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RV Shows - How to Prepare if You're in the Market

With the height of RV show season still in full swing, thousands of potential buyers are getting ready to attend one of the many fun-filled events taking place across the U.S. and Canada.

To help those looking to get the most out of their experience, we spoke with Ken Williamson, an RV show veteran and Newmar Sales Account Manager for the past 13 years.

What is the number one mistake shoppers make before attending an RV show?

Not doing their homework to determine what it is that they really want. People will walk into a 36-foot coach and say, Oh this is great, its exactly what we want. They’ll then proceed to walk into a 45-foot motor coach and realize that you can fit more into a 45-footer than you can a 36-footer. So they become absolutely overwhelmed, and end up leaving the show more uncertain than when they arrived.

So, the first thing you want to do is determine a minimum and maximum length you could live with comfortably, while keeping in mind that you don’t want to purchase a 40-foot coach if a 32-footer is the only thing that’s going to fit in your driveway. Think about whether you want a gas or diesel. Think about how many people your coach will have to sleep. All of this helps you to narrow your focus so that you’re not wasting your time examining coaches that don’t truly fit your needs.

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How do you help shoppers determine the right fit for their needs?

I compare buying an RV to buying a house. You’ve got to figure out whats important to you first. Are you going to be driving up steep mountain ranges? Are you going to be pulling a 15,000-lb. trailer? If you are, then your chassis and your engine are going to be key. If a guy walks up to me and says, I drive back and forth to Colorado from Maryland several times a year while pulling a 7,000 lb. truck, he probably doesn’t want a gas coach. He’s going to want the extra power that comes from having a diesel engine.

With that being said, we at Newmar completely understand that customers are always going to have questions, as they should. We know that part of the reason shoppers attend RV shows is to receive guidance from experienced product experts. It’s not always easy to decide on the right coach for you, and were here to help. That’s our job and we enjoy every second of it.

I tell every Newmar salesperson, “Listen to the customer!” Most of them will tell you exactly what they want. They may say something like, “Well, you know we’ve got our grandkids coming on trips with us,” which allows a salesperson to say, “Ok, well you need a sleeping arrangement that will accommodate four or five people.” Or, another customer might say, “We tailgate for a lot of football games.” That tells me that customer probably needs a large kitchen so that they can cook a lot of food. The bottom line is if you listen to people, they’ll tell you what they want, even if they don’t think they know what they want.

Is there anything you recommend people bring with them to a show?

One of the things I suggest is if you want to come in and measure a coach and see what it looks like with the slides in or any of that kind of thing, get to the show first thing in the morning. There wont be as much of a crowd and you can sit in different coaches and really get a feel for each one.

Don’t grab every brochure you come across. I see it all the time. People walk around grabbing this brochure and that brochure and at the end of the day they’re carrying around 10 pounds of product literature. If you know you’re in the market for a Class A coach, you’ll regret it later if you start loading up on travel trailer brochures.

And of course, dress comfortably. Bring a bottle of water, wear comfortable shoes and be ready to do some walking. If you go into 100 motor coaches, which is really simple to do, you’re going to go up and down 300 steps. And if your’e not dressed comfortably, you’re not going to enjoy yourself.

Some RV enthusiasts recommend purchasing an RV at an RV Show. Good idea or not?

We were recently at the Tampa Supershow, where our dealer brought up 70 coaches to setup and display, which takes a lot of time and effort. Afterward, the dealer had to break down all of the unsold coaches, ship them back to the lot, clean them up and get them ready to display all over again.

So yes, a show can be a great opportunity for customers who know what they want to get a great deal. The more prepared you are going into a show, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of show-based incentives and discounts.

What can show attendees expect when they visit a Newmar display?

Newmar representatives are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry. They know their products inside and out. With so many other manufacturers, sales representatives are selling diesels for a year or two before moving over to travel trailers and back again. Our guys have all been doing the exact same thing for years, and they’re extremely knowledgeable.

What are some of the RV shows you would recommend attending?

It’s very regional. Hershey, Pennsylvania hosts a big show called the Hershey RV Show. There is the Dallas show, called The Southwest RV Supershow. The Tampa, Florida RV Supershow. The Pomona, California show is great because its a ten-day event. Your FMCA rallies, which are held in various locations, feature almost all of the manufacturers. The smaller shows are great if you know exactly what you want and you want to stay local, although some manufacturers may not be present or may not have certain models on display. Usually you can find out online what manufacturers are going to be at a certain show.

Is there any other advice you would like to share?

To me, one of the most important things to remember is if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular salesperson, move on. A motor coach is a big purchase, so make sure you find someone you’re comfortable with who has the knowledge and expertise to make your experience a great one.

There are a lot of what we call show dogs out there. They’re hired to go from show to show, selling one brand one week and another brand the next. They’re just there to make a couple of dollars. They’re not going to know the products as well as the manufacturer representatives or the dealer representatives that know their products because they’re around them almost every day.

Luckily, when I go and do training at our dealerships, I find so many salespeople who are smarter than I am, and know the product better than I do. That’s the kind of salesperson you want – the salesperson that can answer all of your questions and provide you with all of the information you need to make the absolute right decision.

Click here to view the Newmar RV show schedule.

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