How to Save Big on Your Dream RV: Insider Tips for Pre-Show Deals

Written by Greg Long

Man sleeping, dreaming of camping in an RV with his family. Text: "Save Big on your Dream RV!"

Have you ever dreamed of going camping with your family in your very own RV? This dream often comes with a big price tag, leaving many potential buyers wondering when — and how — you can make this dream a reality without breaking the bank. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew someone in the RV industry who could tell you when it’s the best time to buy an RV so you can save the most money?

Good news. I can help with that! 

Bish’s RV has nearly 40 years of experience selling RVs. We’ve seen firsthand how the RV industry operates, especially when it comes to pricing and sales. 

A common belief among RV shoppers is the best deals are found at RV shows. While it’s true that RV shows are great places to find deals, I’m here to let you in on a little-known secret: the potential for even better deals may exist BEFORE these shows even begin.

After reading these Pre-RV Show Buying Tips, you’ll be armed with the necessary information to make a smart money-saving decision on your next RV purchase, getting you closer to living your dream on the road.

Go Play 26RLS
The Go Play 26RLS is a Couple’s Dream Camper

Table of Contents

When is RV Show Season?

Why Buy at an RV Show

Confessions of an RV Salesman

Hidden Costs of RV Shows

RV Show Expenses

RV Show Inventory Limitations

RV Show: High Pressure Sales

Why Buying Pre-Show Could Save you Money

No Extra Show Expenses

Pre-Show Dealership Deals

Win-Win of Pre-Show Purchases

10 Must-Ask Questions When Buying a Pre-show RV

Next Steps to Buying Your Dream Camper

Ready to find your Dream Camper? Check out Available Deals and Pricing Now!

Best Time to Buy a Camper: When is RV Show Season?

If you’d like to see a huge selection of campers offered for special low prices — all in one mega-location — RV Shows are a great place to look. 

Bishs RV at indoor RV Show

When is RV Show Season?

There is no “Official RV Show Season” but typically:

Most RV shows are held between January 1 – March 31

This is the time of year before camping season begins.

You will find some RV shows take place after the camping season, like the Hershey RV Show in Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest RV shows in the country.

Calendar with January - March circled in Red- RV Show Season

Want to know when the RV shows are happening in your area?

Why Buy at an RV Show?

Shows are usually held during dealers’ slow season when sales are down and they need to get rid of extra inventory to make room for next year’s models. 

You can usually find really great deals at RV shows.  Most campers are priced with special discounts and dealers are typically willing to go even lower so they can make a sale. 

To find out if buying a camper from an RV show is a smart choice for you, read our article, “Are RVs Really Cheaper at an RV Show?”

Confessions of an RV Salesman: How to Save the Most Money When Buying an RV

Silhouette of Anonymous RV Salesman
Anonymous lighting so you don’t know it’s me.

I love saving money. I clip coupons, I even added multiple coupon-search add-ons to my browser to help me look for more savings when I shop online.

If you’re like me, you like finding good deals. Especially when it comes to big-ticket items like an RV.

Let me tell you a secret: You can sometimes find better deals on campers before RV shows than at the RV shows. 

Let me tell you why…

The Hidden Costs of RV Shows: Understanding the Price You Pay

The Reality of RV Show Expenses

When it comes to RV shows, the glitz and glamour often overshadow the reality of their big price tags.

These events aren’t just expensive for the dealerships; they ultimately impact the consumer’s wallet too.

Josh the RV Nerd at RV Show with Bish's RV

Let’s break down the costs of RV Shows:

  • Venue Fees: Securing show space often amounts to tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Transportation: Shipping RV units to and from the show incurs considerable expenses, including driver labor and fuel.

  • Preparation and Presentation: Significant costs are involved in cleaning, setting up, and decorating the display areas.

  • Staffing: Covering food, lodging, and possibly travel costs for staff attending the event adds up quickly.

Who Really Pays for These Costs?

It’s an open secret that dealerships are in the business of making a profit – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s important to realize that these costs are typically passed down to you, the consumer. 

When purchasing an RV at a show, you’re not just paying for the vehicle; you’re indirectly covering all these additional expenses.

The Limitations of RV Show Inventory

Bish's RV at RV Show

Limited Selection: A Common Misconception

One of the biggest misconceptions about RV shows is the variety of inventory. In reality, dealerships often bring a limited selection to these events. This selection usually includes:

  • Units They Want to Offload: Older models or less popular units.

  • High-Profit Models: RVs that promise the highest return for the dealership.

This means that what’s available at the show might not necessarily align with what you want or need.

The Pressure to Sell at Shows

It’s crucial to remember that the primary goal of staff at these shows is to sell as much as possible during the event. 

While this is a standard business practice, it can often lead to a high-pressure sales environment, not always conducive to making the best purchasing decision.

Check out these incredible new RVs marked down with Clearance Sale Pricing!

Why Shopping at a Dealership Pre-Show could be a better option for you

Full Inventory, More Choices

Outside of show times, dealerships have their full inventory available. This offers you:

  • More Variety: Access to a wider range of models and types.
  • Personalized Attention: The opportunity to interact with more staff members, including specially trained parts and hitching staff.

  • Informed Decisions: A better understanding of the dealership’s services and support.
Bish's RV Outfitter with happy customers
Shopping at a dealership gives you personalized attention!

No Extra Show Costs May Mean More Savings

By opting to shop before an RV show, you avoid the hidden costs associated with show purchases. This often results in more competitive pricing and a better deal for you.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can save money by buying before an RV show…

Seizing Pre-Show Opportunities: How Dealerships Offer Better Deals

Bish's RV at RV Show

The Motivation Behind Early Deals

As the RV show season approaches, dealerships are faced with a big financial decision: either pay all the costs to participate in these shows or offer great deals to customers beforehand. 

The expenses dealers are looking to avoid include:

  • Venue Fees
  • Transportation
  • Preparation and Presentation
  • Staffing 

How This Translates to Better Deals for You

Understanding the financial pressures dealerships face during show seasons can be advantageous for a buyer. 

To sidestep these costs, dealerships are often more inclined to negotiate and provide more competitive pricing before the shows. 

This willingness to offer better deals stems from two primary reasons:

  • Cost Avoidance: If a dealership can sell an RV before incurring show-related expenses, they are more likely to pass on some of these savings to the customer.

  • Inventory Management: Dealerships often use the pre-show period to clear out older inventory to make room for newer models. This means you could secure a great deal on a “new-old” model — a brand new RV from a previous year’s line that hasn’t been sold yet.

The Win-Win of Early Purchases

By choosing to buy an RV before a show, not only do you avoid the crowds and pressure of a show environment, but you also tap into a period when dealerships are highly motivated to sell. 

They’re more open to negotiation, eager to reduce their inventory, and willing to avoid the huge costs of participating in shows. 

This scenario creates a unique opportunity for you to secure a better deal.

RV Dealers are in the Business of Selling RVs

Remember, the goal of the dealership is to sell RVs efficiently and cost-effectively. 

When you approach them before the show season, you’re helping them meet this goal while also positioning yourself to benefit from the financial advantages of their situation.

Thinking of getting an RV Loan to finance your camper purchase? Check out our article, “RV Loans: How Do I Get the Best Financing Deal?”

Truck pulling a 5th wheel

Get the Show Deals Before the Show

If you’re concerned that you will miss out on a special deal if you don’t buy at an RV show, remember these 3 facts:

  • Special Financing: Reduced interest rates offered by lenders during shows are often available at the dealership during the same period.

  • Manufacturer Incentives: While it’s true that sometimes a manufacturer will work with a dealer to make a special offer for someone at an RV show to make a big sale, most offers available at the show are usually also available at the dealership.

  • Everyday Specials: What is often marketed as “show specials” can frequently be found at the dealership on any given day.

Find your Dream Camper — Check out Available Deals and Pricing Now!

10 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying an RV Before a Show

Making an Informed Decision

Purchasing an RV is a big investment, and being well-informed is key to making the right choice. 

When you’re considering buying an RV before a show, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting the best deal and the perfect fit for your needs.

Here are 10 essential questions to discuss with your dealer:

1. What are the financial advantages of buying now versus during the show?

  • Understand how much you can save by buying before the show. Ask for a comparison of pre-show prices with typical show prices.

2. Can you provide details on any pre-show specials or promotions?

  • Dealerships often run special promotions or offer additional incentives to clear out inventory before a show. Make sure you’re aware of these deals.

3. What models do you have available from last year’s inventory?

  • Inquire about ‘new-old’ stock, which can offer significant savings. These are brand new, unused RVs from previous model years.

4. How flexible is the pricing on older inventory models?

  • Discuss the dealership’s willingness to negotiate on older models, understanding that they’re keen to clear this stock before bringing in new inventory.

5. What warranties and services are included with the purchase?

  • It’s important to know what kind of support and warranties come with your RV, especially if it’s an older model.

6. Can I see the full range of your inventory?

  • Ensure that you have access to view all available models, not just the ones the dealership is most eager to sell.

7. What are the maintenance and operational costs for the models I’m interested in?

  • Understanding ongoing costs is essential for budgeting beyond the initial purchase.

8. Are there any upcoming models or features that might be worth waiting for?

  • Sometimes, upcoming models have features or improvements that might be more suited to your needs.

9. What financing options are available?

  • Explore the various financing options and see if there are any pre-show financing specials.

10. What is your policy on trade-ins?

  • If you have an existing RV, understand how trade-in values are assessed and how they can be applied to your new purchase.

Empowering Your RV Purchase

Asking these questions not only gives you a clearer picture of what to expect in terms of cost and value but also signals to the dealership that you are a knowledgeable and serious buyer. This can often lead to more transparent negotiations and a better overall purchasing experience.

Thinking about Trading Up to a new camper?
Find out how much your current camper is worth!

Insider Pro-Tip: How to get the Most Money For Your RV Trade!

Next Steps to Buying an RV before RV Show Season Begins

Bishs RV Building and Lot in Meridian, ID

Now that you know how buying an RV before show season begins can save you money, you’re ready to start shopping for your dream camper. 

And since you’re not limited to just the models the dealers brought to the show, you can shop everything the dealers have on their lots, ready to sell.

To begin your search check out special pricing and available inventory:

If you’d like to have even more savings check out these clearance model campers!

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Further Your RV Education: 

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Greg Long Bish's RV

Greg Long

Bish’s RV Content Manager

Amateur adventurer; professional dreamer.
aka: The Bish-Blog-Guy