Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association President Phil Ingrassia, appearing in the February issue of RV Executive, reports on a strong early RV show season that bodes well for more growth in 2018.

The 2018 RV retail show season kicked off with a bang last month. As Jeff Kurowski, director of industry relations reported, early show reports were very positive throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and at the massive Florida RV SuperShow.

I had a change to attend the SuperShow and the Washington RV & Camping Show in Northern Virginia, and both were jammed with people of all ages and walks of life.

As record shipments of entry-level and mid-priced towables over the past several years suggest, there’s no question that the industry has brought Millennials and Gen Xers into the market, driving down the average buyer’s age to 45 from about 49. That age is likely headed even lower.

The continued growth in the RV market certainly isn’t all on the towable side. Many motorhome manufacturers are delivering units that are designed to appeal to shifting demographics.

At the Florida show, Spartan Motors and Jayco unveiled the new Jayco Embark motorhome aimed at younger RV buyers and Baby Boomer customers looking to drive a smaller coach.

The RV space, including motorhomes, has been really hot over the last three years,” said Steve Guillaume, president of Spartan Specialty Vehicles, as quoted in the MiBiz.com newsletter. “We want to continue to invest in that space . . . We see some positive short-term trends with the Baby Boomers and the longer-terms trends with Millennials continuing to evolve in their RV experience.”

Who is the typical RV buyer?” is a question I frequently get from the general business and travel media. My response is that there is no “typical” buyer. The industry has moved completely beyond the idea of pigeon-holing RVers in that way. More than ever before, there truly is a travel trailer, truck camper, or motorhome for everyone.

What I do tell the media is that as younger buyers hit the road in search of adventure, they still want the comforts of home provided by an RV, just like their parents and grandparents.

As we move forward into 2018, Go RVing will be releasing some research data aimed at providing dealers and the industry more insight into the coming wave of buyers.