There has been some question the last few years about attendance at the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show. But, according to a report in the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth, many say the Louisville Show remains vital no matter what the numbers say.
The emergence of northern Elkhart RV Open House in September has raised questions of how the two shows will coexist as both develop and change.
Bob Martin, CEO of Thor Industries Inc., said he hadn’t received any sales or attendance numbers as of Wednesday (Dec. 4) afternoon but agreed that the Louisville show is no longer the big selling event for Thor’s companies that it was in the past.
“Dealers have started to buy a little bit more at the Open House, for us,” Martin said.
That doesn’t mean the event doesn’t serve a purpose, however. Louisville still provides a good chance for traffic and exposure.
“Actually, it’s been very positive so far,” Martin said. “Yesterday was very busy. I think Louisville may be a bigger show for some of the smaller manufacturers.”
And though many dealers may have already made purchases prior to the show, a strong market still has them looking for more product.
“Overall, dealers have been very optimistic,” Martin said. “They’re happy with where their inventory is at and very happy as they look at the year to come.”
Forest River Inc. General Manager and RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert sees the two shows interacting together to actually make things easier on the industry.
“The Open House was obviously awesome; Louisville is a beautiful follow-up to that Open House week,” Gaeddert said.
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It’s an RV trade show, but football was the topic Tuesday (Dec. 3) morning.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that at the National RV Trade Show kickoff breakfast “Mean Joe” Greene, Hall of Fame NFL defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, made a brief appearance on stage. Greene is at the show to promote new products by Dometic Corp., a key supplier to the RV industry.
Greene had fun with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board chairman Doug Gaeddert by reenacting a famous commercial starring Greene in which he throws his worn and muddy jersey to a young boy.
“Here you go kid,” Greene said with a big smile while he tossed a Steelers jersey to Gaeddert.
Then, guest speaker Peter King, NFL writer for Sports Illustrated, told the audience about his experiences using a Jayco Precept motorhome for touring football training camps during the summer.
King said years ago he had traveled cross country with Oakland Raiders football coach John Madden in Madden’s customized bus. Madden refused to fly, according to King, because he was scared of flying, but more because he wanted to experience the sights and people of America.
“He was on this beautiful bus. It was like a Hyatt suite on wheels,” King said.
During that trip King said he decided that someday he too would like to travel like Madden.
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Everyone is smiling at the RV show.
The Goshen (Ind.) News reported that during a year in which recreational vehicle shipments to manufacturers are expected to be 10% higher than 2012 and knowing the industry expects a 6% increase next year, dealers, manufacturers and suppliers at the 51st Annual National RV Trade Show are totally positive about their industry and the economy.
“It’s our biggest display we have ever had in Louisville,” said Derald Bontrager as he stood on the lush carpet inside the Jayco Inc. display.
Bontrager is CEO of the Middlebury, Ind., company that is owned by his family. The company also is parent to Starcraft Inc. and Entegra Coach.
“We have had a positive response to the product and a lot of optimism from dealers going forward for the market next year,” Bontrager said between his chats with visiting dealers. “It’s been a very busy morning. It has been non-stop. I am very pleased.”
He said the rise of the RV industry has been across the board, from $500,000 motorhomes to inexpensive pop-up campers.
“We are seeing good sales in all segments right now,” Bontrager said. “There are buyers for every segment of the market right now. I think that is just a sign of the improving economy and consumer confidence. Consumers are willing to spend more money now then they were just two years ago.”
Nearby at Jayco’s Starcraft display, John and Stephanie Thomson were looking for units to put on their sales lot at Flint Hills RV Center in St. George, Kan.
“It’s been a very good year — sales, service and accessories,” John said. “… I think one reason for that is people who have been shying away from the market for four or five years are tired of waiting and decided to jump in.”
John said the family dealership now specializes in smaller travel trailers, as that seems to be what their local market wants.
“They want something their SUV can pull,” John said.
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RV manufacturers expect to pass another milestone in their steady recovery from the recession that landed the industry in a deep ditch.
The Associated Press reported that led by sales growth for towable RVs and pricier stand-alone motorhomes, recreational vehicle makers expect to ship more than 300,000 units to dealers’ lots this year for the first time since the economic downturn battered the industry in 2008 and 2009.
Those grim days are now in the rear view mirror. Employment across the industry has rebounded, and consumers who once picked small, no-frills travel trailers – dubbed “recession trailers” – are now trading up or buying larger, pricier RVs.
“We’re back to a more normal market where people are stepping up and buying nicer equipped travel trailers,” said RV dealer Debbie Brunoforte, who has logged her best post-recession sales year at her lots in Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz.
Shipments from RV manufacturers to dealers – a key measure of consumer demand – are expected to reach 316,300 units in 2013, up nearly 11% from last year’s total of 285,749, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) said Tuesday (Dec. 3) on the first day of the industry’s trade show in Louisville, Ky. More gains are projected for next year.
“These are good times, you guys, really good times,” RVIA President Richard Coon said at the trade show’s kickoff event Tuesday. “Business is good.”
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Winnebago Industries Inc. is showing 64 motorhomes and towable units from its new product lineup, including the first showing for several products and floorplans during the 51st Annual National RV Trade Show, starting today (Dec. 3) in Louisville, Ky.
“As a leader in innovation within the RV industry, we continue to set the bar higher for ourselves each year,” said Winnebago vice president of sales and product management Scott Degnan. “We are very excited to introduce several new models and floorplans that further cement the industry leading strength of our product lineups. We were also very honored to be presented with the Quality Circle award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA) at a special awards ceremony held last night. This award is a significant indication of our relationship with our dealer partners and their positive regard for the quality of our products and services. It is extremely gratifying to have received this prestigious award for 18 consecutive years.”
New models include:
• The Destination is Winnebago’s first full-size, luxury fifth-wheel that combines motorhome styling and high-end residential appeal. Exterior features include an aerodynamic exterior front cap design with an air dam for increased wind deflection and optional rear cap with automotive sport styling. Interior amenities include custom hardwood cabinets, entertainment center with 50-inch TV, and an optional fireplace, complete with hearth. The master suite features 6-foot, 9-inch ceilings, an optional “Magic Mirror” mirror/TV design, Flex Bed” system that adjusts the head of the bed for watching TV from a reclining position and a full size, cedar lined, walk-in closet with four large radius shelves.
• The Era 70C is Winnebago’s first Class B to feature a slideout. The Era, built on the 11,030-pound Mercedes-Benz chassis, has best-in-class features such as hot water radiant heat, 5.7 cubic foot three-way double door refrigerator, three-burner cooktop, chrome finish aluminum wheels, 13,500 BTU high-efficiency air conditioner with a 2,800 watt heat strip auxiliary heating unit. A USB charging station for phones and electronics is featured in the galley, and an exterior storage shower conversion package with adjustable rear storage rack system provides massive storage space for four sets of golf clubs.
• Travato is the newest member of the Winnebago Touring Coach lineup and is the industry’s first Class B built on the new Ram ProMaster chassis with estimated fuel economy of 16-18 mpg highway. At 20 feet in length, the Travato is agile, while also providing a floorplan that maximizes space and storage. The Travato features a flip-up, rear double bed that allows for large storage items – perfect for bikes or other gear and is the first Class B to feature three-point seat belts in the forward-facing galley seat. Other features include swivel cab seats, efficient LED lighting, touch-screen navigation, fully functional galley, deep wardrobe and a rear wet bath, while the innovative Flex Bed system provides more sleeping space for additional campers.
• With sleeping for up to seven, the Minnie Winnie or Spirit 31K floorplan offers a single slide with U-shaped dinette and lounge sofa/bed. The Class C features a split bath, walk-around queen bed and large rear trunk storage compartment. The 31K and 31KP are available in the Minnie Winnie, Minnie Winnie Premier, Spirit and Spirit Silver model lines and is now available in a new champagne sidewall color.
• The new Trend and Viva! are the first Class Cs in the industry to be built on the new Ram ProMaster chassis, delivering fuel-efficiency and comfortable living space for up to six people at an affordable price. Both 23-foot floorplans feature a powered StudioLoft bed that fits tight to the ceiling to conserve space during the day. Sleek Euro body styling, efficient LED lighting, available soft, easy-to-clean Ultraleather furniture and the industry’s first, three-point seat belts in the dinette are also featured.
• The new Vista 36Y (Class A gas) is making its debut in Louisville. Vista provides panoramic views with a large front cab windows and a large, passenger side window looking out from the galley island. The triple-slide floorplan also features a StudioLoft drop-down bed in the cab area, new sofa with integrated recliner, three hidden TVs, walk-through bathroom and a luxurious bedroom. The 36Y floorplan is also available in the Sunstar product line.
• The Forza and Solei, new Class A diesel pusher models, offer diesel pusher affordability and can fit in a garage with a 12-foot door. Built on the Freightliner XCS chassis with a Cummins 340-hp diesel engine, the Forza and Solei feature polished Corian galley countertops, coffee-glazed cabinetry, upscale entertainment features and energy-saving LED lighting.
• Winnebago Outdoor is a new brand licensing program that leverages the well-known Winnebago name for products in new categories, including camping gear, apparel and outdoor furniture.
The strong performance of the RV market will continue in 2014, RVIA President Richard Coon told attendees at “Outlook 2014: Everywhere,” the launch event of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 51st Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. RV shipments in 2014 are expected to reach 335,500 units representing a 6.1% increase from the projected total for 2013.
Speaking to more than 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives this morning (Dec. 3), Coon provided an optimistic look at the industry’s future, based on a new projection from Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, in RVIA’s quarterly forecasting newsletter RV Roadsigns.
The rise in shipments to 316,300 units by year-end 2013 would be a 10.7% gain over the 2012 total of 285,749 and include double digit gains in conventional travel trailers and Class A motorhomes. The industry is poised to surpass 300,000 shipments for the first time since the recession. The expected increase in 2014 would mean five consecutive years of RV market growth.
“RV shipments are growing,” Coon said. “Consumer confidence is growing, credit is available, and RVs are visible, popular and even cool. This is a good time to be in the RV business.”
Shipments are expected to rise in each product category, according to the new forecast, and motorhome growth is anticipated to be particularly strong. In 2013 and 2014, motorhomes are predicted to reach 12% of all shipments – up from 10% in 2012.
The growing strength in RV shipments is due to rising consumer confidence and improved economic conditions; however, lingering uncertainty about government policies and programs could affect the economic outlook, Coon cautioned.
“Our forecasts are affected by the economy,” Coon said. “The economy is improving, but that progress could be undone if our political leaders fail to behave responsibly.”
During his presentation, Coon walked the audience through RVIA’s 2014 projection for each of the major RV product types, which included: travel trailers, 206,100 units; fifth-wheels, 73,000 units; folding camping trailers, 11,000 units; truck campers, 3,500 units; combined towable, 293,600 units; Class A motorhomes, 21,000 units; Class B motorhomes, 2,600 units; Class C motorhomes, 18,300; all motorized, 41,900 units; all RVs, 335,500.
“This has been a good year for sales and for promoting RVs to our core audiences,” Coon said. “There is strong demand for RVs, and I am excited about our industry’s future.”
The RV industry opened the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 51st National RV Trade Show at “Outlook 2014: Everywhere,” an informative, entertaining program that laid out details of the industry’s prospects for 2014 and provided an update on advertising and public relations efforts.
According to a press release, the breakfast event began at 7:30 a.m. this morning (Dec. 3) and was attended by more than 1,000 RV manufacturers, dealers and industry representatives. Following a talk from RVIA President Richard Coon about growth in RV shipments and presentation of the new projection for 2014 shipments, Go RVing co-chairs Bob Wheeler and Tom Stinnett partnered with RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst for a multimedia presentation recapping 2013 progress in advertising and public relations.
“Time is at a premium and household finances are being squeezed,” Thompson told the audience. “For many, RVs are an ideal solution that offer the flexibility to get away from the stresses of everyday life and have a great outdoor experience with loved ones – without breaking the budget.”
Thompson presented some of the industry’s media relations highlights, including coverage on TV networks including NBC, ABC, FOX News, FOX Business, and CNBC. He also discussed major print and digital placements, as well as a partnership with local dealerships around the country that resulted in media placements in more than 20 markets.
“There’s the old adage that all politics is local and the same can ring true in PR,” Thompson said. “The impact of local news cannot be overlooked. That’s why we worked with dealers in local markets. Who better to talk about the benefits of RVing than the people who sell them every day?”
Stinnett and Wheeler reported on results from the “AWAY” Go RVing advertising campaign. The pair emphasized the impact of the campaign’s promotional partnerships and the effectiveness of Go RVing leads.
“As the industry surged in 2013, Go RVing’s increased promotional spend over 2012 helped keep the RV lifestyle message everywhere,” Wheeler said. “We continued to work with partners who provided us the opportunity to go beyond traditional advertising so we could stretch our dollars even further.”
Wheeler discussed Go RVing’s successful partnership with the Outdoor Channel on a promotion that saw more than 162,000 entries for a folding camping trailer giveaway, as well as efforts to create RV experiences for more than 15,000 consumers at non-RVing events such as fairs and music festivals.
Stinnett reported that the improved and streamlined Go RVing Leads Plus Program has seen a 35% increase in leads downloads in 2013. In addition, Stinnett presented analysis by Polk research showing that Go RVing leads are actually purchasing RVs at rates higher than marketing industry standards.
Stinnett also revealed a new initiative to maintain Go RVing’s reach year-round. This year, Go RVing launched a tailgating initiative in partnership with Sports Illustrated and ESPN. The initiative included a new TV commercial designed to appeal to sports fans while showcasing the amenities of RVs.
“I don’t know about the rest of you in the room, but at my business, we don’t stop selling product just because September rolls around,” Stinnett said. “And that was the thinking about extending Go RVing’s promotional push later into the selling season – to keep the RV experience fresh in consumers’ minds.”
After a brief appearance by football legend “Mean Joe” Greene and remarks from respected Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King, Ashurst closed the presentation by discussing some of the plans for Go RVing in 2014.
“We plan to elevate our tailgating initiative, and we are currently in discussions with some third party brands to build on what we did with Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS Sports,” Ashurst said. “We’re going to expand event efforts in 2014 by sponsoring a huge, multi-day country music festival that draws tens of thousands, and we’ll continue to work with top-tier cable networks like Travel Channel – both in advertising and in working RVs into their programming.”
In addition, Go RVing will create a new AWAY advertising spot that will allow the campaign to evolve the message while reducing creative and production costs.
Monday (Dec. 2) was a busy day at the Kentucky Exposition Center as workers put the finishing touches on more than 4,200 exhibits at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 51st Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville.
The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported that the three-day event officially gets under way this morning with what’s expected to be a very positive talk by Richard Coon, RVIA president, on the state of the industry.
More than 8,000 people are expected to attend the show, including about 2,700 dealers. A total of 61 manufacturers and 217 suppliers will be showing their wares in 720,000 square feet of exhibit space.
“This year’s show demonstrates the strength of our industry’s recovery,” said Coon in a recent release. “Shipments are up, employment is up, and optimism is up because our industry has showed its resilience.”
RVIA officials say Coon’s address today will focus on that recovery as well as a look to the future.
Although in the past several years the fall open houses by manufacturers in Elkhart County have lessened the show’s impact, it is still considered very important.
“For the industry, it’s the main show for the manufacturer side,” said Bob Martin, president and CEO of Thor Industries, who will be marking his 21st appearance at the show.
“The Open House is maybe bigger for some of the bigger manufacturers like Forest River and Thor,” he added. “For some of the smaller manufacturers, this is actually a bigger show for them.
“For us and the dealers, it’s still a big show.”
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The final adjustments were being made to recreational vehicles Monday (Dec. 2) afternoon as workers prepared the units for the 51st Annual National RV Trade Show that opens today in Louisville, Ky.
As reported by the Goshen (Ind.) News, hundreds of RVs, ranging from the tiny teardrop trailers to massive luxury motorhomes, have been arranged inside the Kentucky Exposition Center by manufacturers so their dealers can see and touch new features and make deals for the spring and summer sales seasons.
“We have pretty high expectations,” said Paul Campbell, marketing director for Gulf Stream Coach Inc. in Nappanee, Ind., who was at the company’s main display in the West Wing. “The year has been good — up substantially over last year. So we think there is still substantial demand in the market. We continue to refine our product and we have been very excited about the products we are putting out in the market.”
Gulf Stream has about 30 RVs on display at the show, including a few opposite competitor’s displays in the South Wing. There’s some strategy behind having two booths at the show Campbell said.
“It would be handy for dealers to step from some of our competitors’ units right into ours and see some of the differences,” Campbell said.
All the manufacturers at the show look for little advantages to lure dealers into their units, the first stop in signing them up to sell those units. Free ink pens, candy, chances to win cash and warm welcomes are things every dealer will be offered when they tour the three show halls.
Near the Gulf Stream display, Eric Burns and Ryan Spencer with New Paris, Ind.-based Travel Lite Inc. were sitting on the floor under some pickup truck campers making final adjustments to their units.
“We are definitely going to have an excellent Louisville show,” Spencer said, “because every product we have brought is new with new features. We have never brought so much new stuff.”
Like most other RV manufacturers in Elkhart County, Travel Lite took part in the industry’s open house in September. That event draws dealers to the county to tour manufacturing plants and view new units.
“We expect very good numbers,” Spencer said. “The Open House was strong and we expect to follow that with a great Louisville.”
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Thor Motor Coach will be introducing new floorplans in its Tuscany, Outlaw, Four Winds and Chateau models as part of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) 51st Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the Tuscany 40KQ provides a new stylish island shaped kitchen that is perfect for entertaining with pendant lighting and built-in wine storage. A large side-aisle picture window offers great views while the living area features a 60-inch LCD TV.
A wall-slide 28F Class C model has been added to the Four Winds and Chateau lineups. The new coach offers a king bed along with an L-shaped sofa in the living area that is configured as a sofa, dinette and sleeping space. Large mega storage on the exterior of the coach makes sure everything can be loaded up for long trips.
The newest addition to the Outlaw toy hauler is the 29H floorplan. Built on the E-series chassis from Ford, the 29H has plenty of living space up front and a roomy on-board garage in the rear. The model is the most compact and affordable Outlaw with standard features that include an exterior patio with awning, 24-inch LCD TV with DVD player in the garage, Bluetooth enabled coach radio and 32-inch LCD TV in the living area.
“Floorplans continue to be the No. 1 reason people buy one motorhome over another. At Thor Motor Coach we strive to continue our reputation of building new and profitable models for our valued dealer partners,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dana Simon.
Along with the three new floorplans, the industry-first Recreational Utility Vehicle (RUV) Axis and Vegas will be showcased. Sized like a large SUV, the 25-foot Class A is built on Ford E-Series chassis with powerful V-10 engine.
Thor Motor Coach’s display is located at Booth No. 1400 in the South Hall of the Kentucky Exposition Center.