Saturday, February 4, 2012

RV Shows & RV Dealers Report Continued Growth for Third Year!

In a September 2009, Marketplace radio show transcribed in The Daily RV Industry article, "Experts Look to RVing as Economic Indicator”, Mac Bryan, Vice President of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association stated, “When you look at traditional leading economic indicators such as housing starts, money supply, that’s about where you find the recreation vehicle sales begin to turn. And that’s both going into and out of recession.”   

RV Shows have posted record attendance increases over the last three years.  Could this be an indication that the economy has turned the corner and improvement in on the horizon?

According to the Ohio RV Super Show Terry Messersmith, the January show attendance in 2011 was up over 32% from 2010!  2012 was up another 6% again from 2011!  Making 2012 the third year in a row that the show has posted increases in attendance.    

The Original Pittsburgh RV Show posted record attendance numbers it’s opening weekend of the RV Show according to promoter Rob Young.  “The Pittsburgh RV Show set opening weekend attendance records!”  Rob stated, “We had over a 36% increase in attendance over last year’s opening weekend, which also makes it a record-setting first weekend's attendance!  Overall, the RV Show attendance was the best in years!”  

According to the owner of Anderson’s Brochure Distributions Joe Tice, “Reported attendance is up again and sales of RV's seem to be brisk, according to dealers. The camping public still seems to be concerned about gas prices - the enthusiasm is still there, but the ability/desire to travel longer distances is tempered by the price of gas. We are getting more questions about Seasonal Campsite prices this year.  Distribution is again very strong and all shows have been excellent in regard to distribution.  New to the schedule was Toronto and Atlanta - and both were fantastic. We did Atlanta for free because it was new (to Anderson's) and somewhat experimental - the result was attendance at roughly 17,000 and distribution above expectations.  Another new show for Anderson's is Boston and I received a text this morning that said the line to enter the show is stretching around the block with an estimate of 30,000 expected in 4 days.  In my opinion, the light at the end of the recession tunnel can be seen, which bodes well for the campground community.

According to Tom Shearer of Erie Promotions reported that like the other reports, the Erie RV Show at the Bayfront convention Center posted an increase in attendance in 2011 as well.  2012 was even with 2011, despite a snow storm that crippled travel with multiple accidents that closed I79 North and other highways on Saturday.  Shearer said, “We believe that this show continues to grow because the setting is perfect for families.  Parking is free, and the low entrance fee makes it affordable for people to attend and bring their children with them.” 

Randy Giancola of Clem’s RV & Trailer Sales in Ellwood City, RV reported in 2010 that his sales had increased 45% from 2009.  In 2011 Giancola reported another increase of 30% from 2010.  2012 sales were up 20% too or more! 

We also asked Dick Bidwell of Fame RV Sales in Saegertown, PA if they had any similar experiences.  Bidwell reported, “Our demographics in the last couple of years shows an increase of younger families purchasing RVs.  It appears to be a growing trend.  People are buying smaller, lighter weight RVs that affordable to buy and tow.” 

Both Bidwell and Gianola reported that they were seeing good results from the free camping offer that resulted from the Western PCOA Campgrounds partnering with RV Dealerships to provide new RV buyers up to $800.00 value of free camping when they purchase a new RV from one of the participating dealerships in 2012!  Bidwell went on to add that when they review the details of the free camping offer to the buyers, that they are thrilled with the added benefit of the program. 

According to Dennis Quigley, Owner of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest Kampground and VSC Contest Organizer, “The program has worked very well at both promoting sales at the participating dealerships and at bringing campers to the participating campgrounds!  It’s a great way for us to introduce our parks to new RV buyers or to thank our existing campers for their continued patronage of our campgrounds!”  (Details of the free camping giveaway offer can be found at:

When asked about why the attendance at RV Shows and sales of RV’s appearing to be up over the last couple of years, Tim Chilson, PCOA Region 1 Director and Owner of Meadville KOA stated, “People are getting the message that family camping experiences are both fun and affordable.  Camping provides a fun family experience that families don’t get with their hectic work, school, and sports schedules.  Chilson went on to add, “Families are increasingly trying cabin camping.  As the number of people camping in cabins increases, they quickly realize how much fun and how affordable camping is, and that it doesn’t require “roughing it”.  Many campgrounds are now offering full service cabins which provide luxury vacations at family affordable prices!  Cabins sell people on owning an RV of their own.”

Whatever the reason may be, RV sales were up in 2010, 2011, and it appears that they are  even better in 2012!  That continues to be a good sign for the economy, RV dealers, Campgrounds, and the families we serve.          

By Robyn Chilson
Tim & Robyn Chilson own and operate Meadville KOA.  Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251 or at