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Discount deadline nears for dealer conference

The Marine Dealer Conference and Expo has traditionally been the largest gathering of marine retail dealers each year, and the deadline for the lowest registration price for the 2012 edition is about to pass.

The dealer conference is jointly produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine. It will be held Nov. 11-14 in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center and Rosen Plaza Hotel. As incentive for early registration this year, dealers can lock in the lowest registration cost of $359. But, on May 31, this rate will expire and registration increases to $399. The price includes: Unlimited access to all sessions, access to the expo hall with more than 100 exhibits filling 100,000 square feet of exhibit hall, and continental breakfasts, lunches and cocktail receptions. It also includes two days of Marine Industry Certified education credits.

Last year, the nearly 1,000 attendees included dealers from across the country, plus manufacturers and service providers. It was the most successful dealer conference yet, according to MRAA president Matt Gruhn. And he promises this year will top that.

Opening with internationally recognized author/speaker Robert Stevenson presenting a powerful speech with “How The Best Get Better,” this year’s educational lineup will include more than 22 new sessions ranging from sales and marketing to service and marina management. For example, “Sales Secrets to Winning More than Your Fair Share” featuring Joe Verde or “Sell More Service” by Sam Dantzler or “Generate a Return on Your Facebook Investment,” with Josh Chiles, to name just a few.

“There is so much industry information between networking, seminars and meeting with vendors,” says Kevin Dick of Captains Cove Marina in Cincinnati. “You come away with a real grasp of the current marketplace.” Brian Crowe, of Crowe Marine, Eatonton, Ga., puts it this way: “There is so much information, I think everyone can grow their business and make more money.”

To register, go to www.mraa.com and click on the MDCE button.

As you might have read in the past, there have been some discussions about possibly combining the dealer conference with the big International Boatbuilders Exposition & Conference (IBEX) held annually in Louisville, set for Oct. 2-4. That event boasts a much larger exposition and features an extensive lineup of educational sessions for retailers, too. While obviously the dealer conference and IBEX will not be held together in 2012, the idea reportedly is continuing to be explored. If it ever happens, it would instantly become the industry’s biggest annual event.

Would combining the two events in the future be advantageous for the industry’s dealers?  What do you think?

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