Riding the momentum of an RV industry experiencing a historic growth mode, organizers for the 33rd Annual 2018 Florida RV SuperShow reported record-high attendance for the Jan. 17-21 event at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
“The official number is 73,061 with some online ticket sales yet to come in,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). “The economy and the industry are on such a super roll. We are very pleased with the position we are in with this show.”
Wilson said that many dealers also enjoyed all-time highs in terms of sales. “As with any show you are going to get comments across the board,” he said. “But I spoke to a number of dealers that said they had the best show they’ve ever had. Not just here at Tampa, but any show anywhere.”
He said one dealer was up by 50 units over last year’s show. “This is one of the largest dealers here in Florida. They were unofficially way ahead of last year with their gross numbers up dramatically.”
Even though the show began with cooler weather, 19,000 people attended opening day, topping last year’s record by over 200. “We were fortunate we had good weather although it was a bit cold the first couple of days,” said Wilson. “But we had great weather Saturday and Sunday which always really helps.”
“Our suppliers were also ecstatic with the turnout,” he added. “We were able increase the number of exhibitors to somewhere around 475 booths.”
FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly noted, “I don’t know where we go from here. I really don’t know. Saturday — I’ve never seen a day like that in my life. The weather was perfect and the crowds and everything came together beautifully.”
Kelly said that at one point the traffic was backed up so far that the highway patrol was considering closing the parking gate to ease pressure on highways.
“Everything we are hearing from dealers and manufacturers were comments like ‘best show ever,'” Kelly said. “Customers were coming in ready to buy. This economy is incredible. The stock market is up. Gas prices are pretty stable. It’s just like the perfect storm, in a positive way, of all these things coming together at one time for the industry.”
“If this is any indication of what the industry is going to do this year, we all better get ready,” said Kelly. “People are motivated to buy. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in my 31 years of shows.”
Kelly thinks the turnout indicates more than just a regional trend. “This is not just an indicator of the southeastern market. So many people at this show are not from here. The enthusiasm and the buying confidence we are seeing here may be nationwide.”
Wilson said that credit should go to the state fairgrounds and local authorities that handled the traffic and the show attendance. “The state fairgrounds has been excellent cooperating and doing everything they can do to facilitate the ease of getting all the RVs in and helping with the show,” he said. “We were able to run new traffic patterns with the county and State Police as far as parking the RVs. We put in a special gate just to take RVs in, which helped the traffic problem dramatically.”