The RV Industry Association continues to firm up plans for RVX: The RV Experience, the successor to RVIA’s discontinued National RV Trade Show.
RVIA envisions RVX as a brand-new event, set in a different location (Salt Lake City vs. Louisville, Ky.), at a new time of year (March 12-14 vs. late November) and with a sharpened focus on new products and innovation rather than simply having exhibitors attempt to showcase their entire product lines.
Troy James, president of Dutchmen Mfg., has been deeply involved in discussions on the new show format in his role as chairman of the RVIA’s Trade Shows and Events Committee. Recently, he spoke with RV PRO to offer insights on why he believes RVX is a worthy successor to the 50-plus-years-old National RV Trade Show and to share thoughts on what attendees and potential attendees can expect at the new event. His comments below been edited and condensed for clarity.
RV PRO: Just curious: How many RVIA Louisville shows did you attend over the years?
James: Me, personally? I’m really dating myself here; probably 23 years of attending Louisville shows.
RV PRO: Do you think RVX is challenging for some in the industry to embrace just because it represents such a change from how the show has historically been organized and run for so many years?
James: Because it’s a habit? Yes.
One of the biggest challenges we continue face right now with RVX is simply in educating members of RVIA: OEMs, suppliers and, of course, our dealer partners, about this new event and educating them on why we’re relocating it and what the strategy is behind the new format.
There has been a misperception out there right now that this isn’t a selling show. That’s not the case at all and as we move closer to the event members and dealers are starting to better understand both the direction of the new event as well as the need for it.
RV PRO: As a manufacturer representative, how is RVX going to be different for you from the old National RV Trade Show?
James: Great question. Louisville, for a number of years, has been almost a necessary evil, just in that it followed Open House Week ... and most dealers at that point generally had seen what we have to offer and placed their orders. As a manufacturer, we still felt compelled to fill up a hall in the (Louisville) convention center, but we might only have three or four new units out of about 50 on display. ...
Now we’re going into a venue that’s a more compressed footprint, which is going to encourage a more intimate feeling for activity on the floor and it’s going to blend supplier members and OEMs on the floor. So, it’s a mixed rather than a segregated floor, which is healthy for the industry. It will give more vibrancy to the event.
Also, it will give us (exhibitors) ... the ability to focus in on what’s really new, both from an OEM side and a supplier side, and get the buzz back on innovation in the industry.
RV PRO: As someone who has been deeply involved in the planning process for RVIA’s new show, can you talk a bit about the time and effort that has gone into preparing RVX?
James: I can’t give you an exact number, but I can tell you that there have been a tremendous number of meetings – either face-to-face meetings or phone conversations – about the direction and vision for RVX – not only since announcement, but before it was even announced or presented to the RVIA Board of Directors.
There has been a lot of dialog over the last three-plus years about what needed to happen moving forward because there was a growing realization that efforts to recreate the Louisville show into what it was 20 years ago or 30 years ago ... just wasn’t going to happen. The industry has matured.
All that to say, planning has been going on for some time; those conversations have taken place with dealer 20 Groups and others so that they can see that this (RVX) is a viable platform. As conversations about RVX continue at many levels throughout the industry we’re building momentum for RVX.
RV PRO: So, is it fair to say you feel like a big part of your job, and for others on the RVIA Show Committee, is to correct misconceptions some people may have about RVX?
James: I’m not sure I’d put it like that. Because RVX is new, I would say that there’s probably more need to educate, throughout the industry, what this event is and what the intent is. ... There are still plenty of questions out there, and again, it’s just a matter of educating people.
I think the important thing to convey is that we’re starting with a clean slate (with RVX). Trying to reinvent or fix what Louisville was – there’s just no way to do that, so we have to move forward.
RV PRO: Is there anything else you would want to let attendees or potential attendees know about RVX?
James: I believe we’re on the right track. It’s going to be a very dynamic event that is going to allow participants to put forward new, innovative ideas, along with their current product offerings. It’s going to allow exhibitors and attendees to build relationships on the show floor and strengthen the partnerships with existing customers.
I would just say, ‘Come with an open mind. Come prepared to see new products. Come prepared to learn new ways to operate your business. Be ready to be excited about where the industry is headed.’ I really can’t say much more than that.