Although the oppressive dry heat of Oregon’s high desert was a challenge for exhibitors and attendees alike, the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 72nd International Convention, Aug. 16-19 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, generally was viewed as a successful venture by those in attendance.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based organization’s second national convention of ‘04 drew a solid — if not spectacular — crowd. According to Jerry Yeatts, director of conventions and commercial services for the 130,000-member, motorhome owner’ club, the Oregon confab posted a total of 4,919 coaches, 3,804 of them “family units” owned by FMCA members. The other 1,115 belonged to commercial exhibitors and were there for displays and test drives.
The FMCA crowd of typically retired and relatively wealthy motorhome owners, in turn, seemed pleased and rather acquisitive.
“It was a very good show,” Yeatts told RV Business. “For one thing, it didn’t rain. For another, just from surveying the members and many of the exhibitors, they all seemed most generally happy with everything going on. Even at 3:30 on Thursday afternoon, an hour and a half before the close of the last day of the show, the interior exhibit was still full of people. And I personally took several people by golf cart over to the outdoor dispaly area that were excited about picking up their new coaches.”
While the FMCA convention upheld its reputation as a buying show, however, sales throughout the commercial OEM displays in Redmond in some cases did not meet expectations as much as the pre-rallies did. Sales volume at pre-rallies sponsored by several companies were impressive in some instances. In fact, Monaco Coach Corp., for one, sold new coaches to about 10% of the attendees at its Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Beaver and Safari rallies, Vice President of Sales Mike Snell reports.
”We usually try to hit 10% of our attendance number,” said Snell. “That’s how we gauge ourselves. So, it was right on a par with several years ago when we were doing our best at our pre-rallies.”
And while a number of companies reportedly experienced “extremely strong shows” Country Coach Inc. and National RV Inc.included, Snell said sales did not meet his company’s expectations at the convention itself.
Nor did they meet the goals of Charlie Myers, president and CEO of Marathon Coach Inc., a high-end bus converter based in Coburg, Ore. “I thought the number of people (in attendance) was good,” he said. “But the (number of) people buying was not good for the bus market. There were very few actual (bus conversion) sales consumated there that I’m aware of.”
Yeatts, meanwhile, had only good things to say about Deschutes as a venue in general, keeping in mind that Affinity Group Inc.’s own Great North American RV Rally is slated for that same site next July 11 to 14. FMCA’s next national gathering is a Mar. 21-24 return to the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga., site of association’s busiest convention to date.
“It’s (Deschutes) a very nice venue,” said Yeatts. “The folks there make it all worthwhile. Their staff was very responsive to our needs and will do anything possible to make sure that the event is a success. As far as the physical facilities, they’re beautiful and modern.”