It was great at ELEVATE!

By David Gee How awesome was it to be in Atlanta for the 2021 Boating Industry ELEVATE Summit Conference?! 20 sessions. 23 speakers and panelists. 19 sponsors. Yes, we built it, and many of you came from across the country, representing dealers, boat builders, engine manufacturers, marina and boatyard owners and operators, trade association members, industry research and marketing analysts, commercial finance professionals, aftermarket suppliers and others. And we thank all of you.

There were discussions during the sessions and keynotes about the economy, boat buying behavior, consumer changes, market trends, inventory issues, supply chain challenges, workforce development, mentoring and championing women in the industry and legislative updates. We knew those things would take place because they were on the agenda!

However, it was so gratifying to see so many “offline” discussions taking place; over coffee, before the day’s events began, during lunch in the sponsor room, or during one of the networking or Women Making Waves receptions. There aren’t many times and places when the entire recreational boating industry gets to come together and this is one of them. And that’s the idea.

I’ll give you one example. I was sitting at a table during one of the after hours networking receptions having some appetizers and getting to know some people I had never met before. A friend of mine who owns a dealership in New Jersey came over to sit with us, as did a marina operator I didn’t know.

My buddy owns a marina along with his two boat retail locations, and I heard him ask the marina operator about pricing. The marina operator said they used to price their slips once a year, set it and forget it, but in this environment have now moved to a dynamic pricing model where they are evaluating thousands of slips on a weekly basis. That created an entire conversation – and friendship – that I know is of value to both. I saw those two continuing the conversation at a subsequent event, and then over a beer in the hotel bar. And that’s just one example of the types of connections being made.

Yes, we heard from many of you that you wanted to be there, would have been there, but you weren’t traveling yet, or your organization has a travel ban, and so on. We knew this was an issue, and certainly understand and respect anyone’s view when it comes to flying, gathering in large groups, etc.

But Marion Minor, the CEO of Boating Industry’s parent company, EPG Media LLC, believes in the power of community, in the value of being together in person and sharing information and insights and best practices and lessons learned. So we got together, and hope the speakers, sponsors, attendees, the Boating Industry staff and in fact the entire recreational boating industry is the better for it.

We will have a more comprehensive summary of the conference later, but I just wanted to share a few topline thoughts since many of you have been asking me how it went.

The show is a lot of work for a small staff, and I’m glad to take a break from it for a while. And we’ll give you a break from the ELEVATE videos and e-blasts that have filled your inboxes! But the break won’t be that long. The show will go on, November 2022, in Orlando, and we’re already thinking about how we can make it better thanks to some very valuable feedback from this conference.

Thanks as always for being part of our community. We appreciate you and it’s nice to hear from people face-to-face as I did in Atlanta that you appreciate us, and our spot in the boating industry landscape and ecosystem.

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