The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo is returning to Orlando for 2010. Having recognized monumental growth for the past two years and in anticipation of additional growth this year, the Marine Retailers Association of America has selected the Orange County Convention Center and the Rosen Plaza Hotel for its annual event, scheduled to take place Nov. 14–17, 2010.
In 2009, the MDCE tripled its total attendance over the 2008 event. And that, too, was on top of a banner year-over-year performance. Total dealer attendance at the 2008 event was double that of 2007.
“You have to know that you are on to something very special to get that type of turnout in probably the worst economy this industry has ever seen,” says Don MacKenzie, vice president of Boats, Inc., Niantic, Conn. “Not only was it the best attended MDCE, it was easily the most informative, and more importantly, the most invigorating.”
“This event has been established on a solid foundation of education and industry partnership, which is driving its continued growth,” says Matt Gruhn, associate publisher and editor-in-chief of Boating Industry magazine, currently in its second year of co-producing the MDCE. “The momentum that it has generated for the industry has been incredibly refreshing in the face of the difficult economy.”
A first-class educational line-up will once again be the feature component of the 2010 MDCE. On the agenda is slated a minimum of 15 educational sessions, including two concurrent tracks to maximize learning opportunities for dealers. The educational sessions will once again be designed based on feedback generated through a survey of marine dealers.
Feedback from the 2009 event has also helped in scheduling this year’s MDCE. Dealers and exhibitors alike suggested that they would like more networking time in the exhibit hall. In response, the MDCE schedule will allocate separate educational time and exhibit hours to help foster better exchange of ideas and business opportunities among dealers and suppliers.
“As in the past, we’ve really worked to design this event based specifically on what the attendees want,” explains Ed Lofgren, CEO of 3A Marine Service and chairman of the MRAA. “We survey and then deliver dealers exactly what they’re looking for, and with growth in the number and size of the exhibits, we’ve adapted well to the needs of our supplier partners, as well.”
Like the total attendees, the MDCE exhibit area has seen great growth over the past two years. The 2009 event marked the first time that the exhibit hall and the educational sessions did not share a room. The 58,000-square-foot exhibit hall showcased nearly 40 boats and 75 total exhibits. In 2008, the event offered only four boats and 41 exhibits.
The MDCE exhibit hall at the OCCC will offer 106,272 square feet of exhibit space. And while the overall convention center is much larger than the facility that housed last year’s event, the MDCE will remain an intimate setting, with the educational rooms and the exhibit hall literally across the hall from one another.
A short walk from the OCCC, the Rosen Plaza has been chosen as the host hotel for the 2010 event. With better room rates and amenities than the hotels of the past, the Rosen Plaza is the perfect home for the MDCE. And like previous years, it will be home to Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Gala, an MDCE networking reception, and a series of industry meetings to be held in the days leading up to and during the MDCE.
“We’re extremely excited about the industry’s continued support of the MDCE,” says John Vallely, Jr. of Vallely Sport & Marine, Bismarck, N.D., and chairman of the MDCE Convention Committee. “Many of our ’09 industry partners have already pledged their support for the 2010 event, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to start putting plans together to improve on what we accomplished last year.”