RV Shows & Conventions Go Virtual In 2020


RV shows in 2020

RV Shows & Conventions Go Virtual In 2020

Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been many changes and modifications in the RVing world.  One major shift involves RV organizations transitioning from the traditional mass gatherings at RV shows and conventions to virtual events. 

Major companies like Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) are taking precautions and abiding by CDC guidelines regarding social distancing. They are joining the trade show bandwagon, switching from in-person to online conventions. 

Dates will stay the same.

RV conventions usually involve participants gathering in rooms to listen to a variety of seminars, walking crowded aisles to chat with vendors, and partaking in potlucks and luncheons. With hundreds of attendees congregating at these RV events, abiding by CDC guidelines was appearing logistically impossible. 

KOA canceled its 2020 International Convention that was scheduled in Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 16th-19th.  Likewise, ARVC announced its cancellation of their November 2nd-5th Outdoor Hospitality Conference Expo. Instead, both have opted to hold virtual conferences.  Participants can still attend the event during the scheduled days, only now online from the comfort of their home.

Affordable pricing attracts more attendees.

Virtual events negate travel, hotel, and food costs.  Typically, these fees have limited the number of attendees to industry owners, managers, and a minimum amount of staff members.  The online option has significantly reduced the price of attendance and has opened up doors to more interested parties.  

“One of the key hurdles to any in-person event is that folks have to travel, so now that we are making this event virtual we can reach a larger audience and allow even more interested attendees to join us in learning and networking,”

Said Paula Horwitz, ARVC’s executive director of education and events.

More workshops and presentations will be available. 

While KOA still plans to find creative ways to feature their many expo vendors and keynote speakers, they have also increased the number of seminars available to attendees.  They currently have over 30 seminars scheduled. 

A virtual event like this allows significant flexibility for the attendees.  They can, in cases where the event offers,  watch a variety of pre-recorded sessions at their leisure as opposed to following a set agenda at in-person conferences. 

What does this mean for the future of RV shows?

Across the board, trade shows are continuing their annual convention traditions via virtual alternatives.  Will online events indefinitely replace in-person shows, or is this simply a temporary fix to our current state of affairs?

“Trade shows are very sensory in nature,” Cathy Breden, CEO at Center for Exhibition Industry Research said, “You use all five senses to feel and experience them, whether that’s examining a new product or shaking someone’s hand to build a relationship.”

For some, this is also important when it comes to touring RVs. In place of the RVs on display at typical RV shows, many places are turning to detailed video walk-throughs. For example, La Mesa RV streamed a live Virtual RV Show and showed off this new 2020 Leisure Travel Unity:

Regardless of the long-standing notion that online events are just not the same as traditional in-person conferences, ARVC promises to deliver with their virtual event. 

“The ARVC team is confident we can produce a unique virtual event that will rival any previous OHCE—an event that will be remembered for years to come as a responsible alternative in the age of COVID and a unique and positive experience for our industry,” Paul Bambei, president and CEO of ARVC said. “Our team has literally hit the ground running and is already planning to make this year’s event an experience that attendees will find extremely valuable.”

You can learn more about the 2020 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo on their website. The virtual event is scheduled for November 2-5.

Conventions and RV shows are not the only things that have gone virtual in 2020. Check out our previous article on What Is The Future Of RV Shopping?

Natalie Henley

Natalie Flores-Henley and her husband, Levi Henley, workamp around the country in their 26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines, they recently published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips on their own blog henleyshappytrails.com as well as videos on their YouTube Channel, also called Henley's Happy Trails.

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