The 2021 Progressive Insurance Norwalk Boat Show, which ran Sept. 23-26, marked the return of NMMA’s boat and sport shows—and came back strong. Attendance reached 12,976 – up 1% compared to 2019 – with double-digit increases over the weekend. What’s more, the Norwalk show saw an uptick in first-time show goers and new boat buyers in attendance, and exhibitors reported robust interest and demand.
“It was great to be back. The atmosphere through the show’s four-day run was positive, with attendees eager to shop boats they haven’t been able to see in person due to heightened demand for product. We also welcomed many new boat show attendees and saw a younger, more diverse crowd, who either entered the market during the pandemic or were simply interested in discovering the boating lifestyle,” noted Jon Pritko, NMMA’s vice president of Northeast shows. “All signs point to a successful return for the remainder of fall boat shows and 2022 winter shows.”
Dealers echoed Pritko’s sentiments, appreciating the chance to connect with returning and new customers face-to-face, and generating sales and leads.
“It was a great show for us – really busy with qualified people looking to buy,” said Lynn Beaudoin of Sabre/Back Cove. “We even had people looking to purchase boats we are not currently building.”
“While there was some apprehension to participate this year, we’re so glad we did,” said Dave Dzurilla of MarineMax Norwalk. “It was a great show – we were selling the products we had on display and really happy with the interest in our lines.”
Dan Rawson of Hitchcock Marine stated, “It was our first show bringing boats, and it’s been a great show for us. It’s rare for us to sell boats at the show and we have. We’re looking forward to following up with the leads we generated.”
To engage and retain both returning boaters and the thousands of new boaters in the Northeast who entered the market last year, the boat show provided a variety of on-water and educational boating experiences, facilitating more than 1,300 attendees in getting on the water and increasing seminar participation.
NMMA’s marketing team watered the region with an extensive media and public relations campaign targeting a more diverse audience, helping to drive awareness, excitement and attendance for the show. Take a look at the boat show TV ad and a snippet of news coverage from the weekend.