As the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s leadership prepares to convene June 8-11 for its annual Committee Week meetings in Washington, D.C., one of its main goals will be to infuse new ideas and energy into the association’s two shows — the National RV Trade Show and the annual retail California RV Show.

“These are two of the most important events on the RV industry calendar, and we’re working hard to ensure that they continue to provide our exhibitors and attendees with tremendous value,” said RVIA President Richard Coon, in a news release.  “With many indicators now beginning to point to a recovering economy, we believe that these two shows will help kick start the industry.”

The National RV Trade Show is slated for Dec. 1-3 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., with the California RV Show taking place Oct. 16-25 at the Fairgrounds in Pomona, Calif.  With the economic conditions “wreaking havoc” earlier in the year on the RV industry, says RVIA, demand for exhibit space at the two events is understandably down.

This falloff in show business is not exclusive to the RV industry. Major trade shows in various industries have felt the pinch, including the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Association (SEMA) show, the 18th International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) in Miami and the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS). MAATS, which is moving to Orlando, Fla., is now under the management of Affinity Media, the same division of Affinity Group Inc. under which RVBusiness and RVBUSINESS.com are managed.

In response, show officials are considering various means of providing more value for their exhibitors. “The trick is to do so without increasing costs to our exhibitors because our budget is just as affected as everyone else’s,” reports Mary “Mike” Hutya, RVIA vice president of meetings and shows.

Ideas on the table for the National RV Trade Show include showcasing new and exciting products introduced at Louisville on a website after the show and providing a link to contact exhibitors as a means of extending the “shelf life” of their displayed products.  In addition, RVIA is also looking at bringing in “strong business people” to discuss survival experiences and strategies for tough economic times.

The Reston Va.-based association is also looking into the potential of joining its retail California RV Show with another show from a related industry facing similar challenges like boating or motorcycles to help bolster attendance.

Coon feels that some new enhancements combined with a recovering economy will help RVIA’s two shows outperform expectations. “These shows are going to surprise people,” he said.  “If you already have space, buy some more. If you’re not an exhibitor, reserve your space now. Both of these shows are going to be strong venues for exhibiting companies.”