The Marine Dealer Conference and Expo, held on Nov. 15-18 in Orlando, had a record-breaking year for attendance. A total of 1,147 marine industry professionals attended the event, along with over 100 exhibitors.
Boating Industry and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas partner to host the event.
Total marine retail attendance was 609, an increase of over 4 percent from the 584 in 2014. The total number of dealerships represented was 238, also up 4 percent from 228 in 2014. The total number of retail locations represented by those dealerships is 875, and they collectively employ more than 30,000 people.
“This was by far one of the most successful events we have hosted,” said Jonathan Sweet, editor-in-chief at Boating Industry. “The expanded expo hall and additional education offerings made this year’s MDCE one that will have tangible results for our attendees.”
The 2015 event marked many firsts for MDCE, including the new MDCE Learning Labs, dealer-to-dealer sessions, the first-ever dealership case study and more. The pre-conference workshops, which are among the highest-rated education sessions at the event, expanded from seven in its first two years to 12 in 2015.
“During the workshops, it’s not just about being inspired or picking up a few new ideas – it’s actually about going to work on your business,” said Liz Walz, vice president of the MRAA. “As more dealers experience them, the popularity continues to grow.”
Initial feedback from attendees has been very positive for the event, with many dealers stating 2015 was the best year MDCE has had yet. Dealers have already begun to realize impact in their businesses by putting ideas they learned at MDCE to work.
“There were a lot of new offerings this year that we learned from and that I think we can build on in terms of continuing to improve and grow the event,” said Walz. “With the positive feedback that we’re getting from this year’s event, that allows us to build momentum for future years.”
MDCE will see another big change next year, as the conference will be moving to the first week of December, which will allow the event to grow by attracting audience that have been unable to join in previous years.
“It will be great for the industry to have more time between the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, METS and MDCE, as those events have conflicted in previous years,” Sweet said. “This will allow attendees the time they need to focus on building relationships and gathering best practices to make their businesses even stronger.”
Registration for the 2016 MDCE, held on Dec. 5-8, 2016, in Orlando, is scheduled to open in April at marinedealerconference.com.
Below are highlights from this year’s event: