IBEX attendance to rise?

MIAMI, Fla. – While first-day attendance met the expectations of show organizers here at the first co-produced International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX), attendance is expected to rise over the coming days.

“We are expecting today and tomorrow to be heavier days,” explained Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), which is co-producing this IBEX with Professional Boatbuilder magazine. “We are expecting this to be an atypical show, with attendance building right through the end of the show.”

On day one, approximately 1,500 people attended IBEX, and show producers believe that the show’s proximity to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which begins Thursday, will attract more people to the final two days because of plans to attend both shows. Show producers also expect an “influx of international” attendees over the coming days.

Dammrich told Boating Industry that updated pre-registration numbers suggest that 5,400 people will attend this year’s event, which would exceed an earlier estimate by co-producer Carl Cramer of 4,200 pre-registered attendees and February’s version of the show, which attracted 4,800 people.

“I think we’d be happy with 4,000 people,” Dammrich said.

While Dammrich says the show has a good energy to it and Cramer told us yesterday that the mood is “fabulous,” there has been some mixed reaction as to how well exhibitors are faring. Some felt traffic was light during the first day while others said it exceeded expectations.

However, the proximity to the dates of the Fort Lauderdale show, which once seemed to be a hurdle, has seemingly become a positive factor, according to Dammrich. He acknowledged that the timing “is brutal” for companies doing both shows, but also said that these two events bring a good deal of customers to one area. And show producers are helping to make it easier on exhibitors by allowing five of them to tear down their booths after Tuesday’s floor closes so that they can get set up in Fort Lauderdale.

“In an ideal world, you’d like to have a day in between,” Dammrich said. “But we’re not going to open the show on Sunday, and it’s too big of a show to be a two-day show.”

The talk of next year’s IBEX continues to grow as show producers say they expect a 50 percent increase in 2004 exhibitor space. That space, Dammrich says, will be filled by a combination of current exhibitors who will be able to budget for a bigger booth at the show next year, as opposed to the two IBEX shows this year, as well as new exhibitors.

Show producers expect to survey the exhibitors and attendees after the show in order to generate feedback about the timing and the quality of the show. While IBEX is scheduled for the same dates next year, they expect to make a decision on the timing of future events based on those survey results.

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— Matt Gruhn

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