The 43rd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show is coming to Hershey, running Sept. 14-18 with more than 900 RVs on display from every major manufacturer. The event is sponsored by the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA).
According to a press release, the event is held at Hershey’s Giant Center complex, and is the “largest consumer RV show held each year in North America.” Many RV makers introduce their latest models at the show.
The sprawling indoor and outdoor event is popular with both veteran and new RVers. Hourly seminars are free with admission from the industry’s top RVing experts including the RV Doctor Gary Bunzer, Bob and Cheryl Marx, RV filmmaker John Holod, Bernie Jwaszewski and others. Seminars include RV maintenance and repair, exterior care, RV buying tips, how to become a full-time RVer, and working on the road.
Daily admission is $9 for adults and less for seniors, veterans and children. Special multi-day passes and discount day admissions are also available. For more information and a dollar-off coupon, visit LargestRVshow.com and click on “Public Day Info.”
RV dry camping is available on the premises with many RV parks nearby.
RV season will soon be in full swing and the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show, America’s largest RV show, is preparing for another record-breaking show in Hershey, Pa., show sponsors stated in a news release.
The 2011 show will be Sept. 14-18.
“The 2010 Pennslvania RV & Camping Show had a record year with over 35,000 people in attendance,” Rebecca Lenington, Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) executive vice president said. “We are planning another great show that will exceed the expectations of both exhibitors and attendees.”
The Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show is the first show in the nation with 2012 products and has the largest display of park trailers in the country. There’s no better place for companies to promote their latest products, talk to their current customers and network with new contacts, Lenington continued. Hershey provides many venues for manufacturers to host their own exclusive event for their customers, or they can host an “after hours” event on-site at their show display. The show is also unique because it incorporates both trade and retail days creating a successful hybrid show that benefits the RV industry and consumers alike.
The deposit deadline to participate in the May 5 show drawing is April 6.
For more information on how reserve your space at America’s largest RV show or to register for the event, visit www.largestRVshow.com or call (888) 303-2887
TV viewers watching ”RV 2011” on HGTV New Year’s day generally got glowing cable TV reviews of 20 motorhomes and towable RVs displayed last September at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show in Hershey, Pa.
Host Chi-Lan Lieu guided two families with children and a third couple through the maze of RVs at the Hershey Show on the grounds of Hersheypark.
Each family had different goals — the Herbst family was looking to upgrade while the Styles family sought their first RV, a high-end motorhome or towable and Lindsay and Chad Drvak were looking to accommodate rescued dogs.
Lieu, in turn, showed different RVs that she thought would meet their goals. Although none committed to buying an RV during the program, each chose one that they thought best suited their needs.
Among the units highlighted were Fleetwood RV Inc.’s high-end American Revolution and Tiffin Motor Home Inc.’s diminutive Allegro diesel pushers, Winnebago Industries Inc.’s Access minimotorhome, Prime Time Manufacturing’s Crusader fifth-wheel and Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.’s SS Ideal van camper.
The Herbsts chose a Dynamax Dynaquest XV Class C motorhome; the Styles, a Dutchmen Voltage high-end sport utility fifth-wheel (SURV); and the Drvaks, an Earthbound travel trailer.
The hour-long program marks the 13th year that HGTV has highlighted new RV products, and will be rebroadcast at unspecified times during the year.
Producers of the program worked with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and its agency, Barton Gilanelli, to put the program together.
HGTV’s RV 2011 – a one-hour TV special – will air Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. EST, examiner.com reported.
Host Chi-Lan Lieu will be on the hunt for the most luxurious, over-the-top coaches, trailers and toy haulers in the United States. On location at America’s largest RV show in Hershey, Pa, Chi-Lan will also tour the coolest new high-tech and eco-friendly recreational vehicles and take three families on the shopping trip of a lifetime, searching America’s largest RV show for the recreational vehicle of their dreams.
According to her bio Chi-Lan Lieu is a self-proclaimed karaoke addict and gadget geek. She began her career as a TV writer and producer for several cable networks prior to being named host and expert on HGTV’s I Want That! Tech Toys. Chi-Lan revels in giving people gadget-buying advice and will be taking an inside look at all the hottest trends, styles, and RV accessories for 2011.
The Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show – held annually in September at the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co. Giant CenterSM in Hershey, Pa. – is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle & Camping Association (PRVCA). The show ranks No. 11 out of the 200 largest tradeshows in the U.S. and Canada with 59 leading manufacturers and over 100 supplier vendors represented. The 2010 show reported record attendance with a turnout of 35,020 people for the Retail Days alone.
Over 970 units were on display, a 43% increase over the previous year. “We had dealers from South Korea, Jamaica, Slovenia and Canada.” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the PRVCA.
HGTV – America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming – is distributed to more than 99 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks. HGTV’s website, HGTV.com, is the nation’s leading online home-and-garden destination, which attracts an average of 4 million unique visitors per month.
Sales for Thor Industries Inc. are on the road to recovery after being slammed by high gas prices, scarce credit and recession-racked consumers, Businessweek reported. U.S. consumers are favoring less expensive and more fuel-efficient models, analysts and industry experts say.
Americans’ willingness to spend, if not splurge, on so-called second homes on wheels could in turn provide a clue to positive trends in the broader economy.
“The RV industry is a great leading indicator for the overall health of the economy,” says Kathryn I. Thompson, founder of Thompson Research Group in Nashville, Tenn. Over the last decade, manufacturers have produced an average of 309,000 RVs a year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
On Sept. 28, Thor, the largest U.S. maker of recreational vehicles, reported a 51% jump in last quarter’s sales from a year ago. Profit rose 64%, with net income exceeding by 16% the estimates of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The recession took its toll on the industry. In March 2009, two of the largest RV makers — Monaco Coach and Fleetwood Enterprises — filed for bankruptcy protection.
LOOSER CREDIT, NOT GREATER DEMAND
On Sept. 24, the RVIA released August data showing that the 177,300 RVs shipped to dealers so far in 2010 had exceeded levels at this point in 2009 by 70%. In 2009, the number of RVs shipped to dealers was 58% below the 390,500 RVs shipped in the peak year of 2006, according to the RVIA.
A key factor in the RV recovery has been credit, says Robert M. “Mac” Bryan, vice president of the RVIA. Because of the credit crisis, neither consumers nor dealers could borrow to buy RVs, which in the case of motorized homes can cost at least $200,000. Much of the improvement in 2010 does not reflect a “change in demand, but an improvement in financing in vehicles,” Bryan says, as the financial crisis has eased and banks have reentered the RV financing market.
So far in 2010, the rebound in actual retail demand has been “fairly modest,” says Bret Jordan, an analyst at Nashville-based investment firm Avondale Partners. “The retail consumer never really came back in a big way,” says Jordan, who is based in the firm’s Boston office.
There are, however, signs that this could be changing. “After a tenuous summer, the season ended well,” Robert W. Baird analyst Craig Kennison wrote on Sept. 29 while unveiling the results of a survey of 104 RV dealers.
Baird’s survey showed that some parts of the RV industry are doing better than others. Sales of motorhomes rose 8% to 10% in the third quarter of 2010. Towable RVs, meanwhile, jumped 16% to 18%.
TRADING DOWN TO TOWABLE RVS
Consumers are deciding on towable RVs partly because of cost, but also because extra features have made them competitive with motorhomes, Jordan says. A “high-end towable vehicle” can cost $60,000 while a high-end motorhome with a diesel engine can be $200,000. Many new towable trailers now feature “slide-outs” — portions of the trailer that can be expanded when parked to increase living space. “You’re getting comparable living space” to motorhomes, he says, adding: “There is a lot of utility in towables for the cost.”
In 2006, pricier motorhomes made up 14.3% of all recreational vehicles produced. So far in 2010, that share has fallen to less than 10%.
“You are seeing the trade-down effect,” Thompson says. “People aren’t necessarily giving up the RV lifestyle but they’re choosing less-expensive products.” RVs priced below $150,000 are “doing OK,” she says, while “anything below $100,000 is doing the best.”
According to Thompson, such trends could hurt Winnebago Industries Inc., the motorhome maker headquartered in Forest City, Iowa. They could favor Thor, for which towable RVs made up 70% of sales last quarter, she says. A maker of RVs under the Airstream, Dutchmen, Komfort, CrossRoads, and other brand names based in Jackson Center, Ohio, Thor announced on Sept. 17 the acquisition of Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, another specialist in towable RVs, for $100 million in cash and 4.3 million shares of Thor stock — or a total value of $247 million based on the recent share price. On Oct. 1, Thor said it would boost its quarterly dividend, from 7¢ to 10¢ per share.
BIG EXTRA: ADDITIONAL FLAT-SCREEN TV
Winnebago shares are down 14% so far in 2010, while Thor shares are up 9%.
To make cheaper RVs more attractive to consumers, manufacturers have piled on extra “bells and whistles,” Jordan says, like including three flat-screen televisions, instead of just two.
In response to the volatility of gas prices in recent years, RV manufacturers have made their products more fuel-efficient. “We’re seeing a great deal of attention [paid] to the greening of the RV,” Bryan says. RVs are being made of lighter materials and the efficiency of furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, and other appliances has been improved, he says.
There are further recent indications of returning retail demand. The Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show, an annual event held in Hershey, Pa., bills itself as “America’s largest RV show.” The exhibition, from Sept. 13-19, saw record attendance that was up 9% from last year and the number of RV units on display rose 43%.
Tiffin Motorhomes, a privately held RV company based in Red Bay, Ala., told show organizers that sales were 44% higher than last year.
“People had been holding back on purchases and now they were ready to buy,” says Heather Leach, marketing and education director at the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA).
RV DEALER: CUSTOMERS REMAIN “LEERY”
Exposure to the U.S. consumer is just one factor that makes the RV industry a good economic barometer, Thompson says. The industry is also affected by important credit trends, including the availability of short-term credit for dealers buying inventory and of long-term credit for customers buying RVs. The industry is also a good window into factors that affect U.S. manufacturing, such as raw material and labor costs.
The economic environment continues to concern the industry. Consumer spending rose 0.4% in August, according to data released Oct. 1 by the U.S. Commerce Dept. According to an unidentified RV dealer quoted in a Sept. 7 survey by Thompson Research Group: “Customers [remain] leery, kind of careful about everything.”
Nonetheless, industry participants say they are confident about the RV’s long-term appeal, especially as Baby Boomers retire and younger Americans seek affordable vacations. “Assuming gas prices remain reasonably affordable, it’s a cheap way to have a vacation,” Jordan says. “It’s cheaper than a second home.”
Park campgrounds are as busy as ever, Bryan says, a fact that underscores the appeal to Americans of the RV lifestyle. According to the National Park Service, the number of RV campers at National Parks rose 6.8% from 2008 to 2009. “Recreational vehicles have a very bright future,” Bryan says.
Mirroring reports from show exhibitors of strong traffic and sales, the 42nd Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., that ended Sunday (Sept. 19) posted record attendance of 35,020 — 9.% higher than 2009, the sponsoring Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) reported.
”People have been putting off their purchases for a while and now is the time they want to buy,” Heather Leach, PRVCA director of marketing and education,” told RVBUSINESS.com.
Reports from the FreedomRoads/Camping World dealership chain, Thor Motor Coach, Tiffin Motors Home Inc. and Carriage Inc. and other exhibitors consistently confirmed the strong sales trend.
Thor Motor Coach, formed by the recent merger of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp., reported the show was possibly ”the best ever.”
”We nearly doubled our diesel numbers from last year, and last year was a good year,” said Matt Thompson, Thor Motor Coach vice president for diesels.
”We did excellent,” observed Phil Sarvari, executive vice president of Gulf Stream Coach Inc. ”We sold 38 pieces. People were buying, and our products were very well received.”
”Traffic was incredible,” added Don Clark, president of Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. ”We did more than 2 1/2 times the volume of retail than we did last year. The customers were very upbeat. It was reassuring to see that kind of traffic.”
RV dealers and manufacturers report that the 42nd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show that wrapped up a six-day run Sunday (Sept. 19) at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., reminded them of days gone by.
”Borderline, it was the best ever,” said Bill Fenech, president of the new Thor Motor Coach, recently formed by the merger of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International Corp. ”It was very, very encouraging. Many of our products did significantly better than any other year, and it was definitely better than last year.
”And I think it was encouraging for the economy in general and for the RV industry in general.”
Although final attendance numbers weren’t available, Bob Tiffin, president of motorized manufacturer Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala., was equally as encouraged by the sales results in Hershey where his company sold 49 Class A motorhomes, including more than a dozen of the company’s new 28-foot Breeze diesel pusher.
”We had a great show up there,” Tiffin said. It was the biggest (Hershey) show we’ve ever had. I think we’ve got something to look forward to in the RV industry, which is definitely on the way back.
”The people who were there to look at them at some point in the future, they will buy.”
Marcus Lemonis, president of the Freedom Roads/Camping World dealership chain, said the company sold 560 RVs, including more than 100 motorhomes.
”It’s unreal,” said Lemonis, who brought 220 sales personnel to staff 13 booths representing almost a dozen manufactures. ”We are feeling very good about the future.”
The heavy traffic also carried into high-end fifth-wheels. ”Hershey was very good,” said Ed Kinney manufacturer Carriage Industry Inc. vice president of sales. ”I don’t like to give out numbers, but traffic was good and we’ve still got orders that are coming through. It was positive news for the RV industry.
FreemdomRoads/Camping World is owned by the same company that owns RVBUSINESS.com.
Today’s slide show features scenes from this week’s Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show running through Sunday in Hershey, Pa.
The Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA) comes off its two “Industry Days” with strong expectations as the retail side of its 42nd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show show unfolds the remainder of the week in Hershey, Pa.
Gorgeous weather bathed the grounds of the Hersheyplex Monday and Tuesday and again today as gates opened at 9 a.m.
Show Chairman Dan Salzgiver, Reichart’s Camping Center, Hanover, Pa., was optimistic on the eve of today’s Public Days opening.
“In general we’re up over 40% in sales of the space. We’re up tremendously in suppliers’ space for this year. The move-in went very smoothly — little if no problems moving in this year. So we’re learning the facility — and the manufactures are learning the move-in process — much better. it’s all a matter of working together with them.”
Several years ago, the show, the largest in the East Coast, was held at the sprawling farm complex in nearby Harrisburg, and was called the Harrisburg Show.
A 40% pickup, he agrees, is yet another sign of the industry digging out of the recession because last year they were down around 49% from their best year ever.
“So now we’re up 40% over the 51% we had last year so we’re not where we’re going to be (in terms of regenerating the show). I don’t know that we’ll permit the show to get as large as what it was before. That’s up to the show committee. But I know that the dealers and the customers coming in like it the size it is right as this time because they can get around and see everything. We have approximately 1,000 units, 980-some units this year. Last year we had just over 600, so we had a big increase in units and there are more units squeezed into each space.”
Controlling the size instead of perpetually growing the show could be a real plus, contrary to popular thinking, where bigger is always better.
“Getting smaller last year was a blessing in the sense that our customers coming in — the dealer coming and looking during Industry Days, was able to get around and see everything much easier. We provided golf cart taxis the last several years (in Dealer Days) and folks really like that. On Retail Days (in 2009) I didn’t have a single customer tell me, ‘I didn’t get to see everything this year.’
“In other years, I had them tell me, ‘I couldn’t make up my mind, it’s too big, I couldn’t see everything’ so we look at it as a plus.”
Regarding square footage, the square footage during the best year ever was about 1.5 million square feet. So life here in Hershey continues to return to the new normal.
“Let’s put it this way: last year we (PRVCA) had to dip into our reserves. This year with the increased amount of space we were able to sell, we won’t have to to dip into any reserves this year. We still have to buy the same amount of space from Hershey every year, regardless of the size of our show.”
Curiously, PRVCA spent more money on advertising last year, their worst year in modern times in terms of space sales, and it paid off.
“We had over 34,000 retail customers come through the show last year, which was a record. We’re hoping to do that again this year. And sales last year were very good.”
PRVCA promotes its Public Days to a market stretching from the Mid-Atlantic states (Virginia, New York, Delaware and New Jersey) east to Ohio. This year they’ve shifted more dollars to Internet advertising vs. print, compared to previous years.
“We spent, retailwise, nearly $300,000 advertising the show. We’ve spent a lot of money to bring the people in.”
PRVCA also did a lot of e-mail blasts, both trade and retail, and continued to direct marketing dollars to Canada, because they have a strong Canadian following.
HGTV crews were in Hershey Tuesday and again today gathering footage for its popular series on new RV features. The show will be telecast next spring.
The all-new 28-foot Tiffin Breeze diesel pusher motorhome is being introduced to consumers this week during a blitz of RV shows in Hershey, Pa., Dallas, Texas, and Montreal, Quebec.
”It just happened that way by coincidence,” Tiffin President Bob Tiffin told RVBUSINESS.com as he prepared to leave to attend the 42nd Annual Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa.
The consumer portion of the Hershey Show starts Wednesday (Sept. 15) and runs through Sunday.
The diminutive Breeze, named ”Best of Show” by RVBusiness magazine at last year’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., also is making its retail debut Thursday through Sunday at the Southwest RV Supershow at Dallas Market Hall and at the 23rd Montreal RV Show in Olympic Stadium.
”It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” Tiffin said. ”This time next week, I’ll tell you how it goes.”
The single-slideout Breeze, built on Tiffin’s proprietary 21,500-pound GVWR PowerGlide diesel pusher chassis powered by a 215-hp Navistar MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine, has been on display at Tiffin’s factory complex in Red Bay, Ala., for the last three months.
”We’ve had a very good reaction (from consumers),” Tiffin said. ”They like the way it looks inside and they like the way it drives. I think we’ve got a winner all the way.”
Tiffin said that the company will introduce a 32-foot double-slide version of the Breeze before the end of the year.
Tiffin said it’s too early to tell how the Breeze will be accepted by consumers. ”I don’t really know how much that market will be until we get into the retail sales,” he said. ”The orders for that unit have been really strong at the dealer level.”
Tiffin said that the Breeze is likely to appeal to older RVers who don’t want to leave the RV lifestyle but are no longer comfortable driving a 40-foot Tiffin Phaeton or Allegro Bus. ”This just might be the ticket for them,” he said.
The company has ramped up production across all of its motorhome lines after cutting back production to three units a week during a good portion of 2009. ”Like everyone else, we had a real struggle for seven, eight, nine months,” he said. ”Currently we are up to 10 units a day.
”I believe the worst of it is behind us, no doubt. But I don’t know if the large Class A market will get back to where we were in the foreseeable future. The level of motorhome sales is going to be anywhere from 9,000 to 15,000 units for a good long while.”
Tiffin said, however, that the company has sustained retail sales of about 50 motorhomes ”for several months.”
”We see that trend continuing,” he said. ”Time will tell the tale.”
While getting ready to leave for Hershey, Tiffin brought up one of his favorite subjects — a coordinated model-year introduction and an earlier Louisville Show, currently staged the week after Thanksgiving.
”I would love to see the introduction of all models at Louisville (while) moving the show back a month or two,” he said. ”Back in the old days, we had the South Bend show in the second week in August and everybody tried to meet that date to introduce their new products.
”I don’t know why we couldn’t go back to something like that and move the Louisville show to September.”