Attracting a broad cross section of the RVing community, the 34th running of the Jan. 16-20 Florida RV SuperShow nosed out last year’s record attendance by around 1,200 as organizers reported the final tally showed 74,286 RVers toured the host of displays at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
Lance Wilson, executive director for the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), reported that less than ideal weather conditions over the final two days may have impacted final attendance numbers.
“We had pretty good weather, until the weekend,” Wilson told RVBUSINESS.com, adding that around 40-50 dealers showed product, many with multiple displays. “Saturday, we had a wind advisory with 30-40 mile-per-hour gusts. And then Sunday it was cold, at least by Florida standards, with temperatures not getting much above 50 degrees.
“That may have cut down a bit on attendance, but overall it was a very successful show. We had a lot of northerners and they’re a hearty group. Wednesday was really good, and Thursday was significantly bigger than last year. Bottom line is our dealers and manufacturers reported there was a lot of product sold.”
Ben Hirsch, chief operating officer of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Campers Inn, offered, “I’d say we had a good show. We had two locations and we saw a lot of traffic at both, and we retailed quite a few units. I know there was some weather issues on Sunday, but all in all I’d say we’re pleased.”
Featuring around 1,500 RVs and over 400 vendors displaying on 24 acres, the show has traditionally drawn a mix of demographics ranging from first-timers to long-time RVers looking to upgrade or downsize.
“The type of people you see depends on the day,” Wilson related. “On Saturday and Sunday there generally is a younger crowd because they have to work during the week. That’s kind of been a trademark of the show in that it brings in a good representation of the different age groups in the industry.”
Also reflecting that wide demographic were sales that covered all sectors of the RV industry.
Wilson noted, “I talked to some dealers, and from what I could gather, towable sales outweighed motorized. But then I spoke with Joe Jackson of North Trail RV in Fort Myers, which specializes in motorhomes, and he told me they sold almost everything in their display.”
Tim Lowry, marketing director at North Trail RV in Fort Myers, Fla., confirmed that “The show went very well and we sold quite a few units. We didn’t sell a lot of the very top-end coaches at the show, but we sold a lot of the midrange to upper midrange products like Newmar’s Dutch Star and products like that.
“The people at the show were serious buyers,” Lowry continued. “They knew what they wanted. They were not tire kickers. They came in and said this is what we want, and they bought it. Honestly, that is unusual because there are a lot of shows where you do real well, but for all the buyers you also have those people that are just starting their search that our research tells us can be a six month to over a year process.”
Don Strollo, CEO and president of RV One Superstores, also saw an uptick in traffic and sales at the SuperShow. “RV One found the Tampa Super Show to be slightly better than 2018. High-volume selling units included small motorized, lightweight towables, entry-level diesel pusher Class A’s and the mid-priced Airstream towables.
“We had all hands on deck this past week, with every executive from our company present and assisting with consumer interactions and various parts of the sales process. This is always an important show for us, but especially this year with the recent opening of two new stores in the Tampa area.”
Wilson maintained that results from the SuperShow may have quelled talk of a slowdown in the industry, at least in the Southeast.
“I think there was a pretty positive vibe across the board from OEMs and dealers,” he offered. “Whatever the slowdown is that some people are talking about didn’t translate in Tampa. I guess sometimes it’s a matter of perspective, but I just didn’t hear that from our dealers.”
Scott Degnan, vice president and general manager of Winnebago Towables, also acknowledged that the SuperShow “was better than expected.”
“We didn’t know what to expect going in,” Degnan noted. “Show traffic has been great in some spots and not so great in others. We had a follow up meeting, and everybody was excited about the turnout. We got a lot of good comments about our products, including two new models that we just launched, a Micro Minnie ultralight fifth-wheel and our Spyder toy hauler. Both were very well received.”
Wilson looks for the trend to continue in Florida for the remainder of the show season.
“We’re just ecstatic everyone had a great show we’re a little different from the rest of the country,” he added. “Right now, we’re in the heat of our season and judging by the SuperShow, I’d say it looks like our sales season will be good one.”