What do the Go Pro Mountain Games in Colorado, the Fort Lauderdale Air & Show in Florida, Pittsburgh’s WPA Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration, the Country Fest in Wisconsin, and Denver’s Cinco De Mayo Festival all have in common?
Answer: Go RVing had a presence at all of those events in 2023 as part of its “experiential” marketing events program, which are a core part of the group’s strategy to expose diverse audiences to RVing and the outdoor lifestyle in sometimes-unexpected settings. Upcoming events planned for later this year include the Columbus Jazz and Rib Fest, the Minnesota State Fair and the American Century Golf Championship Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
“When we do these events, we’re there to really educate and inform the consumers that are coming in to do those tours,” said Dana Delvecchio, Go RVing’s senior manager of programs and experiential events. “Not every person that comes through is going to be new to RVing.”
Consumers have had some experiences with RVs about half of the time, typically when their parents, grandparents or other family members took them RVing as a child, according to Delvecchio.
“But the good thing is: Now they’re touring RVs that are new compared to when they were younger—and RVs have come a long way from when they were little kids,” she said. “Nowadays, RVs have so many different amenities that they didn’t have back then. So, they are really amazed by what they see.”
For those who are brand-new to the RV lifestyle, they tend to be pleasantly surprised by the various configurations, sizes, amenities and variable price points, according to Delvecchio.
“So, we are there to both educate the new ones as well as inform the people who are already aware” of RVs, she added.
With potentially thousands of consumer events to choose from each year, Delvecchio said Go RVing’s leadership strategizes with its marketing partner, RPM, to select the ones that make the most sense for Go RVing. In general, the organization gives priority to sporting events, music festivals and multicultural events.
Factors that go into deciding which events to exhibit include the anticipated number of attendees, the duration of the event, the cost of exhibiting and a desire by Go RVing to exhibit at different types of venues in different parts of the country, according to Delvecchio.
“We try to spread out our events throughout the entire continental U.S.–all the way from the West Coast to the East Coast and from North to South,” she said. Events are scheduled from early spring to late fall, with most events landing in the summer, she added.
Evaluating whether an event was successful is based on a number of factors, but the primary one is the number of people who take tours of the RVs on display, according to Delvecchio. Go RVing ambassadors and RPM reps in attendance use “clickers” to record the number of people who take tours of the units on display, she said, adding that the numbers have ranged between a low of 3,000 and more than 20,000 tours at a single event.
In addition to tracking the number of tour attendees, Go RVing offers giveaway products that people can sign up for, which include things such as portable batteries, solar battery chargers and coolers.
“People sign up to win those prizes after each of these events, so that’s a way for us to collect leads,” Delvecchio said. “And so, when we get those (RVs) from either local dealerships or through one of our RVIA members directly, those leads that we collect get forwarded to that dealership … who provided us with the units for them to use before they go into a general database.”
Based upon the type of event where Go RVing is exhibiting, it will partner with local dealers to select RVs that are a good match for the event, according to Delvecchio.
Experiential events represent just a fraction of Go RVing’s total marketing budget, Delvecchio said, but added that the organization sees the value in hosting the events for informational and outreach efforts.
So, do any of those consumers touring the RVs, perhaps for the first time, catch the RV bug in a big way and want to buy one of the units on the spot?
“Oh, absolutely,” Delvecchio said with a knowing laugh. “But we do tell them upfront: We are not there to sell the RVs; we’re only there to inform and educate. … We do mention which RV dealership loaned the units for the exhibits, so customers can follow up afterward if they are interested in purchasing.”