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga.
”It met our expectations,” said Jerry Yeatts, director of shows and commercial services for the Cincinnati, Ohio-based association. ”We were very pleased with the turnout and the whole atmosphere. This is the second event in a row where people just said they were going to have a good time and they did.”
When FMCA last visited Perry in March 2009 at the height of the Great Recession, 2,774 family coaches were registered.
The Perry ”family reunion” — formerly called ”international convention” — was the first that FMCA invited towable owners to attend and 20 registered for the event.
”Towable registrations weren’t bad for the first time around and for people having the mindset that FMCA is all motorized,” Yeatts said.
Whether towable owners — many of them former motorhome owners who have downsized — will be invited in the future depends. ”It’s not necessarily a one-time thing,” Yeatts said. ”If we have enough space at our venue, we will consider it.”
The term ”family reunion” is likely to stick, Yeatts said. ”We are trying to put fun back into our events the way it used to be,” Yeatts said. ”The world has become way to serious, and as a social organization based on fun, fellowship and camaraderie, we want to respond to that.”
FMCA’s next family reunion will be Aug. 10-13 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis. FMCA will hold its only family reunion in 2012 July 2-5 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
A world, if not exactly a whir, of wheels set up camp this week in Perry, Ga.
Eddies of expiring pear blossoms swirled across roads at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter like drifts of snow, the only wintry touch on a clear Monday that was otherwise the textbook definition of spring. Upon that bucolic scene rolled the most random collection of wheeled transportation — golf carts, bikes, wheelchairs, scooters, cars, tractors, buggies, trucks, trailers — all moving to a slow-motion sway that perfectly matched the lazy tone of midday, the Macon Telegraph reported.
Only the motorhomes sat still. Thousands of them, packed into well-ordered rows, their residents temporarily becoming Houston County’s fifth-largest community.
Judging from the in-jest placards on many of those rolling homes, the area is also likely housing Middle Georgia’s largest gathering of least fearsome guard dogs. One security volunteer carried his K-9 team alongside in his golf cart, a pair of lightly leashed, sub-10-pounders with curly hair and low-key disposition lolling in the sunshine.
The mood was tangible — relaxed, friendly and fun. Leisurely, but with a purpose.
The Family Motor Coaching Association (FMCA) made its seventh trip to Perry this week, its first since 2009. The event is expected to draw about 2,800 motorhomes and as many as 10,000 visitors by the time it draws to a close Thursday evening, according to an FMCA spokesperson.
Allen De Jong was forced to take a break.
The man from Calgary, Alberta, leaned casually on a welded steel trailer, painted black and hitched to a tractor. An assistant on one of the eight tram lines that crisscross the fairgrounds, he had a simple explanation for why his rig sat still in front of Reaves Arena.
“We went too fast,” he said.
Fast is relative here. The trams travel at a speed best described as idle-plus.
As an FMCA volunteer, De Jong spends three-hour shifts making sure everyone gets on and off the trams safely. He was working the Orange/Black line Monday, a cog in Houston County’s most extensive, and only, mass transit system.
De Jong is one among hundreds of volunteers who make all the little things — transportation, seminars, even ice cream socials — work in the temporary city.
“There are probably 600 to 700 volunteers, and they can come from all around the country,” said Robbin Gould, editor of Family Motor Coaching magazine and spokeswoman for FMCA. “We have a parking and layout crew, that when coaches first come in, they measure out the spaces, they get them in the spots they are going to stay in for the week. They generally come to all the conventions. You have some of the security crew, they’re here at all of them.”
Gould said many of the volunteers at this week’s event come from FMCA’s Southeast Area group. Many of the regional crew are working seminars, security and doors to the various halls.
And while there are ancillary benefits — clothing store volunteers Tom and Sandra Horn from Gurley, Ala., exulted in their luck at a prime location when they arrived late last week — Gould believes the spirit of giving is built into the crowd.
“They get to come in early, and they generally probably get a better spot. But I don’t think they really do it just for that. They want to be here,” Gould said. “I think a lot of them have come from backgrounds where they volunteered at their church, or for their kid’s school. … So what’s a few hours driving a shuttle?”
Gas prices, economy take a toll
There is, however, a price to be paid. The cost of the traveling roadshow can be high.
With gas prices trending up, it just costs more to get to the rally than in the past.
According to fuel prices tracked by national auto club AAA, as of Tuesday afternoon the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the United States had risen 76.6 cents over the past year. A gallon of diesel was up just over a dollar.
Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South, said gas prices have dropped slightly over the past week due to the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the world’s third-largest oil consumer.
“We expect to see demand drop drastically at a time when the U.S. is already seeing lower demand,” Brady said.
Nevertheless, gas prices are likely to continue to creep higher as the weather warms.
“We haven’t seen the spring or summer yet, when demand typically heats up, and we’re entering that at a time when gas is already high,” Brady said. “It is likely when we get to that time, we’ll see prices increase.”
Rex Gambill, Internet sales manager for Mid-State RV Center in Byron, said the industry standard for a Class A diesel-powered RV — the ones that look like tour buses — is 10 or 11 mpg, while a smaller Class C diesel RV could range as high as 15 to 18 miles to the gallon. Diesel RV engines are generally more fuel efficient than those that run on regular gas, Gambill said.
Regardless of the mileage, the reality of rising costs was not lost on those at FMCA on Monday.
Gene Goles stood inside shady, air-cooled Sheep Barn 1 watching a game of card bingo from the back of the room. His wife of 50 years, Shirley, was somewhere among the tables playing a game that made no sense to Gene.
The Goleses drove their motorhome from Baltimore last week and are staying outside of the fairgrounds. They drove their towed-along car to the fairgrounds Monday, just as on previous days they took trips to the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, and up to Macon to “see how the people lived.”
Goles was frank about the cost of coming to Perry.
“Let me put it this way … if we couldn’t afford it we wouldn’t do it,” Goles said. “But it’s getting harder and harder. You just have to do without certain things.”
“Hunting and fishing, I have to cut my trips shorter,” he laughed, giving new hope to fish and fowl throughout the greater Chesapeake Bay area.
Despite the rise in gas prices, Gould said the recreational vehicle industry has seen positive signs recently.
“I think in terms of the very recent gas price increase, we don’t really know how that’s going to shake up, but the whole RV industry did take a definite downturn, and RV groups, such as ours, were affected,” Gould said. “It seems like as the economy started picking up, so did the RV industry.”
Gould said sales reports from winter RV shows were positive.
“I think all that pent-up energy of the last couple of years, people didn’t buy and they’re ready to buy,” Gould said. “Here, we’re seeing exhibitors are bringing more of their RVs to display and to show. So, hopefully, that will translate to more sales.”
Gould said the cost of owning and operating an RV was more likely to affect the types of trips owners make, staying closer to home rather than driving cross-country. She pointed out that, after the initial investment, the cost of taking a trip in a motorhome was not necessarily more expensive than other modes of travel.
“Once you have the investment in a coach, you really can save money,” Gould said. “Airfare is so high these days, too, and that’s going up. Hotels are going up. Everything is going up. It’s not just the RV prices. So you make your choice to do this, and it’s all good.”
Major FMCA event
The Perry event is the 85th major event put on by FMCA, which typically hosts two such events each year and boasts nearly 100,000 active “member families,” in FMCA parlance. The group’s second major event in 2011 will be held in August in Madison, Wis.
“Family reunions we’re starting to call them, because it really is a reunion,” Gould said. “So many of these folks travel from event to event.”
Gould said the group tries to alternate north and south, east and west. Last year’s events were held in Albuquerque, N.M., and Redmond, Ore.
She described the fairgrounds in Perry as a “remarkable” venue for FMCA.
“It really has everything that we need in terms of the facilities, and the parking, and for the Southern hospitality, too,” Gould said.
A major part of the event is the wide range of seminars, with 134 scheduled in Perry. Topics range from uber-practical (two hours of “Microwave-Convection Cooking for One or Two), to borderline fanciful (“Motorhoming in Australia”), to the just plain sensible (“RV Packing Tips”).
There can be a bit of wishful thinking, too. On Monday at 3:15 p.m., a sizable group gathered in Heritage Hall for a seminar titled “Look 10 Years Younger in Less Than 5 Minutes.”
One unidentified man in the crowd, his face partially obscured by a fresh-looking Stetson, expressed skepticism at the claim.
“If you look 10 years younger in five minutes, how come it takes them 75 minutes?” he grumbled about the 1 hour, 15 minute presentation.
As the seminar rolled on, a passel of men quietly killed time on the bench outside the doors as those in the darkened room watched slides of someone pressing eyelashes.
Jokes aside, the seminars play to the audience. There are numerous seminars on RV maintenance and repair, a hot topic for a crowd depending on those mammoth vehicles to get them to their next destination. Other seminars focus on Internet and computer technologies, getting attendees up to speed on social networking, photo sharing and keeping those oft-finicky wireless connections up and running.
A sense of camaraderie seeps into everything in the soon-to-be-rolling-again city. There are no strangers, only people yet to be met.
Tom and Sandra Horn haven’t seen Gurley, Ala., since Thanksgiving. They miss their “church family,” but they clearly have family — by blood, faith and common interest — all over.
On sunny Monday, Sandra sat in front of her motorhome crafting wooden figurines, located just 100 yards away from the center of the action and feet away from hard pavement. In 2007 — at least, the Horns think they remember it was 2007 — it rained so hard in Perry their RV got stuck in the mud. Close to the road is primo as far as the Horns are concerned, even if the weather forecast is mostly mild.
White-bearded Tom was a Navy pilot, served his country for 37 years, got out in 2003. He got colon cancer, but beat that more than three years ago. He wears a big name tag, so you know who he is and where he lives. Sandra has family in Florida, which they visited on a swing through the state earlier this year, passing through Tampa, Brooksville, the panhandle.
Sandra does all the driving these days. Tom says that is because she thinks he makes bad decisions ever since he had chemo. Neither feels bad about missing a winter full of worse-than-usual weather in north Alabama.
“Everyone kept e-mailing, ‘You’re missing all the snow!’ I was like, oh no we’re not,” Sandra said.
“Keep it!” Tom added without a moment’s pause.
They are heading home after Perry. Go ahead and ask them. They’ll tell you the whole story.
There are no strangers in the rolling city.
Cincinnati-based Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) will host its 85th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, March 14 to 17.
The association has made it a goal to give back to the communities it visits for its conventions, according to a news release.
A group of FMCA members who enjoy quilting have been stitching special gifts to leave behind in Perry. The FMCA On-Road Quilters will donate children’s quilts to the Crossroads Quilt Guild, which provides quilts to the children’s hospital, area police and fire departments and shelters for battered women.
Based on past motorhome conventions, Arlene Kaminski, the FMCA member who coordinates this effort, expects that FMCA members will bring along and donate some 40 to 50 quilts.
The quilts will be on display at the FMCA Information Center in the Multipurpose Building on Thursday, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This has become an FMCA tradition and is one means of leaving something behind in the community.
Three weeks before the ”Southern Reunion,” owners of about 2,500 coaches were registered for the event.
This year, FMCA has sold out 156,000 square feet of outdoor display space at which manufacturers are expected to exhibit more than 800 new motorhomes. In addition, 400 booths also have been sold out to 300-some vendors offering RV accessories, camping supplies and related products.
Other activities noted
During the convention, used eyeglasses will be donated by FMCA members as a way of supporting the Lions’ Foundation Eyeglass Program, which helps to ensure that needy people are able to enjoy the benefits of vision correction.
Many RVers are involved in the activities of Habitat for Humanity, an ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. In fact, FMCA even has a motorhoming chapter whose members donate their time and talents throughout the year by participating in Habitat for Humanity builds. The group often schedules builds near conventions and rallies that FMCA hosts. The chapter is scheduled to participate in a two-week build in Plains, Ga., following the Perry convention.
The Professional RV Vendors chapter of FMCA will be collecting non-perishable food items during the convention for donation to a local food bank.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, March 15 to 17, at noon, FMCA national officers compete in pedal boat races. Attendees will be able to cheer on their favorite pedal boat by donating a dollar to benefit the local food bank. Those who donate to the winning boat for the day will have the opportunity to exchange their winning ticket for 100 Grand — a 100 Grand “fun-size” candy bar, that is!
These represent only a few of the ways FMCA members are making a difference in the lives of others. Many of the association’s nearly 500 chapters support various worthwhile causes year-round.
In addition, throughout the year association members participate in a dues “Round Up” program that benefits Habitat for Humanity, the National Center on Family Homelessness, ProLiteracy Worldwide and Good Will-Hinckley, organizations that provide a helping hand to families throughout the country. To date the association has donated more than $1 million to these organizations.
The Rocky Mountain Ramble RV Rally returns to Farmington, N. M., in October, the largest of several conventions planned for 2011 that bring visitors to local businesses.
The RV rally, set for Oct. 11-15 and sponsored by the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), brings about 500 RVs and more than 1,000 people to town Debbie Dusenberry, executive director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Farmington Daily Times.
It is one of a dozen planned conventions and meetings this year. Visitors often stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants and shop in local retail outlets, providing an economic boost to the city of 40,000 located in the northwest corner of the state.
“It definitely impacts the economy in a positive way,” Dusenberry said. “It’s a way to bring some much-needed revenue into the area.”
The October RV rally is the largest convention booked to date. It involves an RV show, a car show and many vendors selling related parts and accessories. A local outfitter offers a fly-fishing workshop.
The rally draws enthusiasts from throughout the West, Dusenberry said.
“In terms of longevity, it’s good because these folks usually have more free time and they’re sometimes spending more than a week in the area,” Dusenberry said.
Change has come to the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), members of which will meet March 14-17 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga., for their first-ever Southern Homecoming Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase.
Not only has FMCA relabeled its gathering a family reunion instead of a convention — as the association’s national confabs have been called in the past — but also, owners of self-contained towable RVs have been invited to attend the previously all-motorhome event.
That, of course, was a big step for the traditional motorized-only consumer club, and whether the changes are permanent or not, remains to be seen.
”This is more of a reunion,” said Jerry Yeatts, director of shows and commercial services for the Cincinnati, Ohio-based association. ”Convention’ just seemed to us to sound like it’s exclusive for members. We wanted the public to know that it’s more than that. Adding the words ‘motorhome showcase’ shows that it also is a trade show.”
The Southern Reunion will be the first under the direction of FMCA’s new executive director, Bradford Koshland, a veteran of the New Jersey State Police, who most recently was with the Florida Division of Real Estate. Koshland took over on Jan. 1.
FMCA, which will hold its second ”reunion” Aug. 10-13 at the Alliant Center in Madison, Wis., has seen attendance at its conventions decline in attendance in recent years due to the Great Recession.
”Because we have some additional space available, we thought it would be nice to invite our friends who are towable owners to see what FMCA is all about and what our national events are all about,” Yeatts said. ”We don’t know if we will do it in the future. We will evaluate it after Perry and it will depend on space available.”
Three weeks before the ”Southern Reunion,” owners of about 2,500 coaches were registered for the event. Fewer than 20 towable owners have accepted FMCA’s invitation.
”Some of the (towable) folks are former members who have downsized from a motorhome,” Yeatts said. ”We imagine a lot of (towable registrations) will come at the last minute. We have been in contact with the local community and campgrounds in Georgia and northern Florida and sent out e-mail blasts to our members who may have friends who have towables. That’s where we have gotten our biggest response.”
When FMCA last visited Perry in March 2009, 2,774 family coaches were registered.
This year, FMCA has sold out 156,000 square feet of outdoor display space at which manufacturers are expected to exhibit more than 800 new motorhomes. In addition, 400 booths also have been sold out to 300-some vendors offering RV accessories, camping supplies and related products.
In addition, activities will include seminars on a variety of topics related to motorhomes and RV travel, plus local tours and daytime and evening entertainment.
Gate registration is $185 for FMCA members or $235 for non-members, who also will receive a membership. Towable owners attending the event will eceive a one-year subscription to FMCA’s Family Motor Coaching magazine.
The public is invited to attend for $7 a day, with children under 12 and those on active military duty admitted free.
Only one national gathering is scheduled for 2012 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis July 2-5.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Woodall Publications Corp. is launching a host of new digital products and services to complement its industry-leading campground directory and website.
“It’s cool to be celebrating 75 years,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of Woodall Publications Corp. “It’s not only 75 years as a print title – Woodall’s North American Campground Directory – but look at all the digital stuff we’re doing today. The RV lifestyle lends itself to the technology that’s coming out now. It’s all about the digital world.”
“It’s very exciting. There are some incredible statistics out there about how many people own cell phones and are texting. The younger demographic is ripe for the digital channel and we are ready to deliver it,” she said.
For example, Emerson noted that in 2010 Woodalls had 277,000 people visit woodalls.com via mobile devices. In 2009, that might have been around 5,000.
Virtually all Woodalls’ readers have cell phones and 79% own two or more. Average age is 57, average income is $85,000, average nights annually spent in parks is 57. And those campers, on average, spent $1,500 on their last RV trip.
“We had a 33% increase in the number of visitors to our website in 2010,” said Emerson. “We get 15 million page views in a year, twice as much as our nearest competitor gets. That’s why we’re doing the mobile version of our website.”
Emerson and her staff rolled out plans for the 2012 Woodall’s North American Campground Directory and a host of related programs at their annual “rep” conference, a term referring to the teams that travel North America visiting campgrounds on behalf of Woodall’s, which was held Jan. 17-20 at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel.
The company officially marked its 75th anniversary at a closing banquet attended by an array of industry leaders.
The 27 rep teams, some of whom began their data collection in the field on Feb. 1, were introduced to a host of new cutting-edge digital programs at the Woodall conference to better serve Woodalls’ “affluent, active and tech-savvy” customers, 54% of whom own web-enabled mobile phones.
Packaging its digital assets – mobile and online – is a focus for Woodall’s, allowing consumers to find RV parks and campgrounds through multiple channels and touch points. Many of the enhancements offered on woodalls.com are also available on the mobile application, often optimized for this emerging channel, explained Emerson.
Woodall’s will roll out its first mobile application this spring, which will be available for the iPhone (including the iPad and iPod Touch). This free app will allow RVers to search for campground listings geographically, by name or by nearby attractions. Some of the campground products and features available on the mobile app include:
- Website Link: A direct link from the application right to your website.
- Digital Photos: Up to five digital photos with one’s Listing Details Page.
- Banner Ad: A mobile version of a listee’s state/provincial banner found on the Search Results Page of the application.
- Front of the Line Exposure: Exclusive Woodall feature that “jumps” your listing to the top of the iPhone Search Results Page in a city of your choice.
- Video – A video of your park, optimized for viewing on the application.
- Digital Spotlights: Your story in your own words.
- Visual Tour: This interactive slideshow is located on the Listing Details Page and “paints the picture” of the camping experience you offer guests.
- The above-mentioned products will also be available on woodalls.com, as well as:
- Digital Web Ads: A digital version of a print ad in the campground directory can be activated from the Search Results and Listing Details Pages.
- Instant Email: Customers can e-mail a campground directly from the Listing Details Page.
- Social Media: Accesses a campground’s Facebook and Twitter links from the Listing Details Page
- Rotating Banners: Rotating State/Provincial Banners found on both the Search Results and at the footer of a campground’s Listing Details Page.
- Blogging Opportunities: Three blog posts to draw readers to a given area.
- E-newsletter Editorial Features: Reach the inbox of Woodalls’ most engaged users by telling a story in your own words. Campgrounds may choose the months.
“We are so excited and our rep teams are excited to go out and talk to our campground customers about this technology and marketing possibilities we can all learn together,” said Emerson.
The traditional print directory will include full-color state and provincial travel maps, GPS coordinates and physical addresses on select listings and “One Tank Trip” ideas, among other helpful information for campers.
A scannable QR (Quick Response) Code placed in a campground’s ad connects RVers from their offline print ad to their online Visual Tour via their mobile phones.
The 2011 edition also marked the first year advertisers were able to incorporate an industry-first, four-color process in the listing section advertisements in the Woodall’s directories. “It’s breathtaking, the colors really pop,” Emerson said. “We know for the 2012 edition there will be even more parks that want to do that.”
The 2012 directory will contain ratings of more than 8,000 privately owned and 6,000 public parks across North America.
Woodall’s is the official directory of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Family Campers & RVers, Camp Club USA and Camping World President’s Club. The Escapees RV Club and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) are also partners with Woodall’s, while Camping Life is its affiliated family camping magazine.
“We are very optimistic it will be a good year for the industry and for Woodalls,” said Emerson, noting that the deadline for data collection for the 2012 directory is Aug. 31. The directory comes off the presses the week after Thanksgiving.
For information, call (800) 323-9076 or visit www.woodalls.com.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of Woodalls and RVBUSINESS.com.
Startup Class C manufacturer Nexus RV LLC will debut its first lines — a traditional Phantom minimotorhome and a B-plus-style Viper C-body — March 14-17 at the Family Motor Coach Association’s Southern Homecoming Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Perry, Ga.
”We are in the process of ramping up our production,” said Claude Donati, president of the Elkhart, Ind., startup. ”February is our staging month and we hope to start bringing product off the end of the line on March 1,”
Donati said the first 50 units will be marketed to rental outlets as Scenic Traveler Class C’s.
”Our goal the first year is $20 million in sales and in five years, if things go right, we will be at $100 million,” Donati said. ”Our unit goal the first year is 240 — one unit a day.”
Phantom and Viper motorhomes will be sold factor- direct with a strong presence on Facebook and other Internet social media.
Nexus, currently with 17 employees, has 87,000 square feet of manufacturing space along with a 25,000-square-foot indoor showroom on 10 acres near the Indiana Toll Road on the north side of Elkhart.
”We are set up to take trade-ins and we will be selling used product as well as new,” Donati said, adding that by the end of the year the company expect to have 35-40 employees.
Nexus has made service arrangements with 200 independent service centers throughout the country. ”I’ve developed relationships with many of them during my many years of experience in the industry,” said Donati, formerly vice president of motorized at Gulf Stream Coach Inc. ”The service centers don’t sell product; they just service RVs.”
All Nexus Class C’s are built on 14,500-pound GVWR Ford E-450 Super Duty chassis with lightweight steel superstructures and Azdell Superlite composite sidewalls and roofs.
The Phantom is available in five 23- to 32-foot floorplans with up to two slideouts and an MSRP of $85,300. The Viper will feature a molded fiberglass cap and be offered in three 23- to 27-foot floorplans and up to three slideouts for an MSRP of $89,600.
Factory direct sales will allow Nexus to sell units for as much as $5,000 less than its competitors, Donati said.
”The benefits for the customer are saving money,” Donati said, reporting that the average Nexus’ selling cost is expected to be between $65,000 and $70,000.
In addition to the Internet, Nexus RVs will be marketed at major RV shows and Donati plans to host clubs at its Elkhart facility that have been ”orphaned” by manufacturers that have gone out of business, he said.
Motorcoach dealers were licking their chops Wednesday (Feb. 2) as the big-wheeled behemoths rolled in by the hundreds to the Hernando County Airport in Brooksville, Fla.
That’s because many of the owners of the 1,127 recreational vehicles arriving for the opening day of the 30th Annual Family Motor Coach Association Southeast Rally will be looking for new models, both upgrades and down-sized, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
“We’re not here to show; we’re here to sell, baby, sell,” said an enthusiastic Chris Burdin of Long View SuperSales, one of the 14 dealers at the event.
The dealers have 125 models on display, the most ever, said Southeast Area association president Tom Eller. The rally that continues through Saturday.
(“Buying) has increased in the last nine months. Last year was depressed,” said Keith Abbott of Five-R Custom Coaches of Sanford.
“Banks are starting to finance again,” noted Tommy Kay, of Great Recreation.
“(Business) is upbeat. It’s getting much better,” added Dick Rocha with Giant Recreation World, a dealership with sites in Winter Garden, Ormond Beach and Melbourne.
“On Sale” signs surrounded the venue for Long View, which has taken part in the rally since 2002. Burdin said his company is offering RVs at 40% off dealership prices, from $40,000 for a 21-footer to $260,000 for a 43-foot model.
They’re willing to deal, the dealers said, because they don’t want to drive their coaches back home.
All of the dealers mentioned that more and more Baby Boomers are taking up the RV lifestyle, while some older folks are looking to downsize for economy’s sake.
“I think by the number of coaches here,” said Kay of Giant Recreation, “you can tell interest is up.” His company has 19 coaches on display.
What are shoppers looking for? More slide-outs, perhaps bigger counter tops, greater living space, bathrooms at the end of the living space rather than in the middle, computer and desk tables, dealers report.
Of course, many visitors from the North come to the rally for the warm weather.
Mike Jorde of North Attleboro, Mass., removed himself from 61 inches of snow this winter. More snow was in Wednesday’s forecast back home. “We come to Florida every year,” he said, “to live in the RV.”
Tim and Verona Calbath of Dover-Foxcraft, Maine, didn’t take any chances on getting caught in the blizzards. They toured in their RV to Zephyrhills in November and visited the rally on a daily pass Wednesday, just wanting to see what’s new in the RV business.
Back in Maine, “It’s snowing,” noted Verona Calbath.
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), in partnership with Microwave Connection, has launched an online RV Recipe Drive to help feed the hungry.
Everyone who adds an acceptable RV-friendly recipe to FMCA.com’s Recipes for the Road (http://www.fmca.com/motorhome/recipes) now through March 1 will be entered in a drawing to win an On-the-Road Muffin/Cupcake Set (a $ 57.50 value) from Microwave Connection, according to a news release.
For each recipe added during this period, FMCA will donate one non-perishable food item to a local food bank in the Cincinnati area.
“The RV Recipe Drive is not only a perfect opportunity to share recipes with other RVers, but a chance to feed some of the millions of Americans who go to bed hungry,” said Janet Sadlack, owner of Microwave Connection, an online resource on microwave and microwave-convection cooking.
FMCA and the motorhoming community are known for their eagerness to lend a helping hand, said Judy Czarsty, FMCA national senior vice president/acting national president. “The RV Recipe Drive is a great way to share a favorite recipe – an old family favorite, a new one that you created, or perhaps one from a friend – and feed the hungry at the same time.”
FMCA encourages participants to submit recipes of all sorts, including main courses, side dishes, soups, salads, appetizers and desserts.
Recipes can be entered at http://www.fmca.com/motorhome/recipes.
“Silicone cookware is great for traveling because it is lightweight, stacks easily and is flexible for storage,” Sadlack said. “It’s also non-breakable, rattle proof and can withstand temperatures of microwave, convection and combination cooking.”
The Teflon baking sheet supports the regular-size muffin cups on a rack and also doubles as a cookie and baking sheet. It can be rolled up and inserted into an empty paper towel tube for storage.
Sadlack travels the country presenting microwave-convection cooking seminars at FMCA conventions and other RV shows. She offers advice, videos and recipes on her website, http://www.microwaveconnect.com. “Many RVers love to cook in their RV, and they enjoy trying new recipes,” she said. “I look forward to seeing some of them on FMCA.com.”
A complete list of RV Recipe Drive rules is at http://www.fmca.com/motorhome/motorhome-news/3338.
FMCA is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained, motorized recreation vehicles known as motorhomes. The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati and currently has approximately 100,000 active member families. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family Motor Coaching; an emergency medical evacuation program; trip routing; mail forwarding; and group rates on an emergency roadside assistance program.