Step into some of the RV trailers at the Mid-America RV Show in Kansas City this year, and it’s bound to feel more like you’re stepping into a residence. In fact Shawn Wiegers, sales manager for Liberty RV in Liberty, expects to hear more people than usual say, “This is nicer than our home.”
According to a report by the Kansas City Star, that “wow factor” is what RV manufacturers are hoping for. The show opened Thursday (Jan. 16) and runs through Sunday.
“So many of these trailers have gone to residential furniture,” said Shawn Wiegers, sales manager for Liberty RV in Liberty. They have also gone to full-size refrigerators, wood cabinets and soffit lighting. There’s even theater seating in some.
“That gives you that ‘I’m at home feeling’ even while you’re vacationing with your family,” Wiegers said. “That has gone over really well with our customers.”
And you can see what the industry has been up to at Bartle Hall through Sunday. The Mid-America RV Show began Thursday afternoon in downtown Kansas City.
More than 300 RVs are on display, said Mark Boggess, president of media and events for GS Media & Events.
“The RV manufacturers over the years have changed, and they are building coaches for the consumer’s lifestyle,” Boggess said. “Whether your a weekend warrior with the kids and family or whether you’re a tailgater or whether you hunt and fish or whether you’re a NASCAR enthusiast, they are building new RVs to satisfy those lifestyles.”
RV enthusiasts turned out in record high numbers this past weekend at the Affinity Events Mid-America RV Show in Kansas City, Mo., sponsored by DISH Network.
Attendees had the opportunity to see 2011 Class A, B, and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, folding campers, park models and more from leading dealers in the region, according to a news release.
Show Manager Jess Bodelson said, “I’ve produced the Mid-America RV Show for six years and this year’s show out performed all the previous shows in attendance and sales.”
According to Show Promoter Patrick Riha, “This year’s show was the highest in ticket sales for a four-day show since the year 2000. Many dealers reported strong sales and were very happy with the results.”
John Wilbanks, salesman at Wilder RV, agreed, “The show was great with a lot of traffic and good flow. Saturday was the busiest day for us with quite a few RV sales. We were definitely satisfied with the turnout.”
Barry Lawson of Lifestyle RVs concurred, “The attendee traffic was great — by far our best show ever. Sales were up and we are excited to be back next year.”
As a family friendly event, attendees also had the chance to see over 75 different reptile species during Danny Connor’s Reptile Adventures show and learn how to cook delicious, yet reasonable campground dishes during the Ultimate Camp Cooking seminars with celebrity chefs Pat Mac and Mike Faverman.
Affinity Events is sponsoring upcoming RV shows in Minneapolis, Minn., Richmond, Va., Wichita, Kan., Charlotte, N.C., Atlantic City, N.J., Denver, Colo., Providence, R.I., Greenville, S.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Albuquerque, N.M. These shows will feature a variety of RVs, campground information and accessories along with expert advice and entertainment. Visit www.agievents.com for information about upcoming consumer shows, exhibitor lists and discounted online tickets to the shows.
Affinity Events is affiliated with Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of RVBUSINESS.com.
Shane Voyles has no trouble coming up with a sales pitch for the RV lifestyle.
Voyles, who owns Show-Me Campers and Boats in Grain Valley, Mo., a Kansas City suburb, knows all about the value of special times spent with family at the campground, The Kansas City Star reported.
“When I was growing up, my grandpa had a camper and he would take me all over the country,” Voyles said. “We would tow a pontoon with us, and we’d be the ‘40-foot Express’ going down the highway.
“We’d go all over to fish and camp. I still remember staying right beside some great fishing lakes and rivers, hiking in the mountains and spending time with my grandpa.
“Those were some great times, and they really got me started in the outdoors.”
Voyles will be at Bartle Hall in Kansas City this week for the Mid-America RV Show, displaying everything from popup campers to luxury travel trailers and fifth-wheel units. The show opens Thursday (Jan. 27) and ends Sunday.
But he’ll be selling much more than just individual units. He’ll be selling a lifestyle.
“RV camping is a great way to get quality family time,” Voyles said. “Instead of staying in a motel, you’re staying outdoors.
“You can park right at the edge of a lake or the mountains and still have a lot of the conveniences of home.”
Voyles got started camping when he was barely old enough to walk. Later, he continued to camp in an RV when he went on the national B.A.S.S. professional tour. Now that he is selling RVs and boats for a living, he gets less time to travel. But he still looks forward to the weekends when he can get out in one of the units from his dealership.
“I’d still rather stay in an RV than in a motel room,” he said.
Today, he is busy trying to convince others to follow his lead. The last several years haven’t been kind to the RV industry.
When the economy worsened and financing became tough, sales nationwide fell. The RV industry hit a cavernous pothole.
But Voyles sees good times ahead. He said his dealership enjoyed a good year of sales in 2010. And he said the industry as a whole is on much better footing than it was several years ago.
“We’re seeing the strongest, most-positive signs that we’ve seen in five years,” Voyles said. “The most encouraging things is that we’re seeing a lot of new families getting into RV camping.
“I think people are wanting to get back to the basics; back to grassroots pastimes.
“They still want to vacation, but they might not have as much money to spend as they once did. That’s why they’re turning to camping.
“We have a lot of great campgrounds right here in Missouri and Kansas. Families can get out and have a great time without having to travel a long distance.”
RVs to meet every taste will be on display at the Mid-America RV Show. From the small economy models such as popup campers to luxury models such as motorhomes, the camping industry will be well-represented.
“There are indications that the RV industry has turned the corner,” said Pat Riha, show manager. “It had been a tough few years, but I think things are changing.
Manufacturers have come up with ways to make these RVs better, yet more affordable. The bottom line is that the consumer is the one who has benefited.”
For a list of exhibitors click here.