Robust attendance and strong sales marked this year’s edition of America’s Largest RV Show as the host Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) welcomed 43,131 attendees – an all-time record for the longstanding event – to the sprawling grounds at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Following Industry Days, which ran Sept. 10-11, 6,485 people poured through the gates on the opening of Public Days, offering notice that this year’s show was going to be special. “This year, we had record numbers almost every day,” said Heather Leach, marketing and education director for PRVCA, noting that last year’s total attendance reached 33,407 despite heavy flooding the week prior. “Saturday was phenomenal, and was by far a record-setting day.” The show, which ran through Sept. 16, annually stands as a harbinger for the industry heading into the fall. Widespread reports from dealers and manufacturers indicated that people were in a buying mood. Forest River Inc. President and CEO Pete Liegl noted, “The Hershey Show was a barn-burner. Forest River did phenomenally well in selling virtually hundreds of units.” Dan Saltzgiver, show chairman for PRVCA, also gave a strong review, stating, “Dealers have been telling me that sales were great. Everyone I talked to was very upbeat.” PRVCA reported that over 1,000 units were on display in the outdoor grounds at the Giant Center. There was also a strong showing during Trade Days, which featured a full roster of seminars and workshops. “The show is truly a unique selling environment because it draws a mix of industry people and retail consumers,” said PRVCA Executive Vice President Rebecca Lenington. “That hybrid format lets manufacturers not only intermix with dealers, but also get feedback from the end buyer.”
Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. announced recent sales success at America’s Largest RV Show. The show, hosted by the Pennsylvania Camping & RV Association (PRVCA), was held Sept. 10–16 in Hershey at the Giant Center.
According to a press release, Fleetwood RV reported over 50% sales growth over last year’s show, with increased sales of Class A gas and diesel motorhomes. The growth was driven by the Bounder and Excursion brands retail volume. Fleetwood stated, “This success can be attributed to exciting new products, partnering dealer Grumbine’s RV and the record attendance.”
“We’re extremely pleased with the results generated by the Hershey show,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV. “We’ve worked hard to make the 2013 product line our most exciting yet with new floor plans that meet the needs and wants of our customers. It’s exciting to see such an overwhelming response to our products. These results prove that great products and great dealers are a winning combination.”
Upscale motor coaches, along with popup tents, travel trailers and accessories – everything from travel coffee mugs to golf carts – enjoyed strong sales at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., during last week’s America’s Largest RV Show, hosted by the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA).
“They’re cranking. Business is booming in every aspect,” said Frank Davis with Camping World RV Sales.
The Patriot News reported that show organizers saw a record turnout Wednesday (Sept. 12) with more than 6,000 people through the gates. Davis said in two days he sold 29 motor coaches and a total of more than 200 items including trailers and campers.
Shoppers were out in full force, despite higher gas prices, checking out the latest models and taking advantage of interest rates as low as 3.9% for a 20-year loan, according to Davis, adding that he hadn’t heard anyone say gas prices are not preventing them from making a purchase
“It’s like buying a Corvette and asking about fuel economy,” he said.
Mario Pelletier of Annapolis, Md., said his motor coach gets about seven to eight miles per gallon but the trade-off is he and is wife, Denise, save money by pulling into camp grounds where it costs about $30 to $40 a night versus $200 for a hotel room.
He was canvassing the show in search of accessories, things like a GPS designed for Winnebago owners listing camp sites, service stations and restaurants. He was also checking into electrical isolation systems and tire sensors.
“Camping is a lifestyle. You have to love it,” he said.
“Sold” signs decorated several trailers at Grumbine’s RV lot at the show. The company is based in Harrisburg.
“This by far has been one of the best shows in three years,” said Steve Jablonski, sales manager. “I really think it’s kind of a renewed confidence in the economy. It seems to be a lot stronger than the past couple of years.”
He said he has noticed everyone from retirees to young families making purchases. They are spending $20,000 to $30,000, and not just on any one type of travel trailer.
“It’s all over the board. I can’t nail down a trend. It’s everything,” Jablonski said.
Rick and Beth Roberts of Columbia, Md., Were eyeing a Starcraft travel trailer at Grumbine’s. The couple , with two young boys in tow, said they are considering trading up from their current travel trailer.
Rick Roberts was especially enticed by the deals.
“They come here ready and willing to deal. They’ve already marked down a lot of their product line,” he said.
Crystal blue skies provided a fitting backdrop for Wednesday’s (Sept. 12) opening of Public Days during this week’s America’s Largest RV Show, as organizers reported a record gate far eclipsing any first-day attendance for the longstanding event in Hershey, Pa.
“We tallied total attendance of 6,485,” said Dan Saltzgiver, show chairman for the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), which annually hosts the event held on the expansive grounds at the Giant Center. “We thought last year was great when we had 5,057 attendees. We’re looking at a 23% increase over those numbers. It just never stopped. At 11 a.m. the line was back across the bridge into the Giant Center and into the parking lot.”
Salzgiver said that the show, which kicked off Monday and Tuesday with Industry Days, was not only attracting strong numbers but also generating sales for the approximately 100 rolling stock dealers and the host of suppliers manning the indoor exhibits at the Giant Center. Prior to the show, PRVCA Executive Vice President Rebecca Lenington reported that over 1,000 RVs would pack the outdoor display area.
“Dealers have been telling me that sales were going great,” Saltzgiver said, adding, “Everyone I talked to was very upbeat.”
In addition to “perfect weather,” Saltzgiver attributed the overflow crowd to a heightened promotional effort by PRVCA. “We spent more money on advertising than ever before – including social media like Twitter and Facebook – along with running billboards across Pennsylvania that went up around eight weeks prior to the show,” he said.
Saltzgiver said another factor behind the record numbers was the Hershey Show’s standing among RVers as “the place to come and see what’s new in the industry.”
“I have talked to a lot of people, and it was apparent that Hershey has evolved into the perfect venue for people shopping for a new RV,” he said. “It’s just grown year after year. They’re not just coming from the Pennsylvania region, but all parts of the U.S. and Canada. And they come to buy. I heard that a lot of people that had bought during a previous show were back to purchase again, so we’re getting repeat Hershey Show buyers.”
The show runs through Sunday and Saltzgiver is looking for a continuation of opening day. “The weather forecast is great,” he said, “so I don’t see a major slowdown in traffic. We are looking to add to those record first-day numbers.”
RV 2012 – HGTV’s annual one-hour TV special covering all things RVing – premieres on Jan. 1 at 3 p.m. (Eastern), according to a report by Examiner.com. HGTV host Brandon Johnson will lead three lucky families on the shopping trip of a lifetime as they hunt for the perfect RV – from elegant motorhomes to tricked-out travel trailers and toy haulers.
Shot on location at the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show – held annually in September at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. – the RV show is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA). The show ranks No. 11 out of the 200 largest trade shows in the U.S. and Canada with 59 leading manufacturers and over 100 supplier vendors represented.
Billed as America’s largest RV Show, PRVCA reported record attendance at the 2011 event with a turnout of 36,410 people for the Retail Days alone. The event, held Sept. 12-18, saw a 4% increase in attendance from 2010 and set a new record for the history of the show. The show was over 1.3 million square feet and had over 1,050 new units on display – an increase of 6% compared to 2010. There were 165 booth vendors in attendance – a 15%increase over 2010; and manufacturer square footage increased by 5% compared to last year.
HGTV – America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming – is distributed to more than 89 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks. HGTV.com is the nation’s leading online home and garden destination that attracts an average of 5.2 million unique visitors per month.
For a 14th consecutive year, HGTV is producing its annual RV special, which will premiere New Year’s Day and be rebroadcast several times throughout 2012.
The RV segment has been HGTV’s highest rated special the past several years.
Producers worked with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in mid-September to film this year’s show at the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey. Twenty-two RVs will be highlighted on the hour-long special.
HGTV is received in more than 99 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks.
One of the real show stoppers at the 43rd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show Sept. 12-18 at the Giant Center in Hershey, was a heavy-duty “Class C” motorhome on a Freightliner Coronado Class 8 truck from Show Hauler Trucks Inc. The 54,000-pound GVWR coach is designed to appeal to the racing crowd and anyone else who wants to combine the livability of a motorhome with the sheer power and brawn of an over-the-road truck capable of hauling 40,000 pounds. The 45-footer on display at Hershey, retailing with solid oak or maple interiors and all the electronics one might expect in a $319,000 coach, featured two full bedrooms, two full baths and four slideouts in a front-engine “diesel puller” that doesn’t really fit in any of the current categories applied nationally to motorhomes, according to Lonnie Troyer, sales manager for the 11-year-old Middlebury, Ind., custom motorhome builder. “We’re talking about a diesel puller here,” said Troyer. “Maybe we need a reclassification for something like this, maybe a ‘Class D’ or something like that. I’d personally prefer a Class D, a diesel puller, as opposed to a diesel pusher. Yet, diesel pushers are allowed in resorts, and these in some cases aren’t. We have a $300,000 unit here that’s not allowed in some parks because it’s technically a Class C.”
The recently completed Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey posted record attendance with a turnout of 36,410 people for the Retail Days alone, according to a press release.
Event organizers reported that the Sept. 12-18 event, billed as America’s Largest RV Show, saw a 4% increase in attendance from 2010 and set an all-time record. The show encompassed over 1.3 million square feet and had over 1,050 new units on display – an increase of 6% compared to last year. There were 165 booth vendors in attendance, representing a 15% increase over 2010, while manufacturer square footage increased by 5%.
This year’s show battled national media attention as flooding hit the area the week prior to opening. “We received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails asking if the show was still opening,” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the host Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA). “Thanks to the PRVCA staff and the understanding and the cooperation of our exhibitors, set-up of the show went as scheduled and we opened on time without having to make any changes to the show’s program.”
Industry Days were held the first two days of the event allowing dealers one-on-one time with manufacturers and the opportunity to see the debut of the 2012 products. “There’s a lot of value in Hershey’s Industry Days,” said Dan Saltzgiver, owner of Reicharts RV and Camping Center and show chairman. “We send staff to the show both days so that everyone has a chance to see the new product and get a chance to talk with manufacturer representatives and suppliers.”
The educational events were a popular draw with eight featured industry experts. Keynote speakers Randy Sobel and Scott McKain focused on operating in today’s economy, allowing attendees to walk away with some new approaches to their businesses.
PRVCA said that Retail Days attracted consumers who were ready to shop, representing a good sign for the industry as the show is generally regarded as a bellwether for the coming year. Comments included:
• “Consumer attitudes were positive and it looks like we’ll bypass our 2010 sales,” Nick Palm of Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. said. “We had an excellent show. (Owner) Bob Tiffin attended all retail days and was impressed with PRVCA’s management and consumers’ attitudes.”
• “PRVCA did a phenomenal job,” said Chris Colton, owner of Colton RV. “Sales have exceeded last year’s sales and we’ve sold more gas products than in the past. It was a good show and Mother Nature was on our side this week.”
• “We are very happy with how the show has been,” offered Gene Ulrich, sales manager of Stoltzfus RV of West Chester. “As of Saturday night, we surpassed any sales we’ve ever done.”
• “The show finished well for us and we’re pleased,” Don Laird, president of Lime Lake RV said. “A lot of people are really getting into the green phenomenon and that’s been a real plus for us.”
• “It was very encouraging to see such a positive consumer attitude,” said Jeff Kline, owner of Gayle Kline RV. “Sales are good.”
Supplier booth vendors also experienced good sales. “For a product debut, it was everything and more,” noted Drew Schiller, president and inventor of Bag Rack. “I received a lot of validation for the product and signed six distributors during Industry Days.”
The show also provided hourly seminars for both new and experienced RVers. “I get a lot of attendees in my seminars who have yet to purchase an RV,” Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, said. “They find value in being able to apply what we discuss in the seminars to make a better informed decision when they buy. And they know the Hershey Show is THE place to get a good deal on a brand new RV.
“Those who already have a coach, love, not only to look at the new models, but they glean value from the great educational topics presented at the show. I’m guessing everyone walks away with something; a new recreation vehicle, or a new product, or valuable information about maintaining their recreational investment. Everyone wins.”
The universal appeal of RVing, as well as the ability to shop and compare 56 manufacturers at one place, continues to attract thousands of people to Hershey. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the 2011 Show,” Lenington stated. “We are in planning mode for next year’s show to make it even better.”
The 2012 PA RV & Camping Show will be held on September 10–16. For more information, visit www.largestRVshow.com.
Check out another round of new product that was on display during last week’s Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey. The event is considered a bellwether for the industry and host PRVCA reported steady traffic and sales.
Overcoming media reports of widespread flooding, the 43rd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey saw steady traffic as the public days opened on Wednesday (Sept. 14) while event organizers reported that today’s gate was on track for an even stronger showing. The event is set to run through Sunday at the expansive GIANT Center.
“The first two days we had a total of about 8,500 people,” Becky Lenington, executive vice president for the host Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), told RVBUSINESS.com late this morning. “We were fighting the national media which was reporting that we were under water. But it seems that word has gotten out that everything is OK. We have really seen a strong turnout this morning and it looks like we’re going to compensate for the past two days.”
Lenington noted that with some of the surrounding areas experiencing water problems, the GIANT Center had increased overnight parking at the facility to help accommodate visitors.
A shift in the weather may also have accounted for the uptick in attendees. “We saw some rain on Wednesday and Thursday, but today the sun is shining and it looks like the rain will stay away for the rest of the show,” said Lenington.
The Hershey Show, long touted as the industry’s largest consumer show, is regarded as a bellwether for the industry as manufacturers and dealers use it as a platform to introduce new product.
“We have over 1,050 brand new RVs on display for individuals to purchase,” said Heather Leach, marketing and education director for PRVCA. “There have already been some sales and a lot of the purchases were motorhomes.”
Leach reported that the vendor booth space was sold out with over 218 companies represented on site. “We have the vendors set up throughout the GIANT Center, including the concourse area and the lower level. All of the RVs are set up outside on the parking lot.”
There are also hourly seminars each day, beginning at 10 a.m. and running until 7 p.m., that have been well attended, according to Leach.
“We’re very pleased,” she said, “and with good weather predicted for here on out we’re looking for another great show.”