TAMPA, Fla. — The rush of visitors to the 2017 Florida RV Supershow at the fairgrounds in Tampa last week caught everyone by surprise, forcing vendors to scramble to reorder product to ship to the show to meet weekend demand, RV Daily Report learned.
A total of 70,528 people came to the show this year, which smashed the record set at the 2015 show by more than 7,000 people. A total of 62,965 attended last year, which just missed the 2015 record by less than 300 people. That could be blamed on bad weather during the last day of the event. A total of 63,264 people attended the 2015 show, which was the previous record.
“This is the first time in my recollection that we had four really good days of weather at the show,” Lance Wilson, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association, told RV Daily Report. “That changes everything. If the weather is lousy even one day, it has a huge impact on turnout.”
The 2016 show was battered by two partial days of rain and tornado activity in the area, he explained. This year was a different story as crowds enjoyed four days of sunshine, low humidity, a nice breeze and temperatures in the low 80s. The show was cut short on Sunday as a storm cut through the area just before closing bringing wind up to 40 mph.
“On opening day last Wednesday, we had just under 19,000 people, but on Saturday, we saw more than 20,000 people at the show,” Wilson said. “We had reports of record sales by manufacturers and vendors alike.”
Wilson said that Jason Humphreys, with Airstream, described the show as the best in 15 years. And he saw a published report that Lazydays claimed to have sold 400 RVs at the event.
“The product vendors were ecstatic and the first-time exhibitors were overwhelmed,” Wilson explained. “After opening day, they were scrambling to ensure they had enough product for the rest of the show.”
J.D. Hoffman, with Winegard Company, hadn’t been to the Florida RV Supershow in five years, but he told RV Daily Report he was greatly impressed by this year’s crowd.
“Overall, we were happy with the traffic and sales and there was a lot of interest in the new ConnecT WiFi product,” he said. “There was lots of interest, we sold quite a few units, and several customers came back and talked about positive experiences they had with our product.”
Last week’s event was a continuation of successful shows for FRVTA. Traffic at the fall RV show was up 2,000 people over the year before — and it took place immediately following November’s elections.
“When I talked to people last week, they just seemed to have more confidence and were really glad the election was over,” Wilson said. “People were coming in the door smiling and excited to check out the products.”
The county sheriff might not have been so happy. Heavy vehicle traffic shut down the Interstate highway near the fairgrounds of a few occasions, which required deputies to reroute traffic to other streets.
This was the largest show the FRVTA has ever put on with a total of 1,561 RVs on display, which was up 200 units over the 2016 show.
“We had a lot of iron on the ground and, from that standpoint, we were thankful that manufacturer support was so strong,” said Wilson. “More RVs meant more dealers and they were very satisfied with sales at the show.”
What makes the Tampa show so appealing is that attendance at the event drives RV sales at local dealership for months following, he explained. The association will sponsor 10 additional RV shows around Florida over the next 90 days. It’s not unusual for people to check out the units at the big event, then pull the trigger to buy an RV at a local RV show from local dealers, he added.
“When you lump it all together, that’s a lot of business,” said Wilson. He noted the Fort Myers RV Show opens today and he already talked to an RV dealer in that area who reported four sales this week as a result of someone seeing an RV up in Tampa.
“Last year, we had an RV manufacturer track all the leads they got at the Tampa show and discovered that 50 percent of the visitors went home and bought an RV from a local dealer,” he explained. “The show has a strong ripple-down effect on dealers throughout the southeastern United States.”
When organizing a show of that size, the association has to focus on serving three types of customers — RV manufacturers who buy the space, RV dealers who sell the units, and consumers who come to the event to buy them.
“We are very happy to have been able to fulfill our purpose and deliver on an event that made everyone happy,” said Wilson. “Florida is becoming a year-round tourist state and the population of residents continues to grow.”
The 2018 Florida RV Supershow is slated for Jan. 16 to 21 also at the Florida State Fairgrounds. For more information, visit www.frvta.org/show/florida-rv-supershow.