We had been wanting to attend the Tampa RV Show, one of the largest in the country, for about three years now, ever since we saw a video "Less Junk < More Journey" posted when they were there. We were also excited about the after-hours party scheduled for Thursday night and planned to go, especially with some our favorite RV YouTube celebrities announced to be attending. Alas, we found that over 475 people had also RSVP'd they were going and we decided against the joining the madhouse. This was in a wing joint, albeit a large one, and there was no way this was going to be enjoyable.
We were able to attend the actual RV show today, which is located in the Florida State Fairgrounds, and it was nice and spacious, if not spectacular. There were a few themes that stuck out.
First, manufacturers spared no expense in their Class A offerings. The first one we walked through cost $2.67 million. The second one was under $1 million at $968,000. Overall, there were more Class A's than anyone could possibly peruse in one day, which is probably why the show provided free next-day tickets. Luxury was obviously the the big appeal in this RV class, and prices reflected that. However, we also saw a startling number of smaller, lower-end motorhomes in the $75-140K range. Had we been in the market, we certainly had a wide range of choices.
Second, the majority of 5th wheel trailers were 40' and longer and beautiful. We walked through many that were over $200K, a few over $300K, and even some large rigs less than $50,000. The latter group would not fare well in full-time use. The latest innovation seems to be a front kitchen in the 5th wheel deck.
Along with the abundance of large 5th wheels was a noticeable lack of 30' to 36' models of 5th wheel trailers of any layout. I spoke with several manufacturer reps who agreed that most factories have stopped making them -- they just aren't selling. This is difficult for us to take in, since we currently own a 32' Cruiser and would never want to move a 40' rig every other week. But, that was the point, I was told. RV buyers, for the most part, are either seasonal full-timers, only moving their RV's twice a year to stay in moderate climates, or weekenders, who want the space and toys to haul a half a dozen times each summer. It is assumed the RV full-timers who travel a couple times per month are only interested in Class A motorhomes, and that's what they are building.
In addition to these two RV styles, there were a myriad of Class B's or van conversions, even a line from Airstream, as well as many new models of ultra-small pull trailers, teardrops and campers. There does seem to be a lot of new innovation going into these, including in form, function and style.
RV vendors and accessory suppliers were also well-represented in two warehouse-sized buildings. We both took note of what seems to be a new trend -- time-share-style or full-purchase resort space. We saw at least thirty booths for such parks in the two hours we spent in the vendor buildings, dominated mostly by Georgia, Florida, Texas, Maine and Michigan resorts. We are on a waiting list for a space in an SKP park in Hondo, Texas, so we aren't too interested in spending as much money as most of these parks are charging.
We were surprised that so many of the RV's still had dark wood interiors. The rigs with white of light-colored cabinetry were much more impressive and popular than traditional models.
The bottom line is that we are glad we finally got to attend this very large show, but without any rigs in our sweet spot in length, we probably won't attend another anytime soon.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.