RV Shows are an excellent way to really look at RVs. If you live near a big city, chances are there will be a big RV show near you at least once a year. If not, you may want to travel to see a large show. Typically they are 3-4 days long, starting on a Thursday and ending Sunday. Usually, the major RV Dealerships from the area, or sometimes state, bring in RV units that are really priced to sell. Often they offer steep discounts that are very impressive. Here are some tips for visiting, and for buying an RV from an show. We were just at the TRVA RV Show in Austin, Texas:
- Plan for a lengthy day. RV Shows are usually at a convention center in the middle of a city. Since there are a lot of people, it can take a while to get in and out of the shows.
- Usually parking is in a parking garage. So it’s a good idea to find out where it is, and what it will cost, especially if it is cash only.
- Bring food and water for yourself if you are wanting to save money. Often they have concessions, but there is usually a hefty convenience markup.
- Everyone has them these days, but bring a camera or cell phone that can take pictures. These are a great way to save ideas, it can sometimes be overwhelming at these shows. Pictures make it easy to remember which model had the features you liked.
- If you already RV, and you have made business cards, bring them. You will likely meet some individuals you want to keep in contact with, and you can use them for the prize drawings.
- Have an email separate of your personal email to give in case anyone asks for it. Often the only way to win door prizes is to enter your email. They will also likely send you spam along with it.
- Pick up the map. It’s another piece of paper to carry, but the way they get RVs so close is really artistic. Often you cannot see around them to figure out where you are in the room.
Looking to Buy:
- Show up on the very first day of the show. We went on the second day and it looked like about 75% of the RVs were already sold. If you are ready to “pull the trigger” you will want to come early to get the rig you want.
- Have your finances ready. Know what price point you are wanting, know your credit score if you are financing, and have enough for about 10% or more of a down-payment. The RV Shows cut the prices so much 10% saved off the normal cost is more like 20% of the final cost at a show.
- Have a short list of must have features, and features you are flexible about. Your needs and wants list.
- Come prepared knowing if you want a towable, Class A, B, or C, an airstream, etc. This will help you not only get to what they have faster but it will help you navigate the show. If you are only in the market for a weekend travel trailer, you probably won’t want to start on the end with the Class As.
- When you get to the area that your potential RV is in do a quick walk through to be sure it is the floor plan you want. If it’s there, find a dealer to let them know you are interested. This might buy you some time to actually explore all of the details and look through things before another buyer comes by.
- Take pictures of everything. When you are putting this much money down, and you are this excited, you will need them to help you get ready later on.
- Take notes or pictures of any damage. Shows can be rough on RVs, there’s a lot of foot traffic through them. We saw broken steps on two different models. Check all compartments and ensure they not only close correctly, but lock as well. Open and close windows to make sure they are in good shape, and ask about any known damage.
- If you are really not picky about any features, and are just wanting to save money, you might want to come on the last day. Dealers should be motivated to sell what hasn’t been bought yet. This might give you some extra haggling-space.
- Some shows will lock the RV up after purchasing so they don’t have more people walking through it. You may want to ask before purchasing if they will lock it up when you purchase it. There are some shows that leave all of them open, so you might have more damage to your rig.
- Dealers typically have many more RVs on their lot, and may be willing to give you a show price on one that’s not at the show. If you find one that you really love, and it has already been purchased, I would ask the salesman if they would be willing to give you a similar deal on one they have in stock on their lot. (Never hurts to ask!)
If you already have an RV, or you are looking to purchase one, shows are not only about the RV Tours. There are always booths of different RV Related (and some not so related) products. You’ll find that Time Share companies will be there, Campgrounds, employers, and RV Clubs. If you are looking into different RV Clubs and think this is a route for you, I would suggest trying to get a membership cheaper at an RV show. Keep in mind that every booth is trying to sell something. They will usually hand you lots of paperwork and brochures. If you are remotely interested, then I would hang onto the paperwork. If you are not, I would hand it back or pitch it so you don’t have to carry it around all day.
Here are some of the videos of RVs we filmed so you can get an idea of what to expect.