Final tabulations have been completed, and it’s official: the 2015 Marine Dealer Conference and Expo featured more than 4 percent growth in retail attendance, a 21-percent jump in Pre-Conference Workshop registrations, and a sold-out Expo Hall with more than 100 exhibitors.
A total of 1,147 marine industry professionals from throughout North America and as far away as Australia traveled to Orlando this November for MDCE 2015, which is co-produced by Boating Industry magazine and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA). That compares to the 1,130 industry professionals who attended in 2014.
“We introduced several new offerings for 2015 to increase the value of the event for all who participated,” said Liz Walz, vice president of MRAA. “The numbers and the feedback we received during the show suggest that both dealers and exhibitors felt the positive impact of those changes.”
Represented at this year’s MDCE were 238 total dealerships, accounting for 875 separate locations and cummulatively employing more than 30,000 people. More than 40 percent of 2015 retail attendees were attending their first MDCE, and nearly 95 percent were current MRAA members. Further, more than 100 organizations representing almost every sector of the pleasure boating industry set up shop for the week at the Orange County Convention Center — filling in excess of 40,000 square-feet of exhibit space.
“The enhanced level of engagement of our attendees with each other, our experts and our exhibitors was particularly noteworthy,” said Jonathan Sweet, editor-in-chief of Boating Industry. “I was also pleased to see the MDCE app had more than 950 downloads and north of 13,000 sessions. It’s just one more way dealers are taking full advantage of the MDCE experience.”
As a result of their expansion in 2015, the MDCE Pre-Conference Workshops generated 266 registrations, up more than 21 percent year-over-year. During the 12 hands-on seminars, which were offered prior to the MDCE Opening Keynote, marine retailers worked alongside industry experts on areas of their business ranging from sales training to leadership, and from service department scheduling to social media strategy.