“It’s a cheap vacation,” Williams said, especially with three kids.
“You can stay at a campground for a long weekend for less than $200, where you might spend that with a hotel room for one night,” Tague said.
They were two of thousands of people moved through a three-day RV and camping show at the Indoor Sports Center this past weekend in Loves Park, Ill. The show concluded Sunday.
Tague and Williams were getting ready to buy a smaller, pop-up trailer for their summer camping trips.
Smaller, less expensive trailers that use less gas have been more popular with consumers during the recent economic slide, said Lisa Flanigan, owner of Holiday Hour RV.
“Even if the gas goes high, people will still travel, they just won’t go as far,” she said. “This is the cheaper way to go because you’re not paying the hotel rates, you’re not going out to eat all the time.”
Holiday Hour RV handles towable models, which Flanigan said has been the company’s “blessing in disguise” while the motorhome industry has taken a hit in recent years.
RV manufacturers shipped about 14,000 motorhomes in 2009, the industry’s worst showing in the 38 years data has been collected, according to a report in Reuters. That’s a 50% drop from the 28,300 motorhomes shipped in 2008 and an 80% decline from 71,800 in 2004.
But things have been looking up early in 2010. Winnebago Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer, posted its first quarterly profit in about two years, Reuters reported last week. Flanigan has seen improvement, too.
“Last spring I don’t think we sold six campers by the time March rolled round,” she said. “This year we’ve been really busy. … We’ve already had a good spring.”
The RV show features about 100 vehicles from eight different dealers and as many as 15,000 people were expected to attend, according to event coordinator Brenda Rotolo.
“This is the third show this year we’ve had in this building, and each has had a great turnaround from last year,” Rotolo said. “When boat dealers are all selling boats and RV dealers are selling RVs, it’s a sign that everything is turning around.”