The World RV Conference, ready to mark its third edition Feb. 25-27 in Melbourne, Australia, will again promote unity and cooperation within an increasingly connected global RV community. Assembling a mix of established markets with a growing contingent of emerging industries – led by the rapidly developing Chinese marketplace – the forum will address challenges and goals shared on an international scale.
“It’s an opportunity for countries to meet on one stage and compare notes, and hopefully come away with a better understanding of the RV industry as a whole,” said Stuart Lamont, CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia Ltd., which will serve as host for the conference. “That has been the goal since the conference’s inception, to enable the process of international associations working together. It appears to be moving forward as I hear prominent industry people using terms such as harmony and unity, which is very encouraging.”
Lamont reported to RVBUSINESS.com that attendance for this year’s event – congregrating at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne’s “French Quarter” – would surpass both the 2008 inaugural meeting in Dusseldorf, Germany, and last year’s conference hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in Tampa, Fla., which drew 216 attendees.
“As of last week, we had 270 registrants and we feel that number will end up at around 320 attendees representing 15 countries,” Lamont stated. “We will be adding a few elements this year, including a broader representation from related industries such as the campground sector, which will have a much stronger presence. We will also be presenting a trade exhibition, something that hasn’t been seen before. Beyond that, we will be holding to the tried-and-true format that was used in Dusseldorf and Tampa.”
Three speakers will offer attendees perspectives on a broad range of pressing topics, including:
• Founder and chairman of IBISWorld, an international corporation providing online business information, forecasting, and strategic services, Phil Ruthven will be addressing conference delegates on key demographics and their impact on the global RV industry.
• Keith Suter, a member of the prestigious Club of Rome and holder of three doctorates, will speak about “A World United” and how the global political landscape may affect the RV industry. A noted career in international relations includes his work as president of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (1991-1998) at the University of Sydney.
Tony Christiansen will be closing out the speaker program with a motivational address. Christiansen lost both his legs in a train accident at the tender age of nine when he was collecting coal at a railway yard for a community project. Although he was not expected to live past the age of 16 due to physical and mental challenges, Christiansen defied the odds and went on to achieve more in his life than most people would even consider trying.
Lamont noted that, as in past years, the U.S. will provide a touchstone for the international RV industry.
“We are seeing progress in the European RV industry, although there are still challenges, and Australian manufacturing is as strong as it’s been in four years,” Lamont said. “But the U.S. is certainly leading the charge from a growth perspective.”
He added, “Overall, we are looking for a very positive outlook from attendees as economic and social conditions continue to improve. Naturally, we expect U.S. attendees to be very buoyant.”
Interestingly, China will be sending the largest international delegation, according to Lamont, with nearly 30 representatives comprised of manufacturers and various RV-related agencies.
“We are looking forward to hosting such a strong contingent from China,” Lamont said. “In some regards, the Chinese have been perceived to be a threat. I think there are a lot of myths about the Chinese market – a lot of hot air. This will be the ideal opportunity to sit down and find out what is happening in their country and how it will affect the global market.”
China’s impact will be examined during one of several “talking point sessions” scheduled during the conference. Also on the slate will be a discussion concerning the influence of technology and the Internet on the industry.
“One of challenges we face is the role of technologically and the Internet,” Lamont said. “The world has become a much smaller place, which is an asset with regard to interrelations among industries. But it has also led to product being produced in one jurisdiction being easily sold in another jurisdiction.”
In turn, Lamont noted that topping the list of objectives is to further talks with regard to compliance.
“It is becoming increasingly important that we continue to work for more uniform regulations on a global scale while also improving compliance in individual marketplaces, including Australia,” he said.
Following the commencement of seminars and workshops, opportunities will be made available by invitation for delegates to tour manufacturer’s facilities, a dealership and various caravan parks. Three social functions are also scheduled, offering attendees the opportunity to explore Melbourne’s diverse attractions including world class restaurants, art galleries and shopping precincts.
“The Grand Hyatt is in close proximity to high-end shopping and is also at the center of first-class eating and drinking establishments in Melbourne,” Lamont said. “We are very excited to share our culture with the world and turn the spotlight on Melbourne.”