Saturday, September 29, 2012

Where do you go for RV help?


I've recently returned from Hershey, PA and the incredible PRVCA show at Hersheypark.  There was a lot of anticipation going into the show - was the industry really bouncing back?  Would RVers come in large numbers to see their first look at the new 2013 models on display?  Would they be buying or just looking? 

There were plenty of questions as the gates opened on Wednesday, the first of five public days.  There were long lines at 9AM and attendance was steady all day long.  More people came on Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday, all records were broken as over 16,000 people visited the show.  By the time the show closed on Sunday, a new all-time record for attendance had been set - 41,131 RV fans and owners had been part of an incredible show.

While I was out there, I had a chance to spend some quality time with several RV friends over dinner and drinks and the conversations would often come back to how we - as an industry - can provide RV owners with better products, better service, and better education so that they will become RV enthusiasts and not just RV consumers.  What would it take to have them all become evangelists for the lifestyle and the many benefits it brings to families and friends throughout the year?

There is no question the industry can do better, and that is going to take a better working relationship between manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and campground owners.  There are still far too many issues impacting consumers once they have purchased a new RV.  

While we are not going to solve all the problems in one little blog, let me tell you about some of my RV friends that have web sites that you might enjoy if you have not found them yourself while surfing the Internet for all things relating to your RV lifestyle.

Gary Bunzer, The RV Doctor, is a wealth of information when it comes to understanding how your RV is supposed to work, and what to do when it doesn't!  Gary has probably forgotten more than most of us will ever know about RVs, and he shares his knowledge with the RV world through seminars at major trade shows, frequent articles in RV consumer publications and through books and videos found on many RV web sites.  If you are at an RV show that features Gary in one of their seminars, you will want to sit in on the session.  Regardless of what he is teaching that day, you will learn something you didn't know about RV you have invested in.

Another guy we spent a lot of time with during the Hershey show was Mark Polk, RV Education 101 - one of the most respected authors of books and DVD's on everything from basic education to informative how-to's for driving, parking and caring for your RV investment.  I don't understand why every RV dealership doesn't have these DVD's and books on sale in their parts and accessories store, unless they just don't want you to know how these toys work and how you can enjoy them more when they are working the way they are supposed to.  Mark and his wonderful wife Dawn, have built a great business the old fashioned way ... they earned it and worked hard to get where they are today and you'll enjoy doing business with them.

One of the most respected RV web sites on the Internet belongs to Greg Gerber, RV Daily Report.  This site is a daily staple for most people in the RV industry and you will find the very latest news from every aspect of the business here.  While it is a trade site, there is plenty of consumer related information to peak your interest, and you get to look over the shoulder of the industry folks at the same time.  Greg will soon be launching a couple of new consumer RV web sites that you should find very interesting.

I start every Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and a great RV newsletter that is usually sitting in the inbox screaming "read me first!"  Chuck Woodbury at RVTravel.com is the author of this long-running industry favorite that is jam packed with RV items and videos every week.  Chuck has several RV sites out there but the newsletter and his RV Bookstore site are the two most popular with RVers.

My RV business associate here at RV Insights is John DiPietro.  John is a national author, sales and marketing executive and television broadcaster who is an active RVer and we enjoy working on many projects together.  We first met at one of my "First Time Buyer's Seminars" that I was presenting at the 2008 Boston RV & Camping Expo.  You have probably seen some of the RV videos that John has produced the past few years.  His television personality really comes through in his videos.  John's blog, Motorhome Mayhem, is very popular with all types of RV owners.

It's always a great time to catch up with other RV professionals at the leading consumer and industry trade shows.  Even better when we can relax with good friends, good food, good drink and all in a comfortable place where we can enjoy each other's company.

Check these sites out if you are not familiar with them.  They offer you an incredible amount of honest information that will enhance your RV lifestyle and make you want to hit the open road more often

Travel safe and enjoy your travels.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's show time folks . . . . .

As summer disappears into September, attention for many RVers turns to the showcasing of the new models at the consumer shows that will provide many opportunities to see what is new and exciting as the RV industry continues to rebound from the depths of the recession.

While we are not back to robust sales numbers of years ago, dealers are reporting good traffic on their lots and manufacturers are staffing up for new model introductions and getting ready for several industry only shows as dealers get their orders in for the winter and spring consumer events that we all look forward to after the holidays are in the rear view mirror.

This week RVers are rolling into Indianapolis for the 87th FMCA Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds. It's too late to register for the event online but if you are anywhere near this great city, you can get a day pass at the event that will allow you to view the exhibits and even take a test drive in a new motorhome.  I've been to several FMCA Conventions and they are really fantastic.  Full disclosure here: I do write for Family Motorcoaching Magazine and evaluate new motorhomes for their 100,000 readers several times a year.

Can't make Indy?  Don't worry, hop on over to Chocolate Town, better known as Hershey, PA, for one of the largest consumer RV shows in the country, the Pennsylvania RV and Campground Association show at the Giant Arena that runs from September 12th to 16th.  This show has a long history of loyal followers and always draws between 35,000 to 40,000 experienced RVers every year, with many camping in the area for the entire week to spend a lot of time in the exhibit area or to attend the many educational seminars, conducted by industry experts such as Gary Bunzer, The RV Doctor - one of the smartest technical people you will ever meet; Walter Cannon from the RV Safety & Education Foundation and exciting travel adventures from John Holod and Bernie Jwaszewski.

If you are on the left side of the country you'll want to check out the 60th California RV Show at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA on October 12-21.  A highlight of this show are David Solbert's informative seminars.  David is the author of The RV Handbook.  This is also one of the largest consumer RV shows in the country.

So there you have it, three great shows that cover the country and you can be sure they will cover every towable and motorized unit you can ever want to see by visiting one of these shows and seeing what is new in the RV industry the next few months.

As Mark and Dawn Polk of RV Education 101 have been known to say; Just RV It!