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Hugelmeyer Optimistic About Future of RV Market

In his first remarks to the RV industry as RVIA president at the association’s Outlook 2016 program kicking off the National RV Trade Show, Frank Hugelmeyer said that he is optimistic about both the short and long term prospects for the RVmarket.

“We have erased the dip caused by the Great Recession with RV shipments nearing record levels,” said Hugelmeyer. “Fueled by low interest rates, affordable gas and steady consumer confidence, RV shipments should reach 375,000 units next year. But beyond the strong short term outlook, we can all rejoice that RVs continue to gain popularity in the outdoor marketplace and are seen as ‘cool’ in traditional and social media.”

Hugelmeyer added that we live in dynamic times that are giving birth to important trends that will impact the RV industry. He pointed to shifting demographics, noting that with 40% of millennials – the next great cohort of RV buyers – being people of color and 82% of the United States’ population living in urban areas, the very definition of what it means to recreate is changing.

“Recreation companies have benefitted from the rural-based Caucasian baby boom,” Hugelmeyer said. “We are now evolving into an urban-based, multi-racial future, and we need to adapt to this."

Evolving consumer expectations is another trend that requires the industry’s attention, Hugelmeyer told the gathering.

“Mobile apps and Amazon have elevated the need to excel at customer service and changed attitudes when it comes to convenience,” said Hugelmeyer. “This means that RV manufacturers and dealers must assume that every consumer wants to solve a problem with the push of a button. We need to ask ourselves…what is our strategy? How will we make RVs the ultimate mobile solution for the greatest mobile generation?”

He also examined the impact of transformative technologies could have on the RV market of the future. “Smart, self-driving cars are now on the highways,” Hugelmeyer said. “A Chinese manufacturer recently used 3-D printing technology to print ten houses in one day. This means that the day is near when an RV company will print ten self-driving RVs in one day! My point is that the business you are in today is not necessarily the business you will be in tomorrow. These trends will impact business, and if you are not disrupting your own business then you can be certain that someone from the outside will.”

He closed by telling the 1,000 in attendance that he is thrilled and proud to serve as RVIA president because of a powerful camping trip he took with his son Cole – a trip his son still describes as “the greatest weekend of my life.”

“Yes, we make vehicles,” Hugelmeyer said. “But what we ultimately sell is deep, transformative and personal. It is also our greatest strategic advantage because people are always in search of meaningful experiences.”

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