The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) reported that numbers have been strong at the eight regional shows held throughout the state this year.
According to a press release, the show season kicked off with the Fort Myers RV Show in January. Marking its 27th year, the event featured 15 Gulf Coast dealers along with over 100 vendors. Show Chairman Chris Morse reported heavy traffic of over 11,500 attendees along with steady sales by participating dealers. “While customer traffic was very good, our dealer body was very pleased with the many sales made at the show and afterwards,” he said.
Results from other shows included:
• The Ocala RV Show, held the last week in January, drew over 5,300 people despite a day of rain on Friday and moving to a new location this year. “This was the first year at the new location adjacent to the Super Flea Market, which gave us great visibility from I-75,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly. “It’s easier to get to and we are closer to town than the old location. I believe we would have had a better crowd if not for the big accident on I-75 on Sunday morning.”
• The Jacksonville RV Show returned for the third year to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. “We used a new promotion to prompt visitors to go to every dealer and get a card stamped that made them eligible for a drawing every hour for a $50 gas card,” said Region 6 President Tom Tibbitts. “This not only got people to visit every dealer, it also gave every dealer the chance to interact with every visitor.”
• The Central Florida RV Show, held at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand the third weekend of February, was impacted by poor weather and competing with the new dates for the Daytona 500. “We really felt the effects of the new dates for the Daytona 500 and the bad weather didn’t do us any favors either,” said Ken Prentiss, Region 4 President. “We will be addressing these concerns at our next meeting to make sure we don’t get into the same situation next year.”
• The 6th Annual Spring Clean-out RV Show took place the last weekend in February. The admission-free event is held in conjunction with an annual home and garden show at Germain Arena, which is situated along I-75 and adjacent to a large outlet mall. Beautiful weather drew an increased patron count of more than 3,500 attendees over three days to see new and used product from seven dealers. “This event is designed to attract those undecided customers from our January event,” explained Show Manager Jack Carver. “We also target the many RVers in the Naples-area market where no RV Dealers are located.”
• The Destin Commons RV Show was held in the parking lot at the Destin Commons Mall in front of the Bass Pro Shops which drew a lot of outdoor enthusiasts. This show is free to the public so there is no record of actual attendance. The three participating dealers even had good crowds during the set up of the show. “I think we all sold something even before the show opened on Thursday,” said Region 5 President Neal Stewart. “We are looking at other facilities that will allow us to set up a paid gate.”
• The West Palm Beach RV Show was staged during the second week of March. Held in the parking lot of the South Florida Fairgrounds, this show had about the same attendance as last year in spite of rain on three of the four days. Over 4,500 people attended the event over the weekend with most of the dealers reporting good sales.
• The final show in March was the Tampa Bay Spring RV Show held in the middle of the month at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Moving the show from last year’s Plant City site proved to be a winning strategy as the event, which drew 2,500 last year, attracted close to 3,000 consumers over the four days of the show. Additionally, great weather and an aggressive ad campaign added up to a busy weekend.
The FRVTA will stage two more RV Shows this season before wrapping things up. The 17th Annual RV SuperSaver Show in Fort Myers in mid-April and the Stuart RV Show in May are expected to continue drawing consumers interested in the RV Lifestyle.
For more information, contact the FRVTA at 813-741-0488 or www.frvta.org.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) opened the 27th Annual Florida RV SuperShow today (Jan. 11) and the crowds rolled in, despite a little rain in the morning.
“By noon we were done with the rain and we even saw the sun,” FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson reported in a press release. “We opened the show with good crowds and the rest of the weekend we will have great weather so we’re anticipating huge crowds.”
Over 800 RVs motored in today for the Super Rally. Attendees will camp out right on the grounds and enjoy coffee and donuts each morning, entertainment and snacks in the evenings and unlimited access in and out of the SuperShow.
Seminars this year include Tips to Buying the Right RV, Extended and Full Time RVing, Tire and Weight Issues, RVing to Alaska and Basic RV Maintenance. The slate of entertainment features mime statues, jugglers, clowns, unicycle riders, bag pipe bands, dog shows, one-man-bands and a Kid’s Zone on the weekend with rock climbing, bounce houses, face painting and balloons.
The SuperShow runs through Sunday. Contact FRVTA for more information, 813-741-0488 or www.frvta.org.
The Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) will hold the space drawing Aug. 2-4 for the mid-January 2012 Florida RV SuperShow, according to a news release.
FRVTA said that each manufacturer that has returned their contract with a deposit will be called during the drawing to pick a space in the show. The “Grandfathered Drawing Order” will determine the order in which space is selected.
The theme of the 2012 Florida RV SuperShow is “Take Another Look!” The FRVTA said it emphasizes that “people who haven’t been in an RV lately will be shocked to see all the new technology and comforts of today’s RVs.”
Industry Day for the show will be held Jan. 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Attendees will be treated to coffee and donuts in the morning and a free lunch. Public Days will run Jan. Jan. 11-15. The RV SuperShow hours are Wednesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m.-5p.m. Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day with seniors receiving $1 off the cost of admission (not valid with other discounts).
For more information on the 2012 Florida RV SuperShow or to register for Industry Day, contact the Florida RV Trade Association at 10510 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview, FL, 33578 or visit our website at www.frvta.org.
Region One of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) returns for its 16th annual admission-free recreation vehicle show at the Lee County Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium in south Fort Myers April 1-3, Nelda Iacono, president of Region One, announced in a news release.
The three-day RV SuperSaver Show will feature 10 dealers from throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast displaying a wide selection of new, used and leftover recreation vehicles of all styles, brands and price ranges. RVs on display will include gas and diesel motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheels, park models and van and folding campers. RV suppliers also will be on hand.
“This event is held just before the summer traveling season, so consumers can make their plans to see our great nation,” Iacono said. “Dealers also need to reduce their inventory from the busy winter season, so prices for new and used RVs have been reduced as well.”
With a recovering economy, the RV Industry has traveled along as well. Financing for both dealer inventory and qualified buyers has improved, resulting in a market that has seen RV sales markedly recover for both new and used merchandise. In fact, the national Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that January 2011 wholesale RV shipments tallied 17,800, up a healthy 12.7% from the January 2010 total of 15,800.
“Statistics continue to show that an RV vacation is much less expensive than other vacation travel options, even when a purchase is factored in,” Iacono continued, “Add in the security complications and additional expenses of air travel today and an RV vacation is a bargain.”
Go to www.FRVTA.org/rv-shows for more information.
Despite competing with another RV show in DeLand, Fla., organizers said last week’s Jacksonville RV SuperShow was one of the most successful in the show’s 25 years, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Alan Dulberger, regional president of the Florida RV Trade Association and general sales manager of Camping World RV Sales in St. Augustine, said Wednesday )March 2) that attendance dropped by about 300 to 400 people. He also said that organizers of the DeLand show reported reduced attendance.
“I was told every dealer did as good or better than last year,” Dulberger said, adding that Camping World had its best show ever in sales.
“This really was a very positive show,” Dulberger said.
Another participating dealership agreed.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said Steve Fogle, general sales manager of General RV Center on Wells Road in Orange Park.
Fogle said the dealership, now in its second year of operation, topped last year’s show sales with a reported 80 units sold.
Even with the slightly lower turnout, the show remains one of the largest in Florida. Dulberger credits much of the SuperShow’s success to the facilities at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.
Having the show at a permanent structure allows for a much simpler show to run and makes it friendlier to show-goers, compared to the parking lots at EverBank Field, where the show was held until last year, or other impermanent locations used by other RV shows.
The Jacksonville SuperShow annually displays more than 350 RVs or various sorts, from popup trailers to massive diesel RVs.
“I expect it to be even bigger next year,” Fogle said, expressing hope in a recovering economy.
Fogle also said he continues to see RV sales pick up. General RV has even seen fit to begin a massive expansion of their dealership in response to growing sales.
The Central Florida RV Show is again bringing its trailers and motorhomes to Daytona Beach, Fla., the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Today (Feb. 24) through Sunday, the Volusia County Fairgrounds will host the annual gathering where vendors and dealers show off their wares. About nine RV dealers will be on display as well as vendors selling equipment.
“Last year we had 7,100 people,” said Dave Kelly, marketing manager for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). “We’re hoping with nice weather projected, we can do 7,500 to 8,000.”
Kelly and local RV dealers said business has been slowly increasing. Interest and sales have been up at the association’s shows throughout Florida, Kelly said.
“RV sales typically have been a leading indicator coming out of a recession, it shows that people are starting to feel comfortable buying something like this,” he said.
Tim Karr, general manager of Giant Recreation World in Ormond Beach, said when the economy was booming a lot of families were buying RVs. That changed in 2008 and after, as they struggled with home prices, jobs and other negative impacts from the recession. But business has been a little better as of late.
“We’re making it up with an increased number of people retiring, so it’s fluctuated a little bit,” Karr said.
The Central Florida show has been put on for 20 years, five of them at the fairgrounds.
The numbers are in for the 26th Annual Fort Myers RV Show and both dealer and vendor participants came away smiling as the event drew 12,500 patrons over the show’s four days, according to a news release. The show was sponsored by Region 1 of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA).
“Just about everyone I spoke with at the show was very pleased with the buying interest the public had,” said FRVTA Region 1 President Nelda Iacono. “In fact, we had several dealers who achieved double-digit sales. All dealers came away with lots of sales leads they can now follow up over the coming weeks.”
While not an attendance record, Show Manager Jack Carver was gratified the public responded so positively, especially following the economic turmoil the industry suffered over the previous years. “We worked hard to put on a quality show that created a buying situation for all participants, and I guess we did that,” he said.
This year’s annual event featured 16 dealers displaying well over 600 new RV units of all types, styles and price ranges. The show also staged 100 vendors selling everything from lots at RV resorts to engine upgrades and other enhancements for the RV lifestyle.
“Everyone seemed to be selling whatever they brought,” exclaimed Show Chairman Chris Morse, “I’m still busy with traffic and additional sales a week after the show.”
This year’s show success continues the Fort Myers RV Show’s distinction as one of the largest RV events in the Southeast, Iacono pointed out. “We are proud to offer dealers, vendors and patrons the best the RV Industry has to offer and look forward to helping spread consumer interest in the RV lifestyle,” she explained.
The Florida RV SuperShow set a new attendance mark with 53,117 people passing the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa when the show concluded Sunday (Jan. 16) — an increase of 4.7% over 2010.
”There was good attendance and good sales,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). ”We’ve had good attendance all along (at other SuperShows) but sales at some of the others have lagged a little bit.
”Everybody that I talked to was well into double-digits on sales and some dealers were into triple digits as far as sales are concerned.”
The show missed by fewer than 18 hours severe weather that swept across the Sunshine State spawning rain, high winds and tornado warnings, which hampered workers Monday (Jan. 17) as they were disassembling show displays.
”Thank heavens, it didn’t happen yesterday,” said Andy Baer, general manager of KZRV LP, Shipshewana, Ind., who reported strong sales during the five-day show.
Billed as among the largest RV shows in the U.S. with more than 450 vendors and 1,065 display coaches registered this year, the Florida RV SuperShow often sets the stage for the late-winter retail season.
”I’ve been coming to the SuperShow since 1994, and I’d have to say this was one of the best I’ve been too,” Baer said. ”And I’m not talking just about sales. It’s so nice to talk to people who are so very positive. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Everybody was very upbeat.”
”There was a lot of buying going on,” said Andy Cripe, a division manager for Keystone RV Co., Elkhart, Ind. ”I’m not going to say it was record-breaking, but it was sustainable. We saw real prudent buyers and even with the more stringent financing terms, a lot of people put cash down and bought.”
”Hopefully, this is a sign of what is going to happen in 2011,” said Matt Thompson, Elkhart-based Thor Motor Coach diesel division vice president, who reported that the company’s new A.C.E Class A motorhome sold particularly well. ”If it is (a sign), it should be a very good year for the RV industry. Thor Motor Coach did very well at the show as a company.”
Ed Kinney, Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., vice president of sales and marketing, termed attendance and sales ”incredible.”
”The high-line fifth-wheel market was really hot,” Kinney said. ”The SuperShow always sets the tone for the year. For Carriage, it’s going to be an unbelievably great year.”
Based on Tampa and initial returns from other early winter shows, meanwhile, 2011 is looking pretty good for Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Inc.
“Taking into account the first two weeks of shows, Pittsburg was a good show and the Cleveland Show was the best we’ve had in years,” National Sales Manager Jeff Babcock told RVBUSINESS.com. “And the Tampa Show, finishing up this past weekend, ended up better than years past. So, it’s a great start, and we’re looking for a good year.
“We think it’s going to break loose here this year.”
Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries Inc. vice president of sales and marketing, said the Forest City, Iowa-based motorized manufacturer, was ”thrilled with traffic and sales activity” at the show.
”Dealers representing us there reported sales activity nearly three times better than last year, Martin said.
Stocks are up, executive bonuses are back and Bob Phebus is ready to sell some multimillion-dollar motorhomes.
“The last two years have been terrible for business,” the director of sales and marketing for Marathon Coach Florida told the St. Petersburg Times. “But we just had the best December that I have seen in 17 years. I really think we have turned a corner. I really think the worst is behind us.”
Judging from the turnout at the opening day of the 26th Annual Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, Phebus may be right.
A steady stream of potential customers from as far away as California and Canada lined up to check out Phebus’ Oregon-built recreational vehicles.
The 45-foot-long 1180 XLV Triple Slide Marathon Coaches retail for anywhere between $2 million and $2.8 million, depending on the optional equipment such as leather seating, hardwood floors or Sub-Zero refrigerators.
But don’t expect any bargains from the San Antonio, Fla., RV dealer. At this year’s SuperShow, inventory is limited, and cash is king.
“We built both of these coaches just for this show,” Phebus said. “But both of them were sold before they even got here.”
In fact, it was a bit of a challenge even getting something to show at this SuperShow. Marathon scaled back production during the recession and concentrated on moving existing inventory.
Before the economic downturn, the company made 55 motorhomes a year. In 2011, Marathon plans to make only 25.
The owners of the two RVs on display at the Florida State Fairgrounds wanted delivery of their vehicles. But Phebus needed the RVs in Tampa.
“This is the largest retail show in the world,” he said. “If you are not here, then you are nobody.”
Phebus hopes to sell several luxury RVs before the show packs up Sunday afternoon.
And the RVs that do sell this weekend won’t be delivered until July or August at the earliest.
“If we have to ramp up production, we will,” Phebus said.
Marathon, one of the top luxury coach builders in the United States, weathered the economic downturn better than most in the industry. Phebus estimated that roughly 50% of RV-related businesses dropped out of the show during the past two years.
“Our industry didn’t get hit as hard as the boating industry,” he said. “We just didn’t have as much inventory. So when the market got bad, we didn’t have as much to move.”
Others, such as Parliament Coach Corp., diversified their operations. The Clearwater-based company specialized in customizing RVs.
“Our most notable project to date was CNN’s coach for the 2008 election,” Parliament Coach president Steve Mitchell said. “All the candidates were on board. We even had Obama playing Wii.”
But when the recession hit, Parliament started repairing, refurbishing and upgrading existing RVs.
“It was tough there for a while,” Mitchell said. “But 2010 was better than 2009, and we expect 2011 to be better than 2010.”
Parliament is back in the custom motorhome business. The company’s latest project is the Mercedes Sprinter, a V-8 diesel van that is turned into a small, luxury motorhome, ideal for weekend getaways. It starts at about $150,000.
“We are optimistic,” Mitchell said. “This could be a good year.”
Dennis Witherow, general manager of Oak Water Village Resort in Ocala, echoed Mitchell’s optimism.
“In our opinion, the high-end market is where you’re going to see the real influx, especially with the Baby Boomer buyer coming in,” Witherow said. “… It’s a home, but it doesn’t come with all of the tariffs or (expenses).”
Dave Kelly, marketing director for the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), said that if turnout on the opening day of the SuperShow is any indication of things to come, 2011 could be a good year for the industry.
“I think a lot of people are tired of waiting to see what happens with the economy,” he said. “Hopefully, this show might be all some people need to make a move.”
Despite cold temperatures, a record number of people — 12,912 to be exact — walked through the gates Wednesday (Jan. 12) for the opening day of the 26th Annual 2011 Florida RV Supershow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa Fla.
And early sales matched the crowd, according to several manufacturers who spoke to RVBUSINESS.com this morning.
”We’re doing fantastic,” said Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., ”We had record sales. If I told you the numbers, you’d call me a liar.”
”It was a slow start today (Thursday) because it was cold,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association. ”It was in the 30s this morning, but things picked up. People are here now and the sun is out. The only thing that keeps people away is rain, and we don’t have any of that.”
Wilson reported that the final count had 1,065 coaches on display at the show.
In addition to Carriage, other manufacturers also reported brisk sales early on in the show, which runs through Sunday.
”It’s a buying crowd,” said C. David Hoefer, chairman of Earthbound RV LLC, Marion, Ind. ”We had our first sale an hour after the show started on Wednesday.”
”The traffic is not only good in terms of quantity, but it’s quality traffic,” said John Sammut, Newmar Inc. vice president of sales and marketing. ”We had a good day yesterday selling several motorized units — both gas and diesel.”
Opening day, during which senior citizens received a discount, was capped by a FRVTA-sponsored dinner on the fairgrounds attended by about 800 people representing manufactuers and suppliers, who dined on roast beef, shrimp and key lime pie.
Show organizers expect more than 50,000 people to attend the show through Sunday. Last year’s attendance was 50,753.