The temperature northeast of Tampa, Fla., may have struggled to reach 60 degrees Wednesday (Jan. 13) during the first day of the 2021 Florida RV SuperShow, but it was no struggle for attendees to see an array of new 2021 models on display at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Although there were somewhat fewer models on display thanks to the ongoing pandemic’s impact, the new models showcased in Tampa still ranged from high-end, Prevost-based, luxury coaches to tiny teardrops like the Xtreme Outdoors MyPod XT.
The show, sponsored by the Florida Recreational Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA), runs through Sunday (Jan. 17) at the fairgrounds. And despite the challenge of organizing and producing the nation’s largest annual retail RV exposition during a COVID-19 pandemic, FRVTA Executive Director Dave Kelly was clearly breathing a sigh of relief by the end of the first day’s events.
“I was extremely happy with what we got today, crowd-wise,” Kelly told WOODALLSCM.com, even though “it definitely was down from the records we’ve had the last few years.”
Aside from the obvious concerns about the virus, there was the weather, with temperatures for most of the day in the mid-to-upper 50s with a few drops of rain later in the afternoon.
In addition, this year’s event offered a senior citizen discount Wednesday through Friday. In past years, the discount was only offered on Wednesday only. Kelly said the change this year was made in an effort to spread out the crowds at the in-person show.
“While we are down a little bit, (for the first day) I think it’s good because it’s going to spread out that crowd over the next couple of days,” Kelly said.
Dealers’ and manufacturers’ reactions to the show so far have been positive, he said. “From what I’ve heard so far, they’ve all been pretty happy with today’s crowd,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen some sales being made and a lot of great interest.”
One consequence of the circumstances surrounding this year’s show, Kelly’s thinking, is that a higher percentage of those attending are motivated buyers.
“We kind of figured that the people who are going to come are going to be pretty serious,” Kelly said. “I think we’ve created a very safe environment for the show and the people have been excellent. They’ve been wearing masks pretty much the entire time they’re here, which is great.”
The indoor booths, he said, were the organizers’ biggest concern, but the first-day crowds were good about separating and social distancing.
Meanwhile, FRVTA staff is taking plenty of precautions to deal with the risk posed by the pandemic, Kelly emphasized. While temperatures are being routinely checked at the show’s gates, anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms, fever (no more than 100.4), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or fatigue or those recently exposed to someone who tested positive, is asked not to attend.
Face coverings will be mandatory in all buildings and RVs and any time social distancing is not possible while an additional general admission gate has been added, for a total of 3 entrances, to better disperse attendees. Hand sanitizing stations are positioned throughout the show, and supplier booths are being sanitized each morning.
Exhibitors, in turn, are required to complete a form stating their employees have been vetted, and people moving trams will be rotated frequently so they can be sanitized.