The recreation vehicle industry is on the mend with a wholesale shipment forecast that indicates growth of 39% to 230,300 units in 2010. Shipments, according to a new estimate, are expected to grow to 249,700 units in 2011.
Robert M. ”Mac” Bryan, vice president of administration for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), delivered the new forecast to those attending RVIA’s Annual Membership Luncheon today (June (9) during RVIA Committee Week at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.
University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin, who prepares shipment estimates for RVIA, had to cancel his keynote speach for personal reasons.
Bryan said the RV industry has recovered from the low 2009 shipment totals of 165,700 units as he presented Curtin’s methodology for measuring and forecasting within the RV market. Many factors are considered including major influences such as consumer confidence, buying conditions, wages and employment, credit availability and wealth effect.
Consumer confidence and buying conditions are improving, while wages and employment will be a slow to improve and credit standards continue to be more strict, Bryan explained.
On the positive side, he said, consumer demand remains strong. “Nothing can diminish this,” he said. “There is a very positive outlook demographically.”
Bryan contended Curtin’s forecasts, initally made 15 months into the future, are fairly accurate. Curtin also looks at RV shipments compared to new private housing starts, car and light-truck sales, and retail consumer sales — all of which have shown an increase in 2010.
“These are good indicators,” Bryan said.
Bryan pointed out that the initial surge in this year’s shipments indicates the need for dealers to ramp up low inventory levels to meet demand.
The forecast for a smaller increase in 2011 reflects the lingering effects of the recession, Bryan said.
“While the RV market has quickly recovered in past recessions, the current journey will be longer and the road will not be as smooth or as straight as in the past,” Bryan said.
According to Curtin’s forecast, three main areas are expected to affect the pace of recovery in RV sales — the financial health of consumers, changes in fiscal and monetary policies, and continued volatility in financial markets.
Here’s a breakdown of Curtin’s most recent estimate:
- Total RV shipments — A 39% increase to 230,300 units and, in 2011, an 8% increase totaling 249,700 units.
- Travel trailers — 140,600 units in 2010 and 151,900 in 2011.
- Fifth-wheels — A 36% increase in 2010 and a 9% increase in 2011.
- Folding camping trailers — A 20% increase in 2010 and a 9% increase in 2011.
- Truck campers — A 26% hike in 2010 and a 17% increase in 2011.
- Class A motorhomes — A 90% spike in 2010 and an 11% increase in 2011.
- Class B motorhomes — A 33% increase in 2010 and a 13% increase in 2011.
- Class C motorhomes — A 61% hike in 2010 and a 6% increase in 2011.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has combined its two biggest member-events of the year — Committee Week and its Annual Meeting — into one four-day event to be held in Elkhart and South Bend June 7-10, allowing many RVIA members to attend all events without incurring significant travel expenses.
This year, Committee Week will be highlighted by RVIA’s fun-filled RV Centennial Celebration, taking place on Monday, June 7, at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart.
Committee Week meetings take place Monday through Thursday, June 7 – 10, at the Century Center in South Bend, where RVIA members will plan the association’s agenda for the next fiscal year and beyond. The association’s standing committees, the Go RVing Coalition, the RVIA Executive Committee and RVIA board of directors will meet to develop strategies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year.
Rich Karlgaard is this year’s Annual Membership Meeting keynote speaker. A columnist, the publisher of Forbes magazine, and a regular panelist on the popular business show “Forbes on Fox,” Karlgaard will deliver his assessment of the current issues and trends in today’s business world.
Richard Curtin, director of the Surveys of Consumers at the University of Michigan, will deliver a market forecast for the RV industry.
Karlgaard will be speaking Wednesday morning, while Curtin will be speaking at the luncheon that same day.
A full schedule of Committee Week events follows. All Committee Week meetings will be held at the Century Center in South Bend.
Monday, June 7
(Committee Week registration will take place in the River Suites Lobby – Lower Level from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- RV Service Training Council 8 a.m. -12 noon
- Joint Committee Luncheon 12 noon – 1 p.m.
- Industry Education Committee 1 – 5 p.m.
- Lawyers’ Committee 1 – 5 p.m.
- Market Information Committee 1 – 5 p.m.
- RV Centennial Celebration* 6:30 – 10:30 p.m.
* RV Centennial Celebration will be held at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum
Tuesday, June 8
- Standards Steering Committee 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Go RVing Coalition 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- National Show Committee 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Public & Legislative Affairs Committee 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Joint Committee Luncheon 12 noon - 2 p.m.
- Financial Services Committee 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
- Supplier Committee 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
- Public Relations Committee 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
- Notre Dame Tour and Reception/Dinner 6 – 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 9
- RVIA Membership Meeting 8:30 a.m. – noon
- RVIA Membership Luncheon noon – 1 p.m.
- Executive Committee* 1:30 – 6 p.m.
* If you are a committee chairman, plan to stay on Wednesday, June 9, for the Long-Range Planning meeting to present any motions formulated by your committee that will be reviewed by the board.
Thursday, June 10
- Board of Directors Meeting* 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
- Board of Directors Working Luncheon noon – 1 p.m.
*Continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. in the meeting room.
As the RV ”Centennial Celebration” approaches on June 7 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind., the deadline for purchasing tickets for the event is fast approaching, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) newsletter RVIA Express.
Tickets for the can’t-miss event will be available for purchase at the $35 rate through May 21.
Festivities, to be held during RVIA’s Committee Week and Annual Meeting, will include a barbecue and outdoor reception featuring casual fare and a variety of entertaining booths, a Centennial Campfire surrounded by antique RVs, and more.
The outdoor reception will be followed by a special program honoring the industry’s past. The fast-paced, one–hour program held inside the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum will include entertaining videos and presentations saluting the industry’s history, and a cake-cutting ceremony. A rousing fireworks display will wrap up the evening.
A key theme of the RV Centennial Celebration is the “Salute to Workers,” as the industry offers a tribute to the line workers who are the heart and soul of its success.
RVIA encourages industry members to bring their most valued line workers to the event. Line workers in attendance will be recognized by RVIA President Richard Coon and RVIA Chairman Jim Sheldon, who will present a plaque made to honor the commitment of “the dedicated men and women who help build products that allow families to travel freely and affordably.”
In addition, a group photo of the workers will be taken at the event that will accompany the plaque and remain on permanent display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
Advance tickets are required for entry to the event, as walk-ups cannot be accommodated.
Tickets are available to RV industry representatives, spouses, colleagues, co-workers, the media and invited guests over the age of 18. The RV Centennial Celebration is not open to consumers.
Editor’s Note: From Gary La Bella, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), comes this update on PR Committee activities and Committee Week:
In our last update to the Public Relations Committee following a successful Outlook and Louisville show, we reiterated our confidence that the sun would shine again on our industry in 2010. One quarter in, with Committee Week approaching, our Centennial year is off to a good start with positive news that the RV market is indeed recovering from the nation’s economic downturn. Shipments are trending higher, and Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan is now projecting that wholesale shipments will rise by 30% in 2010.
RV Recovery Is Big News
Because of our aggressive outreach to media, stories about the RV industry’s recovery are appearing in top national news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News, Fox Business, the Associated Press, Bloomberg radio and U.S. News & World Report. In addition, RV lifestyle and Centennial coverage has already appeared in outlets such as The New York Times and National Public Radio, with more coming up as spring and RV Centennial Celebration Month (June) near.
Current coverage echoes themes and storylines promoted by RVIA — that the RV industry is a leading economic indicator, that RVing has remained popular even through the downturn and that RVing is cost-effective and offers a great value.
RV Centennial Tour
RVIA PR is in the final planning stages for the RV Centennial Tour featuring RV historian David Woodworth. The tour will launch April 12 from the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, where David will be available for interview via satellite by media outlets around the country. After that, David will hit the road in a Discovery motorhome Fleetwood RV has generously offered in response to an invitation sent to manufacturer members. He’ll tow a 1916 Telescoping RV to highlight the old and the new in RVs and to promote our key messages.
Upcoming Vehicle Loan Opportunities
We’re also working with several major media outlets that have requested vehicle loans so they can write first-hand stories about the RV experience. This type of exposure is important in establishing a positive image with a large audience of potential buyers in our target demographic. Publications expressing interest include Redbook (an offering letter went out earlier this week), MotorWeek, Ser Padres and Parenting. You will receive offering letters for each of these opportunities as we’re able to confirm details.
RVIA Committee Week in Elkhart
Looking forward, Committee Week will take a different shape this year as the industry gathers to celebrate our centennial, tackle the work performed by RVIA’s many committees and hold the association’s annual membership meeting. To maximize attendance and lessen expenses for many members, Committee Week will be in Elkhart/South Bend instead of Washington, D.C. To accommodate all the activities planned for Committee Week, a shortened three-hour Public Relations Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 8 from 2-5 p.m. at the Century Center in South Bend.
We hope you’re planning to attend the RV Centennial Celebration on the evening of Monday, June 7, at the RV Museum and Hall of Fame. It’s going to be an energetic festival, reception and barbecue with a special one-hour program featuring entertaining videos and presentations saluting the RV industry, a cake-cutting ceremony and fireworks display to cap the evening. The party will be themed to salute the industry’s workers who are its heart and soul. Committee Week registration materials will be mailed out during the first week of April. We look forward to seeing you all in Indiana this June.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Nominating Committee announced it is now seeking candidates from the association’s membership to run in this year’s board of directors elections.
There are eight seats up for election this year: four manufacturer, three supplier and one at-large representatives.
The RVIA board has the highest level of authority in the association’s organizational structure. It is responsible for association affairs on a broad policy basis. The board meets three times per year: in March, during Committee Week in mid-June and in mid-September.
“The RVIA board of directors plays a critical role in guiding the work of the association and shaping the future of the RV industry,” said Dan Shea, president of the Towable Division at Gulf Stream Coach Inc. and chairman of RVIA’s Nominating Committee. “Any association member with an interest in addressing the issues that impact the RV industry should consider running for a seat on the board.”
Each RVIA manufacturer and supplier member company is afforded a single vote in the association elections, scheduled to take place electronically from Aug. 3-23. Newly elected board members will begin serving their terms on Oct. 1. The deadline for nominations is June 15.
In addition to Shea, this year’s Nominating Committee includes DeWayne Creighton of Dynamax Corp., Garry Enyart of Cummins Power Generation and Carl Pfalzgraf of Atwood Mobile Products.
Those interested in running in the board elections should contact a member of the Nominating Committee or RVIA’s Mac Bryan at (703) 620-6003 ext 334 or email@example.com.
The recreational vehicle industry’s Go RVing Coalition has directed its marketing firm, the Richards Group, Dallas, Texas, to “reinvigorate” its national campaign with new television commercials for 2010 utilizing existing – and perhaps some new — video and still photography.
It’s an economical approach that allows the coalition to put on a fresh — if not altogether new — face for 2010, and it was unanimously agreed upon Monday (June 8) when the coalition met during RVIA Committee Week in Washington, D.C.
Revenues with which the coalition buys ads are down this year, of course, because those funds are generated by assessments on RVIA seals and, due to the economy, seal sales are down considerably. In fact, the Go RVing media budget was trimmed to $3.5 million this year from a high point of $15.5 million two years ago, RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella told the assembled coalition members.
The new ads will likely debut at this winter’s Louisville Show and on television in February.
Coalition Co-Chairman Tom Stinnett, owner of Tom Stinnett RV Freedom Center, Clarksville, Ind., said that the Go RVing campaign continues to be important to the industry, even at a reduced spending level.
“It’s very important, even with 20% of the budget that we once had,” Stinnett said. “We all know that there will be a rebound. It makes a lot of sense that, whatever we do with whatever limited budget we have, will help us rebound better and faster when the time comes.”
With economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan estimating that RV sales will increase 24% next year — plus or minus 15% — LaBella figures the Go RVing media budget will total “almost $5 million” in 2010. “We have been doing great things with the money that we have, considering everything that is going on in this economy,” he said..
All in all, most coalition members seemed to agree, the Go RVing campaign – along with related public relations efforts by the RVIA staff – has played a key role in bolstering the RV industry’s image during these very trying times.
“It’s no accident that our image to date has not been wounded,” LaBella said, noting that the boating industry’s “Grow Boating” campaign — fashioned after Go RVing — has been scrapped altogether due to economic conditions.
“By keeping our image high, we are going to be in a better position when the economic situation turns around, to come out of this faster than anybody else in terms of discretionary purchases” LaBella said. “There is going to be pent up demand because people are still very interested in our products.”
“I think this program is the lifeblood of our industry,” Thor Industries Inc. CEO Richard E. “Dicky” Riegel, a coalition member who supported revamping the advertising creative for 2010, told the coalition.
Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association, also favored staying the course right now with the national ad campaign by investing as much as $550,000 in revamped ads. “I think it’s a great idea and we need to move forward with it,” Wilson said.
The new campaign materials will be drawn from photos and video footage that wasn’t used during earlier campaigns — the theme of the most recent phase being “What Will You Discover?” The 2009 campaign ads have been exposed to a wide array of audiences, from NASCAR races to rodeos and the Kentucky Derby plus the PBA bowling circuit as well as more sedate audiences focused on the National Geographic Channel. Print ads ran the gamut from Budget Travel to Midwest Living.“If we produce new creative at this time, it’s an opportunity to reenergize and reinvigorate the industry,” the Richard Groups’ Chad Strohl told the coalition. “It’s all about getting leaner and smarter while trying to achieve maximum effect. A key point is that it will allow us to get ready with a fresh message as the economy does turn around.”
With regard to dealer participation in the Go RVing program, meanwhile, Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), said fewer dealers signed up this year than last. Enrollment is down from about 700 dealers in 2008 to 450 this year. “We are working very hard in a one-on-one mode calling dealers who had signed up in the past who haven’t signed up this year,” Ingrassia said.
Dealers who pay $225 a year have access to Go RVing-themed promotional material along with retail leads from potential RV buyers who contact Go RVing on its website or by telephone
“Our numbers aren’t where we would want them to be, but we have a good strong core of dealers participating in the program who are downloading leads every day,” Ingrassia told the coaltion members. “We hope to add to that was we move forward.”
Occupancy in the nation’s campgrounds was up about 3% over the Memorial Day weekend, but there’s a new trend emerging: Many campers are waiting until the last moment to book sites instead of planning ahead.
That’s what Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, reported to the Go RVing Coalitions at its Monday (June 8) meeting during RVIA Committee Week in Washington, D.C.
”People are making their reservations later than they did before, but reservations are coming in,” she noted during the afternoon session at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.
”Memorial Day would be a great example of that. We didn’t know what the weekend would be like until a week before when reservations really came in. There was a 3% increase in reservations and occupancy this year compared to last year.”
All things considered, Profaizer said park operations are anticipating a decent — but not spectacular — year.
”While they might be having a decent year, it’s not going to be setting any records,” she told coalition members. ”We are all concerned about our businesses. They’ve been affected (by the economy) like we all have personally. We just have to keep promoting the benefits of camping.”
Profaizer, at the same time, said that a new market appears to be developing with people who are new to camping.
”We are seeing an increase in tenting, and please do not ignore the tenting market because tenters become RVers,” she said. ”They come into the campground and they see people enjoying the RV experience.”
Curiously, Profaizer feels that the general public has a lack of understanding about what camping and RVs are about.
”We are finding there is an amazing lack of knowledge on the part of the non-camping public about what it means to go camping,” Profaizer said. ”They don’t even realize that RVs have toilets in them or that campgrounds are not primitive-type camping.”
As for the Go RVing marketing campaign itself, ARVC, with almost 4,000 members, has seen a decline in participation. Perhaps as a reflection of the economy, only 160 parks have made voluntary contributions to the program so far this year — down from about 450 last year — with an average contribution of $178 per park. Although ARVC had a goal to contribute $50,000 to the Go RVing campaign this year, so far only $28,500 has been raised.
”That’s really not good,” said Profaizer, whose trade association has never been a major financial contributor to the pan-industry program.