With 63,234 people passing through the turnstiles, the 2015 Florida RV SuperShow recorded its best year ever in terms of attendance last week (Jan. 14-18) at the Florida State Fairgrounds, eclipsing the previous record of 56,953 established last year by the sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA)
This news comes at a time when a host of other show organizers throughout the country are reporting similarly good news in terms of attendance and, from all appearances, sales as well.
“The weather was good, and people’s mindsets are: The economy is better and they’ve got more jingle in their pockets because the cost of gas going down. So it was a very positive vibe throughout the whole show,” FRVTA Executive Director Lance Wilson told RVBUSINESS.com, adding that Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday were record days.
Under mostly cooperative weather conditions, the Tampa Show this year encompassed more than a million net square feet of exhibit space with nearly 1,350 RVs on display representing 98 manufacturers as well as more than 450 booth exhibits manned by suppliers and other vendors.
In addition, FRVTA’s 30th annual “Super Rally” included 808 participants, offering consumers on-site camping and fueling show attendance.
“I saw some people wearing their 1989 SuperShow T-shirts,” said Wilson, pointing out that the 2015 Tampa Show was an equally hot sales venue, based on anecdotal reports he’d obtained from a variety of exhibitors. “Depending on who you talk to, which is the case with all shows, companies like Camping World, General RV Center, RV One and Lazydays all had record sales.”
While most consumer shows feature some sort of entertainment or attraction to supplement the RVs and camping exhibits, Wilson and FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly generally exceed expectations when it comes to consumer sideshows with an array of roving entertainers – jugglers, stilt-walkers and mimes – creating an almost carnival-like atmosphere.
And that was the case again this year. “It’s an event, not just a show. We’ve got it all,” said Wilson, who also had face painters, rock walls and bounce houses for the kids this year. “We’ve got a lot of strolling musicians, too. We’ve got a barbershop quartet, bluegrass band, Scottish Highlander bagpipe band – a little bit of everything.
“It changes the atmosphere of the show,” he added. “When they walk in, we have a Calypso band playing at both gates, just to put a live festive spin on everything and then we carry it out throughout the whole show. We try to make a festive atmosphere so people don’t come in thinking they’re just going to get some kind of sales pitch shoved down their throats. They relax and have a great time and enjoy it.”
Another kind of attraction at this year’s Tampa Show was a scale model replica of Washington D.C.’s Vietnam War Memorial Wall, which, according to Wilson, “met our demographics and it was very, very moving.”
The SuperShow takes a monumental effort to pull off, noted Wilson, who took the opportunity to thank the dozen or so people, plus the fairgrounds personnel, who assist FRVTA’s seven staff employees.
“I’m taking them all out to dinner tonight,” Wilson said Sunday (Jan. 18) afternoon, not long after the show concluded. “It’s a huge undertaking. It’s hard to get people to come and work for you at anytime, let alone six or eight days for you. And we have a good group who do it. We have people who take their vacation to work this. And it’s all because of the overall attitude of our staff and the way we run things.”