Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC reintroduced their consumer rally – the Good Sam Phoenix Rally, Feb. 26-March 1 at the Phoenix International Raceway – after a year’s hiatus and, by all accounts, drew a big crowd to a venue in which consumers got an enhanced view of the RV lifestyle while manufacturers and dealers reportedly sold plenty of RVs.
In other words, Camping World, which currently has close to 110 retail stores, and Good Sam, which operates the world’s largest RV club, pretty much picked up right where they left off by hosting one of North America’s largest and most impactful RV consumer rallies rivaled only by those sponsored by the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
Organizers reported 2,579 registered RVs and a gate admission of 8,000 people over the four-day event, bringing the estimated attendance to about 14,000 people.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was successful,” said Terry Thompson, vice president of advertising sales for Good Sam. “We measure it by how the attendees felt about it and how the exhibitors did. On both fronts people were very happy.”
The exhibit hall housed 325 vendors while outdoor displays consisted of 400 towable and motorized RVs from about 25 manufacturers and a few local dealers.
“For the most part, the manufacturers did great,” Thompson said, adding that Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. National Sales Manager Andy Baer, Jayco Inc. Motorhome Group Vice President of Sales Chuck Lasley and Newmar Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Sammut all had favorable things to say about how their companies did at the Rally.
“And I know the guys at Thor Motor Coach did well, as did Winnebago and Fleetwood, and those are just motorhome manufacturers,” said Thompson. “Some of the towable companies, like Heartland and CrossRoads, told me they had a great show as well. Leisure Travel Vans sold their whole display more than once.”
Thompson said that indoor vendors such as Blue Ox, Roadmaster Inc. and Thetford Corp. also issued positive reports.
“We had Chevrolet out of Detroit come for the first time ever,” he added. “They had a big interactive display. It looked great. They told me they absolutely would come to one of our rallies again in a heartbeat. They brought their pickup trucks including the Colorado, which was the North American Truck of the Year, and a small car people could tow behind their motorhome.”
The Rally also featured 25 RVing seminars each day as well as a dog show and live entertainment from Beatles and Neil Diamond tribute bands. Also, CW/GS spokesmen were awaiting word as to whether they had set a new record for the number of people renewing their wedding vows in an event sponsored by Reese — a brand manufactured by Cequent Performance Products.
“I drove past the four long, long lines of people waiting to get inside for the vow renewal, and, by long, I mean each line had hundreds of people. They were waiting patiently, the men in their tuxes and the women in their veils, and just having a good time,” he said.
The Rally was not without its issues, however, although both of which were out of organizers’ control. For one thing, the original rally dates had to be rescheduled after NASCAR’s race schedule bumped the Rally. That was particularly frustrating, reports Thompson, because CW/GS had already begun accepting reservations and it forced them to hit the reset button.
In addition, attendance might have been slowed by a weekend forecast of rain, although it only amounted to a brief Sunday shower.
Beyond that, the Rally was deemed a success and Thompson said there definitely would be another Good Sam Rally in 2016 – dates and location TBA. “Next year is the 50th anniversary of Camping World and Good Sam Club, so it’ll be a blowout,” he said.