The secret to RV show success is being prepared and having a strategy. Here are 10 things to know before you go:
Do some online reconnaissance
Go to the RV show’s website ahead of time and download a map of the show onto your smartphone along with any available coupons. Check out the parking guidelines and cash policies, since some shows do not accept credit cards for admission fees. Also look into food options and vendors.
Attend the show on the quietest day possible
Not everyone has a flexible schedule, but if you can avoid the Saturday crowds, the RV show experience will be exponentially more enjoyable. Other options include Friday before the after-work crowd and Sunday afternoons.
Bring water, snacks and perhaps even lunch
Check show policies in advance, and fill a backpack with refreshments if allowed. RV shopping can be surprisingly exhausting, so stay hydrated and prevent blood-sugar crashes. If food is not allowed inside the show, consider packing a cooler of sandwiches and eating tailgate-style in the parking lot.
Agree to a shopping plan
If you are attending a show with a friend or significant other, chat about a general strategy ahead of time. Some people want to look at every rig on display. Others want to curtail window shopping and stay focused. Talking in advance will manage expectations and limit frustrations.
Have a system for recording information
It’s very easy to lose track of which rigs you liked after a long day of RV show shopping. Some folks use their phone to take pictures of the model number, specs, exterior and interior. Others prefer writing the information in a notebook or on a clipboard. To limit confusion, take a brochure only if you are seriously considering a unit. No matter what, do not rely on memory.
Talk to the manufacturers’ representatives
At the larger shows, RV manufacturers send representatives to support the dealers. They are a great resource of information since they usually know the models much better than the dealership’s salespeople. If you have specific questions or concerns about a model or want help comparing two units, ask to chat with a rep.
Don’t get rushed into an impulse purchase
An RV may be one of the larger purchases you ever make other than your home. Don’t get pressured to buy something without due diligence on pricing, financing and towing setups.
Check out dealers’ online reviews and service centers
The dealer you purchase from will be responsible for handling all warranty work during the coverage period. Building a relationship with a reputable dealer that runs an efficient and effective service center will make all the difference in your RV experience.
Don’t be embarrassed to check out the entire RV
Some shoppers feel awkward spending too much time in an RV with so many other people around. If you are seriously considering a purchase, lie on the bed, sit on the toilet, stand in the shower and pretend to cook a meal in the kitchen. Test out all the couches to make sure they are actually comfortable. And, yes, ask the salesperson to bring in the slideouts to see if you can access the refrigerator and bathroom while traveling.
In all the excitement of shopping, some people miss out on one of the best opportunities available: educational seminars. Many RV shows offer seminars by leading industry experts. Schedule a break and take the opportunity to learn about towing safety, RV maintenance, travel tips and more.
RV shows can be the perfect chance to compare a variety of different manufacturers, models and floorplans, all in one place. They can also offer the opportunity to get a great deal on your first or next RV. Preparing a little in advance and developing a game plan will help you conquer the RV shows this season.
GS Media & Events, a division of Good Sam Enterprises, operates 23 recreation-focused consumer shows throughout North America. Visit the website to find upcoming RV shows near you.
In addition to contributing to Trailer Life, Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are writers for RVFTA.com and hosts of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast. They are also the authors of Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations. The couple spends as much time as possible exploring the country in a toy-hauler travel trailer with their three very energetic sons and Maggie the Camping Dog.