What role did Winnebago’s customers play in the design of the Tour?
We talk to all our customers after they buy from us and ask them to rank four or five things that influenced them to purchase a Winnebago. The thing that consistently ranks number one is floor plan. When we began to design the Tour for 2011, floor plan was at the front of our mind. We felt that if our customers were telling us that the floor plan was so important, we wanted to ensure that we were making the appropriate investment of time and money in developing plans that were both unique and functional. Because the floor plans are so unique, this style floor plan is only available by Winnebago. All four floor plans are unique from anything else available in the RV industry.
Which of the Tour’s features makes Winnebago especially proud?
We’re extremely proud of the exterior styling of the coach. When a customer looks at the Tour, they’re going to be immediately impacted by the look of the coach, particularly the front-end. What they may not realize is the amount of thought and care that goes into designing that space ergonomically. Not only does the front-end have a stylish appearance, but when you sit in the driver’s seat and experience the comfort of the driver’s compartment, you immediately recognize the ability to see the road, utilize the gauges and operate the vehicle. All of that functionality is a result of the thoughtful work done by Winnebago’s exterior styling people. We’re very proud of that and have received a lot of positive feedback from our dealers and retail customers.
What challenges did Winnebago overcome in creating the Tour?
We have a unique floor plan and wanted an L-shaped sectional that could function in a slide-out motorhome. We built that creative piece of furniture ourselves. We didn’t have to depend on an outside furniture manufacturer. We used our own ingenuity and designed a piece of furniture that is specific to RV use. It was a challenge, but it allowed us to design the floor plan collectively as opposed to buying someone else’s piece of furniture and slapping it down on the floor.
How did Winnebago emerge from the recent economic recession as a stronger company?
This industry has been in turmoil for the last two or three years. Several manufacturers have either closed their doors or fought their way through difficult financial times or even bankruptcy. One of the things that Winnebago brings to the table is a 52-year history of solid financial performance. We’re an organization that has lived through some tough times, whether it was back in the late 1970s or the last two to three years. We’re a manufacturer with a proven track record not only with our financial performance, but also with our service, parts and warranty fulfillment.
The Tour was created during the downturn yet is a very forward thinking coach. How did Winnebago maintain a vision for the Tour with an eye on the future?
During the downturn, we made sure that we did not put our products’ research and development on the back burner. We pressed on full steam ahead with the projects we had planned, the Tour being just one of them. We couldn’t take our foot off the developmental throttle and allow our 2010 and 2011 products to look like our 2009 products with different paint. We realized we had an opportunity to invest heavily in our research and development and accelerate ahead of the competition. The Tour is the flagship project we had on our drawing boards and a sign of what’s to come for Winnebago.