FMCA Show Successful Despite Soft Economy
Although attendance was down substantially at the Family Motor Coach Association's (FMCA) 81st International Convention March 16-19 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga., organizers were pleased with the turnout.
FMCA reported that 2,774 family coaches registered for the event, down 27% from the 3,822 that attended FMCA's 2007 winter convention in Perry.
"With all the stories on the news about the economy, it ended up being a very successful show," said Jerry Yeatts, director of shows and commercial services for the Cincinnati, Ohio-based motorhome owners association. "Speaking to the indoor vendors, some of them said it was the best show they've had."
Presumably because of the economy, however, reservation cancellations ran higher than normal, Yeatts reported. "We probably had 8% who made reservations and canceled. Usually, the cancellation rate is about 5%," he said, noting that those canceling received a refund of their deposit.
Manufacturers brought 505 display coaches to Perry. "There were some sales, but probably not up to what has happened in the past," Yeatts said. "One manufacturer mentioned he sold 13 coaches and a couple of others said they sold about 10 each."
"Commercial members were very nervous," Yeatts added. "It was a stressful time for all exhibitors not knowing what is going to happen with the economy and wanting to hold on to their business. Hopefully, the economy has hit bottom and eventually, no matter how slowly, it will go back up."
Many of those attendees, meanwhile, also expressed concern about the economy, but were adamant about their plans to attend the Perry convention
Marvin Strickland and his wife, Gail, from Pooler, Ga., who attended the FMCA convention in their 2005 Winnebago Vectra, said they are adjusting their travel for this summer due to the economy. "I won't tell you that I'm going to drive to Alaska this year," Strickland said. "I just make my trips shorter than what I did."
Bob and Phyllis Kreinder from Pensacola, Fla., drove their Fleetwood Discovery motorhome to the convention. "Attending the FMCA is something we do, so we just keep on doing it," said Kreinder, a retired school teacher and flight instructor. "We are sort of prepared for it.
"Plus, I think the economy is going to get better. We already are invested in a motorhome and it's worse if it sits than if it doesn't, so we hit the road.
FMCA's 82nd International Convention will be July 20-23 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, a first-time venue. "Reservations are coming in pretty steady," Yeatts said. "There seems a lot of excitement about going to Bowling Green."