MAATS show stays on growth path

Busy aisles meant smiles on the faces of most exhibitors at the third-annual Marine Aftermarket Accessories Show (MAATS), held July 9-11 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
The event has continued to grow, with attendance up 18 percent over last year to about 2,150 people, buyer-supplier meetings up from 1,050 to 1,600, and a sold-out show floor that consisted of 443 booths filled by 297 exhibitors, an increase of 8 percent over last year. The number of buying companies grew from 90 to 109.
In addition, the international flavor of the show appears to be growing. This year’s MAATS featured a British Pavilion within the main show floor consisting of eight companies, organized by the British Marine Federation, as well as exhibitors from Australia, New Zealand, China and Canada.
The show attracted 184 attendees from outside the United States, including 92 buyers and 67 exhibitors. Ninety-eight of the total attendees were from Canada, with 24 from the United Kingdom, 9 from Japan and 9 from Australia.
Despite the sold-out status of the show, MAATS won’t be moving to a new, larger venue next year. Instead, the 2004 event, scheduled to take place July 8-10, will incorporate pavilions outside the main show floor, according to Arlene Baxter, director of industry programs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
However, Baxter said the show is on hold for space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, adjacent to the Las Vegas Hilton,
in 2005.
Timing remains a concern
NMMA, which produces MAATS, moved the show from June to July for this year’s event, a move that NMMA President Thom Dammrich suggests has pleased most participants.
“I think overwhelmingly people are delighted with the later dates,” he explains. “And there are some who would like to see it another week or two later yet. That will be a matter for discussion for the planning committee.”
Those who would like to see the show moved to later in the summer include members of the National Marine Distributors Association (NMDA), the group that produces the STEP (Sales, Training, Education and Purchasing) Conference, according to NMDA Executive Director Nancy Cueroni.
This was the first year that STEP was held in conjunction with MAATS. In the past, STEP has taken place during the first week in August, which Cuerino says is the ideal time for distributors. However, she says moving the show by two weeks would be “workable.”
The likelihood that the MAATS dates will change in time for next year’s event is “very slim,” according to Dammrich.
“We are contracted for July 8-10 at the Hilton,” he explains. “We have tried very hard to find later dates at the Hilton or Las Vegas Convention Center but without success.”
However, there is hope for later dates in the future. Dammrich says NMMA will be working to move the show later in July 2005, but before the end of the month.
Other possible changes for the 2004 show and beyond will be discussed during a MAATS committee planning session taking place this fall. In the meantime, NMMA is collecting surveys and input for the committee’s consideration.
— Liz Walz

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