Pictured: the California RV Show, formerly in Pamona, CA.

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By Jason Epperson

RVs are more popular than ever as Americans reel from airline travel and hotels, concerned about their health and safety due to the coronavirus. RVs are the ultimate socially distanced travel. Yet the biggest tool RV dealers and manufacturers have in the box to hawk their wears — the RV show — is a crowded, germ-friendly affair. Are RV shows likely to return anytime soon?

The busy part of the RV show season already concluded in February, before the coronavirus scare took hold in the U.S. But the country’s largest RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is still on the books for this September. “We’re working as hard as we can to make sure that the event still happens,” organizers told RVBusiness.com.

Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of the country’s largest RV dealer, Camping World, announced Tuesday that his company is pulling out of Hershey, saying that it’s irresponsible to subject customers and associates to the RV show environment:

Instead, Camping World and its partner manufacturers will host the “world’s largest virtual RV show” just before the Hershey show is set to take place. That doesn’t bode well for other physical RV shows, considering that Camping World’s subsidiary Good Sam produces many of them.

Camping World’s won’t be the first virtual show, either. The Super B RV Show went online in April. Hershey organizers are working hard to get concessions from the state government and put plans in place to make the event as safe as possible. But will people come? RV shows are fun and exciting, and they’re a great way to figure out what things you love and don’t in a unit. Will people really be entering hundreds of RVs, sitting in the sofas, testing the cabinets, and putting their hands on the steering wheel—as soon as September?

Our own data says it isn’t likely. By far the most popular article on RVMiles.com is our state-by-state RV show schedule, which normally gets well over a thousand views a day. Sometimes multiple thousands. It is the number one article on Google for the keywords “RV show” or “RV show near me.” Even with the incredible sales boom right now, Yesterday the page had 156 views.

It seems doubtful that Americans will put themselves in the unnecessary position of going to an RV show with big crowds when they can just roam some dealer lots and shop online. And it seems less likely that manufacturers and dealers will go through all of the intensive work of prepping for an RV show if nobody will be there.