Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Camping at RV Shows

Dear Joe and Vicki: My husband and I recently attended an RV show being held at a county fairground. We noticed a number of RVs that appeared to be camped in one section of the parking lot. Who were these people? We have a dinner riding on your answer.

Vicki: You may both be the winner of the dinner bet. The RVs you saw may have belonged to members of an RV club. RV show promoters frequently encourage RV clubs to attend their show and camp in the parking lot. Show promoters recognize that present RV owners are more likely to buy an RV than a non-RVer. The clubs make the most of what may be a free or low-cost camping opportunity to conduct a fun-filled rally. During the next show, walk over, introduce yourselves, find out who they are and what they are doing. You may be invited to join them.

Joe: The RVs may also have belonged to some of the show’s exhibitors and vendors. A good number of the folks who set up a display or sales booth at an RV show are RVers. They are among the thousands of RVers who have found a way to make money on the road.

Typically, the vendors arrive the day before the show opens. Their display materials and/or sales merchandise will be unloaded from a travel trailer’s tow vehicle, an equipment trailer being pulled by a motorhome or, in some cases, the storage bays of a motorhome. The balance of the day is spent setting up their booth or display. The vendors live in their RVs right there at the RV show.

The vendors hope to make enough money during the show to cover their travel and living expenses, pay for the rent on their booth space, recoup their investment in merchandise and, with a little luck, make a profit.

They know their fortunes depend upon the professional skills of the show promoter, the mood of the crowd, the whim of the weather and their own ability to attract and convince customers to buy.

While a few vendors are casual sellers of merchandise, most are serious business people. They know which shows and promoters are likely to bring them the greatest return on their investment. Many work a circuit of shows and rallies that keep their down-time to a minimum. And don’t be surprised to see a vendor pass your credit card through a card reader connected to a cellular phone. This is the twentieth century and they are very much a part of it.

At the end of the last day of the show the vendors break down their displays and store them in their vehicles. Some may even head down the road that evening. They have another show ahead of them.

Talk to a show vendor during a quiet moment. He may give you some insight into his lifestyle. You might even find yourself the owner of a gadget you never knew you needed.

(From the book "Extended RV Travel" - Making Money On The Road)

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