MIAMI – With pre-registration up 27 percent over last year and almost all of the 150,000 square feet of exhibitor space sold out, the 2004 International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference kicked off in Miami this morning.
Co-produced for the second year by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Professional BoatBuilder magazine, all indications suggest this year’s IBEX will be the largest ever.
In an interview with Boating Industry on Sunday, IBEX co-director Carl Cramer said 4,830 people had pre-registered for the show and that 785 companies had signed on as exhibitors. Cramer also said that all but 500 net square feet of the 150,000 square feet of exhibit space available had been sold out.
Cramer said pre-registration numbers are often not representative of the actual attendance numbers, because some people who’ve registered won’t actually show up. But NMMA President Thom Dammrich, also interviewed by Boating Industry on Sunday, said everything he’s heard indicates attendance should be strong.
“I think it’s safe to say that we expect the attendance to be up very nicely over last year,” Dammrich said. “I’ve talked to a lot of boat builders who are really excited. They think it’s going to be a great show.”
IBEX added about 50 percent more exhibit space for this year’s show, and was for the first time, able to include exhibitors that have been waiting for the opportunity to present their products at the show.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to accommodate new exhibitors in any measure for six of seven years,” Dammrich said. “I’m heartened by the fact that there are new companies coming into the marine industry that exist in other industries as well, whether it’s aerospace or the RV industry. More and more of them are looking at the marine industry, and this is the right place for them to be.”
Dammrich cited several reasons for the increased interest in this year’s show, saying the boating industry is doing better as a whole, expectations for the industry in the year to come are better than they were last year and that the strength of this year’s program is also stronger.
Ultimately, however, Cramer and Dammrich both agreed that attendance is not the most important factor in determining whether or not the show is successful.
“It’s the business that gets done on the floor,” Cramer said.
Adds Dammrich, “The ultimate goal is to provide the most value to the industry. ”I think both [NMMA and Professional BoatBuilder] bring a lot of strengths to the show, and you see the result here this week.”—Jon Mohr
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