In the years that we’ve been RVing, we’ve seen many trends come and go. As we turn the book on a new year, it’s a good chance to look ahead to see where the RV and camping industries could be heading. We’re gazing into our crystal ball to come up with a list of prediction for what we think will be the top trends coming soon to RV manufacturers, dealerships, and campgrounds across the nation.
Four RV Industry Trends
#1 The “Back to Basics” Movement
In recent years, there was a trend toward larger and fancier trailers, but now the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward smaller and simpler models. Why? Because those massive homes on wheels can put some pressure on the user experience due to how much more difficult they are to maneuver and maintain. Some consumers really just want something to take them from Point A to Point B, and they are more interested in it being built really well than they are in having all of the latest bells and whistles. The manufacturers seem to be paying attention to this end of the market by developing a wide range of new models under 30-feet long.
#2 Better Communication Between Truck Companies and the RV Industry
Shopping for a new truck or trailer to help you live your RV dream should be a fun time, right? That is, until you begin to crunch the numbers. Pondering the exact dance between hitch weight, GVRW, tow capacity, payload, and more. can leave you with mathematics resembling Sheldon Cooper’s infamous whiteboard. It shouldn’t be this hard, and hopefully, it won’t be for long. Both the truck companies and the RV industry could do a better job to help consumers navigate this important issue, especially since it is so very important. Until then, thankfully, folks like Mark Polk from RV Education 101 can help us navigate the waters.
#3 A Focus on Quality from RV Manufacturers
While the RV industry is flooded with tons of choices and options, it’s not always flooded with high-quality rigs, much to the bane of any RV shopper. If you’ve invested in a new rig, you expect it to hold together. That’s not too much to ask. However, we do put some of the blame back on the consumer, who has to realize that a budget-priced trailer comes along with budget-priced craftsmanship. Just remember that a $1000-2000 savings could cost you more in the long run. RV manufacturers are beginning to realize that churning out cheaper products can be a headache for them and for dealerships, as they deal with customer complaints. Hopefully, as RV sales cool a bit after the surge over the last six years or so, manufacturers can invest in building quality rigs.
#4 Fiberglass Goes Mainstream
For decades, fiberglass trailers have been a niche market, but this niche market has been growing and growing, probably due to the well-earned praised from consumers who love their fiberglass rigs with a passion. Mainstream manufacturers are paying attention. We see this with the Airstream Nest, for example. Fiberglass trailers are often better made than their stick and tin cousins, and more and more consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a quality product. Many of these fiberglass models are being sold at a nice price point between the budget trailers and the high-end Airstreams. Perhaps other mainstream manufacturers will buy out some of the mom-and-pop operations to easily add fiberglass to their fleets. This might be a long-term trend that won’t come to fruition in 2019, but it is definitely something to watch. If fiberglass is on your dream list, check out our Trailer Life article.
Four Camping Industry Trends
#1 Growth and Refinement of the Resort Camping Experience
We’ve come a long way from the days of roughing it in the woods while camping. There’s a huge consumer segment hungry for the resort RV park experience. One complaint we have, though, is the number of campgrounds that stick the word “resort” in their name without having additional amenities or higher levels of service, especially if they are charging higher fees. We hope to see more resort campgrounds with amenities like food onsite, loaded activities calendars, and upgraded pools and playgrounds.
#2 More Year-Round Campgrounds
Over the years, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of campgrounds that are staying open year-round, and we expect to see this trend continue, especially as campgrounds add more diverse accommodations (like cabins and hotels) beyond just the basis campsites. More rigs are built in ways that make them usable during cold temperatures, and adventure seekers are discovering the joys of off-season recreation and camping.
#3 Alternative Accommodations and Cozy Community Spaces
If we say “Instagram-worthy campground accommodations” to you, chances are you can imagine the type of spaces we’re talking about. Lately, we’ve seen a ton of investment in campground accommodations far beyond the traditional campsites. This includes yurts, cabins, cabooses and more. We’ve even seen this explode at state park campgrounds (check out Petit Jean State Park, for example). As the campground industry tries to pull people away from the hotel market, they are attracting both RVers and non-RVers with plush accommodations. Also, people are craving connections, and campgrounds are hearing the call by providing group fire pits, hip recreation areas, and cozy community spaces. Inn Town Campground is a prime example.
#4 More Brand New Campgrounds
After the first surge of America’s love affair with camping, some of our nation’s campgrounds fell into disrepair. Eventually, new owners would come along and refurbish these existing campgrounds, but rarely would we see people set out to build brand-new campgrounds from scratch. We predict this will change in upcoming years as people realize that the significant investment involved with a new build truly can pay off. We’ve even seen some hotel industry leaders move into the resort campground industry ( The Resort at Massey’s Landing and Sandy Pines are great examples). Reservations can be hard to get for many existing campgrounds, so clearly, there is a market for more.
Who knows if our crystal ball truly had the magic powers? Only time will tell! We are curious to see what you think the top trends will be in upcoming years.
See you at the campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy