Boat shows adapt to economic conditions

CLEVELAND – In the face of today’s economic conditions, boat show organizers are under pressure to make the best possible decisions for the markets they serve.

In some cases, that translates into new marketing campaigns or show features. In others, it may mean cutting back, postponing or even cancelling a show.

Organizers of the 52nd annual Cleveland Boat & Waterfront Lifestyle Expo, which kicks off today and runs through Jan. 25 at the I-X Center, have decided to allow exhibitors to sell pre-owned boats for the first time in its history, according to an article in The News-Herald.

“Our dealers and exhibitors say the used boats are still moving, and they want to get people out on the water and get some new boaters. We figured a lot of new boaters get their start in the used market and why not open up a used boat section,” Mike DiLorenzo, Lake Erie Marine Trades Association advertising/PR manager, told the newspaper. “Between 20 and 30 boats are signed up so far, so it should be a good amount. They’re mostly powerboats in the 20-foot range, and they’re all going to be offered at bargain prices.”

The Atlantic City International Power Boat Show, Feb. 6-10, is among those shows produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association featuring an Affordability Pavilion for the first time. These pavilions showcase boats visitors can finance for $250-$300 or less per month.

The Central Florida Marine Trade Association is responding to economic conditions by promoting its 42nd Annual Central Florida Boat Show, scheduled for Feb. 19-22 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., as “an historic opportunity to make great deals on boats and marine products.” It has hired agency Adstrategies Inc. to steer its marketing effort.

Conversely, the Marine Industries Association of Florida has canceled its winter Daytona Beach Boat Show, originally scheduled to take place this weekend, according to an article in The News-Journal. Not only did the group take into account economic conditions, but it had just hired a new boat show promoter, the newspaper reported, and the association felt January was too soon. MIAF “hopes” to hold a spring boat show, the results of which will determine whether it holds its annual Daytona fall boat show.

Similarly, the Northwest Marine Trade Association has suspended the 2009 Everett Boat Show, originally scheduled to take place the first weekend of March, due to lack of exhibitor participation, according to an article in The News Tribune. The association told the newspaper that is would consider a parking lot boat sale later this year.

The annual Kansas City Boat and Sportshow, which took place earlier this month, scaled back its footprint because of the tough economy, according to an article on KMBC-TV’s Web site.

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