By Jamie Stafford
This November, Orlando will play host to ELEVATE SUMMIT, the premier networking event for the recreational marine industry, hosted by Boating Industry magazine and parent company EPG Brand Acceleration. The conference is hosted over three days, featuring keynote speakers, Q&A panels, and the prestigious Top 100 award celebration.
In anticipation of ELEVATE SUMMIT 2022, the Boating Industry editorial team spoke with David Gee about the history of the summit and to get a preview of what’s to come. David Gee is the former editor-in-chief of Boating Industry and content director at EPG Brand Acceleration. He is now consultant, host and producer of the Boating Industry Insider podcasts and is responsible for the speakers, content and agenda for Boating Industry ELEVATE Summit Conference.
ELEVATE SUMMIT came about as the answer to a question that hadn’t yet been answered by the industry. “When the Boating Industry and EPG Brand Acceleration staff first came together to plan a new conference, it started from a clean sheet of paper in terms of exactly what it should be, where it should be, and when,” recalls Gee.
“There were two main mandates; it was going to be smaller by design, more intimate, so attendees could really feel as if they could have a conversation and connection with a majority of the attendees if they wish. That’s virtually impossible with larger events and conferences. Secondly, we knew we wanted it to be an industry-wide event, and not focused on any one audience or segment of the recreational boating industry.”
While there is a wealth of other conferences available to the recreational marine world (both trade and consumer-facing), there is a lack of industry-wide events aimed at bringing manufacturers, dealers, and marinas together.
“Manufacturers have their shows, dealers have national sales meetings and 20 Groups and their own shows and conferences, and the same for marina and boatyard owners and operators and marine trade association professionals,” Gee says.
“However, we felt as if it would be unique to have this industry-wide gathering at ELEVATE, learning and sharing together about the latest developments regarding key issues impacting the industry and their business. Very few other boating industry events brings all these top leaders together to connect, collaborate, cultivate and celebrate.”
Attendees can expect plenty of events tailored to connection and collaboration at ELEVATE. “When it comes to sessions and speakers, I am most looking forward to at the 2022 Boating Industry ELEVATE Summit, like a parent asked to pick out a favorite child, I would just say they’re all great!” Gee says.
“To kick things off, we’ll get to hear from the 2022 Boating Industry Mover & Shaker of the Year. The first full day of the conference, Tuesday, Nov. 15, the opening keynote will feature Curtis Dubay, the Chief Economist, Economic Policy Division, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
“We also have an illustrious industry panel talking about the state of the recreational boating industry right now. The panel features president of Brunswick Boat Group Aine Denari, Correct Craft president and CEO Bill Yeargin, Marine Connection (winner of the 2021 Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer of the Year) CEO Danny Goldberg, and Oasis Marinas CEO and co-founder Dan Owens. They will discuss topics such as workforce, supply chain challenges, inventory issues, consumer demand, and take your questions as well.”
A big part of ELEVATE SUMMIT is bringing trade organizations to the table. Legislation’s importance can’t be overstated, and organizations such as the NMMA work to keep the boating industry’s interests afloat (pun intended) in Washington.
“Every year we receive a report from senior government affairs leaders at NMMA on the recreational boating industry's top legislative priorities. We'll get an update on Capitol Hill, and learn about measures designed to address small businesses, infrastructure, and trade. We'll also learn about strong grassroots efforts to make sure the boating industry is heard by policymakers, including ways everyone can get involved at the local, state, regional, and even national levels.”
Gee himself will also be contributing his expertise to the conference by speaking on social media and new marketing strategies for 2022.
“I am super excited to be able to present on ‘How to make your marketing more relevant’,” Gee says. “One of the biggest battles any of us are fighting today is for the time and attention of our audience. We have to be customer-centric, demonstrate value, and show up differently, if we are going to earn the time and attention of our audience. And we only have a few seconds to cut through that clutter to create those critical emotional connections. Every single buying decision we make is driven by emotion, particularly when it comes to something as discretionary as a boat! I’ll detail what it takes to tell better stories, and how to be different, engaging and memorable with your marketing and messaging.”
The myriad opportunities to hear from industry experts and connect with other thought leaders shows why ELEVATE SUMMIT is such a valuable summit to the industry. In Gee’s own words, “It’s a chance to network and share best practices and lessons learned, and again, to be able to do that with all segments of the recreational boating industry, not just the particular one they work in.”
“And,” he continues, “ELEVATE not only provides the forum and opportunity to connect, collaborate and cultivate, but also to celebrate. The recreational boating industry has experienced tremendous growth since the pandemic, but also some challenges. It’s great to be able to come to warm, sunny Orlando in November, relax by the pool, attend some great sessions, and at the end of it all, get dressed up a bit and celebrate the people and organizations who have excelled during this extraordinary time.
Boating Industry editor-in-chief Adam Quandt and others have been busy reimagining the Top 100 to be more inclusive of the entire industry, and I can’t wait to see what that looks like this year. And, of course, we will also be celebrating industry movers and shakers, top women, and emerging 40 under 40 leaders.”
Be sure not to miss out on this celebration of the marine industry! Discover more about the ELEVATE summit at www.boatingindustryelevate.com.