This spring, Jenny Miller and her husband bought a trailer to take their one-year-old son camping, but the plan had been in the works long before that.
“We had been talking about buying one for a couple of years, and we were just kind of waiting for our finances to get in order so we could make the purchase,” says the 29-year-old Davenport, Iowa resident.
As reported by U.S. News & World Report, Miller is representative of a broader national trend boosting the RV industry. Recreational vehicle sales crashed during the recession as Americans lost jobs and savings, but now, buyers are back and ready to make the RV purchases they put off for so long.
RV shipments dropped by over 30% in 2008 and again in 2009, according to figures from the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Annual shipments fell from nearly 400,000 per year in 2005 and 2006 to below 166,000 in 2009, forcing many dealerships and plants to lay off workers and some to close. But the RV industry soon rebounded, posting 46% growth in 2010. Since then, the increase has leveled off but remained strong, with manufacturers shipping nearly 290,000 units last year.
It’s not just that Americans are feeling more comfortable shelling out $15,000 for a camping trailer or $100,000 for a motorhome, says one industry expert. Banks are also now more willing to help customers buy campers and motorhomes.
“This industry was impacted by the economic crisis, as far as the drying up of consumer credit,” says Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). “As things have improved, the economy has gotten better and there’s more credit available for consumer purchases like an RV.”
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During the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, 5.8 million recreation vehicles will be on the road and in the nation’s more than 16,000 campgrounds, according to a new survey by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and Cvent. According to a press release, an estimated 14 million Americans will enjoy the holiday weekend in an RV.
Recreation vehicle owners will be on the road in a big way throughout the summer to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends. According to the new survey, 71% of RV owners intend to use their RVs more this summer than they did last year, and 21% will use theirs the same amount. Just five percent said they’ll use their RVs less.
“RVing is becoming more and more popular because it’s a convenient, comfortable and affordable way for families to spend quality time together and build memories that will last a lifetime,” said RVIA president Richard Coon. “RVs provide families with the ability to take whatever kind of vacation they want — and it won’t break the bank.”
One reason so many RVers will be on the road is the built-in cost savings of RV travel. A 2011 study by travel industry experts PKF Consulting found that a family of four can save 23% to 59% when they travel in their RV, even when factoring in purchase price, maintenance costs, and rising gas prices.
“More than nine million Americans own RVs because of the unmatched freedom and flexibility they provide when traveling,” said Coon. “RVers can adjust their plans to take a long road trip or a quick weekend getaway. What’s most important for RVers is the opportunity to spend quality time outdoors with loved ones.”
Emerging Trends in RV Usage
Approximately 19% of RV owners are engaging in “seasonal” or “destination” camping, according to the survey. Destination campers leave their RV parked at one location for the entire spring/summer (or longer) and travel back and forth to it using a family car.
Many families are taking shorter, more frequent getaways in their RVs to accommodate busy schedules. According to the survey, 72% of RVers plan to take more 1-4 day mini-vacations this spring/summer.
RV owners appreciate the control RVs offer in today’s travel climate. Unlike air travelers, RVers can bring anything they want on vacation — including pets. According to the survey, 64% of RV owners bring pets along on trips. Most RVers traveling with pets bring dogs (94 percent) and cats (10 percent). Others bring along pets such as birds, ferrets, snakes and horses. Three-fourths (76 percent) of survey respondents cited flexibility as a favorite benefit of RV ownership.
RV Market Continues to Grow
America’s wholesale recreation vehicle (RV) shipments shot up 11% in the first quarter of 2013, fueled by strong consumer response to the versatility, affordability and innovative designs of new models, according to market data collected by RVIA. Shipments for 2013 are expected to rise 7.5% from 2012.
According to the survey, 73% of current RV owners believe now is a good time to buy an RV because RVs are the best way to travel comfortably and conveniently (64 percent), and great deals now available (58%).
The online survey of 378 RV owners was conducted by RVIA and Cvent and has a margin of error of 4.7%.
Consumers can learn more about today’s RVs by visiting www.GoRVing.com.
RV owners will be hitting the road this spring and summer to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends, according to a press release.
The latest Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners, conducted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), reveals that 71% of RV owners intend to use their RVs more this spring/summer than they did last year, and 21% say they’ll use RVs the same amount. Just 5% said they’ll use their RV less.
The survey of 378 RV owners was conducted by RVIA and Cvent from March 29 through April 22 and has a margin of error of 4.7%.
The top reasons for using their RVs more include enjoying outdoor activities (78%), taking more mini-vacations (72%), spending quality time with family (62%) and escaping the stress and pressure of daily life (51%).
In a significant change from last year’s survey, just 34% (down from 58%) said fuel prices will affect their RV travel plans. Those who say their plans will be impacted still plan to travel in their RVs, but will adjust their plans by traveling to destinations closer to home (80%), driving fewer miles in their RV (63%) and staying longer at one location (59%).
According to the survey, 73% think now is a good time to buy an RV because the liefstyle is the best way to travel comfortably and conveniently (64%), and great deals are now available (58%).
Top benefits of RV travel include spending more time enjoying outdoor activities (80%), flexibility (76%), seeing natural sites and attractions (75%), the ability to bring pets (60%), and being on the open road (56%).
The research found that traveling with pets remains popular with RV owners. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said they travel with pets. Of those, 94% bring a dog and 10% bring a cat.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) public relations team has been working throughout the winter and early spring to promote the RV industry and lifestyle in the media nationwide.
According to a press release, the effort has resulted in a multitude of positive RV stories highlighting the industry’s growth in shipments, as well as key messages about the affordability, fun and flexibility of RV travel.
Stories have appeared in national and local media outlets. Here are a few highlights from the national media:
• On March 1, USA Today reported that motorhome shipments rose 13.6% in 2012 and were expected to rise approximately the same amount in 2013. The story cited RVIA statistics, included quotes from industry executives, and discussed the falling unemployment rate in Elkhart County.
• On Feb. 21, The Wall Street Journal published an article about the RV industry bouncing back from the recession. The story focused primarily on upscale design features now available in towable RVs.
• A Jan. 28 story that appeared on Today.com reported on the Kelloggs — a family with 12 children that sold their house to live full-time on the road in an RV.
• On Jan. 27, RV tailgating was highlighted on the FOX News morning show “Fox & Friends.” The segment featured sportswriter Kerry Byrne, who also published blog entries and videos highlighting the RV lifestyle on the popular NFL site ColdHardFootballFacts.com.
RVIA has also worked with show promoters across the country to generate media coverage of the new products and record crowds reported at RV shows. Positive stories about the industry’s growing sales and popularity appeared in dozens of local media outlets around the country. For full details, visit the “News Room” at RVIA.org.
RV camping is enjoying a renaissance.
Marvin Oetjen, owner of Kamper’s Supply in Carterville, Ill., said a number of factors, including the costs and hassles associated with air travel, are driving interest in recreational vehicles. Oetjen also noted that RV camping is a lifestyle, according to a report by the Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale,
“A lot of younger families are finding out the RV lifestyle is great for family life,” he said. “They are doing things in nature. They are enjoying the things they should be enjoying.
“My wife and I started camping in 1968. Our boys grew up in a campground. They still communicate with some of the kids they met back then. It’s a great family thing. When you’re in a campground, you know your kids are in the campground. They’re not running the streets somewhere.”
Oetjen said anyone who enjoys the great outdoors is a potential RV camper.
“I’d say for someone to really enjoy RVs and camping, they would have to first of all like nature and the outdoors and being around people,” he said. “When you go to a motel room and close the door, you don’t see anyone until the next morning. That’s not the case in a campground.
“It’s totally different than going to a restaurant every night, or going on vacation and going into a motel every night. This is a totally different environment. “
Kamper’s Supply has been in business 38 years. The size and quality of campers has changed dramatically over the years. Oetjen said most families can find a vehicle that suits their taste and fits their pocketbook. Intermediate range trailers have been the best sellers in the past couple years.
“You can go from a very primitive camping unit to a very luxurious, full-time living vehicle,” he said. “We have washers and dryers. We have fireplaces. They aren’t wood burning, but they produce heat. They have changed a lot since we started in the business.”
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Safeco Insurance announced the redesign of LiveLifeLocal.com, a website designed to inspire RV enthusiasts with thousands of ideas for places to go and things to do with their favorite vehicles.
“Nobody buys an RV to simply keep it in the driveway,” said Matt Nickerson, president of Safeco Insurance, in a press release. “RVs are the gateway to a lifestyle that allows people to get out and do the things they love. LiveLifeLocal connects people who are passionate about their vehicle and the life it provides with the activities, resources and network to get the most out of them.”
The site features a new photography-heavy format and enhanced content that encourage users to explore everything they can do with their RV. LiveLifeLocal has also partnered with several experts to showcase their insider knowledge of the RV lifestyle, including Brad Herzog, author of Turn Left at the Trojan Horse and Small World: A Microcosmic Journey.
Other features include:
• Personalized experience: Visitors to the site can sort content by vehicle type and keyword, giving them highly tailored content, images and more.
• National perspective: Whether looking to travel thousands of miles or planning to stay close to home, users can instantly view activities that are relevant to any geographic location, plus suggestions for activities that are nearby.
• Social connections: Users can now like and comment on individual posts to connect with users who share similar lifestyles and interests. The site also features easy ways to share content across several social networks.
“The ability to drill down to a specific lifestyle based on your vehicle, plus easy ways to share and connect through social media, make Safeco’s LiveLifeLocal a one-of-a kind resource,” added Nickerson.
To become a part of this new community and for more information, visit www.livelifelocal.com.
Bob Wheeler, Airstream Inc. president and CEO, has been selected to serve as co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, the RV industry’s national advertising and market expansion initiative. According to a press release, Wheeler joins RV dealer Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett Derby City RV as co-chair of the industrywide coalition, replacing Bob Olson, who retired from Winnebago Industries Inc. in 2012.
The officers of Go RVing, Inc. – Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia – released a joint statement praising Wheeler as an excellent choice to serve as co-chairman: “Bob is a proven industry leader who understands the importance of branding and strategic promotion. He brings valuable experience, insight and influence to the Go RVing Coalition, and partnered with Tom, they will make a strong team to help guide Go RVing forward as we seek to build on the growth of the past few years.”
Wheeler, 46, began his professional career as a manufacturing engineer at General Motors Co. He became president and CEO of Airstream in 2005 after serving in several other positions with Thor Industries Inc., Airstream’s parent company.
“The Go RVing program plays a vital role in our industry’s effort to raise consumer awareness about the benefits of RVing and the RV lifestyle,” said Wheeler. “I’m honored to work with the talented members of the Go RVing Coalition, who have for years helped position RVs as a fun and affordable way to build lasting memories. As we look to furthering industry growth and expansion, I’m excited to be part of the team’s move towards more creative, impactful and innovative campaign executions.”
Stinnett, who has been involved in Go RVing since it began in 1994 and has served as a co-chair since 2004, will continue to play a leadership role as a key consensus-builder among dealers and manufacturers. “With his experience with Thor and Airstream, and his passion for the RV lifestyle, Bob Wheeler will be a great addition as Go RVing co-chair,” Stinnett said. “I look forward to working with him as the 2013 ad campaign gets underway.”
Wheeler is a resident of Sidney, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, Kelly, and their three boys, Grant, Harvey and Finn.
The Go RVing campaign is widely credited for boosting the image and popularity of RV travel and helping to maintain RV awareness and demand through the recent economic downturn. The Go RVing Coalition consists of RV manufacturers, component suppliers, dealers and campgrounds that work to provide the public and media with information about the benefits of RV travel and to foster satisfaction with the RV experience through its Committee on Excellence. For more information, visit www.GoRVing.com.
Go RVing reached a major milestone in mid-March when it exceeded 100,000 active followers of its Facebook page. According to a press release, the ever-growing community is a mix of both current and prospective owners who have actively chosen to follow the messaging provided daily by the brand.
Since the page was launched in 2008, the style and content of the daily postings have been remixed to increase engagement with followers. In the past 18 months, the page’s reach has grown dramatically through messaging that regularly resonates with consumers who are decidedly interested in the Go RVing message.
Over the years, numerous analytical sequencers have been created to track the interactions on social media and quantify the organic and viral reach of a brand’s messaging across numerous social media platforms. Go RVing utilizes several different metrics programs to obtain a well-rounded overview of its campaign’s reach, according to the release. In recent weeks, some individual Go RVing posts have been seen by over 168,000 Facebook users through organic and viral sharing.
“Effective use of social media rarely ‘just happens,’” said James Ashurst, RVIA vice president of advertising and public relations, “but when strategically developed and executed, social media can be a powerful and direct link between brands and their intended market.”
He added, “Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or more recently on Instagram and Pinterest, all of Go RVing’s activities are part of an overall digital strategy developed jointly by both our staff and the team at The Richards Group. Everything we do is designed to support and work cohesively with other aspects of our marketing and advertising campaigns each day. Perhaps the greatest advantage of social media is that we can tweak our messaging as we go – we can react in minutes if needed and we can change our content on the fly. Done correctly, social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain a high level of engaged interaction with our audience.”
To recognize the Facebook milestone, Go RVing ran a weeklong “100,000 and Counting Fan Appreciation Giveaway” that attracted just shy of 9,000 entrants for a prize package of RV-camping essentials. The top prize included a $100 debit gift card, Go RVing window decals, koozies, lanyards, glow sticks, and four collapsible campfire roasting forks and the essentials for making s’mores all packed into a heavy galvanized bucket which can be used at the campfire. Several runners-up were also awarded prizes, with each winner being selected randomly by computer.
Go RVing has launched the industry’s national advertising and promotion campaign in magazines, search engines, websites and on TV. According to a press release, dealer subscribers to the Go RVing Leads-Plus program will be “reaping the benefits” as the media campaign reaches consumers.
Go RVing Dealer Leads-Plus accounts for subscribers are now active, allowing dealers to receive weekly notifications of leads availability by e-mail. Dealers just log in to retrieve leads while also having the ability to adjust the lead notification timing.
In addition, all Leads-Plus subscribers will be receiving five free reusable window clings to promote the campaign in the dealership and on units. New for 2013, the 18.75-inch by 7-inch clings feature the Go RVing logo in green and are ideal for placement on units’ windows and windshields, or on windows inside or outside the dealership. They adhere with a little water and can be peeled off and used over and over. The window clings will be arriving in dealerships this month.
An extensive study of past leads helped Go RVing identify the primary factors that distinguish information seekers from RV buyers – average retail spending, income-producing assets, net worth and type of RV being considered. The Leads-Plus system is based on consumers’ answers to demographic and lifestyle questions asked by Go RVing at the time they become a lead, plus additional data confidentially collected from Epsilon Data Management (formerly Equifax). Using these findings, Go RVing created a mathematical prioritization model to process all leads generated by the national advertising campaign.
A computer program examines the profiling factors for each individual who contacts Go RVing and places the resulting lead into one of four categories: Highly likely to purchase; likely to purchase; moderately likely; interested in purchasing.
The Leads Database is just one of the marketing tools available to dealers in the industry-only section of GoRVing.com. There, participating dealers can also access photos and logos to use in marketing materials; the latest Go RVing media plan; and research reports detailing consumer attitudes toward travel and perceptions of RVs and RVing.
Officially getting the green flag, Go RVing Coalition’s 2013 media buy launched on Feb. 18 with SPEED Channel airing custom vignettes featuring trackside personality Rutledge Wood during the network’s pre-Daytona 500 programming, according to a news release.
In Woods’ third series of vignettes for Go RVing, the popular NASCAR personality interviews RVers at Texas Motor Speedway about why RVs are great for family travel and are ideal for tailgating at NASCAR races. The spots will air over 500 times on SPEED throughout the racing season along with Go RVing’s television commercials.
Kicking into high gear today (March 1), Go RVing’s $11.8 million campaign features a strong mix of proven media buys mixed with several exciting sponsorships with strong media partners. In the coming weeks and months, the remainder of Go RVing’s television buy and custom programming will roll out on national cable channels including: Destination America, Travel Channel, National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Wild and Outdoor Channel.
From March through September, the TV plan also includes direct response advertising on 40 more popular cable networks.
New digital ads are now appearing on dozens of websites and search engines through September enabling consumers to link directly to GoRVing.com. The 2013 print campaign includes 15 popular titles with a solid editorial mix across a variety of new and proven genres. The magazines hit newsstands in March and continue through October.
Go RVing’s 2013 media buy will be enhanced by special partnerships with Country Living and Garden & Gun magazines’ event sponsorships, Outdoor Channel’s national sweepstakes with an RV grand prize, and Travel Channel with the Trip Flip episode featuring an RV vacation integration and an online sweepstakes.