The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) overcame rough weather at the start of its 75th annual convention, March 20-23 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. But the weather didn’t hamper the main event, which drew 3,120 family coaches and 1,147 rigs utilized in commercial displays.
That’s a moderate increase, up 122 family coaches and 163 display motorhomes, from the last time FMCA hosted a convention at the Fairplex, east of Los Angeles, in 2003. Total attendance, including exhibitor and walk-ins: 11,000.
“The weather was the big thing during setup,” said Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of conventions and commercial services. “It was wet and record cold. But when the convention started, the sun came out and we had a good turnout.”
Yeatts said nearly 20% of people registering for the Pomona rally – more than 700 families – were attending their first convention. “We placed greater emphasis on people attending for the first time,” Yeatts said. “They received a priority for the evening entertainment and we had special receptions and programming for first-timers.”
On the Sunday before the show, FMCA set up a special free screening of “RV,” the new Robin Williams movie, for 300 people who were bused to a nearby theater. “People said it was hilarious,” Yeatts said.
Kyle McCrary, director of high-end motorized product for Newmar Corp., Nappanee, Ind., which unveiled its 2007 diesel lineup at the show, said that sales were good. “Actually, it went extremely well,” McCrary said.
Yeatts said not all manufacturers were of similar minds. “I’ve heard sales were mediocre to fair, but part of it, I think, is the franchise laws in California,” Yeatts said. “Officials are monitoring closely new rules that went into effect a couple of years ago.”
Only dealers whose “relevant market area” is within 10 miles of the Fairplex are allowed to automatically sell at the show. Out-of-area California dealers can set up at the Fairplex if the product they are displaying isn’t being offered by one of the primary dealers.
Even with strict show sale policies in place, FMCA has not been dissuaded from utilizing Pomona as a venue for its future conventions. FMCA will return to the Fairplex for the sixth time in 2008.
“Every state is going to be different,” Yeatts said. “We plan our conventions looking at how everything will affect both our visitors and the commercial vendors. The Fairplex is a good place for a convention.”