ABC to break even?

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Marine Manufacturers Association has long been working to boost attendance at its annual legislative event, the American Boating Congress. Its tactics have changed somewhat, however.

A few years ago, the association made attendance such a priority that it allowed many industry members to participate for free, explained Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president of government relations, in a recent interview. For that reason, it reported the number of total attendees at the event, which included spouses and staff.

While it still is trying to grow attendees, NMMA now also is focusing on the event at least breaking even in hopes that it will allow the association to spend more on the ABC program. That explains why, despite the fact that NMMA reported 270 attendees in 2003 and 225 this year, it can report that the event has grown, according to Fontaine. This year's number included only paid registrants and therefore didn't include staff or anyone that didn't pay to be there. And the number of paid registrants is up 15 percent.

Sponsorship for the event is up as well - more than 100 percent from last year. These increases are allowing NMMA to create a higher quality event with wider appeal, she reports.

“I'd like to see it become an all industry event,” Fontaine says. “We're trying to broaden the subject matter and reach out to more and more groups.”

The 2005 event, for example, featured topics of interest to trailer manufacturers, PFD manufacturers and boat and engine dealers, in addition to boat builders.

With the additional resources available, organizers were also able to attract better speakers, such as a scientist who spoke about manatee issues.

Fontaine expects the event to continue to slowly but steadily grow. All indications are that the industry is realizing its political power, she says.-- Liz Walz

  • For more of the latest news, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *