When it comes to event planning, especially the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) chief annual trade event – the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. – the buck stops with a straight-talking woman named Mary “Mike” Hutya, RVIA’s vice president of meetings and shows.
A Maryland native who graduated from Strayer College in Virginia before joining RVIA’s staff 29 years ago, Hutya first worked in RVIA public relations before taking over the intimidating challenge of organizing and scheduling all of RVIA’s key events, from annual meetings to RVIA Committee Week, the California RV Show and the Louisville Show – the national trade association’s key annual revenue-generating event held right after Thanksgiving each year at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
According to a short interview slated for publication in the September issue of RV Business, organizing and detailing the Louisville Show – this year’s version of which is slated for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 – is an exhausting task that consumes 50 percent of Hutya’s working days throughout the year. Only weeks after each year’s show is over in early December, Hutya and her staff sit down to start planning the next one. Hutya oversees a staff of four in Reston, Va., and two others at RVIA’s Western Regional Office, which focuses more on the association’s annual California RV Show.
Here’s an early draft of that September issue interview:

RVB: How big is this year’s Louisville Show?
Hutya: This year’s Louisville Show is going to be over 900,000 square feet, bigger than last year. Last year we concluded with 773,000 square feet.
RVB: Will that make it the biggest Louisville Show ever?
Hutya: Yes.
RVB: Is RVIA doing anything particularly new or different this year at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center?
Hutya: Yes, this year we’re introducing an electronic lead retrieval system that will allow exhibitors to immediately capture information on current and potential customers, people they meet at the show. Whether you’re a dealer or accessory store, every show attendee will be issued a card similar to a credit card, which hopefully they’re going to put behind their show badge. The exhibitor will just run the card through a machine that will be available for rent at the show and he’ll get the information on the attendee right away in a little printout or a disc, depending on what system he chooses. He’ll have it immediately so that he doesn’t have to trade business cards to take down information.
RVB: Where did this system come from?
Hutya: Our registration service, ExpoExchange, is actually providing the machines and, you know, the experience and knowledge to do the cards and what it’s going to take.
RVB: Did the newly expanded exhibit hall resolve all of RVIA’s space issues?
Hutya: It’s helped but, no, our space issues are not totally resolved. Not all RV manufacturers were able to get as much space as they would have liked. But since we had more space available, a greater majority than in the past got what they wanted or at least more than they’ve had in the past. One thing we were hoping to do with the new space – the South Wing’s additional 166,000 square feet that they’ve just completed – is to discontinue putting suppliers in the ballroom and on the second floor of the arena. But all the space was required for the manufacturers, so we weren’t able to do that.
RVB: Will there be parking issues for show attendees as a result of the new expansion?
Hutya: I don’t anticipate that there will be. If we have to use some of the parking lots that are further from the show entrances, we’ll be running our shuttles to those areas to get those folks into the show as soon as possible.
RVB: How has it worked out putting all of the park trailer exhibits into the Broadbent Arena exhibit hall?
Hutya: For me it hasn’t been a problem. We had a lot more park trailer manufacturers who applied for space this year. We have at least five that I didn’t think were coming into the show. So, it was a challenge to see if we could get them all into the area. But we worked it out. Some of our manufacturer members who make both RV’s and park trailers are finding it a challenge, particularly our smaller members who don’t have the staff to adequately cover two exhibit areas.
RVB: One other thing: What’s the latest news regarding the California RV Show? Considering the storms and torrential rain in California during last year’s show, which actually caused the show to close down for a day, how are things looking for this year?
Hutya: Great. I’d say exhibitor and dealer confidence in the show is very high; we’ve sold over 1,024,000 net square feet of exhibit space. Last year, even though we were closed for a day, we still increased attendance over the previous year. So this year we think we’ll do much better. We’re looking forward to a really big and successful show.