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The Next Generation: Mike Alleva

This interview is part of the article The Next Generation.

Mike Alleva – Vice President of Marketing and Client Strategy
Lighthouse Media Solutions, Boston

What do you see as the industry's biggest challenge?

The challenge is getting in front of as many people as possible. We need to give them insight and make more people aware of the boating industry itself – even with the people who aren't boaters. We need to find new boaters.

What makes you optimistic about the industry going forward?

What makes me optimistic specifically is the overall excitement of the boating industry. We all talk about the economy, and I think the economy is finally coming back. The younger generation is now understanding the importance of the dollar and investing it wisely; they are thinking about putting their disposable income towards purchasing items like a boat where they can cherish their memories forever.

The new technology found [on boats] today is phenomenal. I am a gadget person myself, and all the options and availability that they have on new boats is also really exciting.

How can we attract more young people to the industry as boaters? 

Personally I think the tow-boating section of our industry is the future. The excitement of wake boarding – with more and more wake surfing and water skiing etc. – is such a growing segment. Even on NBC, there is the Red Bull Wake Open. That promotes the excitement of water sports. I think that is definitely where the young people will eventually go. Both tow boats and pontoons will be the future of our industry.

MTV last season did a show called WakeBrothers. It was a show based on two young professional wake boarders and just the lifestyle associated with it. We need to continue to show the excitement associated with the things you can do on a boat.

What do you think the younger generation brings to the industry?

I definitely feel the enthusiasm in this industry is great – the energy level and the passion – but then also staying in front of all technologies and understanding what the end user is looking for in the boat purchasing process, from the initial experience on the website to how they feel when they walk in to a showroom to understanding the value of purchasing it from a dealership.

For the younger generation, specifically, everything is done online, so having a strong, informative and interactive website is key. Using tools like not just images, but also videos that show what I am going to do while I am on that boat. In Minnesota, what would you do in the middle of the winter except think about being on the water with your friends and having a good time? What better way to see that than in a video.

People purchase boats at a boat show, and they don't take delivery on it until much later. They are excited about it, it is an emotional purchase, and tons of video and images of that boat continue to remind them of the purchase they made. It eliminates the dissidence of a major purchase and gets them even more excited.

How did you get involved in boating?

I did an internship with Channel Blade when I was in college. From college, I stayed in the boating industry ever since I got out of college.

Why did you join the YLAC?

A member of the MRAA nominated me, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to help the industry. We work together, and I want to help everyone understand how to make our industry stronger. I love being involved with the dealers as an equal as opposed to just being a vendor.

Marketing is my background, creating ideas on how to get more people involved is what I do. I figured by talking to dealers across North America on a daily basis, I truly understand the needs of the dealers out there.

What can boat builders and other manufacturers do to help dealers be more successful?

Communication and having resources available that tell the story of that boat is very important. OEMs need to tell the story of the quality of the development and building of that boat, including having collateral literature on all the product lines, etc. Also, constant communication with the regional reps is huge. I deal with both sides. I see the dealers that do well with the brands that they carry, and it is because of communication.

What kind of perspective did you bring as a younger leader in marketing at Lighthouse?

I am staying in front of technology, specifically on the consumer research side of things, understanding that the boat purchasing process is key.


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