Experts say Elkhart will be nationwide epicenter for RV buying trade shows

Experts say Elkhart will be nationwide epicenter for RV buying trade shows. // WSBT 22

Right now, it's a shake-up in the RV industry that experts say makes Elkhart the nationwide epicenter for trade shows.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association is ending a decades-old trade show in Kentucky.

What does this mean for the industry? There won't be a National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky at all this year.

The RVIA voted to reinvent a spring show geared toward consumers.

Experts told WSBT 22 the new show will look more like an auto show where they want anyone to show up.

Chances are these recreational vehicles waiting to find a forever family at International RV found their ordering origin at the annual Elkhart Open House, held in September.

"Since the open house came out, we have been doing almost all of our ordering at the Open House,” said Thomas Alexander, International RV.

Business Manager Thomas Alexander said in recent years he's opted to go to the Elkhart Open House in the same city his business is, instead of going to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville.

"The open house here gives more space, more room. It's a little more comfortable," said Alexander.

Industry leaders seemed to hear buyers.

For the first time, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association voted to scrap the annual trade show.

Experts say they'll take this year to reinvent the September show into a spring show after seeing a disappointing turnout at the buyer-only event.

“The National RV Show in Louisville has become much-less relevant," said Scott Mereness, Lippert Components president. "Focusing our efforts more on the retail customers new retail customers would be how we feel we need to reinvent ourselves to bring new buyers into the industry."

Mereness serves on the RVIA board and describes a new rotating venue show across the country with stadium seating and attractions to woo first-time customers.

Some dealers told WSBT 22 they're seeing more interest in smaller, compact campers from a younger audience. They feel like a trade show geared toward consumers can help build a new customer base.

"For us here, it might be kind of nice if they were to open that up to retail, bring all the retail customers in. So we can generate some of that business too,” said Alexander.

Mereness said by opening up the new trade show to consumers, the Elkhart Open House show in September would be the premiere buying show.

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