terry charles | behind the stage | feb. 2019
One of the largest shows we stage in any given year is the WBAY RV & Camping Expo. It fills both the Brown County Arena and Shopko Hall with campers, RVs, trailers and more. In addition to the buildings being crammed, many units are displayed outside so dealers can showcase as many different types of units as possible.
I'll admit, I didn't count every unit being displayed at this year's show. But it is safe to say there were more than 100 RVs and campers to look at. In fact, one dealer said he brought 40 units alone! Think about that. As you can imagine, getting all those units in the buildings and outside in a timely manner is quite an operation, if not an orchestration. In addition to the RV stuff and seminars, we also feature many campgrounds in Northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
Job one is getting all the units in the vicinity of the Resch Center Complex. The dealers start staging or parking the units in the Lambeau Field parking lot and elsewhere around the complex on the Saturday and Sunday before the show. Before the units can move into the buildings, our staff strategically puts tape marks on the floor to exactly mark where the camping units must park.
We know how many square feet are in each building and based on that we can tell the dealers how many units can be parked inside based on their length. Everything must fit like a glove. Also, when marking the floors for parking, we account for the space required for the aisles. There are minimum requirements or guidelines that are checked by the fire inspector when he or she comes through for their pre-show inspection. Another thing that must be done is RVs that have an engine and can be driven must have their battery cables disconnected and their gas tank caps taped shut.
For the 2019 expo in January, we hurried the load-in of RVs on a Monday because of a pending snowstorm. The only thing that makes the big load-in even trickier or slower is when you have to wash and brush off snow that may have collected on top of the units. The units must be dry when they enter Shopko Hall because we have many electrical outlets in the floor that can't get wet. We had 10 dealers from throughout Northeastern Wisconsin bringing more than 100 units.
The expo runs Thursday — Sunday and I already mentioned that staging near the complex starts the Saturday and Sunday before. You can see how much preparation and time goes into this expo. It is worth it to the dealers though because they get great exposure from their target audience and they sell a lot of units! We know some people come to the event to window shop to get out of the house and have something to do. We also know many who come are serious shoppers about upgrading their current unit or are coming to buy their first RV. The WBAY RV & Camping Expo has been known for having a great show sale and I think serious buyers know that. All of the units will be moved out of the buildings by noon the day after the show ends. That part goes much quicker!
Why is the WBAY RV & Camping Expo still so popular? I think it's because you can't really buy an RV online. I guess you could research them a bit, but as far as I know, you can't buy one from Amazon and have it delivered in two days! An RV is something you want to look at, get in, sit in and imagine it's already summer!
Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.