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2012 Best in Class: Best events

Parks Marina
Okoboji, Iowa

Most dealers, especially those in the Top 100, have events to bring potential customers to the water. Then there’s Parks Marina.
The Okoboji, Iowa-based dealer has made events a top priority in its marketing efforts. They’re also a significant part of the long-term plans to build president Butch Parks’ dream of an Okoboji Marina District including the current marina, restaurant and retail, but also a future hotel, convention center and more.

“By offering more and more fun and exciting ways to get onto the water at a reasonable cost, we will be able to get more of what vacationers spend their money on while they are here,” Parks says.

The events both attract new potential customers and give Parks a way to keep in touch with its past customers without making a hard sales pitch.

These are just a few of the dozens of events that Parks hosts at its two waterfront locations on East Lake Okoboji and West Lake Okoboji.

The “Crabby” Cobalt Seafood Boil and Boat Fashion Show – After guests dined on a seafood boil while listening to live music, they got a chance to see the latest Cobalt boats in action. The event generated numerous test drives and boat sales.

Diamond Lady Cobalt Cruise – Thirty of Parks’ best boat buyers were invited to the exclusive event, as long as they brought someone with them who was in the market for a new Cobalt. Hosted on board the Diamond Lady yacht, the event featured food, drink and a private viewing of the Cobalt line. After returning to port, guests were invited to take test drives.

Boats on Ice boat show – In January, Parks brought out its famous Barefoot Bar under a tent complete with bands and a beer garden for an on-ice boat show. More than 2,500 people attended and Parks closed more than a dozen boat sales.

Okoboji Night – Parks transplants the tropical setting of its Okoboji locations to its Sioux Falls, S.D., location, complete with Tiki bars for a spring boat show and cocktail party.

Winter Storage Appreciation Day – A spring thank-you event for the marina’s storage customers that offers a one-day-only 20-percent discount on boat purchases, as well as drawings for prizes including free winter storage and half-price storage.

Big Bang Fireworks – Parks hosts the largest fireworks display on East Lake Okoboji.

Pirate Plunge – The annual kick-off to the tourist season draws hundreds of people to jump into the frigid springtime waters. Everyone who “walks the plank” receives a shopping spree and a free beach towel.

Crownline Rendezvous – 800 Crownline enthusiasts show for the annual owner event that features a poker run, scavenger hunt, fireworks show, airplane photoshoot and more. The company credits this event with making it the largest Crownline dealer in the world.

Monthly Full Moon parties – With the best view of the moon on the lake, Parks Marina hosts more than 1,000 people each month for the full moon with boat displays, live entertainment and a seafood boil.

Numerous charity events – To benefit local organizations including a Christmas toy drive, a scholarship fundraiser for the local community college and events supporting many other groups.

All told, the events not only drive more boat sales, they help increase revenue to the company’s restaurants, stores, service and more. The huge schedule of events has created buzz for the company throughout the region.

“We are unique in the industry because of how all of our profit centers work together to produce a consistent earnings stream,” Parks says. “We have the whole package and are the best in boating and family entertainment. We have learned how to draw in water lovers – potential boat buyers.”


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