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RVs Up Nearly 10% In First Half Of 2014

Total wholesale shipments of all RVs in June this year were reported at 32,809 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) survey of manufacturers, an increase of 6.2% compared to this same month one year earlier.

Towable RVs increased 6.5% on shipments of 29,184 units while motorhome shipments were ahead by 3.7% on 3,625 units shipped to dealers in the month of June.  Seasonally adjusted, June’s total represented an annualized rate of nearly 325,000 units, slightly less than the previous month.

Through the first six months this year shipments of all RVs have now risen to 192,065 units, ahead of last year’s performance by 9.8% and at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of more than 350,000 units.  Through June, towable RVs accounted for 87.8% of all RVs shipped while motorhomes represented 12.2%.

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RVIA Officially Promoting Park Model RVs

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue representing park model RV manufacturers as members of the association during their meeting on June 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C., according to information from RVIA.

In the spring of 2012, RVIA and the Recreation Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) reached an agreement allowing park model manufacturers to join RVIA as members for a two-year trial period.

RPTIA mothballed their association during that time with RVIA representing the park model industry on a wide range of issues under the guidance of a dedicated staff person, Matt Wald, RVIA's park model RV executive director.

Upon the successful completion of the trial period this year, RVIA's board unanimously supported the continued representation of park model RV manufacturers by the association.

The move means RVIA will continue to work on making sure government entities at all levels recognize that the park models many campgrounds use as rental units are recreational vehicles rather than permanent structures.

RVIA leaders attended last year’s meeting of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) and have been working with campground-franchise giant Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) on issues of interest to the RV and campground industries, issues like extended-stay campers, Wald told Woodall’s Campground Management.

During RVIA’s committee week in D.C., the board also agreed with the park model committee’s plan to work with The Richards Group on a seasonal camping branding project to identify key message points to use in marketing efforts to promote seasonal camping.

In addition, RVIA’s board a five-day spring RVIA retail show at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., with the exact dates to be determined. The fall RVIA show at the same venue is a major show, and RVIA works with the California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (CalARVC) to promote campgrounds as well as RVs at the fall show.

The association agreed to increase the advertising budget for the California RV Show by $25,000 to fund advertising in San Diego and advertising targeted to Hispanic audiences.

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Forecast: RV Shipments Will Rise In '14 and '15

The RV industry’s shipments will total 349,400 units in 2014, an 8.8% increase above the 2013 total of 321,127, according to a new forecast by RV industry analyst Dr. Richard Curtin.

Curtin released the forecast at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) joint-committee luncheon Monday (June 2), saying RV shipments are also expected to rise for a sixth consecutive year in 2015 with wholesale production forecasted to reach 360,100 units, a gain of 3.1% over the projected 2014 total, and the industry’s highest total since 2006.

The estimated total for 2014 is up 111% from the industry’s 2009 recession low, the RVIA said in a written announcement. Because of a strong consumer response to the versatility, affordability and innovative designs of new models, RV shipments through the first four months of 2014 were up 11.0% over the same period in 2013. RVIA shipment data reflect the strong appeal of RVs across the range of product types with double-digit increases in conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheels, Class A motorhomes, Class B motorhomes and Class C motorhomes.

“The RV industry’s promising future is based on gains in jobs, incomes and household wealth,” said Curtin, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual committee week. “Rising home values will continue to strengthen home equity, and along with higher stock prices, will bolster the willingness and ability of new RV buyers.”

The revival of the RV industry following the recession is due to the creation of new products that are valued by consumers, Curtin told the audience.

“Innovative products result from a company’s culture that encourages active participation of all employees in the design, production and marketing of RVs,” Curtin said.

Great concepts do not guarantee great products, Curtin cautioned attendees. “Great products are made by how the countless details are executed to meet the diverse needs of consumers,” he said.

RV makers continue to benefit from people’s strong attachment to the RV lifestyle, Curtin said. Consumers have adjusted their RV preferences to meet their new economic realities, and RV manufacturers have adjusted their product lines to reflect those changes. Both RVers and RV manufacturers must be recognized as early adapters to changing economic conditions, Curtin told the gathering.

“The RV marketplace has confirmed the perfect match between the continuous innovative process used by RV manufacturers and suppliers and the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle among consumers,” Curtin said.

 

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RVIA Promotes Outdoor Lifestyle At Auto Show

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 3.45.46 PMFor the first time, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) participated in the media days at the New York International Auto Show, held annually in New York City. RVIA used a 2015 Fleetwood Storm, provided to the association as its media loan vehicle this year, to host an array of reporters attending the auto show April 18-27.

In addition, Long Island RV dealer Jim McAlpin displayed two towable units – a small folding camping trailer and a handicap accessible travel trailer – inside the Javits Center during the event.

Reporters from several print and online outlets stopped by for meetings and tours of the motorhome and towables, including Business Week (which published an online story about the RV industry), Jalopnik.com, Forbes (which taped an interview with an RVIA spokesman that will be posted online in the coming weeks), About.com, Car & Driver, MotorTrend, as well as New York City newspapers. In the photo, Joann Muller of Forbes prepares to tour the motorhome with her photographer.

“The New York Auto Show offered a unique opportunity for the RVIA PR team to interact with reporters interested in writing automotive stories in a relaxed, low-pressure environment,” said Kevin Broom, RVIA’s director of media relations. “Media members were impressed by the motorhome and went away with a wealth of industry talking points and information for future stories.”

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RV Shipments Up 13% In First Quarter

Wholesale shipments of all RVs advanced 16.4% in March over the March total one year ago, rising to 33,678 units, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported today (April 25).

The March total was 9.3% more than one month earlier and the best March shipments total since 2007, RVIA said in a written announcement.

March towable RVs were reported at 29,558 units, up 14.4% over March one year ago, while motorhomes grew 33.5% to 4,120 units.

Year to date, first quarter RV shipments tracked by RVIA have now climbed to 89,971 units, 13.3% ahead of this same period last year. This was the best start for RV shipments since 2007 with all towables reported at 78,846 units and ahead of last year by 11.2%.

All motorhome shipments did even better gaining 30.9% over first quarter last year in rising to 11,125 units.

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RVIA Opening An Elkhart Office May 1

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will officially open its new regional office in Elkhart, Ind., on May 1 and host an open house for members and guests from 1-5 p.m. on the afternoon of May 8 following the RVBusiness RV Industry Power Breakfast program that morning.

After announcing plans to establish the office at RVIA’s Annual Meeting in March, association staff have been working the last two months on the administrative and logistical details to open the facility, which is located in an office complex in eastern Elkhart at 663 CR 17.

RVIA’s regional office will be staffed by Sharonne Lee, RVIA’s director of education, who is moving to the Elkhart area from the association’s Reston, Va., headquarters, and Scott Graham, the newly hired national show director, who is relocating from his previous job with the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colo. There will also be offices for RVIA’s team of inspectors to work from as needed when in the area, RVIA said today (April 24) in a written announcement.

“In looking at how to structure the office we felt that having elements of the show, RV standards inspection and industry technical training functions staffed there offered the best approach as these areas typically have the most regular interaction between RVIA’s members and staff,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “Sharonne and Scott are eager to get started at the new office, and I know that both will do a fantastic job in representing RVIA in the Elkhart area.”

There will also be office space for other RVIA vice presidents and senior staff to use when traveling to Elkhart on association business. “In addition to the personnel who will be based there permanently, we are making it a priority to have other RVIA staff in Elkhart to meet with members at their facilities or to host them at the regional office so we can develop a keener understanding of the issues impacting their businesses and they can learn more about all that RVIA does on their behalf,” Coon said.

“With the consolidation of the RV industry, now more than ever a great majority of our members are located in northern Indiana,” he added. “As an association we felt it was important to establish this regional office to provide easier access to RVIA for our members, to enhance the lines of communication that we have with them, and to have the association become a part of the community.”

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Town Hall Slated For RV Power Breakfast

PrintThe Recreation Vechicle Industry Association (RVIA), which has been working closely with people in the RV park and campground industry and will soon open a new satellite office in Elkhart, Ind., will present several current-interest topics during a casual, off-the-record session in conjunction with the RV Industry Power Breakfast on May 8 at the Northern Indiana Event Center in the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

The RVIA Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for 10:30-11:30 a.m. following the main program in Ingram Hall, according to RVBusiness. Presenters for each topic will be introduced with background and updates before opening for discussion.

Topics and presenters are as follows:

• National RV Trade Show (Louisville) – Discussion will include new show features that are under consideration and analysis of location and reorganization of show staff. Presenters: James Ashurst, RVIA vice-president of communications & marketing and Scott Graham, RVIA’s new national show director.

• RV Service Technician Training Pilot Program – Update of pilot program findings and direction of the program, successes and hurdles. Presenters: Sharonne Lee, RVIA director of technical information and Mel Adams, Airxcel Inc. president.

• Trends in Extended-Stay Camping – Update on extended-stay and destination camping trends to identify opportunities through coordinated initiatives of private and public campgrounds. Presenters: Matt Wald, RVIA park trailer executive director and Jim Rogers, Kampgrounds of America Inc. CEO.

• RV Transportation Update – Review of the initiatives being explored to address expediting the shipment of RVs from manufacturers to dealers. Presenters: Jay Landers, RVIA director of government affairs and Maryellen Adams, employment network account executive.

• Legislative and Regulatory Developments – Update and analysis of current legislative and regulatory issues affecting the RV industry; e.g., “vehicle” titles for park models, RV-specific franchise laws and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and its extensive impact regarding products containing imported wood. Presenter: Dianne Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs.

All attendees to the Power Breakfast, facilitated by RVBusiness magazine (sister publication to Woodall's Campground Management), are invited to the Town Hall Meeting as part of their event registration.

“We’re eager to open up a genuine, off-the-record conversation among our guests,” said BJ Thompson, event coordinator and Town Hall moderator. “We’ll be connecting people that have a front-row seat to the real-life conditions surrounding these topics with those who know how to affect change. And that’s really the essence of what the Power Breakfast is all about.”

Tickets to the Power Breakfast ($30 for singles or $225 for a table of 8) are available at RVBusiness.com, the RV/MH Hall of Fame or RVBusiness’s Elkhart office at 2901 E. Bristol Street.

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Utah Recognizes Park Model RVs as Vehicles

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is expected to sign in to law legislation that was supported by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and passed by the state’s Senate and House to classify park model RVs as vehicles under Utah law for purposes of registration, titling and taxation, according to a written update from RVIA.

The legislative initiative in Utah is part of RVIA’s continuing effort to clarify the regulation of park model RVs as a type of RV for state titling and taxation purposes.

Effective on Jan. 1, 2015, the new law:

• Establishes a definition of a park model RV within the motor vehicle code and revises the definition of vehicle to include park model RVs.

• Requires park model RVs to be registered annually.

• Establishes that park model RVs upon registration will be issued a decal in lieu of license plates.

• Requires that 2015 and newer park model RVs must be titled, and allows owners of older park model RVs to request that the DMV issue a title for older park model RV.

• Exempts park model RVs from the requirement for a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection prior to initial registration.

• Exempts park model RVs from the requirement that vehicles over 12,000 pounds GVWR have the GVWR displayed on the left and right sides of the vehicle.

• Clarifies that park model RVs cannot be registered and licensed as part of an interstate fleet.

• Establishes a registration fee for park model RVs based on weight at $69.50 for each park model RV of at least 12,000 pounds gross laden weight but not exceeding 14,000 pounds, plus $19 for each 2,000 pounds above 14,000 pounds.

• Excludes park model RVs from the Motor Vehicle Business Regulation Act (car franchise law).

• Includes park model RVs in the tangible personal property tax provisions and establish a tax rate equivalent to that of a travel trailer.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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RV Shipments Continue Growing

Wholesale shipments of all RVs continued to rise in January but at a slower pace than last year.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported that wholesale shipments totaled 25,467 units, 4.5% greater than the same month last year and the best January total since 2007. Folding camping trailers and truck campers were the only categories of RVs to see a decline.

Severe weather across the country affected the ability to build, ship and sell new product in January this year and there is confidence of even better results in the coming months.

Towable RV shipments grew to 22,199 units in January, 1.8% better than a year ago. Motorhomes were up 26.8% on shipments of 3,268 units raising this category to 12.8% of all RV shipments in January.

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RVIA: Million+ Snowbirds Head South

Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla.

Snow in 49 of the 50 states is good news for the sun belt. Campgrounds in southern California, Texas, Florida and Arizona are seeing a boom in occupancy for December-March with travelers seeking a respite from this winter's ravaging snow and plummeting temperatures.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that more than one million RVers will use their RV this winter to head to warmer climates, spending on average 12 weeks at campgrounds throughout the sun belt, according to a press release from the RVIA.

"RVing has always been popular in the winter months but this year has been exceptionally successful for campgrounds. Every segment of traveler is discovering that RVing is affordable, easy and most importantly, flexible," said Richard Coon, RVIA president. "RVers can stay at a campground for as long as they would like or travel throughout the season without worrying about any long-term commitments, an option not afforded traditional seasonal rentals. If you want a new view, just pick up and go."

The most popular sun-belt state for snowbirds is Florida, with campgrounds seeing an ever-expanding demographic of travelers who will spend the winter months working while escaping the cold weather.

"We are at 100% occupancy for February and March and up 20% for April over last year. This winter has been great for us," said Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla. "We're seeing the retirees that you would expect to be snowbirds, but also a growing number of younger folks who are telecommuting. With technology, you can really work anywhere, so why not spend the winter on the beach if you can?"

However, campgrounds are doing more than just relying on good weather and warm beaches to attract the competitive snowbird market. They're adding amenities that rival traditional hotel resorts. Two years ago, Sun-N-Fun (which was profiled in January's issue of Woodall's Campground Management) opened an 18,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, infrared sauna and steam room. They also offer an onsite masseuse and sports therapist. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this campground is the Neurogym, equipped with computer programs and equipment that helps people learn how to reduce their stress and improve their mental well being.

"One of our programs is called Peak Brain Happiness," said Deputy. "It's designed for golfers and tennis players. We also have programs that help people quit smoking and reduce weight, too." While such extensive health and wellness facilities may seem like extreme investments, Deputy said the resort is trying to be responsive to the needs of its guests, who range from single working professionals and families to empty nesters and retirees.

"Many of our younger guests are interested in physical fitness, while many of our older guests are looking for tools to help rejuvenate themselves, both physically and mentally," Deputy said.

Services and amenities are increasingly more important for a campground to compete with other snowbird accommodations. The Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Calif., has garnered a reputation for outstanding entertainment seven days a week with tribute bands, jazz performances and dinner shows. They also cater to the pet-friendly traveler with a dog park and weekly Bark & Wine parties.

A significant portion of the snowbird community has always been RV travelers but a new trend is growing. Park model RVs are cabin-like homes built on RV chassis and are perfect for people who don't want to or can't own an RV, but still want the luxury of a home-away-from-home for much less than a seasonal condo or apartment rental. Park models now outnumber other RVs at the Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, with 600 RV sites, 810 privately owned park models and 105 park-model rentals.

Kathi and John Volger have traded in their fifth-wheel RV and bought a park model that they keep at Sun-N-Fun. "We had snow in New Jersey before Halloween this year and it was dark by 4 p.m.," Kathi Volger said. "We did a lot of sitting around complaining about the cold and couldn't wait to get to Florida for the winter." Because the Volgers own their park model, they can leave everything they want behind when they return home at the end of the season.

Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts, which offers more than 10,000 RV and park-model sites throughout the sun belt, expects to see a 6% increase in revenue over last winter. "The snowbird business is stronger than ever. The convergence of a steadily recovering economy, the demographic bulge of baby boomers who embrace travel and leisure, the ease of connectivity for travelers, and the growing appeal of RVing as a vibrant lifestyle will likely fuel growth for decades," said Colleen Edwards, president of Carefree RV Resorts. "What's particularly encouraging is that the snowbird season is extending every year with many of our guests, who have traditionally checked out in March, staying through April."

Texas has seen a particularly robust season this year as well, with parks from the central part of the state, known as the Texas Hill Country, to the southern border of the Rio Grande Valley reporting a year-to-year increase ranging from 5%-37%, that is credited to the severe winter weather in the north. But it's not just the campgrounds that are benefiting from this winter's frigid temperatures and record-breaking snow.

"According to a University of Texas Pan Am study of snowbirds, they spend nearly $100 a day when visiting Texas; so the economic impact to the whole community is significant," said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Helping fuel this boom is the strong performance of the RV industry that is surging back from the great recession. 2013 shipments hit a four-year high of 321,127 units – up 12.4% over 2012 totals and nearly double the amount of RVs shipped in 2009 at the depth of the recession for the industry.

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