RVDA convention logoWith a couple of weeks still to go, the 2014 Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) International Convention & Expo already has surpassed last year’s attendance figure of 1,100 attendees by 15%.

“It’s looking very, very good,” RVDA President Phil Ingrassia told RVBUSINESS.com. Billed as the “Passport to Excellence: Education & Training,” the RVDA Con/Expo, co-sponsored by the Virginia-based Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and RVDA of Canada, runs Nov. 10-14 at Bally’s on the Strip in Las Vegas.

Ingrassia credited the increased attendance to several factors: Both the timing and the venue are a departure from previous Con/Expos, and the lineup of seminars, workshops along with the vendor expo have been “beefed up.”

Previously, the event was held in October at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, but was moved to November to accommodate the longer selling season. “We surveyed dealers and we found there to be less conflicts in November than in October, when more business is still being done. The selling season has grown,” said Ingrassia, adding that the Con/Expo will continue to be held the first part of November for the foreseeable future and remain at Bally’s for the next several years.

He said attendees will appreciate Bally’s facilities as well, saying it’s just a “quick elevator ride down to the convention facilities.” Even attendees who may be staying at the adjoining Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino will find the short stroll – all indoors – to be convenient, he said.

Ingrassia stressed that the key focus in the Con/Expo continues to be training and education. In addition to Vendor Training +Plus, Partners in Progress and the Young RV Executives programs, no less than six distinct tracks of workshops and seminars will be offered. Topics include: dealer/general manager; sales; service; parts; rental; and – brand new for 2014 – social media/e-marketing.

“It’s a really strong lineup and we have some great speakers, too,” Ingrassia said, adding some topics in the social media/e-marketing track include eBay Motors, search engine marketing, and managing your online reputation. “These are things that five or six years ago no one was even thinking about,” he said.

The Vendor Training +Plus is another opportunity for training education, Ingrassia said. More than a dozen vendors, including Blue Ox, Lippert Components Inc. and Carefree of Colorado, will be on hand for product demonstrations and consultations. “It’s an up close and personal opportunity for people to learn how to better sell their products, or how to better use their products,” Ingrassia said.

Ingrassia said he’s also excited at the return of the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealers Awards, which has a reception slated for Wednesday evening during the Con/Expo.

For the second straight year, attendees are encouraged to download the free Con/Expo app (Apple, Android and Kindle Fire), which gives users access to exhibitors and their contact information, the complete schedule of events, a personalized schedule, in-app note taking, opportunities to share information with colleagues via social media, and maps of the venue.