The Rancho Bernardo Inn is primed to become the equivalent of an RV industry speed-dating event.
During the RV Aftermarket Association Conference from Aug. 14 to 18, suppliers and distributors will buzz around the luxurious San Diego hotel going room-to-room with colleagues for 20-minute long meetings and a 10-minute interval to jaunt to the next one.
The annual frenzy has grown exponentially over the past three years. And with the recent keynote speaker announcement of RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer, it’s bound to be a flourishing and necessary event.
“For some reason it continues to grow, so we must be doing something right,” said RVAA President Susan Carpenter, laughing.
More than 30 years ago, RVAA conferences were decentralized throughout the U.S. as regional meet-ups.
Today, the two-and-a-half-day conference is barebones sort of business affair: Suppliers come in and distributors make appointments for one-on-one private meetings. But the mutually beneficial union of the two entities is what propels the annual RVAA meetup into the growing, essential event it has become.
“You can meet with a lot of people within a short period of time,” said Carpenter. “If you had to go and fly to every one of these people you’re meeting with, it would cost you a heck of a lot more.”
The period after the meeting is what she calls “bonding time.” Customers, competitors, and friends alike mingle. “It’s a small industry where we all know each other,” she said. “So, it’s a really great opportunity to get out and catch up and enjoy a glass of wine.”
She also recommends members bring their spouse given the wine and cheese tasting class, saltwater pool, campfires, and overall beachfront vibes of the Rancho Bernardo Inn. Quite the change-up from when it was held in Chicago last year.
Side note: Carpenter’s daughter wants to get married there.
About 280 to 300 attend as individuals, not including the number of companies showing face. Hugelmeyer, the recently appointed keynote speaker, was chosen to shine an insightful light on where the industry is headed and how it’s changing.
The Diamond Plus benefactor sponsorship is new this year. It’s a way for venders to get a leg up in widely broadcasting their name in being announced with the keynote sponsor and flourishing in a brighter spotlight on many of RVAA’s materials throughout the year. “You get a pretty good bang for your buck,” she said.
How beneficial can attending the RVAA be? For that, Carpenter offers her own anecdote.
She has a national sales team always calling on customers – people that she is inopportuned to get face time with normally. The conference is unique in that members get to assign faces to voices. As well as see old friends and make new ones.
“Really,” she emphasized. “I don’t travel in a sales capacity, and wouldn’t normally get to see them.”
Another new feature is the “official/unofficial” golf outing, Carpenter said. The hotel has a lush course.
“It’s going to be very low key without much hoopla or lunch because back in the day we used to have this large golf outing. And I’ll be driving the beverage cart,” she said, laughing. “For once someone will be happy to see me, because I’ll be holding their beverage.”
For more information on the conference or to become a Diamond Plus benefactor, visit the website here.