Wed Sep 6, 2017
The Florida RV Trade Association has canceled its convention scheduled for Sept. 7-10 at the Marriott Resort Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with the state watching the oncoming Hurricane Irma, which is expected to landfall later this weekend.
FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly says that with the hurricane gaining strength and targeting much of Florida, canceling the show and hoping to reschedule it for later this fall was the only logical choice.
“We made the decision that it wasn’t worth it to put people in harm’s way,” Kelly says. “It wouldn’t be right to have a big party while this is tracking to our state. Everyone has to get ready personally. The dealers are busy getting their product to the highest ground they can get it. Some people are evacuating and some are just in wait-and-see mode. The interstates are crowded. People are getting their businesses ready as well.”
Hurricane Irma has been gaining strength in the Atlantic Ocean and has been upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane. It is advancing on the Leeward Islands with 180-miles per hour sustained winds. It is expected to reach Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands by Wednesday, “accompanied by life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall,” according to the National Weather Service.
“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend,” the NWS says. “Otherwise, it is still too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental United States. However, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place.”
The association would like to reschedule the convention for later this fall, but no plans have been made to do so. Kelly says almost all of the hotels are full and in lockdown mode right now, so there is no chance of getting through to talk to them about the possible rescheduling. Additionally, with four other shows in the fall for the association, finding a weekend that would work for everybody would be a tall order, Kelly says.
“We would have to look sometime next week with our executive board on a conference call as to their feelings about that,” Kelly says. “The hotel we schedule would have to have some availability both for rooms as well as meeting rooms. Additionally, we don’t know what kind of damage could happen to hotels, so we just need to wait it out and see what it’s like in a week.”
The FRVTA had this same thing happen in 2004, when Hurricane Charlie hit Southwest Florida and the hotel that the association would be using was destroyed. The association moved its convention to Clearwater Beach, but another hurricane swirled in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to hit the new location. FRVTA pulled the plug on the convention and didn’t reschedule.
“Another issue is that the fiscal year for the association begins on Oct. 1, so if it’s rescheduled after September, it would fall into next year’s fiscal year,” Kelly says. “I don’t know if that’s a factor in rescheduling. At this point, we decided to cancel now and get through the weekend.”
Kelly says the association won’t take on many financial penalties with the rescheduling, since the event is not much of a revenue booster, but more of the association giving back to its members. The cancellation of the hotel rooms won’t have a negative financial impact either, as the cause of the cancellation has been named as an act of God, and such stipulations are in the contract.
Kelly says more information about possible rescheduling will be available during the middle of next week.