Expectations are high for the 2018 edition of America’s Largest RV Show, slated for Sept. 12-16 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. — and not just because this marks the 50th anniversary of one of the industry’s marquee events.
Hosted by the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) and featuring some 160 vendors and 1,300 RVs from 45 manufacturers — all occupying more than 1 million square feet of indoor and outdoor display space — the “Hershey Show” will likely take a run at last year’s record attendance of 64,242 people.
Vendor booths sold out within two days and manufacturer display space also was sold out, PRVCA Executive Director Heather Leach told RVBUSINESS.com, adding that the layout has been finalized and a map is available on the organization’s website.
“So far, so good. We’re rolling right along. We’re expecting another great crowd and I think some of the things that we’ve done — as far as the way people can purchase tickets and getting just our general show promotion for this year — we’re looking for another great year for sure,” said Leach, a member of last year’s inaugural “40 Under 40” class selected by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Another reason for the increased excitement is, given that the National RV Trade Show has been discontinued, the Hershey Show perhaps has gained more status as a venue for manufacturers and suppliers to showcase new product — a development not lost on Leach.
“I definitely don’t think it’s going to hurt our show by any means,” she said, “and I will say that we’ve gotten a couple industry exhibitors that were like, ‘Last year I went to Louisville, and that’s not around anymore.’ So we did gain some exhibitors from it and we’ll see. They did move Open House a week back from us, so that helps our exhibitors and the manufacturers. It gives them a little bit of a break before they get into another long week.”
Also of note, Leach mentioned new developments industry personnel need to be aware of, including a special 50th anniversary dinner the evening of Industry Day on Sept. 11 at the Antique Auto Museum.
“We’re going to have a lot of flashbacks from over the last 50 years and celebrate where we came from and how much the show has grown and how far we’ve come. We’ll have our silent auction as usual, but also some special presentations throughout the night in honor of our anniversary,” she explained.
The second development is a password-protected online method for industry exhibitors to manage their teams’ badge registrations. “We’re hoping that it saves everybody a little time and they don’t have to worry about leaving their badge at home. It should be a pretty easy process,” Leach said, adding an email with complete instructions has already been sent out.
Additionally, a new feature for consumers this year is the opportunity to purchase admission tickets online up to the day they want to attend the show. Leach expects that will help ease the entry process, which again will feature metal detectors as required by the Giant Center.
“That should make things a little nicer for everybody, because the No. 1 phone call we received in the show office last year was, ‘Can I buy my tickets online?’ This year the answer is yes,” she said.