FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Over 450 people are expected to attend the second National Marina & Boatyard Conference and Exposition, which kicked off last night, said Jim Frye in an interview yesterday.
Frye, the executive director of the Marina Operators Association of America (MOAA), predicted in October 2002, at the conclusion of the last event, that organizers would be able to double the number of participants in the event’s second year, and it appears they will. Approximately 220 people attended the event in 2002. Both attendance figures include exhibitors and speakers.
Frye attributed the growth to pent-up demand, as organizers were forced to turn people away in 2002 due to limited space, and suggested the new dates and the success of the previous event may also have helped to drive the jump in attendance.
The surprise that organizers faced this time around was the number of attendees who registered for the event at the last minute.
“One of our challenges was that people were slow to register, which made planning difficult,” Frye explained.
Exhibitor numbers and seminars also grow
Another area of growth for the event is in the seminars offered, said organizers. The number of sessions has expanded by at least a third over the 2002 event, with three choices being offered four times during the conference for a total of 12 different sessions.
A third area of the event that has expanded this year is the number of exhibitors. In 2002, the event attracted about 50 exhibitors, while this year 82 companies have reserved space at the show, said Frye.
Date and location to continue to change?
This year’s event takes place at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center during the traditional dates of IBEX, making for both a new date and new location.
Following the merger of the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s BoatBuilding show and Professional BoatBuilder (PBB) magazine’s IBEX event and the relocation of the event to Miami, organizers were left holding a contract with the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center that it didn’t intend to fulfill.
However, the National Marina & Boatyard Convention and Exposition (NMBC) organizers and IBEX organizers then came to what they call “a mutually beneficial decision” in which NMBC agreed to a one-year contract at the convention center during that time frame in return for “an incentive” that helped defray the costs of the convention hall.
Despite the new dates and location, the momentum of the first event hasn’t died, as demonstrated by its growth this year, said Frye.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the event will be held at the same time and place in 2005, however. Organizers said they are “waiting to gauge the success” of this year’s event before making those decisions.
While the event is a relatively new one, Frye said the event will pay for itself and hopefully will generate proceeds that can be distributed to the three groups producing the event.
The event is jointly produced by MOAA, the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association (ABBRA) and the International Marina Institute (IMI). – Liz Walz