Detroit RV Show Reports Good Attendance, Great Interest – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

The 2024 Detroit RV & Camping Show, which was Jan. 31-Feb. 4 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich., offered a bit of encouragement for those looking for any positive sign the market might be on its way back.

Hosted by the Michigan Association of RVs & Campgrounds (MARVAC), there were 20,470 people in attendance – which is off just 2.2% from the 20,950 attendance the prior year.

MARVAC President John Lindley summed it up thusly: “It was a great show.”

John Lindley

“Based on what we had heard from our colleagues in the RV industry and in other industries at consumer retail shows, we were prepared to be down a few thousand attendees – and we started tracking in that direction. Wednesday and Thursday we were down 17, 18%,” Lindley said. “But then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were fantastic and we more than made up for where we had lost a little bit of ground earlier in the week. So, it’s remarkable for attendance to be flat like that. Given what we have been hearing, I’m extremely happy.”

Lindley added that he heard only positive feedback from RV dealers and exhibitors who participated in the show.

“The input that I received from the dealerships was that they were ecstatic with the traffic and extremely happy with their sales. And, from a campground and parts and accessories perspective, again, it was the same feedback,” he said. “Everybody was very happy with the traffic, very happy with the interactions that they had with consumers. We had a lot of campgrounds that sold seasonal sites. We had a lot of new relationships that were made. So truly overall, I can’t provide you with anything outside of positive feedback.”

Echoing those sentiments was Lorean Baidas, CEO of Wixom, Mich.-based General RV Center, who described the show as having “great customer sentiment.”

Loren Baidas

“The show had a great attendance and lots of current and potential customers we’ll need to follow up with. Everyone was positive and it’s an encouraging sign for what should be a good year,” he said.

Baidas added that other shows in which General RV has participated have been more of a mixed bag. Whereas attendance at some shows were more or less flat year over year, others have been down. Likewise, sales have been up down or flat depending on the show, too.

“I think certain things regionally are off a little bit, but we’re seeing certain shows have lots of success. Some shows have decent success and some go backwards a little bit. So, it just seems to be different parts of the country,” Baidas said.

Matt Veurink, general manager of Veurink’s RV Center, Grand Rapids, Mich., also said the show started off a little slow but poicked up over the weekend.

“We saw a good amount of buyers, and we’re seeing a lot of people that bought in ’20 ’20, ’21 and ’22, who are starting to trade in. So, the last two shows we’ve worked – between Grand Rapids and this one – we’re getting a record amount of trade-ins,” Veurink said. “That tells me that people are happy with the industry and the lifestyle, just maybe not thrilled with the product they bought a few years ago. So, now they’re buying the one that they want to love.”

Matt Veurink

He added that higher-end towabkles seem to be selling the best, and that has caused his to adjust his inventory projections for the hear.

“Motors are still really, really flat, but we are seeing that higher end fiberglass trailers start to move. So, we’ve probably got to revamp our inventory a little bit. We’re not seeing that first time buyer as much, so we need to look at bringing in units that’ll attract that second-, third-time buyer,” Veurink said, adding that most repeat customers aren’t under water to the point where it’s preventing them from trading in their current unit.

“The good news is pricing has come down. So, to move up, their difference in costs really isn’t as bad as you would think it would be,” he said. “Yes, they probably paid a little bit more in ’21, ’22, but now they’re paying a lot less in ’24. So, they’re able to make the trade in without affecting the financing on too bad.”

In addition, on the eve of the Detroit RV Show, MARVAC hosted its first ever Campground Vendor Showcase, which featured 13 vendors and over 40 registered park owners as well as separate presentations by Lindley and Scott Bahr of Cairn Consulting who dove deep into key industry stats and tailored his message to the Great Lakes State.

Lindley said he was “ecstatic” with the inaugural showcase.

“I would’ve loved some more attendance from vendors and some more attendance from campgrounds, but this was our first time doing it and we need to build some momentum so people begin to associate that event and the value that that event brings with MARVAC,” Linldey said. “But I’m very confident that we’re going to be successful in doing so. Those 40 or so campground owner operators that were in attendance and the 12 exhibiting vendors that were there unquestionably saw the value in the event. Both the brief education that they received, the opportunity to interact with each other, and then the time to share best practices with colleagues. It was great.”