Sunday, March 26, 2023


Follow this step-by-step guide to visiting RV shows

The RV show season is always exciting, especially this year when many popular RV shows are back after two or three years were lost to COVID.

RV shows add sizzle to the winter season. Some are also combination shows featuring RVs and camping plus boating or adventure travel, fishing, hunting or general travel. They let us dream, plan, buy and see what is trending. They are fun!

What to know about RV shows

First, make sure you know all the shows that are going on in the area you’re willing to travel to. Do a browser search for, say, “RV Show + Your State” or “Camping RV Show + Region” (such as Midwest or New England). Then mark your calendar. Many RV shows are at fairgrounds and other venues that offer RV hookups. Reserve your site ASAP.

Attend the show at least twice. Many RV shows have a good deal on multi-day tickets. Go for the first time with family or friends. Take the kids. Make sure everyone has a good time. Get a feel for the layout of the show, which may cover acres of displays indoors and outside.

Now is the time to focus on the hustle, free programs, handouts, snack bars, pageantry and pizzazz. See demonstrations, seminars, and shows. Note exhibits you’ll want to visit later, but keep moving.

RV shows are a test drive

Say you’re planning to buy a 21-foot towable. Before the show, you scanned the marketplace and read some reviews. You now have an idea of what brands you prefer, your price range, and the weight your tow car or truck can handle. At the show, give 21-footers a once-over. Let the family try them on for size. Move on.

The same goes for other serious purchases. Say you’re looking for a new security system, or a new convertible sofa, or the latest technology in refrigeration. Note the locations of these displays. Later you’ll talk turkey with every factory rep representing convertible furniture or security systems or refrigerators, but your family would be bored stiff. Later, you’ll learn a lot by hearing competitors dish on each other.

Get business cards and perhaps leave your own. Make notes. Listen to what family and friends have to say, even if you don’t plan to take their advice. Then leave the show before the kids get cranky. Now you have names and locations for serious follow-ups.

Back off and regroup

In the peace and quiet away from the show, go online and do research. Let’s say you saw and liked the 21-foot Towbaby 4X, the 21-foot Shadow, and the 21-foot PullAlong XTC. You made note of their list prices and show special prices. Online, you check their reviews and see if they have had recalls.

Check with a financial site to get a ballpark figure on the loan value of each. Contact your insurance agent to see what yearly coverage will cost. Some RV brands are more insurable than others. If you are looking at a motorized RV, check fuel costs. If you buy this RV, where will you keep it? Does zoning permit you to keep it on your own property? If not, what is the cost for indoor or outdoor storage with or without power, security, and other features?

All this information will serve as bargaining chips later.

Down to brass tacks

On or near the last day of the show, go alone or with the partner who will be your co-pilot. Sit down with salespeople and factory reps. Listen to all sides. Compare verbal claims. Understand all specs, contracts, and warranties. Get a list in writing of what comes standard with the rig. Know the cost of things you MUST add at once such as a custom tow bar, a roof-top pod or A/C, undercoating, jacks, a satellite dish, etc.

You’ll notice now that the tempo of the show has changed. There are more serious buyers and fewer tire kickers. Salespeople have taken the pulse of the customers. Is it a buyers’ or sellers’ market?

Many dealers are thinking about lowering prices to rock bottom so they don’t have to take the inventory back home. Some floor models will be roll-away priced now to avoid the high cost of taking the RV or gear back to the factory or showroom. On-site financing is probably nearby.

You’re mentally and financially prepared to act now or walk away. The money for a multi-day ticket has been well spent.

See upcoming RV shows here.



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1 month ago

The two big shows here are all 5th wheels, TTs, and mega dollar DPs. Very few gas Class As. We are usually done in 1.5 hours. Not worth it anymore.

1 month ago

Its always a good thing to do a little research on the dealership holding the RV you are most interested in. Any warranty is only as good as those backing it. And please don’t let them upsell you an extended warranty. They will spam you plenty when your manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire and you will be much wiser by that time.

1 month ago

Be careful about only attending near the end of a show. Perhaps the unit you really wanted to see inside has been sold so the door is locked to keep scanners out.

Nancy Brookshire
1 month ago

Quartzsite show had VERY LITTLE regarding camping! Mostly things to “improve” your health….can you say snake oil?? Many products with “essential oils and odors”. Some cooking. Clothes, with bling and leather goods. A couple of campgrounds with “deals”! Many, many RV”s for sale!

Bob Walter
1 month ago

I refuse to pay to be sold to. This practice is absurd, yet people continue to do this year after year. None for me thanks…

1 month ago

You must get to see better shows than what we have here in the midwest. Go two days? After two hours we’ve seen it all. The most noticeble thing is seeing that the new models are built even worse than our seventeen year old one. Some of the new bling is interesting, as long as it is functional. Oh. And will they ever get past the swoops and swirls vinyl on the outside. If they had these shows in the summer, no one would attend.

1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Being from the upper midwest, I have to agree. And “show special” pricing? It’s special if you are the seller! Never ever found a price at a show that couldn’t be bettered right at a dealership.

Years ago we used to enjoy going to shows with a wide variety of dealerships, makes, and models to compare. With the consolidations in dealerships and big name mfg takeovers, the shows around my area are not what they used to be. One has been completely taken over by CW, so we don’t even go. Others may have two dealers that now brag about having 8 or 10 locations in the area, like that matters. And with quality almost nonexistent, it’s frustrating to look at so much “junk” I would never consider buying.

1 month ago
Reply to  Spike

The Central NY show has 7 or 8 dealers so you do have a chance to get some real deals. One nice thing about the 2023 show is that the biggest RV dealer in the country is not participating this year. It seems they prefer to have their own shows and not have to sharpen their pencils to close a deal.

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