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Michigan City sets good pace for industry’s fall shows ahead

If the results of the Michigan City In-Water Boat Show are any indication, the industry’s fall boat shows are heading for more success over a year ago. Boosted by good weather, the show finished with an 11 percent increase in attendance and a very upbeat feeling on the part of exhibitors. 

“We’re ecstatic,” said show manager Ken Alvey. “We didn’t project any increase in attendance, so 11 percent is great! We’re also delighted the attitude of the visitors and the exhibitors proved to be very upbeat this year – 180 degrees from a year ago.”

Alvey was echoing what exhibitors were reporting. For example, Tighe Curran, general manager, Pier 33 Marina, St. Joseph, Mich. (Pursuit, Scout & Chaparral) told WNDU-TV: “Last year we were facing very negative attitudes over the economy and some environmental issues. This year the attitudes are just the opposite — very enthusiastic. This has been a much more successful show for us.”

“The show pumped up our entire organization,” said Rod Bensz, sales manager of B & E Marine (Sea Ray, Tiara, Boston Whaler). “The crowds were good and the people were very positive about this summer. We sold a Sea Ray 45′, 37′ and 21 Select. We have more than a dozen sea trials scheduled this week and one of our salesmen alone has 41 strong prospect cards to follow up.”

Speaking about the show in general, Bensz added an interesting observation: “While the show was smaller this year, new first-time visitors didn’t know the difference and said it was excellent. And our regular customers, well, they expected the show to be a little smaller but still wanted to attend and thought it was well worth it. There was just no trash talk.”

Steve Wenzel, sales manager at Spring Brook Marina, Seneca, Ill. (Carver, Marquis, Cruisers) reported: “Attendance has been good and attitudes are mostly positive. We sold a ’09 Carver 440 Motor Yacht on opening day. That boat drew a lot of interest – too bad I didn’t have a couple of more. There is definitely still a reluctance to buy over concerns about the economy and government actions, but it’s obvious people have expectations that the November elections will change things and bring about more confidence. No question people would buy if things were just more positive,” he emphasized.

“We have strong prospects on several other Carvers and our 420 Marquis,” Wenzel added.

Good weather notwithstanding, Alvey also noted holding the show a week earlier than normal may have helped. The date was changed to avoid competing with a Tall Ships event in Chicago slated for the show’s traditional weekend.

“Or, maybe it’s because we’re the ‘Last Man Standing’ – that was the front page in the News Dispatch this week,” said Alvey. “The reference was that our show is the only one left on Lake Michigan serving Illinois (Chicago), Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.”  

If nothing else, the good results at Michigan City reconfirm that boat shows still have a strong, unique appeal to the boating public and the only bad show is the one a dealer isn’t in!

Comments

2 comments on “Michigan City sets good pace for industry’s fall shows ahead

  1. Chip Hart

    Good news for fall shows should mean good news for winter shows Norm. Although you are the choir, boat shows are different then they used to for all the obvious reasons. However, they are still the place where prospective buyers go to check out what is available in that given marketplace as well as to associate and be around other people that enjoy boating and water sports.

    When I walk the show floor, I always notice groups of people conversing with others, typically beer or wine in hand, and pointing to various boat models displayed on the show floor. Of course there are the couples or the entire family sitting up in the runabout, on a pontoon, or any other given boat……in serious conversation with a sales person or even just between themselves.

    Personally, I don’t want a boat dealer participating in my show if they don’t want to be there. As an aside, the boat dealer generally complaining about a boat show probably a)has a lousy show in their market, b)has had a very bad experience with a boat show production company, c) does not know how to sell side by side against their competition, or d) has some other grudge against some entity that has something to do with a show. A marine dealer with a pessimistic attitude at a show is not good for the show nor good for the consumer.

    The annual boat show, although much different then they were half a dozen years ago, will still be the single biggest ‘boat selling and marine public relations event in any given city held annually”. Nothing currently even comes close to that position nor will it in the future. And if your local boat show does not have what people want, they will go to another show that does, particularly as it pertains to a brand or boat size.

    As for the dealer that doesn’t want to be there, I say fine. They probably would look like a used car lot anyway. To all the participating dealers in the upcoming fall boat shows soon to happen, have a great show and sell everything you got!

  2. Tom Mack

    The Michigan City comments generally reflect overall conditions improving – namely for those who CHOOSE to remain in the game! Starting with the winter shows this year, the consumers sure seemed more optimistic – sometimes more optimistic than some of the dealers. We’re very much looking forward to a bright Cedar Point Show in September. Thanks for sharing the good news.

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