How do you get away from it all when your RV literally has it all?
That’s not a dilemma that seems to bother many buyers these days. As new homes increasingly come with high-end furnishings and all manner of creature comforts, so too do recreational vehicles.
We’re talking multiple big-screen TVs, soaking tubs, clothes washers/dryers, touchscreen navigation and magnetic induction cooktops.
OK, those are amenities found on some of the more plush behemoths. But even the entry-level models are catering to more selective tastes of today’s consumer.
For instance, outdoor kitchens tucked into exterior storage bins are a growing expectation in RVs.
“Model after model they’re getting them integrated,” said Keith Woodruff with RnR RV Center.
The latest styles, innovations and technology packed into RVs are on display Thursday through Sunday at the Inland Northwest RV Show and Sale at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
From 45-foot motor homes to basic pop-up tent campers, over 300 are packed into 10 buildings at the fairgrounds and parked outside for the 29th annual show, sponsored by The Spokesman-Review. Six dealers are displaying discounted models across 170,000 square feet of indoor space.
This is not just for dreamers and gawkers. Around 13,000 people are expected to attend, and those who buy will spend roughly $10 million for around 150 RVs, organizers say.
“This is a selling show,” said Steve Cody, the show producer. “And that’s because the deals are so good.”
Buyers getting younger
The RV market in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene region has been strong for decades and keeps growing, industry representatives say.
“The Inland Northwest is one of the largest RV markets in the country,” Woodruff said. “We sell more RVs in Spokane County than a lot of the United States, because we have so much camping available around the region.”
Buyers are getting younger, too.
“More people in their mid-20s are getting into the RV lifestyle, and they become a lifetime customer at that point,” Woodruff said. “They have an additional 45, 50 years of RVing ahead of them if they’re 25.”
That’s quite a contrast from when the show began in the late 1980s. “When we started everyone was 50 or 60 or 70,” Cody said.
The younger buyers usually start out with a tent camper or modest travel trailer, then upgrade over the years, Woodruff said.
Fluctuating gas prices and the cost of air travel and hotels also influences RV sales. The industry has benefited from times when the economy puts a damper on overseas vacations.
“It’s a great way to travel and see the United States, and more people are staying at home rather than traveling abroad,” Woodruff said.
On the higher end, he showed a Winnebago Journey, a 42-foot diesel motorhome on sale for $300,000. It features leather seats, high-end tile floors, four TVs, adjustable reclining bed, full-sized bathroom with tall shower and laundry, and three slide-out rooms that nearly double the interior space.
“This is something someone can actually live in,” Woodruff said.
“This is bigger than my first apartment, actually,” Cody added.
For those desiring more of a spa experience, a Keystone Montana luxury fifth wheel at the show includes a full-sized soaking tub with its own on-demand water system.
Room for big toys
Other customers are looking to downsize into something that is more practical and easy to handle as they age. In response, more small-frame motorhomes are coming out, some getting 15 to 25 miles per gallon.
“That’s real popular with the older group that still wants to go RVing but they don’t want to haul around a big unit, and they want some fuel mileage,” Woodruff said. “They can travel from city to city, see family, without it costing them an arm and a leg for fuel.”
A lot of couples and young families have gravitated toward lightweight micro-mini trailers they can haul behind a Subaru or small SUV, including the retro, teardrop T@B and R-Pod campers.
“That has become really popular over the last couple of years,” Woodruff said.
More manufacturers are designing toy-haulers – RVs that include storage for ATVs, snowmobiles and other outdoor equipment.
“That’s a huge thing now – how to have your camper and have your toys,” Woodruff said.
RV shipments have grown since the market bottomed in 2009 during the recession. Shipments are expected to top 438,000 units this year, a 4.4 percent increase over 2016, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. About 87 percent of those will be towable RVs.