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RV Marketplace Changes Explored at Outlook 2011: “A New Era Begins”

RVIA’s public relations team detailed its award-winning work to polish the image of RVing in the media this year, and described how the industry should market to post-recession consumers at Outlook 2011: “A New Era Begins,” the November 30 kickoff event to the 48th Annual National RV Trade Show.

In a presentation titled “A New Era of Possibilities,” Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella discussed how RVIA’s public relations program built core demand for RVs and the RV lifestyle  using  the industry’s Centennial and key RV messages.  RVIA’s PR work has been recognized by public relations organizations with three major awards this year.

“Through our public relations outreach, we have protected and advanced the image of our industry and our products,” said Thompson.  “RVs are mainstream and as popular as ever.  They continue to embody cherished American values — family, the great outdoors and living the American dream.”

Thompson and LaBella told attendees that the economic downturn has led even affluent consumers to rethink their spending habits, pay down debts and look for ways to economize.

“People still want to travel” despite the change in consumer behavior, LaBella said.  “And they are traveling — on their own terms.  For people looking to travel more but spend less, RVs are the perfect choice.”

LaBella and Thompson emphasized that the Internet is where most consumers begin their search for travel options.  This means RV companies need to provide information about their products and services across a variety of web services.

“With consumers dramatically increasing the research they do before making purchases large and small, the brand with the better information will win,” said LaBella.

While consumers are looking to save, people still want to invest in memorable, fun experiences, said the duo.  Experts say even more affluent customers are now interested in “functional luxury” — items that last while providing customers a better experience with daily living.

“RV ownership is a lasting investment that elevates leisure travel and provides an endless source of new experiences,” said Thompson.  “Even mundane tasks like driving and cooking become part of the fun on an RV trip.” For many consumers, luxury means owning top mobile-tech products — a trend RV makers can capitalize on by finding ways to integrate these technologies into RVs.

Consumers increasingly feel overwhelmed and out of control, Thompson and LaBella reported.  For individuals seeking the luxury of escape, RVs provide an antidote, offering people more time and control to enjoy their leisure travel and reduce stress.
“When you drill down to the core, economic losses have caused many to turn back to basics like reconnecting with family, spending time outdoors and getting healthier,” said LaBella.

“RVs are the perfect “back to basics” vehicle to meet these needs,” Thompson said.
The presentation concluded with a brief tribute to LaBella, who is retiring at year’s end and the introduction of his successor, James Ashurst, incoming RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising.

Photos of the event are available. Contact Bill Baker, RVIA senior director of communications 304-676-9138 – or bbaker@rvia.org.


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