Attendance up almost 20 percent at Detroit show

LIVONIA, Mich. – Attendance at the 2008 Detroit Boat Show was up 19.2 percent, exceeding the expectations of exhibitors and of the show’s managers, the Michigan Boating Industries Association reported in a release yesterday.

Attendance for the 2008 show, which was held Feb. 16 - 24 at Cobo Center, was 85,087 this year compared to 71,381 in 2007.

“This was the 50th anniversary show and we knew we had to work aggressively to encourage attendance and stimulate sales,” said Van Snider, boat show manager and president of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, which owns and produces the show. “I believe these results are a combination of a strong and diverse advertising and marketing plan, exciting special exhibits, media participation in the show and a strong pre-show ticket promotion.”

The Michigan Boating Industries Association’s board approved issuing promotional tickets to all exhibitors who were asked to provide the tickets to their client lists. In addition to the free adult admission ticket, the mailer also included a discount coupon. Snider reported that the board approved the plan even though it would result in less ticket revenue for the association.

“We are extremely pleased with our results and the fact that our exhibitors experienced improved sales as a result of our combined efforts to increase the gate,” said Nicki Polan, MBIA’s director of communications.

Snider believes these results might be a sign that Michigan’s sluggish economy may have bottomed out.

“We have had a tough economy and a long, cold winter,” Snider said. “The combination of cabin fever, no inclement weather during the show and some optimism about the future by the boating public may have added to the reasons for the improved attendance.”

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