Lessons learned from the Tampa RV Super Show

Mar 3, 2022

Every January, since I don’t know when, Tampa has hosted the Tampa RV Super Show.  I believe it’s called a Super Show because all the heavy hitters are in town.  Who are the heavy hitters?   General RV, Lazy Days, Camping World and Airstream of Tampa to name a few.  All of which are centrally located here east of Tampa on I4.  If you want to know anything RV, this is a show you must go too.  Even if you don’t have an RV (yet), it’s still a must go show!  If all you get out of it is dreaming that one day you could own a Class A Motorcoach or a more conservative pull behind trailer or you’re looking for something to haul your golf cart or motorcycles in, this show will knock your socks off!  This outfit that put this on, knows what everyone is looking for.

Everyone that goes, has their own purpose in mind.  I first went years ago to evaluate all types of RV’s to match my need.   I went looking for a Fifth Wheel Toyhauler. You get to compare all manufacturers designs and new features.   The manufacturers also have their RV units on discount, so if you’re looking to buy this may be a great place to hunt for your next RV. 

I would be lying to you, if I didn’t tell you the real reason I go. I go for the Kettle Corn!  Every Iowan, loves popcorn and my favorite it Kettle Corn!  This year, we were so focused on why were there,  I completely forgot about the Kettle Corn – nor did we even smell it!  I know it was there, I saw someone eating it!  I should have stopped and asked but I didn’t.  You’ll have to wait and see towards the end of this broadcast to see what my number 1 thing I learned at the Tampa RV Super Show!

Why did we go to the Tampa RV Super Show?  We went specifically to learn more about RV parks.  How did we do that?  We talked to a lot of people!  We got so wrapped up in talking to people that we closed the place down, and in fact, we should have gone back for a 2nd day but we simply didn’t have enough time.

I’m going to list out our take aways!

First off, let’s talk about where is everyone coming from?  Well, unless you’re like me and you just walk up to someone and start talking to them to find out, just check out the parking lot!

I counted 10 state license plates including Canada as we were walking into the show. I’m sure there were others.   Of course, everyone is from the North, LOL.  Here are the states I saw Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Maine, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and drum roll please……Alaska and then of course, there was Canada.

These same states have appeared in the RV parks that I’ve visited.  Funny how Iowa doesn’t have a grand appearance. I attribute this to Iowan’s like to go to Texas and Arizona for the winter, along with Minnesota and Missouri, must the the Mississippi divide.  LOL  I don’t know.

These same states visit my short term rentals.  So for me, it’s safe to say I’m confident where I’ll be marketing in the future!

When you first walk into the RV Show, they conveniently route you through the Airstream display.  It’s a red carpet display and it’s inside out of the weather!  The day we went it was blistering cold, so it made it nice inside.  Airstream revealed it’s new eStream Concept Travel Trailer – what is that?  Think about the green energy Tesla – same concept but in an RV.  I’ll leave the link so you can see it for yourself.  My takeaway from this is a no brainer, I’ll need to research what type of connections they are using for the Electric hookups.  Hmmm.

Once you move along the red carpet you now enter one of the 3 vendor rooms.  OH, the vendors and let me tell you, this is where the bulk of everyone hangs out except if you’re RV shopping. 

Why?  Some vendors offer Free Stuff, if you sign up for there newsletter.   I don’t typically like to collect junk mail, so we only collected 2 free items.   1 was a fly swatter!  Every RV’er needs a fly .swatter, so this was a useful free thing.  As luck would have it this same vendor which I’ll share in a moment also gave us a free T-shirt.  That I’ll either sleep in or work in.  I’m always on the hunt for a good t-shirt.

This Vendor, RVezy caught my eye because they offer a service, where I can advertise my RV on their site for rent.  In other words, it’s kinda like a short term rental, but you’re renting out your RV.  You might have this awesome mountain view where you could allow someone to come stay in your personal RV.  This was attractive to me, because we just put in 100amp service in our front yard and soon we will hosting RV Farm Stays or they can even rent out the RV space and bring their own.  This is also applicable to RV Parks, it may be an option where we purchase  RV’s and place them in our parks for rent.  This would allow those who have not yet decided to purchase their own camper but it would give them the experience first!  Then they could decide.

Here’s something else about RVezy we found quite entertaining, it’s their logo on their T-shirt.  It features a picture of a camper on the front of the shirt and it says – “I Sleep Around”.  We definitely thought that was a catchy marketing strategy!  I’ll post a picture in the notes. 

Another cool thing I saw this year, is a lot of vendors starting sharing their own QR Codes on their booths.  This allowed you to download either an app or information about their products.  So if you’re the shy type and don’t like interacting with people or don’t want to get stuck talking to a sales person, you click and keep strolling.  I did this at Camp Florida.  I didn’t need to talk with anyone to download an App that basically has a bunch of RV parks listed in their app.  This was interesting to me, because I want to see parks that may be new or it may list a park that I missed in my google search, as I search for a mom and pop park that may want to sell.  This app just made it a lot easier for me to locate a park in the area that I’m looking to purchase in.  And this just became a site that when I get my park, I’ll be marketing it!

Cool stuff!!    I told you from the beginning, you can go to a show and learn a lot!!

As I continue, my search to find my ideal RV park in Florida, I like looking at what other RV parks have to offer.  We ran across a display that was advertising a new RV park in Webster, FL that we hadn’t heard anything about.   We collected the information on Oak Valley RV Resort as we will be booking a stay with them in the very near future.  When you go to their website, the first thing you see is a YouTube video on their new Fiber Service.  They know that a lot of RV’ers today need or want great WIFI service, as a lot of RV’ers today are full timers and work from the RV, so they tout their new fiber service.  It was interesting to learn how they setup their fiber service, reminded me of my old IT days.

What is your favorite RV app that you use to locate a park with all of your needs?  Please email me at info@fearlessinnovator.com!

Ok, listeners, you gotta help me out with this one.  A lot of newer parks are starting to add Pickleball courts.   Just to keep this real, I have not yet played pickleball to understand the draw to this game. Believe me, I am the competitive type and if I could have played basketball all my life I would have, if I could have earned a living.  Sorry, I digress but here’s the deal.  I can’t tell you how many RV parks that I’ve been in and I have yet to see ANYONE playing pickleball!  Quite frankly, I really don’t understand it either.  I mean the average age of RV’ers years ago was 69, it’s closer to 49 these days.  Along with age comes knees and hip problems, ask me how I know! I just don’t see RV’ers getting into Pickleball.  Give me your feedback on this one, because I truly want to know if pickleball is something you all are interested in.  If I get compelling evidence that you all enjoy this, then I’ll consider adding it to my park but for now I’m going to hold off.

Please email me at Info@fearlessinnovator.com.

After a couple of hours in the vendor hall, we ventured outside to go look at all the new designs and features the manufactures had to offer.  WOW! Not only were the upgrades fantastic but there were new manufacturers there that focused on green technology.  There were manufacturers focused on newer travelers on a budget.  Some units even had a tent on one side for the kids and inside was for the adults.  The point is they have RV’s, Coaches for your desired purpose and all shapes and sizes.

As we were turning the corner looking at the tons of RV’s, out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy carrying a camera and filming who I believed to be his wife.  I said to myself, that looks like a YouTuber.  So beings the shy person that I am I walked over to them and say, “that just reeked of YouTube!”  The girl giggled and said, yes, we actually a host a YouTube channel.   I said, that’s too funny, then she said the name of it is, Enjoy the Journey.  I said, cool.  She then went on to ask us questions about our journey in RV’ing and once she learned that we were full timers and said could you mind sharing a bit of your story and then giving us credit for the show.  Of couse, I said yes. So we did a little segment.  That was fun!  In complete transparency, I had never heard of the Enjoy the Journey and this was just a complete random event that occurred, I wasn’t star struck or anything like that.  I now subscribe to their show!  They have over 158,000 subscribers.  Who knew?

Another little tidbit for clarity, we actually ran into these folks at a much smaller RV show, it wasn’t the Tampa Super Show but I thought it was worthy of telling you.

I can’t tell you how many people we ran into that day at the Tampa RV Show but I will tell you about 2 of my favorites.  When I say, we ran into them, they actually ran into me.  I have this tendency to check out what you’re wearing, and if you have something that I either recognize or just happen to know something I about, I will strike up a conversation with you.  

So Kurt and I were in line to get something to drink and I see this couple, their doggie a German Short Hair had on a sweater that matched the guys hat!  It said, they were Iowa Hawkeye fans, well you bet I hollered out, GO IOWA! The guy smiled and then I asked where they were from and they were from Eastern Iowa – and of course, they were super friendly, just like all Iowans!  We actually hung out with them for several hours and then the guy says, hey, you want to go see the RV we picked out, of course we said Sure.  So they took us to the Road Warrior by  HeartlandRVs – (heartland, go figure!)  The specific module was RW414 – I’ll put the link in my notes.  Gosh, when Kurt and I looked at this module, we immediately went into dream mode.  This module fits our needs to a T.  It’s a toyhauler with plenty of room for the bikes, the kitchen has a lot more space than our current one, the seating area is comfortable for 4 people to sit and visit, our current module, not so much.  The best feature was the KING bed vs. our now cozy queen bed, but even better there was room to walk around the bed.  Keeping this in perspective, we were just dreaming and we will afford a change much later down the road.  We are comfortable for now.  Although, I will tell you that in comparison to other models from other manufacturers, the discounts with this one was worth considering!

I decided to poll this couple and find out what they most desired at an RV park.  Here are their top 2 choices.  Pool was their number 1 and number 2 was to have plenty of activities and the activities did not include Pickleball.  Bingo, oh I didn’t mean play BINGO… I meant, see I can’t find anyone that likes it.

Help me out here, what’s your favorite feature that you look for in an RV park?  I’ll give you hint what mine is as I work out of my RV – it’s high speed internet with as many WIFI connections that I can get.  Our RV has 3 TV’s, 2 cell phones and 1 computer – so I need at least 6 connections! 

Later on I noticed an older gentleman with a Jimmie Johnson hat and shirt on, now of course, Jimmie had been my number one driver in Nascar, since 2002, he’s since retired so I found it interesting that this gentleman was still representing.  I approached him and Said, so how’s Jimmie Johnson doing these days?  He jokingly said, maam, I got this shirt at a garage sale!  I really didn’t follow him. We were more into drag racing.   Man, I got a chuckle out of that.  We learned that they were ‘good’ bikers back in the 70’s when biking wasn’t cool.  He said we didn’t hang with them gangs, you know.  I said, oh yes, I know all about that.  They were at the show looking for their next RV.  Super cool couple.

Now, my favorite thing I learned at the show, may not be sexy to you, but it sure lit me up!  While we were in the 2nd vendor hall, I think.  We ran across CampSpot.  Campspot is the software that many parks use to manage not only their camping store inventory but their RV spots.  They have unique algorithms that can move your RV spot inventory around to wisely manage the inventory most efficiently!  While we were in Waukee, Iowa this summer at Timberline Campground the park owner there Marta had told me about CampSpot so I actually saw a demo of it in action and I was able to bang some ideas around with Marta.  So to run into them at this event, was epic!  There were 2 ladies in the booth, one focused on marketing their product and the other lady was very helpful as she was on their development team.  It’s not that often that a company will client face a member of it’s development staff, developers are usually not client facing and they do their best work when everyone else is sleeping…..so I took advantage of the opportunity and shared with her the IT specific functionlity that I would like to have at my park.  I bet I pelted her with 20-30 different ideas.  As expected, she’d have to take my ideas back to the development staff, but I did learn more about how their software worked and some possible work arounds that may work for the functionality that I’d need.  This encounter just made my day and made me hopeful that my park design one day will become reality.

That concluded our Tampa RV Super Show experience, remember if  you have any great ideas you’d like to see in an RV Park, I’m your girl.  Reach out to me at info@fearlessinnovator.com, I’d love to share your ideas or may be even interview you on a future show!

I’ll see you next Thursday on the Fearless Innovator Podcast.

2022 Florida RV SuperShow 

General RV

Lazydays RV

Camping World

Airstream of Tampa Florida

eStream Concept Travel Trailer | Airstream Electrifying Adventure


Camp Florida RV Parks and Campgrounds

Oak Alley Resort


Road Warrior – Heartland RVs


Timberline Campground | RV Park

RVEzy – T-shirt