I went to the New Mexcio RV Dealers Show this weekend at the state fair grounds in Albuquerque. The large California RV show is also going on in October as usual in Pomona but it is too far of a trip for me right now. The first thing I noticed was that the admission was free and the parking charge was waived for those attending the RV show as well. Business is hurting in the economy. Many RV manufacturers have gone bankrupt and there are only a few left that haven't. So it makes sense that they want to eliminate any obstacle to coming out and at least looking at current models.
The overall size was kind of weak compared to many RV Shows in the past. When you consider the economy however, I thought it was nice. All kinds were well represented. From super sized Class A models that are more expensive than many houses to small bare bones pop up campers. I saw a couple of interesting new models that I hadn't seen before in person.
One interesting thing that stood out after a little while was the behavior of the sales people. I was ignored the whole time. I don't necessarily want to be bugged and followed around. Yet I do expect someone to approach me over the course of an hour or two of looking at RVs. There were a few times when I salesman caught my eye but then immediately approached an older couple that was nearby. They were targeting what they apparently believe to be the most likely buyers. Older couples. I was alone and I'm far from retiring.
In this economy, it was noteworthy that some sales people either went after a profile market or just stood alone waiting for what they thought looked like a customer. Big mistake because you never know who your customer might be. I wasn't there with a specific plan to buy on the spot but someone could have tried showing me something. We expect it a little bit more don't we?
And with some RVs, I wanted to look in compartments and see more of the details that are never shown on websites or in brochures. The difference is in the details to me. I can see the same counters, dinettes and couches over and over again anywhere. I want to see the guts, evaluate the quality and get into the bones of an RV. But most all were closed and locked. You had to find a sales person and hope they could find a key to open some little compartment. My biggest challenge was to find someone who could provide me with information about a couple truck campers that I was interested in hearing more about for some off road camping . I would like to find something for a Tacoma 4×4, which is small but ideal for my solo explorations. My shorter motor home doesn't quite go everywhere I would like it to go. The one dealer that had truck campers at the show told me in answer to my question, “that's such a narrow market. The sales aren't there in numbers.” As they have Eagle products on the lot, I follow up with, “I thought I read that Eagle makes the product” that I wanted. He responds with “Go see that dealer over there. They have some info and another company that makes something like that.” So he sends a potential customer away to see another dealer that doesn't have any truck campers on-site, has no information and salespeople that only go after the older couples. I followed one salesman up and down three rows trying to catch up with him but never could. He was busy walking for something. So I left and will have to continue my research on the internet.
Now is the time that innovation wins. Great customer service wins. Listening to customers wins. There are more niches and options that can be filled for customers out there if someone will listen. It easy to aim for the mass market and just blend in with everything else. What stood out at the show? The row of three Gulfstream trailers. Also the Winnebago Via. And I had to wait to look inside every one of those.
This show reinforced my previous experiences at recent shows. The RV business is still in trouble and needs to change it's mindset. What do you think?