NMMA reports strong winter boat show sales, attendance

CHICAGO, Ill. – With National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) boat shows drawing to a close this past weekend in Atlanta, Toronto, Nashville and Little Rock, Ark., the show producer is reporting a continuation of an upward trend in attendance and sales.

Attendance at the Atlanta Boat Show increased 10 percent to 39,536, an increase of 21 percent compared to the three-year average, according to an NMMA statement today.

VIP program helps grow attendance

This follows a 100-percent increase on opening day, thanks to a new program recognizing Very Important Boaters (VIB), NMMA reported. The promotion offered special discounts for admission and a celebration from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. that included entertainment, giveaways and goodie bags.

“We offered goodie bags for the first 500 attendees through the gates at 5:00 p.m. and they were all gone in just 30 minutes,” said Atlanta Boat Show manager Melisa Malone.

Following the show, many exhibitors said it was the best boat show that they have ever participated in, according to NMMA.

“The crowds were so large on Saturday that I didn’t have enough sales people to write all of the orders,” said Johnny Crowe, owner of Watersports Central.

“This was the best show that we have ever had. We entertained over 5,000 fishing enthusiasts in the Let’s Go Fishing Center,” said Ken Sturdivant, owner of Southern fishing School.

Attendance up at Arkansas, Nashville shows

Exhibitors were equally impressed at the Arkansas Marine Expo, where, despite running only three days this year compared to four days in 2003, attendance increased 3 percent to 10,011, NMMA reported.

“Marine Expo was a record show for us [and attendees] were very qualified,” said Knox Bradford with Bradford Marine.

Increased consumer confidence, lower interest rates and expanded marketing strategy helped the Nashville Boat & Sport Show record a 44-percent increase in attendance to 21,163 people compared to the 2003 show, NMMA reported. Perfect boat show weather (rainy and cold) and the Tennessee Titan playoff loss the previous week also played a role, according to the show producer.

“The mix of new, exciting boats with all of the latest technology and features combined with a diverse marketing strategy pushed our message across to current, potential and new buyers,” said show manager Gerry Mulcahy. “We identified the best means to reach our demographics and expanded our presence on the appropriate radio and TV station formats more than in previous years.”

Attendance takes a dive at Toronto show

Severely cold weather and snow negatively impacted attendance at the Toronto International Boat Show, according to NMMA. More than 82,000 people came to the nine-day event, down 13 percent compared to the 2003 show. Despite this, some exhibitors reported great results.

“Best show ever,” said Rick Gregory, Ontario sales manager, RV and Marine Loans, Bank of Montreal. “We wrote more boat loans on opening weekend than we did in the first seven days of last year’s event … we expect this to be our all time best [show].”

“Canadians are in a buying mood. The crowds have never been so genuine. It was wild. People are taking advantage of excellent bank rates and the [strong Canadian] dollar gives the consumer great value. The economy is in good order in the recreational sector,” said Greg Crate, with Carver Yachts and Regal dealer Crates Marine.

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