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July 1st, 2014

Memo From Frank & Dave

Summer is here, and the RV market is hot. But what’s hot today is not what was hot in the past. There are new trends in the RV market that will have long term ramifications on RV park occupancy – and they are all good. For this issue, we interviewed a sales manager at a large RV store in the Midwest, to see what they were encountering coming in the doors, and hear their predictions on where the industry is heading. And some of the results may shock you.

This Interview With An RV Dealer Shows The Changes In RV Sales And The Effects These Will Have On The RV Park Industry

RV Salesman

Midwest RV in St. Louis, Missouri is a very active RV sales lot. They’ve been in business for years, and they know how to please a customer. And, like an RV sales lot in the U.S., they can spot trends based on what customers are looking for and what they’re buying after considering the options. These are the trends in the industry right now, and what the ramifications will be for RV parks going forward.

Younger customers

The first observation they had is that customers are getting younger. This is unusual, given the fact that the bulk of RV buyers right now were supposed to be retiring baby boomers. But the truth is that the RV industry is also enjoying a resurgence by younger users. The most common age they are seeing walking in the door and writing a check are folks in their 40’s and 50’s. That’s great news for the industry, because it means that it’s building a larger base for continued use. And that means a more stable base for RV parks for years to come. While the retiring baby boomers are a given, the attraction to younger consumers has been a wild card, and it looks like it’s going the right way.

Smaller RVs

Twenty years ago, the trend was to bigger, bigger and bigger RVs. However, that trend has reversed course. Their fastest growing demand in motorhomes is smaller units that are 22’ to 24’ long, and cost $70,000 to $80,000. A hot diesel model, right now, is a 34’ Winnebago that costs $200,000. Years ago, the hottest Winnebago model was 40’ or so. And the most extreme demand is in smaller travel trailers that are 16’ to 18’ and start at around $13,000. Across the board, smaller is gaining favor. And that’s great for RV parks as these smaller units necessitate

Better mileage

It goes without saying that smaller units lead to better mileage. The 34’ Winnebago, for example, gets 10 miles per gallon. Better mileage means more time on the road. It means more people who balked at starting up the engine and hitting the highway are going to turn the key. And it means more money in the customer’s pocket (and not the oil company) so that they can stay on the road for longer amounts of time. All of this is great news for RV parks and their occupancy.

Better options and conveniences

This is one of the biggest changes that’s going on in dealers across the country: the product is getting better and better and attracting people who would never have considered buying an RV before. This might even be the most important trend, as it means that millions of people who were not going to buy RVs are now going considering the benefits and hitting the highways. A simple 16’ modern travel trailer, for example has a full bathroom and microwave. This has killed the pop-up market, as rustic RV travel is on the way out. In many larger travel trailers, outside kitchens are becoming the norm, which allows outdoor and indoor activities to remain separated. The bottom line is that all of these new luxuries are making buying an RV more attractive, and the more RVs on the road, the more RV park customers each night.


The RV industry is enjoying great success in many areas, and this success will translate into greater revenue for RV park owners. Never before has the industry been so well positioned.

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