March '17

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rv-pro.com March 2017 • RV PRO • 93 With the RV industry growing at unprecedented rates, some might wonder if there's a need for this level of activity from organizations. The need, according to Roundtable participants, is the result of the recent growth. Simply, RVers need places to take their RVs, and the money being spent on campgrounds, parks, marinas, public lands and other likely RV hotspots, has diminished in recent years, according to Hugelmeyer. "It's important to realize that we've been seeing a decline in the funding of the infrastructure on which our customers depend," he says. "So, if you take a look through the lens of: 'How do we provide a great customer experience?' "Some of that is making sure we have great products for customers to use," he adds. "But the other part of that equation is that we have great places for our customers to go. And, when they go there that they have an extraordinary experience, because if they do, we're going to see the customers expand, we're going to see more people going outside and we're going to sell more RVs." Improving outdoor recreation infra- structure may prove easier said than done, thanks in part to the various gov- ernment agencies overseeing or regulating the lands and resources. Agencies, which include U.S. Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Defense and the Army Corp of Engineers, among others, each exer- cise oversight of various aspects of U.S. outdoor recreation. Among its requests, the REC Round- table has asked the Trump administration to establish a White House-level advisory group staffed by members of several of these regulatory groups in an effort to consolidate discussions related to the outdoor economy. "Having a coordinating aspect to all of recreation at the White House level would be helpful because if you're really interested in growing the RV economy, and you're really interested in growing the recreation economy, you need to under- stand that all of these agencies are part of a massive ecosystem that we depend on," Hugelmeyer says. Wholesale RV Prices Make Historic Run While shipment numbers climbed steadily throughout the year to a 40-year high, the price and volume of used RVs at auction made a splash of their own. Particularly in the later months of 2016, when used prices tend to decline as dealers look to clear out inventory ahead of the winter months, travel trailer and motorhome prices surprisingly spiked to all-time highs. The average price of travel trailers climbed through August, September and October, peaking at $13,129 – up from $11,069 the same month the previous year. For motorhomes, prices climbed July, August and September, to reach a high of $44,597 before normalizing over October and November. "It just drives you crazy because I've seen patterns year over year," Black Book Director of Specialty Markets Eric Law- rence says, speaking about the typical late- season trends. "They didn't drop this year, and then last month they dropped a lot. I thought, 'Well, OK, for some reason it just took some time to catch up.' But I just did the numbers (for December) and they're back up.'" Typically, prices take a dive early in the winter before turning upward late in the season in anticipation of spring shoppers, according to Lawrence, who says there are a number of factors that play a role in used RV prices. "They don't want to buy it and put it on their lot unless they know they have a good chance of selling it," he says.

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