Recreational vehicles (RVs) have been a part of the traveling and tourism industry for many years. As baby boomers age and take early retirement, families seek quality time together and overseas travelers undertake independent touring options, the industry continues to expand. A recreational vehicle, defined as a motorized or towable vehicle, provides temporary living accommodation for travel, vacation or recreational use. RVs do not include mobile homes, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles or conversion vehicles.
One of the biggest benefits of owning an RV is the freedom it gives to just gear up and go. While extensive excursions are often on the agenda, shorter trips to special events are becoming popular. Two categories of RVs are relevant to the RV tourism market, towable RVs and motorized RVs.
Towable RVs: A ‘towable RV', designed to be towed by a motorized vehicle such as a family car, van or pick-up truck. The RV can be unhitched and left at the campsite while the owners explore in the car or truck.
Motorized RVs: A ‘motorized RV’ combines transportation and living in one unit. In other words, the living quarters are accessible from the driver's area in one convenient unit. The significant difference in price for motorized RV's as compared to towable RVs skews ownership to more mature market segments.
RVs are used for a variety of traveling styles and experiences including weekend getaways, long distance touring, off the beaten path’ touring, staying at wilderness parks, organized group travel to rallies and events and fly/drive vacations where travelers pick up their RV after arrival from a long haul flight, either domestic or international.
A number of trends relevant to the RV tourism market reveal the increasing ownerships of RV's. The emergence of sport utility RVs, which provide easy storage and hauling of a range of adventure equipment facilitate cross-market opportunities between RVers for on-road and off-road motorbikes, ATVs, canoes, jet skis and snowmobiles, for example. The continued introduction and integration of high tech equipment and innovative features are attracting a new generation of buyer but also present new types of partnership opportunities. Many RVs now include high-tech entertainment and sound systems such as flat-screen TVs, satellite dishes, and surround-sound CD and DVD players with individual headphones, to name a few. In addition, electronic mapping or Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and continual access to the Internet are changing the way RVers travel and plan.
The RV market, as with other tourism markets, has niche segments such as ‘women-only’ groups, shared interest groups and an increasing number of disabled and senior travelers. Touring routes and communities and businesses along touring routes must consider the ‘cadence of RV travel’ or the length of typical drives, to understand the general infrastructure and destination needs of RV travelers while they are traveling. The qualifications to carry the RV Friendly sign in the U. S. , outlined earlier, provide a good indication of minimum facility features and capacity. In addition, RV clubs offer a wide range of benefits to their members including on-line and print newsletters, discount cards for campsites as well as goods and RV insurance.
In many ways, attracting the RV Motorhomes market has the same elements and considerations that are required in attracting other tourism markets - by offering high quality attractions, festivals and events in a dynamic destination or community.
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