The positive economic prospects for the RV industry literally drew cheers during the Outlook 2004 Breakfast on Tuesday (Dec. 2), the traditional kickoff of the Louisville Show.
The event brought approximately 1,000 RV industry dealers, suppliers and manufacturers to the Executive West Hotel for reports on the industry’s performance, RVIA’s Go RVing program and highlights from the Reston, Va.-based association’s public relations efforts, according to the Elkhart Truth.
“We have every reason to be pretty tickled,” reported Claire Skinner, RVIA chairwoman and chairwoman of Coachmen Industries Inc., Elkhart, Ind.
Skinner noted that industry shipments are on target for their second highest level in 25 years and a 2.3% gain is forecast for 2004
“We do have a lot to be thankful for,” said David Humphreys, RVIA president. He tied the post-9/11 surge – a 20% climb in 2002 shipments at a time when most other segments of the travel industry floundered – to the RVIA’s Go RVing advertising and public relations campaign, the Truth reported.
“None of these industries have close to what we have in positive image,” he said.
The public has bought into the Go RVing advertising campaign’s “pursue your passions” theme, he noted, in stark contrast to the ’73-’74 and ’79-’80 eras when Americans considered RVs “gas guzzlers and unpatriotic.”
Other highlights included:
• A report on the Go RVing campaign by Gary LaBella, RVIA vice president of public relations and advertising, and Tom Faludy, chairman of the Go RVing Coalition and president of Carefree of Colorado, Broomfield, Colo. Analysis of the campaign’s results showed that the RV industry has spent $13 million on Go RVing in 2003 – a 37% increase over 2002 – with a 62% increase in consumer leads to RV dealers.
• A multimedia presentation of RV television and print highlights given by LaBella and B.J. Thompson, chairman of the RVIA’s Public Relations Committee and president of B.J. Thompson & Associates, Mishawaka, Ind. The video portion of the presentation showed positive depictions of RVing by such celebrities as Tom Hanks, Dolly Parton Conan O’Brien and Jack Nicholson.
• RVIA’s “Spirit of America Award” given to Joe Cahn, the self-proclaimed commissioner of tailgating, who stripped off a gray suit to reveal shorts and a football jersey after walking onto the stage. Cahn, who will travel 30,000 miles this fall to some 45 football stadiums in his motorhome, led the crowd in a rousing chant of “Go RV!” that resounded throughout the hall.
“You are in the happiness business,” Cahn shouted to the crowd.