The 12th annual RV Dealer Open House just ended in Elkhart, IN and it got even bigger and busier.

Open only to RV dealers, salepeople, RV suppliers and the media, Open House is part music festival (Styx, Big and Rich and Keith Urban concerts) this year, non-stop partying, open bars, over the top food spreads and RV displays on just about every street corner in Elkhart make for what clearly has become the industry’s main event, bigger in size and scope than any single RV show, yet closed to the public.

It’s hosted by the RV manufacturers, of course, and they spare no expense in drawing in the salespeople who are wheeled and dealed, cajoled, promised the moon and treated like VIPs. And it all pays off. By the time the even ended on Thursday, more than $2 billion in deals were written on new RVs that will start showing uo in dealer showrooms across North America come next year.

Jennifer and I spent the week there, walking miles each day, taking in the displays and probably gaining a good five pounds. 

Some highlights:

  • Roadtrek is back. We met Nicolas Rousseau, CEO of Rapido, the Franch RV maker that now owns the iconic Class B Roadtrek brand and learned that production starts in two weeks with new models being delivered in January. Roadtrek used Elkhart to sign up new dealers.
  • Thor, the world’s biggest RV company, brought in two European RVs from its new Erwin Hymer Group European brand to lots of very positive reviews. Thor CEO Bob Martin and Hymer CEO Martin Brandt said they hope creatively-styled coaches twill end up being sold in North America.
  • The RV Technical Institute officially opened during Open House . It hopes to reduce the average RV repair time from its current scandalous 21 day delay by adding 2,000 new service techs within the next two years.

It was all a very good time and we learned a lot. We made it all into a video. Come on along.