The annual RV Aftermarket Conference will break nearly a half-century of tradition this year when the three-day event goes entirely online. But a task force composed of members of the RV Industry Association’s Aftermarket Committee said they tried to maintain as much continuity as possible, given that COVID-19 forced it to become a “virtual” conference this year. Instead of three days of informative breakout sessions mixed in with plenty of networking and deal-making, this year it’s the RV Aftermarket Webinar Series.
Scheduled for Aug. 11 to 13 in San Diego, the dates remain the same and, as much as possible, so does the programming, with webinars being presented over the three days.
“It’s the same content as we planned to share, we’re just going to do it in a new format,” said task force member John Hawkins, director of aftermarket products for BAL/Norco Industries, during a conference call with trade media Tuesday.
“The consumer” will be the theme for the three days, and all of the presentations touch on some aspect of that theme.
Day one will include a webinar called Research 3.0. Results of a consumer-focused research study that is now in its third year will be presented and only attendees will get a preview of this information, which won’t be released to the RVIA membership at large until the fall.
There will also be a “state of the market” overview discussion which will include RVIA President Craig Kirby.
Day two’s highlight will be a presentation by Curtis Coleman, the founder of RVillage, an online community exclusively geared toward RVers.
“Who better than the guy who connects with consumers every day to give us that (information),” said Hawkins.
Day three will feature the dealer’s council, which has become an annual piece of the Aftermarket Conference.
“We’re not divulging any dealers’ names, but three dealers will be a part of it,” Hawkins said.
As with Coleman the day before, the dealers are being asked to sit through the first two days’ presentations and incorporate what they’ve heard into their perspectives.
“They are ground zero for (the aftermarket) industry,” said task force member John Tinghitella, president of RV Designer.
One benefit the task force sees in having an all-virtual event is the possibility of more people than ever being able to participate. Instead of a business sending two reps, for example, they could allow anyone on their staff to try to catch at least a portion of the three days. And registration brings the benefit of being able to watch a replay of any of the webinars after they have aired live.
Unlimited attendance is a new concept for the Aftermarket Conference, which next year will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The show dates for 2021 are Aug. 9 to 12 in Atlanta, and the task force members said that certain virtual elements may work their way into future conferences, depending on how this year goes.
The Aftermarket Conference isn’t new, but the circumstances surrounding the 2020 version of it certainly are.
For more information on this year’s event, click here.
Also part of the virtual event will be the RV Aftermarket Awards.
The RV Aftermarket Awards program was designed to honor and recognize individuals, suppliers and distributors, who are committed to excellence and growth in the aftermarket industry, as well as highlight the newest and most popular products available in the aftermarket industry. Categories include Product of the Year; Distributor of the Year; Supplier of the Year; and the Jim Barker Lifetime Achievement Award. Click here to see the list of nominees.