EXCLUSIVE: Keller Marine & RV Show to Provide Post-Covid Connections

Photo of people milling around the exhibit hall at the Keller Marine & RV Show in Tampa, Fla., 2019.

After a quick change to a virtual format last year, the Keller Marine & RV Show will return to Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 22-23.

Lori Morrow, Keller Marine & RV’s director of marketing, said vendor presentations on new items and show specials are scheduled for 3-4 p.m. Nov. 22. Presentations are planned by Horizon Global, Carefree, Progress Mfg., Lippert/Curt, Dometic, Starbrite, Thetford/Norcold, Blue Ox and Demco in Aztec Nigerian Room

A cocktail reception and trivia night is scheduled for the same day from 9-11 p.m.

On Nov. 23, the show floor will open again from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the show closes.

Mike Keller, Keller Marine & RV president, said last year his team was forced to pivot four days before the in-person show to a virtual format. The team already planned to host a virtual show after the in-person event. Keller was able to move those plans earlier to accommodate COVID-19 travel restrictions enforced on Pennsylvania last November.

In some ways, Keller said the distributor has held a virtual trade show alongside its physical show for years. The same software used to track and take orders during the show in years past was used to host product videos, forums and other informational measures.

“It was the most successful show we ever had,” Keller said of the 2020 event.

However, Keller says the need for in-person events is more pressing than in previous years.

“I was part of the Hershey RV Show in September, and the Tampa Show in January,” Keller said. “At both, the consumers that showed up were really hardcore; they came because they really wanted to be there. Covid took away tire-kickers.”

Keller said consumer show attendees now are buyers, not window-shoppers. On the wholesale side, he said dealers are in a similar world. So far, more than 350 dealers have registered to attend.

“Having a conversation with your representative in-person, making that connection,” Keller said, “that is hard to replace. Virtual is great…but there is something just lost in the person-to-person side of presenting products. So, we will do both.”

Virtual orders will remain open for two weeks after the show, ending in early December.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand on both sides — rep side and dealer side — to try and get back and reestablish the supply chain,” Keller said. “You almost need to reset, and I am looking forward to that reset. Let us reestablish our relationships and go forward better, together.”


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