Okay boat show season ahead?

NEW YORK – Ask organizers of the New York National Boat Show about this year’s event, and they’ll boast of its strengths, sharing positive exhibitor sales feedback and talking about the quality of the attendance.

Certainly, the show, which took place at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from December 31, 2005, through January 8, 2006, seems to have its strengths, such as a growing exhibitor base, an expanding freshwater section, and a 101-year history. In fact, it’s the world’s first and longest running boat show.

But it also has its challenges, including difficulty securing ideal dates from the Convention Center where it’s held.

“We’re still appealing to Javits and the state about the dates,” said Michael Duffy, show manager, in an interview yesterday. “We’re trying to rally NY-based dealers to contact their local state reps and express to them the loss of business and the personal losses [as a result of these dates.]”

NY show attendance flat, exhibitors up

“Attendance was about even at 74,346 as compared to 74,880 [last year]. That’s not bad considering the New Year’s Eve holiday and the Giants game on the final Sunday,” commented Duffy. “I saw a lot more families at the show – we counted the number of children because of our new policy to let children in free. I think that drew more families to the show this year.”

The number of exhibitors was up, however, at 534. Duffy said the booths were completely sold out, due in part to new boat manufacturers exhibiting at the show.

In preparation for next year, the show is trying to secure more space to expand its freshwater offering.

Looking to the future

Chris Squeri, executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association, said the show was about the same as last year.

“Last year’s show wasn’t great. It was very okay,” he commented. “But that’s how sales were last year.”

As seems to be the trend, Squeri observed that small boat sales were a little slow, while the big boat market seems strong.

Perhaps that’s what the industry can expect from the coming year as well. Hopes are, however, that not only will dollar sales be up as they have in past years, so will unit sales.

“I think the good sales reports from the floor point toward a good selling season,” said Duffy. “Consumer confidence is on the rise. I feel things should be getting better. Sales last year weren’t as positive as they were this year.”

Next year’s New York National Boat Show is scheduled to take place Thursday, Dec. 30, 2006 through Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007.

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