The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Tue Sep 4, 2018
Author: Marshall King
Preregistrations for RVDA’s 2018 convention are up 20 percent over last year. The show will be held at a new Las Vegas location—The Paris Hotel & Casino. A host of new educational seminars and show floor exhibitors are scheduled to offer attendees the best convention ever.
When the RV Dealers Association Convention/Expo ends each year, Phil Ingrassia, RVDA president, gets tons of feedback from his member attendees on the show. Dealers tell him of new sales tips they received, new vendors they met offering products and services, plus business best practices, management strategies and marketing techniques that will change how they do business in the coming year.
"Those kinds of things make a big difference in your dealership," he says. "I believe our show is the best place to get this kind of information. This year will be no exception, but I think attendees will find that this year’s show will be something special."
The 2018 RV Dealers Convention/Expo is set for Nov. 5-9 at the Paris Las Vegas, a new venue for the event. The convention is sponsored by RVDA, RVDA of Canada, and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center.
Traditionally, RVIA’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville took place a few weeks after the RVDA Convention/Expo, but RVIA canceled its 2018 show. The cancellation is having a direct impact on both the number of RVDA convention exhibitors and attendees.
"Our board was very focused on supporting our partners at RVIA and the changes they are making. We wanted our show to stay the same in many ways. We weren’t in any way dancing on the grave of Louisville, but are instead focused on supporting RVIA’s new show in March," Ingrassia says. "That said, we were also focused on keeping our show fresh, which we’ve done every year. The new hotel this year is part of that. Is RVIA’s decision having an impact on us? Less than what you might expect. We did sell booths much quicker though this year. We didn’t expand the show
Preparation for 2018
A committee of industry volunteers, chaired by dealer Chris Andro of Hemlock Hill RV in Southington, Conn., worked for nearly a year to line up the extensive workshops, keynote speeches and array of vendor training sessions for the 2018 convention, with the goal of helping dealers capitalize on the industry’s recent record growth. The committee’s 21 members had their first planning meeting during last year’s convention, and Andro says he can’t even begin to speculate how many hours the committee worked to make the 2018 show successful. He says it’s in the hundreds of hours without including the additional hours RVDA’s staff worked to make it successful.
"I can’t say enough about the amazing effort the RVDA staff put into this," Andro says. "The committee reviewed 56 pages of PDFs and countless videos and bios of potential educational seminars. The staff tirelessly compiled all that for us to review just to ensure we could get good presenters. That’s just one small example of how much the staff does to make sure attendees leave the show impressed."
Record Growth Demands Record Education
"I think we’re in a period of sustained growth that I don’t think the industry has seen in its history," says Ingrassia, a 25-year industry veteran. "The opportunity for record growth has never been better. RVDA has always been focused on education. We believe the convention empowers not just the RV owner but also all the various employees working in the dealership to be successful. When people talk to me after the show, many are surprised by just how much they were able to take away."
The show continues to grow, morph and is annually reinvented to offer attendees fresh and sharp educational offerings. This year’s event offers specifically-targeted workshops for dealership owners, managers, sales personnel, marketers, finance and insurance specialists and fixed operations employees. Ingrassia says tracks geared toward people in each of those five areas, in addition to RV rentals and aftermarket retail, make this convention/expo a comprehensive resource for dealers.
Attendance and Venue
Dealer preregistration for the event is up 20 percent. The show usually attracts 1,800 to 2,200 people evenly split between dealers and other RV companies.
In past years, the RVDA show would annually change host cities, but 15 years ago the show settled in Las Vegas and has remained there. The city is friendly to conventions and offers plenty to do for attendees in addition to the RVDA seminars. For the last several years, the show was at Bally’s Hotel & Casino but this year will be at the Paris Hotel & Casino. Next year, and in 2020, Caesars Palace will be the venue.
"The RVDA board of directors wants the location to stay on the strip. Keeping it fresh by changing hotels helps us do that," Ingrassia says. "The seminars and show floor is always fresh, but changing the venue
Education and Business Trends
A challenge for dealers in the current business environment is managing growth. A number of workshops in the dealer educational track addresses this trend.
As an example, Chris Alford, lead trainer for Elite Dealer Services, will make his debut at the event with his workshop "Creating the Championship Mentality."
The workshop will begin at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.
In his YouTube video promoting the workshop, Alford says, "Creating the championship mentality is about one thing: How to create and maintain the right kind of attitude. Attitude is the librarian of our past and the gatekeeper of our future. And it can be controlled, it can be built, and it can be maintained. You just have to learn how to do it."
Michael Rees of A World of Training is partnering with John Spader of Spader Business Management to offer a new workshop at 9:00 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. Their seminar "M Cubed - Measuring, Moving & Managing" will teach how to create processes to assess critical performance indicators and then how to motivate managers and other employees to improve performance numbers.
Another trend the show will address with education is industry consolidation. Brad Stanek of Morgan Stanley will present "Developing an Effective Exit Strategy: How to Understand the Value of Your Business and the Criteria Buyers Value Most" at 10:15 a.m. Nov. 8. He’ll offer a formula to determine what a dealership is worth and actions to increase the value of a business.
Also on Nov. 8, Bank of the West’s Jane Warner is planning a workshop for family businesses at 3:15 p.m. "Can’t We Just All Get Along? Owners, Management, Employees and ‘Family’: Dynamics, Dysfunction and Doing What It Takes to Keep the Business In the Family" will address succession issues and how to get along and resolve conflict in a family business.
"There’s some really high-level workshops on the business structure many RVDA members have.
The seminars teach how to navigate these things when you have a small business," Ingrassia says.
Reaching the next generation, whether as buyers or employees, is a key theme of the convention. Millennials have come into the RV market in a strong way and are fueling much of the growth in the industry, Ingrassia says. "They may think of themselves a little bit differently than traditional RVers, so you’ve got to go at them in a different way, communicate with them in a little bit of a different way."
Andro agrees. He says that as show committee chairman, he went from seminar to seminar at last year’s show to take notes on what each offered. After that process, he felt strongly that the 2018 event needed to address the changing demographics of employees and end consumers.
"Sales tactics and processes have to change when the generational buyer changes," Andro says. "We need to learn how to adjust quicker because of technology, and how we integrate that into the workforce is absolutely critical. Our employees need to know and embrace that technology. We have to leverage that technology and adjust more quickly to employees with a different perspective."
Workshops on the New Consumer
The keynote speaker in the opening session is an expert on millennial and Gen Z generations. Best-selling author Jason Dorsey will talk on "Crossing the Generational Divide" at 2:30 p.m. on the Tuesday of the show.
"This event is too valuable not to bring all your key people," Andro says. "As I was listening to Jason speak, he hit some chords with me on what we dealers are seeing both in-house and on the sales lot. He was funny. He had some really good points and information that struck me as fresh, and I thought, ‘everyone needs to hear this.’"
With four generations of people in the workforce and five in the marketplace, generational paradigms can cause a lot of mistrust and misinformation. Dorsey will offer strategies to foster understanding for owners and managers who must deal with this daily.
"He’s got a message that will resonate with dealers right now," Ingrassia says, adding that Dorsey can help them stay ahead of market forces, rather than merely react to them.
On Nov. 7, Gabrielle Bosché of The Millennial Solution will also present two workshops on the topic. "Not Your Mother’s Presentation on Millennials" at 9:00 a.m. will focus on managing, retaining and engaging employees from this generation. "Capturing the Millennial Market: How America’s Youngest Has Changed the Consumer Game" at 2:00 p.m. will help dealers understand how to rebrand and how to market to a new generation of customers.
Attendees can earn continuing education units for many of the sessions, including those in the sales education track. Workshop topics include using the internet to get sales and improving search
Marcus Sheridan of Marcus Sheridan International will speak on how to sell in the digital age. His workshop "The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It" will be at 9:00 a.m., Nov. 8., at 2:00 p.m. that same day, Sheridan will offer another workshop: "We Are All Media Companies: 7 Steps to Creating a World-Class Digital Culture Within Your Organization."
The Social Media/eMarketing track includes several sessions on content marketing, Facebook and Instagram. On Nov. 7 at 3:15 p.m., Samantha Scott, president of Pushing the Envelope Inc., will present her workshop "Storytime: Reaching Millennials with Content" to teach how to create content that resonates with millennials. Another on "Click Currency: Guide to Remarketing" the following day at 9:00 a.m. will teach how to improve pay-per-click and Facebook campaigns to find new customers.
The Trade Show Floor
So far, 23 new exhibitors have signed up. A total of 148 are currently scheduled to exhibit. New exhibitors this year include 700Credit, Bank of Montreal (BOM), Cirrus Learning Center, DP Ball Advertising, Elite Dealer Services, Expion 360, the George Dans Group, Go Power!, Gulf Stream Coach, Kenect, Mighway, No Dirty Water, Pace International, PurifyD, Redneck Trailer, Rollick Outdoor, Inc., RV Universe, ShareMyCoach, Valterra Products, Wallace Software Solutions and WD-40 Co.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 27 Vendor Training +Plus sessions will let attendees learn directly from exhibitors. Exhibitors will lead the workshops on solar power, peer-to-peer rentals, tow bars and much more in five time slots preceding the opening general session and keynote address.
The national gathering also gives the RVDA a chance to update its 1,300 members,who sell 80 percent of the travel trailers and 90 percent of the motorized units nationally on avoiding litigation, compliance and how to increase visibility of outdoor recreation on Capitol Hill.
Ingrassia encourages teams planning to attend to register and then take time to study the seminars either on the website or via the app in the Apple/Android stores. He says attendees can plan their schedule on the app and divide the offerings between team members to maximize the learning.
"I’ve been going to this convention for 12 years," Andro says. "I couldn’t imagine our dealership growing the way it has without the ROI I’ve received at this show. If you want to move people up in your organization and give them more responsibility, this show and the education available is the best way to do that, without comparison."