ORLANDO – During the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo opening keynote yesterday evening, organizers touted the conference’s record growth. Nearly 750 people — almost triple 2008 attendance — had registered for the event, which is taking place at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort until Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Nearly 430 dealers registered for the event, which means total dealer attendance is more than double that of the 2008 event. What’s more, in 2008 every category of dealer attendance was twice that of 2007, including total dealerships represented, total dealership personnel and total Top 100 Dealers.
“The energy surrounding the event has been palpable since registration began,” said Matt Gruhn, associate publisher of Boating Industry magazine, which took over responsibility for the creation and development of the annual convention through a five-year contract with the Marine Retailers Association of America. “We’ve had high expectations for this event from the outset, but what we’re experiencing here is truly incredible. The dealer turnout has been phenomenal, and the exhibitors are reporting first-day results. From any angle, this event has surpassed all of our expectations.”
A total of 75 marine industry suppliers have signed up to sponsor and exhibit at this year’s event, including more than 20 boat builders. Only nine boat builders and 43 total exhibitors supported last year’s event.
“We paid for the show in the first 20 minutes,” said Bruno Vassel IV, president of iboats.com. “It’s been a great day, and we’re excited for tomorrow.”
The 2009 MDCE has also doubled the amount of content available to dealers, offering two concurrent educational sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday of the event with seven total sessions focused on sales and marketing, five sessions devoted to dealer service departments, and two sessions that focus on commercial and retail lending.
Under the theme of GPS: Growth, Profitability and Solutions for Navigating Today’s Market, the content focuses on helping dealers prepare for what’s ahead.