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From 1999 – What’s New In Camping Trailers, Recreational Vehicles and Motorhomes

This vintage Gadget Guru Today Show segment is from 1999 and is hosted by former NBC Nightly News Weekend Anchorman, John Sigenthaler.

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This type of segment was a bear to produce as I was given the task of coordinating getting all of the vehicles featured in this video through the streets of New York City to the Today Show Plaza at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Since the street in front of the outdoor studio area is not that wide, we had to coordinate the order in which each unit would arrive so that they would be placed in the proper order of the segment.

Fortunately, I had great RVIA PR contacts with Jon Tancredi and Frank Gianelli of Barton Gianelli & Associates Public Relations. This company represented the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association at the time and they took a lot of pride in doing getting the job done. My life would have been much easier during my Today Show days if all PR companies operated as well as this one! Jon and Frank did a great job in contacting the selected manufacturers and coordinating the arrival of each specific unit and getting them on the set at the exact designated time…it was like clockwork. Trust me, it was no easy task.

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My goal was to have them lined up so that I could start with the more affordable, entry level models and then work my way up to, what was then, the ultimate in motorhomes.

When doing these segments live, we never knew exactly how much time we’ll have to do a specific segment as if the segment prior to mine happens to run long, that time is taken away from my segment. Typically, due to my regular 7:48am time slot, my segment did not have the luxury of running long as we were going into a hard break and had to be out at a specific time, or the director would simply cut us off and cut to a commercial break.

Looking back at 1999 when this live segment aired, the recreational vehicle industry was robust. More than nine million RV’s were on the road, many new buyers were considering the purchase of an RV, 40% of new buyers were seniors (55 and older) and 45% were in the 35 – 54 demographic.

This segment includes the following products:

– Coleman’s Fleetwood 5th Wheel pull behind pop-up trailer. This model folds open to reveal a camper with two beds, stove, sink, refrigerator and more and sold for $6,700 in 1999.

– A Van Conversion model based on a GMC extended van platform. The backseat folded into a bed and includes a TV and a nice cockpit area. The price range was $32,000 – $40,000.

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– Gulfstream Conquest Classic RV: This model featured a nice outdoor area with electronic entertainment, awnings, a cockpit area with an overhead bunk area, a camera system with a rearview mirro, a TV, a kitchenette with sink, propane stove, a breakfast area and a bathroom with a stand up shower. And in the bedroom, there was a large bed. This model sold for $70,000 in 1999.

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– The largest model that could be obtained for this segment was the Monaco Signature Series 40′ motorhome and it wowed just about everyone on the set as it included all of the modern conveniences of home. What made this motorhome noteworthy was that it was one of the first models that featured a slide-out mechanism that, at a touch of a button, greatly increased the living area. The sticker price was $400,000 in 1999.

Here’s the segment video:

Want to see which Campers and Motorhomes made the cut in 1996? Click Here to view the Today Show video with The Gadget Guru showing Jack Ford a wide variety of 1996 models.

Feel free to place your comments below!

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