The 46th running of America’s Largest RV Show proved to be the most successful edition to date as event organizers reported record attendance for Public Days, which ran Sept. 10-14 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
Heather Leach, marketing and education director for the host Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA), told RVBUSINESS.com that 46,143 attendees passed through the gate, eclipsing by 6% last year’s record total of 43,506.
While weather cooperated for the bulk of the show, Leach reported that “people still showed up” when rain covered the grounds until mid-afternoon on Saturday. “We still had 14,000 people in attendance,” she said. “By the end of the day we were still ahead of last year. Then on Sunday, we set another record with 8,566 people that topped our opening day record of 8,105.”
Leach said that the crowds also produced strong sales for exhibitors. “Manufacturers and dealers were stopping in the show office yesterday and were really pleased with not only the traffic but the number of sales. I can honestly say that I didn’t talk to anybody who was disappointed in the results.”
She noted that Dan Saltzgiver, PRVCA show chairman and general manager of Camping World of Hanover, reported that the 2014 “was the best show he ever had.” She added, “I spoke to Steve Fretz (owner of Fretz RV) Sunday and he barely had time to talk. He said the entire show was amazing.”
While consumer confidence may rate as the most prominent factor behind the buying trend, the event also offers consumers their first look at 2015 product. Leach also attributed the success to the Hershey Show’s reputation with consumers – nationally, and apparently, internationally.
“There were people from all over the U.S.,” she said. “But I also talked to a couple from England, who are U.S. citizens, that came specifically to buy a motorhome and then drive around the country for a year. I think PRVCA delivers on what we say. People don’t get here and end up being disappointed.
“It was just a tremendous show, which is not only good for us but good for the industry. I think it is a real indicator that the industry is healthy and growing.”
The show incorporates both Industry and Public Days to create a true “hybrid show.” Leach said that Industry Days, which ran Monday and Tuesday, were also well attended as the setting provides dealers and manufacturers the opportunity to network and concentrate on building relationships.
“We changed the format last year to allow individual suppliers to put on training clinics,” she said. “Those sessions were really well received.”
In addition to Lippert Components Inc., which participated last year, other companies in the 2014 lineup included Norcold Inc.; Atwood Mobile Products LLC; Thetford Corp.; Blue Ox; and Cequent Towing Products.