On the floor of the Wildwood Convention Center this weekend, prospective buyers were moving in and out of recreational vehicles in hopes of finding their next RV or trailer.
But instead of asking about propane tank sizes or how much a certain model can haul, attendees were playing with surround-sound speakers and watching flat-screen televisions attached to the units at the Wildwood RV Show.
Gone are your parents’ Winnebagos from the ’70s. Instead, with trends such as “glamping” — luxurious camping — becoming more prominent, people are looking to soup up their RVs with new amenities such as iPad-activated controls and outdoor finished kitchenettes.
It’s a new world, said Steve Minghenelli, owner of Dylans RV Center in Sewell.
“The evolution has come a great distance from when these (RVs) first came out,” Minghenelli said.
Minghenelli said many vehicles can link to cellphones to operate outdoor awnings and curtains. Heated floors are more and more popular. Floor plans have grown in size to fit larger families, and include dishwashers and Wi-Fi.
The convention ran Friday through Sunday. Minghenelli said he expected about 4,000 people to attend, looking for top-of-the-line luxury RVs.
The popularity of high-end amenities has continued to grow. This year, he said, 65,000 people attended a five-day convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Another 58,000 attended a Tampa Bay convention, looking to find the perfect RV — bells and whistles included.
“There’s a lot more different about these RVs now,” said Robert Androckitis, general manager at Driftwood RV Center. “There are more slide-outs on the outside of the vehicles, a lot more electronics, more LED lights and more efficiency.”
Androckitis said people expect big screen TVs, electric fireplaces and other stuff that he saw only in top models 10 years ago.
“They’re looking for all of it,” Androckitis said.
And that need for more gadgets doesn’t stop with millennials.
Pat and Lou Damelio, of Franklinville, were walking through the convention center, checking out an outdoor fridge and skillet attached to a luxury model. The two have owned five or six campers over the years and their latest model — a 2013 fifth-wheel trailer — has two flat screens in the living room and bedroom of the vehicle as well as a fireplace.
Pat Damelio said the two are in their ‘70s and want convenience with their models.
“I love all the bells and whistles,” Pat Damelio said. “Everything is electric now. If we can press a button rather than have to (manually) handle it, then it’s good.”
Damelio said she and Lou are part of a camping club, and whenever a member of the group gets a new model they all can’t wait to go inside and check it out.
“Each new one we get has something different,” Pat Damelio said.
It’s an industry that Minghenelli said is continuing to grow as people look to take the glamping lifestyle inside their RVs.
“It’s changing so drastically and growing in leaps and bounds,” he said.