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Airstream dealer meeting

We got to spend some time with the new 2008 Airstream models today. Part of my job is to review the new models as they come out. Well, actually that's not true, but I make it part of my job anyway, because it's a lot of fun.

The word in the RV industry is that customers want smaller and lighter RVs. Higher fuel prices, a decline in the popularity of big SUVs, and a broadening interest among people who never owned an RV before all are pointing to trailers that are easier to tow and can be pulled without buying a massive truck.

So Airstream has come out with an aggressive new line of short, sweet, little rigs that are destined to be hits. Two years ago when we walked through the new model introduction, half the trailers on the floor were 30 feet and longer. Heavy, option-laden models were already on the way out, but they remained a significant part of sales. This year, only two examples out of about two dozen units on the floor were over 30 feet long. The rest were shorter and lighter.

A very interesting new product that will be in dealer showrooms this summer is the Safari Sport. Coming out in two lengths, 17 and 22 feet, these little cuties are redesigned completely for much lighter weight and lower cost. How light? Well, the empty weight of the 17 foot model is about 2,800 lbs, which is the lightest trailer in that length that Airstream has sold since 1981! It's so light that even fully loaded it can be pulled by a minivan.

Las Vegas Safari Sport logo.jpg

We'll have a full review of the Safari Sport, with plenty of pictures, in the upcoming Fall 2007 issue of Airstream Life magazine. If you subscribe you'll get that issue in August, and it will also be in Books-a-Million stores and other book stores, starting in late August.

Another trailer model that is getting a lot of attention is the "DWR Airstream", which is basically an International CCD 16-footer with a makeover by Design Within Reach. DWR is the largest seller of modern design furnishings in the US. They're actually selling this little toy (at $49k) through their catalog, and the word is that quite a few have been pre-sold already. Most of these jewels will probably end up as guest houses and pool houses rather than traveling.

Las Vegas DWR Airstream.jpg

All of these new models are being driven by a startling statistic. 27% of Airstream buyers last year were first-time buyers. That means they never owned an RV of any type before. Yet they went straight to one of the most premium brands available. That's absolutely unprecedented. It means a lot of excited new owners who want a different type of product (more exciting, higher quality, more design-focused), and it means owners who will change the face of RV'ing as it has been traditionally pictured. I call them the "new quarter".

So, because we publish a magazine that speaks to those people, we got some very nice praise for Airstream Life during the meeting. The Airstream people love the magazine, and so do the dealers. They know Airstream Life is a real anomaly in the RV and publishing worlds. No other RV manufacturer has an independent magazine about their product. There's no other magazine like it.

I know I'm tooting my own horn, but we really do combine travel, history, people, and destinations in a totally unique way. I think that unusual mix both mystifies people who can't pigeonhole it in to a single category, and delights our readers. People who read the magazine tend to be eclectic and interested in a lot of things, and so it's fun for me to meet them and become friends with many of them.

I'm hoping that when we show up in more bookstores (such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, and others) this fall, we'll be able to introduce the magazine to the "new quarter" -- that much broader audience of people who never thought they'd own a travel trailer and then found themselves buying an Airstream. If you're one of those people, welcome! I hope we see you on the road soon.


I hope we DO meet on the road some day.

We are a family with two girls, 10 and 5. Three years ago we ordered a 28' CCD. We had never even camped as a family; other than renting a Class C as an experiment to see if we would enjoy that type of travel. So I guess you could say we were a "founding family" of the "new quarter". We continue to see it as a great investment in our family.

"Toot" away, the magazine is fantastic and my husband and I have eagerly awaited each copy since the first issue.

P.S. Your description of the nap was heavenly.

We, too, bought our first RV last year, a 30' Safari Bunk. It fits our family of parents plus two boys, 7 & 10 and a cocker spaniel. We all love camping and try to take a trip at least once a month to some special destination.

Looking forward to seeing more on the Safari Sport and to seeing more new families enter the Airstream family!

Have enjoyed every issue of Airstream Life since the first issue. (Charter subscriber here!) Keep up the great work.

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