By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
Imagine my surprise Saturday morning when I opened my email after a grueling week at the National RV Trade Show and a exhausting 12.5-hour drive from Louisville, Ky., to Bradenton, Fla.
The message, from the RV Industry Association, enticed me to find out how I did at the show. My goodness, I thought, I didn’t even know they were watching!
My excitement quickly burst when I opened the email to discover my “influencer score” was rated as 50 out of 100. Dead in the middle. I was influencing as many people as I was having no influence whatsoever.
I was invited to share my event performance and, although it is anything but glowing, I figured I’d share it here rather than on some social media platform. According to RVIA, I have:
- Zero followers
- Zero comments
- Zero likes
- Zero following
- Zero bookmarks
- Zero conversations
Yet, my influencer score still ranked me at 50 out of 100. That’s not bad, given the above data tracked by RVIA.
My paltry score is remarkable considering that I only downloaded the app. When I attempted to open it, I had to first give RVIA permission to access my contact list. That seemed kind of strange. I tried working around that requirement, but couldn’t find a back door.
Really, why would access to my contact list be required to download and open an app to find a booth number, schedule and a map? So, I immediately uninstalled the app. Wiped it off my phone. Never used it. Not even once.
Yet, my influencer score ranked me 50 out of 100.
The email encouraged me not to feel too badly because the average score was 75 based on usage at the event.
Just think, I may have greatly increased my influencer ranking if I had simply completed the installation on my phone and used it one time. I may have even reached 100 if I took a stupid selfie at the show and popped it on Facebook.
“Hi, Mom, I made it to the National RV Trade Show. Here’s me climbing a fake rock! You’d be proud of me because I have an influencer score of 100.”
It was precisely because I figured RVIA would be tracking my interaction with contacts, my social media posts, the number of followers I have, the number of people I am following — and who they all are — which prompted me to delete the app from my phone.
In light of the email message and notification of my “influencer score,” I’m glad I did. I don’t want the association to really know the scope of my influence in the RV industry. The RVIA staff gives me too much credit for being able to change minds as it is.
Speaking of changing minds, did anyone catch the announcement made last Wednesday in the middle of the National RV Trade Show. According to the headline, industry leaders promise to improve the RV experience. The statement was issued by RVIA, the RV Dealers Association and the RVDA of Canada.
Short and sweet, here’s what it said:
“Over the past decade, the elected officers of RVDA and RVIA have met twice per year to discuss issues critical to the health of the RV industry. Over the last 12 months, this group has met several times to specifically address the most pressing issues around the end user experience, and all parties agreed that while significant investment and improvements have occurred in the areas of parts and service, there is still work to do.
“This morning, that leadership team, coupled with RVDA of Canada and a select group of representatives from the industry’s largest suppliers and distributors, agreed to invest in a third-party facilitated process to identify the primary actions needed to best improve our service-related issues.
“Our industry remains committed to the continued growth and prosperity of the RV industry, and this investment is the next step in the journey to improving the RV consumer experience.”
I know I’m a poor influencer, but let me attempt to interpret this for you.
Reading between the lines, we learn that industry leaders are so focused on improving the RVing experience for millions of disgruntled customers that they have been meeting two whole days a year for a decade to determine what’s wrong and how to fix it. Let’s assume those were full eight-hour days with a working lunch.
That means they invested 180 hours over the past 10 years into the process by talking among themselves. I’d bet my Christmas bonus on the fact that not one single RV owner was invited to any one of those meetings.
Talking among themselves didn’t work so well as the number of angry, disgruntled customers is growing and they’re becoming more vocal in their dissatisfaction with RV product quality, getting RVs serviced and their overall RV experience. They are also hiring lawyers, which certainly can’t be good.
So, the industry leaders promise to hire an expert to come in and talk with them about their problems. Let’s call this person a guidance counselor.
God, I wish I had RVIA’s money to invest in “outside third-party facilitators” to lead discussions.
This reminds me of the time I served on a local school board for two years. The school district had about 3,000 students, but spent about $30 million on outside consultants and experts to help them figure out what parents and students wanted from their public schools.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest a practical way to invest 180 hours in getting an up close and personal education on what’s wrong with the “RV experience.”
Rather than meeting in some swanky hotel at some resort somewhere, everyone in the group agrees to rent an RV for 10 days. If there are 20 people in the group, then there would be 20 rentals. No fair sharing. You want the full experience.
Plot a route where each person either drives or tows an RV for five hours a day. At the end of that day, they have to set up the RV. They should livestream their experience or at least blog about it on a common website, assuming they can get an internet connection at the campgrounds they visit.
Then, the next day they tear down the RVs and continue their journey.
As members fall out of the caravan because their RVs break and they have to find a repair center, the others can continue on the journey. At the end of 10 days, the remaining members will have a college-level education on what’s wrong with the RV experience.
They don’t need a high-priced consultant to “guide their process” of learning. They simple need to get out from behind their desks and into one of the products the industry builds — just like 400,000 people did this year.
My guess is that 10 days later they will have an excellent idea as to why there were 9 million RV owning households in 1997 and there are still only 9 million RV owning households today.
If this group takes my advice, I guarantee their influencer scores will be off the charts — and they won’t need some silly app to tell them that!