Liz Crawford, senior vice president, trade shows and events, for RVIA offers insight on RVX to exhibitors in HOF meeting

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) hosted its second “RVX Exhibitor Academy” Wednesday morning (August 8) at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., during which the Reston, Va.-based trade association’s staff addressed the merits of RVIA’s new spring show — “RVX: The RV Experience” – to a crowd of about 50 potential manufacturer and supplier exhibitors.

The new trade show, planned for March 12-15, 2019, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a replacement of sorts for RVIA’s traditional National RV Trade Show held annually for the past 54 years in Louisville, Ky. The “Louisville Show” has been discontinued by RVIA’s board of directors due to lagging attendance and a general sense that it had run its course.

As RVIA spokesmen have stressed, of course, RVX will be demonstrably different as the organization attempts to reinvent the wheel with regard to industry shows.

“Two weeks ago, we held a similar academy in Salt Lake City and the goal there – as it was here — was to really talk to the exhibitors and the potential exhibitors about the lay of the land and get familiar with the venue and the service providers who are using the process that we’re using for hotels and booth space,” said Liz Crawford, senior vice president, trade shows and events, for RVIA. “And here in Elkhart, we also wanted to make sure that the exhibitors are prepared and are talking about how to merchandise their booths and are up to speed on marketing and PR.

“So, yesterday’s attendees are just taking all of that tactical information back to their plants and their bosses to talk about how they can engage dealers at RVX,” said Crawford, noting that the second RVX is now slated to take place in San Antonio, Texas, while the third will return to Salt Lake and the fourth will be in Indianapolis.

Wednesday’s speakers touched on the sequence of RVX events in Salt Lake as well as educational aspects, awards, a “Tech Challenge” and the “RV Reveal,” a showcase of trendy new RVs in various categories occurring on the first day of the show that will be live-streamed into thousands of consumer households through Go RVing’s digital platforms and media partnerships.

Also on Wednesday’s agenda was Steve Miller, author of “Uncopyable,” who talked about how to compete at a show so that exhibitors can stand out from each other. RVIA Director of Media Relations Kevin Broom discussed how Go RVing is working with the media to promote RVX, while representatives of Freeman Expositions LLC reviewed some of the more pragmatic aspects of handling freight and setting up the show. “And I presented on Salt Lake City and some of the opportunities that the city’s going to be providing us mainly with the ‘campground of the future’ that we’re going to be launching in Salt Lake City,” said Crawford.

What is Crawford’s sense of industry buy-in for RVX at this point?

“It’s going pretty well,” she told RVBUSINESS.com. “There are a lot of misconceptions out there. We’re going to be ramping up the marketing and the communications to dealers and the manufacturing side and suppliers. You know, after 55 years of the same thing in Louisville, we’re trying to do something new. People are still trying to wrap their arms around it. But when we go through the presentation, when we talk about the value, I think the lightbulbs go on and people are very, very excited about what the event could bring.”

So, given the time frame, Crawford asserted, the selling and marketing of RVX has only just begun. “We’ve got seven months of getting in front of dealers, talking to them about what value means to them and why they would want to come to the show,” she said. “We still have got to also reach out to our exhibitors and make sure they’re prepared for something that’s new and different and, you know, again, it’s not your father’s RV Show anymore. It’s a whole different experience.”