RV Shows occur early each year in anticipation of “rv buying season”
This year most RV dealers are most definitely “licking their chops” in anticipation of the upcoming RV shows and the Spring RV “buying season.” They’re hoping to make up for a dismal autumn sales season.
RV Buying Season begins whenever the weather begins to warm up in your region and runs until early July. The past several months have seen inventory of RV’s build and by late winter, RV dealers will be fully ready to sell them! BUT… YOU need to beware!
Let’s begin with… What is an RV Show, really?
RV Show Tips
Planning to attend an RV Show? Here’s my most basic message: BUYER BEWARE!
When attending an RV show, the signs are subtle, but they’re most definitely there. RV Show promoters and the RV dealers that attend create an atmosphere conducive to buying a new camper. You need to recognize these signs and more to protect yourself from making an “on the spot” decision and purchasing the WRONG RV camper at a FAR higher price than you should pay.
RV Show “Specials” – How “special” are they?
There is an air of “immediacy” at an RV show. That is to say, the “atmosphere at the show” creates subtle pressure to purchase an RV. Dealers often say “buy now, here at the show to get the best price.”
Simple question: Is this true, must you purchase at the RV show to get the best price?
Answer: Almost always, NO!
RV Show Manufacturer Incentives
As you wander at the RV Show and by the dealers sales tables, you will hear RV Salesmen (who are generally slightly lower on the evolutionary scale than used car salesmen) talk about “manufacturer incentives.” MOST of the time, they’re engaging in story telling as they zero in on their “mark” (YOU…the RV show buyer!)
RV Manufacturer incentives are one such tactic employed to create an “air of immediacy” to make an “on the spot” decision.
Manufacturer incentives are additional discounts given to the RV dealer by the manufacturer to help them move (sell) a camper. Sometimes they take the form of manufacturers rebates direct to the consumer. Either way, they’re typically offered on the “dogs.” I’m of course referring to campers that have sat on the dealers lot for far too long. These campers are flagged by dealerships and manufacturers prior to the RV show. Simply put, these campers need to go to make room for the anticipated arrival of new model year campers. Remember, the ’25’s will be out before we know it!
Digging a bit deeper and sharing a little “inside baseball”, when a dealer buys a camper from a manufacturer, the manufacturer usually establishes a “MSRP” (manufacturers suggested retail price.) The dealer purchases the camper that you see on their lot for a discounted price. This price is known as the “dealers cost.” Anything the dealer makes over their cost (including fees the dealer faces) is their profit.
Let’s consider this example for “Model X” camper. Model X has an MSRP of $100,000. The dealers cost may be $65,000. for this camper. The dealer cost I’m stating here includes the cost of transporting it to the dealer, prepping the camper before purchase, dealership operating costs (paying employees, keeping the lights on, etc.), and conducting the walk-through for the buyer. I would refer to the camper in this example as having a 35% profit margin. Realize these figures are just an example, some manufacturers campers have far greater profit margins, others have less.
Two key points here about RV selling prices:
- On any given day, the RV dealer can sell our hypothetical camper for any figure above $65,000. and make a profit. Their ability to make a deal with the buyer is NOT limited to the time during the RV show. The “buy now for best price” at the show most often is PURE HYPE. It creates not so subtle pressure on the buyer to make a quick decision.
- Manufacturer incentives as detailed above are NOT applied to the vast majority of campers. Thus, return to point #1 and understand that “rv show deals” often can be negotiated (or even better) after the show.
When it comes to the RV Show, RV Dealers Know This…
Many RV dealers at the RV show bring campers that “gotta go.” Which campers are those? Certainly if they have new campers with 2023 or earlier titles, they MUST be sold for numerous reasons. As I write this in Jan 2024, the current model year (since June or July of ’23 in many cases) is 2024 – but only for a few more months!
Most RV manufacturers typically introduce the new model year in June or July. That is, the 2025’s are coming, and the dealers are fully aware of this. In a perfect world, they want to unload all their “old” inventory (of new campers) before the 2025’s arrive.
Know this: Still new, yet older models (including 2022’s and 2023’s) have depreciated significantly and are often worth LESS than dealer cost! It is for this reason, I maintain its almost impossible to buy an earlier year new camper at the “right price.”
For this reason, with my own Concierge RV Buying Service clients, I often recommend considering a used camper that is in “like new” or “excellent” condition. And… thanks to the abundance of RV owners who buy the wrong camper for their needs, there are plenty of relatively new campers available on the used market. Some (many) are in like new condition.
Are there good reasons to attend a RV show?
Exploring types of RV’s, lengths, and floor plans…
Yes there are reasons to attend! First, if you’re searching for a camper, use the show to consider various types, lengths, and floor plans. I encourage you to wander in and out of the various campers at the show. As I share with my own Concierge RV Clients, the first decision you need to make is what type of camper do I want to own?
You have numerous choices including a motorhome, which come in several “flavors”, class A, B, C and some subtypes like B+ and Super C. Alternately towables take the form of 5th wheel trailers, travel trailers, toy haulers, popups, hybrids, etc.
Without concerning yourself (yet) with which manufacturer, or even whether to buy new or used, I encourage you to spend time in campers that may potentially meet your needs. Ideally, spend at least 15 minutes in each camper. During this time, you’ll gain a sense of whether this type, size and floor plan can work for you.
Odds are, especially if you are (or become) a Concierge RV Client of mine, I’m not going to endorse most of the manufacturers you see at the show; or as noted earlier, buying a new camper. However, since most manufacturers copy each others floor plans, if you find a type of camper, size, and perhaps even floor plan you like, I can guide you (as a part of my Concierge Service) as to who the “good guys” are in the RV industry, and who builds the campers “just worth avoiding.” (This is only a small (but important) part of what I do for my clients.)
While you’re spending time in these campers, I encourage you to ask questions – but as you listen to the salesman’s responses, be sure to consider the source! You and I can always talk later. I should note that I’m not affiliated with any dealer or manufacturer when considering my thoughts.
RV Buying Service
Want a guide by your side who also has your back – from “soup to nuts”? This in essence is what I do for my clients. Want more details? Click HERE and feel free to contact me to discuss your wants and needs further.
Other really good reasons to go to the RV show…
In addition to the RV dealers, there are numerous vendors who rent space at an RV show. In particular, you may wish to learn about discount RV camping programs, RV clubs, accessory vendors and more. As with the RV’s, I encourage you to keep the credit cards in your pocket. I suggest you limit your activity to asking questions and collecting information. Anything worthwhile will be available another day to purchase after the show. And… likely for the same price as will be offered as the “show special” at the RV show!
Larger RV shows may even have individual campgrounds attend as vendors. Look for lots of inspiring photos. When it comes to campground research and discount RV camping programs, know that these are the resources I personally use:
Allstays is not free, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool to have. You can locate campgrounds, low bridges, and much more. (This is most powerful and best viewed on a laptop or an iPhone.)
Campground Reviews is a free service. It is not nearly as complete as Allstays, but you can enter the town name (eg: Wausau, Wi.) and see campgrounds in the area and actual user reviews.
Discount Campground Programs
I use these two campground discount programs discussed in this post fairly often.
Click the image below to see what RV Accessories I personally use with my camper and have “passed the test” of time. Many of the links go to Amazon. Yes, they are affiliate links. Using them costs you no more than otherwise, and any income derived from their affiliate program, helps to offset my website fees. And… THANKS!
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