The RV industry made headlines again recently, as RV sales are up 5.8% this year, and are on pace to exceed 350,000 units. This is the highest sales figures for RVs since 2007, when the “Great Recession” began. What does this mean? With that many new RVs on the road – around 26,441 were sold in August alone – occupancy in RV parks is sure to set new records, as well. What is fueling this sales record? It’s simple. First of all, there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day in the U.S., and a large percentage of them are going to buy and use an RV in their retirement. Second, RV models have been created that are more stylish, affordable, and with better gas mileage than ever before. And finally, RV is becoming more popular with families and young adults who are attracted to the healthy fun and family bonding. Did I mention that gas prices are nearing $3 per gallon in some markets? That would be all this industry would need for even greater sales volume. It’s a great time to be in the RV park business.
Memo From Frank & Dave
Why Not All Recreation Is Created Equal – And Why That’s A Good Thing
The Revel Casino in Atlantic City just sold at auction for $110 million. It cost $2.4 billion to build it. That’s a loss of $2.3 billion on just that one casino. And they’re closing like crazy there, each one at hundreds of millions in losses. Gambling was supposed to be the type of recreation that Americans were dreaming of, and now it’s turned into a nightmare. So why are recreational vehicles any different?
The average RV park charges around $25 per night. For that $25 you get activities galore, a roof over your head, and a ton of fun. At a casino, you spend around $100 per night for the hotel room, not to mention what you lose at the gambling table. So the RV park experience costs around 1/10th as much as a casino trip. In an economy where the “Great Recession” has lasted seven years now, the focus is on fiscal conservation, not waste.
Whether you are with your family, significant other, or going solo, an RV park offers a chance for human interaction and bonding. Old friends are rejuvenated and new friends made. That’s not the case at a casino, where all activities are loner in nature, and the other people gathered round the table are opponents and not friends. Many gamblers spend hours on end staring at a slot machine by themselves. Most humans innately crave interaction with others, and casinos don’t deliver on that need.
You get a huge amount of items with your $25 at a typical RV park. A place to park your RV, water, sewer, electric and internet, a swimming pool, store, game room, every activity known to man such as shuffleboard, volleyball and horseshoes, a campfire, and a bunch of people to hang out with. With a casino, on the other hand, you spend hundreds of dollars and all you get is a hotel room, a buffet, and a dark environment filled with gambling options, such as slot machines. How many people do you know that go to a casino and come back extolling the virtues and value they just experienced? Or is it typically more like “you won’t believe how much money I lost at the casino”.
The typical casino is a dark, smoke-filled place with buffets sporting high caloric food and a bunch of alcohol – not exactly what health-conscious Americans are looking for these days. At an RV park, in contrast, everything is clean, outdoors and activity-rich. Just as the fast food industry has suffered from a new health-oriented America, so have the casinos. RV parks, in fact, are right on top of all national trends including outdoor activities and sports, grilled cooking, and peace and relaxation.
Don’t let the failure of the casino industry make you think that all recreational activities in the U.S. are doomed. Casinos are going down for good reason – they violate all the megatrends in the U.S. economy. RV parks, on the other hand, are completely in synch with those trends and are flourishing. Not all recreation is created equal, and the investment returns between RV parks and casinos support that theory. Just ask the investors in the Revel Casino – they would sure have preferred an RV park.
Why The Simplicity Of RV’s Is So Alluring
This was a sign that we saw for sale at Cracker Barrel, but it’s a theme that we see in publications all the time: people have really become interested in simplifying their lives and RVs are the poster child of this pursuit. The concept of going out on the road, with everything you need in your RV, stopping when you want and moving on when you’re bored sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Do You Remember Your First RV?
I recently came across my first RV – it was a Matchbox model from the 1960s that was inside a case in an antique store. It came with the original box, which I remember vividly. I’m not sure what model it’s even based on, but it was a part of my collection for years. I come across model RVs all the time, but this one really gave me a dose of nostalgia.
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