Quality crowds, slight decrease in attendance at MAATS

CHICAGO – The 2008 Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show, held July 16-18, attracted 1,833 attendees to the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel & Convention Center, a slight decrease in attendance from the previous year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported in a release last week.

This year, 293 exhibitors (down from 317 in 2007) and nearly 400 total qualified buyers attended MAATS. A total of 245 international participants representing 29 different countries were also on hand for the event.

“This year, we saw all the same companies return to exhibit at MAATS and more; the slight attendance decrease can be attributed to the fact that returning companies brought less people to the show,” said MAATS show manager Kathleen Clickett. “In fact, we had a larger number of buyers attend this years’ show than last year. The 400 total buyers doesn’t take into account the buyer cross-over we saw from ICAST, which doesn’t record those numbers.”

MAATS continued its long-standing association in 2008 with the National Marine Distributors Association’s S.T.E.P. Conference, held July 14-15 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

The show also renewed its successful co-location with the American Sportfishing Association’s International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, taking place simultaneously at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This was the first year the MAATS and ICAST show floors were adjoined, and badges for one show were good for entrance to both, creating a free flow of attendees, buyers and media throughout both exhibit areas.

“The feedback we received from MAATS exhibitors regarding the shared show floor was overwhelmingly positive,” says Clickett. “Exhibitors and buyers alike felt the shared space created an increased buzz for both shows and provided each venue’s participants with new business opportunities.”

This year’s event included several new exhibitor highlights, such as the MAATS Resource Area and scaled-down version of NMMA’s Accessory Center. It was also the first time since the show’s inception that marine dealers were encouraged to attend, and as a result nearly 100—a record number—turned out for the event.

“This large dealer turnout signals great potential for the show’s future,” Clickett says. “We’re planning to roll out a full marketing plan to attract even more dealers to MAATS in 2009.”

All entries in the Innovation Awards program—a total of 60, representing a 17 percent increase over the number of 2007 entries—were on display at the New Product Showcase, which allowed attendees hands-on access to the products.

For the third consecutive year, a Silent Auction took place as part of the opening night MAATS Welcome Reception on Tuesday, July 15, with all proceeds collected going to benefit the industry’s Grow Boating Initiative. The auction raised more than $6,750 for the effort. More than 40 items were donated by various industry supporters for the auction.

In 2009, MAATS will again co-locate with S.T.E.P. and ICAST, taking place July 15-17 in a new venue: the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

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