The Survival Guide For RV Shows

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April 22, 2010

RV Show

Observations made by Lug_Nut.     RV shows offer a great opportunity for a potential buyer to see many makes and models all at one location.  Additionally, they can be viewed in a comfortable environment regardless of the season or weather.  Consumers, however, must be careful not to get carried away with the sparkling bling and excitement that’s in the air at these shows.  There are many people that end up making a major purchase of a new rig that had no intention of doing so.  


For the manufacturers and dealers it presents a unique venue to show off their wares to perhaps thousands of people.  Though their cost for this temporary floor space and location is high, they often reap the rewards of new customers and sales they may not have got otherwise.

SaleTo lure these extra sales, all vendors use the “Show Special” offering.  This is a special price supposedly only valid during the show.  Generally, “Show Specials” were a product of the trade show industry involving the selling of inventory that was purchased and removed from the site, thereby saving the vendor the need to pack and move the item(s) themselves.  Well, while that might work with items suitable for cash and carry, it really does not apply to the average RV.  Even if you were to buy an RV that was on display, it is highly doubtful that you will be required to pick it up at the end of the show.  Therefore, in most cases, it is really just a sales ploy.  So don’t be pressured thinking you must make a quick decision.   It is highly unlikely that you can’t get that same special price a week or so later after the show.

There are several issues faced by someone making a fast decision at an RV show.  First, it is difficult to get reliable answers to specific questions.  Many of the sales people are not as knowledgeable as one may think.   Therefore, researching the information one requires may take considerable time.  To give you an example of this, back in 2002, I purchased a Newmar Dutch Star at a show.  I was dealing directly with the dealer owner.  He said he would sell me a unit in the color I wanted equipped identical to the one we were standing in for X dollars.  Upon starting to write it up, I noticed he had written Freightliner/Cat in reference to the chassis.  I told him he was in error, this unit was on a Spartan chassis and was in fact powered by an ISC Cummins engine.  No, he said, it is a Freightliner powered by a C-9 Caterpillar engine.  At this point, I took him back to the engine compartment, opened it and showed him.  It was a Cummins powered Spartan chassis.  So, as I said, don’t count on getting the right answers.

Okay, so you are going ahead and buying one at the show.  While you will be enjoying all the space you are seeing in a four slide rig, you had better see it in the travel position.  After all, your interior space with the slides in is what you will be travelling in.  Things like going to the bathroom, making a quick lunch and eating in a rest stop, all happen with the slides in.  So a reasonable comfort while in the travel mode is a requirement.  Have the dealer retract all the slides so that you can evaluate it yourself prior to committing to a particular floor plan.

Now, whether you are selecting a floor plan with a queen or a king sized bed, be sure to verify the bed length.  Two lengths seem popular, 74” and 80”.  The smaller size is a poor choice if you are over 5’ 10” tall.  You will find your feet sticking out the bottom on the shorter one.

So, don’t be swayed or rushed by all the excitement and glitter that comes with every RV show.  It’s a big purchase, not one to rush into.  If their “Show Special” seems just too good to pass up, slow down.  They will probably be all too willing to give you that same deal next week or even month.  If, on the other hand, you have an RV and have no intention of getting a new one, better take a pass on even going to a show.  You might end up buying a new one.  I know, I not only did it once, I did it twice. 

RV shows are great fun, but they can be dangerous to your bank account.  But, if you lose control and find an RV you can’t live without, just make sure it’s really the right one for you.  Enjoy!

Surviving An RV Show    –     Lug_Nut    –      Peter Mercer




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  1. Pingback: my homepage

  2. We go to a lot of shows never bought anything at one The last show we went to made us like our present 5th wheeler more Too much fancy stuff we dont want on new models at the show. Good comments Marian

  3. Fred B., Great advice, do the research. Renting a like unit prior to purchase is a great idea, but it is highly unlikely you can rent most makes and models. Thanks for your valued input on this topic.

  4. Hi Guys & Gals:
    Please remember your next RV purchase is probably the second largest purchase you have ever made.
    Do the research. Look on web sites for the same product in Florida, Indiana, California and Arizona at the very least.
    Rent your new model, use it, did it work for you?

    Happy Camping,
    Fred b.

  5. Aileda, I agree, the sales person can make all the difference. Thank you for your input on this topic.

  6. Aileda

    I have found that it really depends on who you work with. It is important to find the professional ( sales person) you are comfortable with that speaks your language.

    We were fortunate enough to find someone that actually LISTENED TO US!!! He didn’t try to sell us in a rush, or sell us something we didn’t need. He lead us down the right path, we have been happy for going on 3 years now.

    The right person can save you a lot of time and money whether at a show setting or not. The right person to work with is as critical as the RV you are buying. Your happiness in the long haul depends on the knowledge and understanding of the person you choose to work with.

    WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND RICH STEIN 541- 550-6699 to anyone wanting an RV!!! Our experience was FUN and EDUCATIONAL!!!

    Good luck buyers…I hope you find yourselves as HAPPY as we are.

    Aileda Lindal

  7. River, Glad you enjoyed the article. It sounds like you really did your home work. Resisting buying at these glittery shows can be difficult for many. Thank you for sharing your experiences on this topic with us and for your great input.

  8. Feeline, Yes, I know what you mean. I recently went through a similar event that reminds me of those points. Thank you for your excellent insight and great input.

  9. River

    Another thoughtful article, Lug_Nut! Useful ideas…again. Thanks. Before we bought our present coach, we visited the Dallas RV Show, as well as a number of dealers. The thing we liked about the RV show was not only the various floor plans, but importantly all the conveniences installed inside the coaches, and even more all the things related to RV coaches. There were a couple seminars and lots of booths hawking stuff. We went with the idea of just storing a lot into our brains for later consideration. We collected a bagful of brochures, naturally, and watched a few product demos. We were in the market for a coach, but NOT THAT DAY. We committed to just gathering intelligence. It worked out and six months later, we were able to buy exactly the RV we wanted…and needed! Thanks.

  10. Feeline

    Sometime RV shows can convince you that what you have may be worth keeping. Remeber when you bought your present coach?, the time and effort you put into getting it “just the way you wanted”.

    Sure it’s nice to look and see what is available and sometime it can be worth the upgrade, but it can also make you think about going thru all the petty annoyances things that come along with a new purchase.

    Great read, good points, thanks for the blog.

  11. Lug_Nut

    hoppe, Yes, good point. The old saying “Don’t leave home with your American Express” maybe does not apply here. Leave your check book at home. Thanks for your very fitting input on this topic.

  12. Lug_Nut

    Jim Spellman, Great comments. If the experience does not seem like 10 times that of an auto salesman, the price will equal that with out question. Thank you for your great input.

  13. hoppe

    Would have to agree with you on the ‘if you are not in the market, don’t go’… especially if you have the where with all, or credit line, to just write a check. You’re just asking to make a mistake.

    I look at most ‘shows’ as: Why do I want to pay to have you try to sell me something? That goes for Gun Shows, FlyFishing Shows etc.

    I did get a bang out of a salesman last fall when we were in the market for a used Class C, [I try to never buy ‘brand new’] who said, “the smaller Class C’s are in short supply”. I/we did leave fairly quickly after that comment. I found at least a half dozen prime candidates on the Denver Craig’s List. On the other hand if you are in the market for an RV, the show can save you a lot of gas money, if you can absorb a lot in a short time.

  14. I tend to look at RV Shows from the perspective of your worst memories of walking into a car dealer’s showroom or lot.

    Get those images firmly stuck in your head. Remember all your previous car buying experiences that left you with a terrible taste in your mouth.

    Now multiply that by a factor of 10. . .