Boating enthusiasts visiting this year's Ottawa Boat and Sportsmen's Show (OBSS) were treated to a showcase of more than 250 boats. Held in mid February at the EY Centre, event organizer, Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows (CNSS), reports a turnout of just over 20,000 visitors during the show's four days.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the OBSS featured the latest in boats, fishing equipment, angler clubs as well as fun and engaging activities for families.
Exhibiting boat dealers report locking down sales as well as generating leads for the upcoming boating season.
"Pirate Cove Marina had another great presence at the 2015 Ottawa Boat and Sportsmen's Show,' says Brett Ramsey of Pirate Cove Marina. "The crowd that came out for the four-day event was thoroughly interested in boating and fishing. Our boat sales and upcoming marina season reflect such interest with more people getting involved in the sport.'
"With all of the major dealers and brands on site, it's a great venue for consumers to see everything and then some – all under one roof,' says Jesse Davis of Legend Boats. "Our valued dealers, Orleans Boat World and Perth PowerSports, rely on this show as the primary kickoff to their season. The number of sales, leads and impressions made at this event, proves the show's worth as the year continues forward.'
According to Tara Diaczyk, Show Manager, pontoon boats were one of the hottest ticket items. "They've been coined as the new ‘SUV' of the water,' says McKay. "We had several exhibitors feature pontoons at the show, which generated a lot of consumer interest on the floor. However, we make sure that we have the widest possible selection of products and services on the floor to ensure that there is something for everybody. We also try to keep our features fresh to make the show experience more interactive and enjoyable for the whole family.'
In addition to attracting visitors, CNSS is equally interested in keeping its exhibitors satisfied. "Our team offers seamless service for exhibitors, from signing up through to moving out; we make sure the process is as easy as possible for our exhibitors,' adds Diaczyk. "We listen to their needs and ideas and work with them to showcase their products and services in the best possible light. We have guests who come to the show year after year to research, buy, and upgrade their boats and equipment.'
Diaczyk believes boat shows in general are evolving. Exhibitors continue to comment on an increasing number of knowledgeable consumers. "In the past, shows used to be a place to gain knowledge – a one stop shop to see the latest products and innovations before making a purchase decision,' she explains. "With the advent of the Internet, today's consumer will walk into a show knowing more about the product than they ever did before. Today's attendees are highly educated and informed buyers. Shows are making a move from being just a showcase and selling venue, to incorporating more well-rounded marketing strategies, to not only show and sell, but also to interact with your target market, increase brand awareness and engagement, and build customer loyalty. Technology and social media are also key tools in bridging this change.'
CNSS operates six sportsmen shows across Canada each year (Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal and Quebec City) as well as the Great Ontario Salmon Derby during the summer on Lake Ontario.
Next year's Ottawa Boat and Sportsmen's show returns to the EY Centre from February 18 to 21.