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Motorhome sales are slipping, towables are not, and overall the RV industry continues to grow, according to today’s (Nov. 29) South Bend, Ind., Tribune.
That was the message Tuesday from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon at the National RV Trade Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The industry expects to ship around 385,500 units in 2006, Coon said at the annual Outlook Breakfast presentation attended by 1,040 people.
And take out 36,100 emergency housing units produced specifically for hurricane response, and the industry is on pace to ship 349,400 units to consumers this year.
Although the numbers could slip slightly in 2007 to 341,600 shipments, industry representatives temper that prediction by saying that it’s adjusting down production of emergency housing because it is no longer needed.
The RVIA also tends to be conservative in its estimates, Coon said.
“Let me remind you: A year ago, we forecast 2006 at 350,000 versus the 385,500 that we did,” Coon said.
Obviously, 2006 data is still being collected, but the industry is expected to produce 56,000 motorhomes this year, down from 61,000 in 2005 and 72,000 in 2004, Coon said.
But towable RVs – folding campers, fifth wheels and travel trailers – are expected to remain strong. The industry expects to produce 330,000 towables in 2006, including 88,300 fifth wheels.
Long term, shipments are expected to grow. Data from the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center predicts annual industry shipments will hit 500,000 sometime in the next decade, said Gary LaBella, vice president of public relations and advertising for the industry association.
Tuesday morning’s breakfast was the headline event of the National RV Trade Show, full of industry updates and celebrity RV enthusiasts, including Jon Provost, the guy who played Timmy on “Lassie.”
It’s “an all-industry pep rally,” said Carl Pfalzgraf, chairman of the RVIA board.
There were video clips showcasing positive news coverage for the RV industry and performances by former “American Idol” contestant Celena Rae, whose voice was in strong shape for 7:21 a.m., when she took the stage.
There was a speech by Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states, as well as testimonials from a professional bowler and a professional poker player about how RVs have made life on tour easier for them.
All of the glitz and hoopla was put together to highlight the unprecedented $66 million being poured into a multiyear advertising campaign.
About $16.8 million will be spent on TV, print and Internet advertising throughout 2007, according to RVIA. Some of the advertisements, voiced by actor Tom Selleck, will be broadcast during “American Idol” on Fox.
Ads will also run on ESPN during coverage of the Triple Crown horse races and during the network’s coverage of Professional Bowling Association events.
It would appear the $9 million the industry spent on TV advertising in 2006 is making an impact. A study by SIR Research indicated that 52% of people in the “core family” demographic (parents ages 30 to 49 with children living at home) remembered seeing advertisements for travel in RVs.
Some 62% specifically recall the “Go RVing” message, the study said.