TUCSON – The RV Industry Association Board of Directors has committed to spend up to $500,000 to reinvigorate the National RV Trade Show, RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer told attendees Tuesday at the RVIA Annual Membership Meeting.
The Board approved the decision during closed-door meetings Monday at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort in Tucson.
One concrete, immediate priority will be to hire someone to drive RVIA’s trade show business, which Hugelmeyer said the Association hasn’t really had since National Trade Show Director Mary “Mike” Hutya retired in March 2014.
“It’s one-third of our revenue. And to be honest, we haven’t even been marketing this well,” he said. “Everyone knows the conversation about the trade show. It hasn’t been the most high-performing asset. And, it can be a great-performing asset.
“To be honest, the industry deserves a better show than we’ve been giving it,” he added.
Hugelmeyer said the Association has not made a serious investment in the RVIA show in 20 years. He said the $500,000 approved by the Board will be used to promote the RVIA show to industry professionals to increase and also generate more excitement for the show.
Many in the industry believe that the annual show, held the week after Thanksgiving, has become increasingly irrelevant as Elkhart Open House Week in September has become the event of choice for RV dealers and manufacturers to conduct business.
For his part, Hugelmeyer acknowledged that Open House Week has changed trade show dynamics, but added he believes the shows are complimentary.
Still, RVIA’s research has indicated attendees and exhibitors view the show differently, which has caused a disconnect, according to Hugelmeyer. For dealer attendees, the primary reason to attend the RVIA show is to see new products, learn about new technology, find new suppliers, network with peers and education.
However, for exhibitors, top reasons to have a display include to maintain their image, increase their awareness, maintain customer relations or drive sales. Launching new product is No. 5 on their list.
Hugelmeyer said working to make sure both attendees and exhibitors see the value of the RVIA show will be a serious priority moving forward. Additionally, he said he would like to see the show reflect the sense of “fun” that the industry represents.
“We want to … create excitement, to make it fun again,” he said. “We’re in the fun business; we should be exuding fun, because this is what we’re selling.”