Mon Nov 6, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen
When the 2017 RVDA Expo opens on Monday, Nov. 6, the number of preregistered attendees filling up Bally’s in Las Vegas will increase from the year before once again.
This year’s total preregistration numbers are up 7 percent, according to RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. The number of booth exhibitors on the show floor also has increased, to 147 this year.
The increase in attendees at the show is a result of the expo committee’s ability to understand what dealers and RV personnel are wanting to see, and then putting the desires into action, especially on the education track, Ingrassia says.
“I think the Convention Expo Committee, which is chaired by Ron Shepherd of Camperland of Oklahoma, has done a good job of keeping a pulse on what people want to know,” Ingrassia says. “Customer service is a big issue, as well as hiring and retaining people. We have seminars on both of those, with Janella Barlow’s ‘A Complaint is a Gift’ and Michael Reese speaking on hiring and retaining as well as bringing in a multi-generational workforce.”
The expo will feature 30 workshop presenters throughout the duration of the show, some of whom will present on multiple topics. Many of the speakers in the lineup are new to this year’s expo and the topics they will address are relevant and important to the current market, Ingrassia says.
“It’s a completely revamped and refreshed workshop lineup,” he says. “There are a lot of good education waiting for them next week. The increase in attendees shows that people are real interested in what’s going on as far as continued education shows that the industry has had a great year. We want to continue the momentum into 2018.”
The show floor also has been updated some for this year, with a few new exhibitors and some new stations to provide attendees with more education and resources.
One of the newest stations will be a booth from NTP-STAG, called the Retail Tech and Idea Center, a model store which will showcase a variety of merchandising tools to teach dealership personnel how to improve how products are displayed and sold. Ingrassia says this center was in the works for some time.
“It has taken a significant investment for them (NTP-STAG) to put the Retail Tech and Idea Center together and for it to come to fruition.”
A new keynote speaker, in Chris Helder, will speak about the power of persuasion and working with today’s customers on how to interact with the new generation of buyers. The keynote speech will take place during the Opening General Session on Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 2:30 - 4 p.m.
Ingrassia says continuing a focus on social media and eMarketing has been an important key for the show’s increase in attendees and the value it provides.
“You can see it in dealers, who have moved from traditional media into eMarketing and social media,” he says. “It’s important for us to have that track as well and that’s something we have done. We also have tried to recognize some of the front-line employees with the Society of RV Professionals and we provide some recognition to the long-term employees. We’re pleased to continue that program.”
One of the changes to this year’s show is in the freeing up of schedules to give attendees the chance to network outside of events. Ingrassia says it was important for the show to not be overbooked, because the show should also be a fun event that gives its attendees the chance to get to know each other.
“One of the things we’ve realized is we want to leave times for evenings and mornings for networking events. We don’t have to schedule everybody from 6 in the morning to 8 at night,” he says. “Before, we had a dawn until dusk schedule, but we’re giving people time to network here.”
Registration for the show begins at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 6 and continues throughout the day as well as throughout the day Tuesday. Several Vendor Training +Plus workshops also happen as well as a Young RV Executives Session with David Spader Tuesday morning, before the opening general session at 2:30 p.m. The Expo then opens from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday evening.