August '18

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14 • RV PRO • August 2018 rv-pro.com Celebrating LE A DING WOMEN in the RV Industr y Liz Crawford, RVIA Senior Vice President, Trade Shows and Events Liz Crawford knows how to put on a show. With a varied career in the trade show industry working with B2B publishers, for-profit trade shows, trade shows for hospitality, telecommunications and the the sports licensing industry, Crawford has managed small and large trade shows across the country, including international shows in South America, Europe and Asia. Before joining the RV Industry Association as its senior vice president of trade shows and events, Crawford worked for the company that ran the Outdoor Retailer Show, where she headed up marketing and was vice president of trade shows for outdoor and licensing events. It was through this role she met Frank Hugelmeyer, current president of RVIA. About a year into his tenure as head of RVIA, he called Craw- ford and asked for her help with the annual national show. "I thought about it. I talked with my husband. We had been in California for 40 years and thought it was an exciting new challenge. My husband, daughter and I moved to Vir- ginia in the fall of 2016. So, here I am," Crawford says. "The reality was that the National show had been 55 years of the same thing, different year," she adds. "We had a lot of feedback and a lot of discussion about the show and if it was creating value. There was a lot of concern about the trade show in general; concerns about the relevance and value proposition. Frank recognized that. He talked to members and reached out to me. He said, 'We need to completely rethink this event. What do you have?'" Crawford came to Virginia and started talking to dealers, members, suppliers, OEMs and everyone else about the show, it's history, and what value might look like for the industry. She attended the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., in 2016 and says, "by the time it got to 2017, it was very clear we needed to really narrow in on value and timing and create something that was much more reflective of the $50 billion industry we serve. It's a sexy industry, fun and a great lifestyle, but the show didn't reflect any of that. "We realized after the 2017 show, when we brought together the awards program and the Top Tech Challenge, that we hit it out of the park, but at the end of the day we needed to super charge the value at the show," she adds. After what Crawford says were many strategic meetings, her team decided to host a new event, RVX: The RV Expe- rience, in Salt Lake City, March 12 to 14. The new event departs from the typical location of Louisville, Ky., held the week after Thanksgiving. "What I bring is perspective," Crawford says of her role. "When you have a 55-year-old event you sort of get stuck in a rut and do the same show, different year. "I bring perspective because of my experience in a lot of different industries. I ran and attended shows in different markets, and you can't get that if you're not immersed in that role and function," she adds. "I can't even go to a local consumer show without looking at ways they've done every- thing from the way they register, to signage, to the way the floor looks, to the education." Crawford says she leans heavily on her staff, as well as Association members and the media. "The media has been great to give a voice for what we're trying to do. The members and our committee and board have been very helpful," she says. "At the end of the day, the event serves the entire industry and helps propel the industry forward when you have something that creates a lot of buzz, and that's the goal. "I can't say how excited I am to be a part of it," Craw- ford adds. "People want this to work. They want something exciting and something they want to attend. I often say to folks, that my job isn't to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's to build an entirely new ship and help promote the industry we serve and move it forward.

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