Robert's RV World Caravan Dealer Profile
Purchasing an RV - whether it’s your first or fifth - is not a decision to be made lightly, and it’s vital to be supported along that journey by knowledgeable and passionate people. Perhaps that’s why Robert’s RV World, which is one of Australia’s oldest RV dealerships, has long been recognised as an esteemed and well-respected industry figure.
With an established team and a mission to ensure everyone who visits their dealership experiences the best service possible, Robert’s RV World proved the perfect candidate for our Dealer Profile series, which offers an insight into the ever-changing RV and dealership landscape.
We chat to Sales Manager Haydn Whitlow on his experiences working at Robert’s RV World, changes happening in the RV industry, top tips for buyers and much more.
TRVs: When did you start your dealership and how long has it been operating?
Haydn: Robert opened his dealership 54 years ago, making it one of the first in the country. With a one acre, fully carpeted undercover showroom and a 20,000 square foot service centre, it’s now the largest RV dealer in the Southern Hemisphere.
TRVs: What do you love about the RV industry?
Haydn: The thing I love most about this industry is the lifestyle, and being able to sell that dream to others. When you’re travelling, there are no time limits, no barriers, and no boundaries. The RV lifestyle is all about freedom, exploring new places, and hitting the open road, and it’s a way of life everyone should get to experience at some stage during their lives.
TRVs: What is your favourite RV, and what's the dealership’s most popular RV?
Haydn: The most popular RV in the dealership is easily the Avida Esperance, thanks to its high level of comfort and luxury, new technology, and quality features. It’s also the biggest RV you can drive on a normal car license.
Personally, I actually really like the old 40ft Classic, which was like a mansion on wheels. It could almost do with its own driver! Unfortunately it got discontinued around 2007, so it has been gone a while. The market went in a different direction, so there was just no point in building them anymore. And if there’s no demand for them, they’re too big and too expensive to just be sitting around doing nothing.
TRVs: What do you think are the biggest changes happening in the RV industry at the moment?
Haydn: I think in the last ten years the industry has moved away from being a mostly grey nomad dominated space, and instead become more of a young person’s thing. RVs used to be for retirees, but now it’s for people that have equity in their house.
There’s an urgency for people to travel while they can, because unfortunately a lot of the time it gets left too late and then they can’t hit the road because they’re too old, or get sick, they might lose their travelling partner or other circumstances have changed.
Some people are worried they can’t afford it, but if you put it against your house, big deal. You’ve just got to take that first step and go for it, you definitely won’t regret it.
TRVs: What would you like to see happen in the future for the RV industry?
Haydn: The RV industry is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger. There are more baby boomers still coming through, and an increasing number of younger people are also getting into the RV lifestyle. It’s great to see new generations come through, as that will only continue to broaden our audience. I hope to see interest in the RV lifestyle continue to grow, because the more people involved in our industry, the better.
TRVs: Who is your typical customer, and do you get many repeat customers?
Haydn: These days there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ customer, and we see a whole range of people come through the dealership. One thing’s for sure though, and that is that customers are a lot more knowledgeable than they used to be. They know what they want, and they know exactly how they’re going to use it.
Here at Robert’s RV, because we’ve been around for so long, we do get a lot of repeat customers who come back again and again. Whether they’re returning for upgrades, improvements, or to downsize, we help them along each stage of their RV journey.
TRVs: What is your top tip for RV buyers?
Haydn: Take your time to figure out exactly what it is that you want - go to shows, do your research, borrow or hire a RV to get a feel for one, and find a layout that suits. Nine time out of ten we find that customers aren’t happy with their RV because they’ve picked a layout that doesn’t fit with their needs. Buying an RV could be one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life, so don’t rush into it or make any hasty decisions.
TRVs: What is your favourite RV destination?
Haydn: Without a doubt, Tasmania. I love Tassie, it is an unbelievable place. If I could compare it to anywhere in the world it would be New Zealand. I recently went to Christchurch and immediately thought of Tassie, it’s like they are the same place. Tasmania is so picturesque and nice. I travelled around in a van for six weeks, and it still wasn’t enough time to properly explore the island! I also did a road trip with mates for two weeks and that was heaps of fun.