UNITED STATES — With 2019 just a few weeks away, RV owners and potential buyers are already thinking of exciting road trips to take in the New Year. And travelers are not the only ones planning future journeys. Manufacturers of RVs and aftermarket sellers are also looking at new designs and technology to make those expeditions even more exciting and fun.
On the horizon are things such as electric-powered camper-trailers emitting zero emissions; solar-powered rigs for self-sufficiency; even lighter, faster RVs to tow with small cars; hybrid models; smarter appliances; heightened connectivity; helium technology; and high-end lithium batteries. These innovative products and design trends can already be seen in current models, poised to attract a new kind of buyer.
“Today’s consumer is changing, and the next generation of buyer is unlike anything we have seen to date,” said RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer.
Targeting that new generation of buyers, there are companies already creating advanced products. One company, TH2, a joint venture between Thor Industries, Inc. and Tourism Holdings Ltd., has introduced Togo, an app for RV owners that will track maintenance, keep service records, and send notifications when it’s time for scheduled maintenance, among other features.
“We are constantly evaluating ways to improve the overall RV experience for our customers,” said Bob Martin, Thor president and CEO. “Through this joint venture, we believe we can offer a variety of products and services that provide invaluable benefits, via digital connectivity, to an evolving consumer base. As the breadth of our consumer base continues to widen, with more and more younger consumers entering the market, we must provide them with innovative solutions to not only capture their interest, but also to retain them as life-long customers.”
Another company, Opentrends, is developing apps for driver safety. This tech design company created the first app in the automotive industry supported by CarPlay which takes the user interface of an iPhone and puts it onto the infotainment screen of the car’s dashboard.
“Opentrends is a step ahead in the use of existing technologies to streamline and improve services within a new mobility paradigm,” said Anselm Bossacoma, strategic advisor to Opentrends. “Right now there is a disconnection between the RV customer, the manufacturers, suppliers and the dealers. We want to close this gap by using digitally connected systems. Bringing the RV into the digital space offers a range of possibilities to take advantage of the data generated by their sensors. This real-time connectivity is an opportunity to enhance the RV industry as whole, significantly ameliorating manufacturing, service and customer experience. Digital integration as part of an overall service-product market strategy, can lead to cost savings for the manufacturers, better RVs for the customers, simplified warranty processes and increased sales for the dealers.”
To showcase our industry’s best-selling products and innovations like these, bound to attract new and current RVers alike, the RV Industry Association is launching RVX, the industry’s biggest trade and market development event. The goal of the event is to better connect and align dealer inventories to the millions of new ready-to-buy consumers seeking outdoor experiences.
“RVX will be a venue for wholesale buying and learning – where all attendees will hear first-hand what the consumer of the future is looking for, learn how to spot and react to emerging consumer trends, and how together, we can attract new consumers to the lifestyle and convert them into lifelong customers,” said Hugelmeyer.
The first ever RVX will be held March 12-14, 2019 in Salt Lake City, UT, at the renowned Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. Innovation will be highly celebrated at the first-ever “Reveal,” showcasing the RV industry’s best new products by means of nine consumer lifestyle categories including outdoor adventurers, families, tailgaters and spare-no-expense travelers. For dealers and aftermarket sellers, The Reveal promises to excite new and current consumers about the latest products and trends just as they have begun their search for the next big adventure or plan their spring and summer vacations.
Attracted by these new and future products, there is an emerging breed of RVer who is breaking the mold of those who have come before. More and more millennials are choosing the RV lifestyle, intrigued by new tech products, like solar RV roof panels and better internet connections, but also a new way to explore the country, driven by a need for freedom found in the great outdoors.
Hugelmeyer adds, “As we better connect our industry’s products to the core lifestyle choices of outdoor enthusiasts, we can attract many new customers to the RV lifestyle and continue to strengthen our ever-growing industry.”