MAATS – Attendance Down, Positive Atmosphere

Despite a decrease in attendance by approximately 20 percent as of late Wednesday at the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS) in Orlando, FL, the atmosphere is positive and several exhibitors are reporting consistent or increased sales compared to last year's show.    

“We have a lot of local Florida dealers and buyers here, as well as the normal national buyers that attend. We have a good crowd,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “There's so much doom and gloom all the time and I am talking to people and they are saying 'my business is fine and we're doing great. The aftermarket has not been as affected (by the economy).”

According to the NMMA this year's MAATS event has attracted approximately 210 exhibitors compared to 293 exhibitors in 2008. And after relocating the show from Las Vegas, the response from exhibitors has also been positive.

“I have to say there has been a fair amount of excitement,” said Stephen Evans, director, trade events/meeting services for the NMMA. “One reason is Orlando has a much higher density of dealers, which is a segment that we real work hard to get at this show. Another reason is the fact that it's simply a new venue. One venue for eight years is quite a lot of time and there were a certain percentage of attendees and exhibitors that wanted a change. It brings freshness to the show. I think there was a lot of anticipation for wanting something different.”

A new emphasis this year was the increase in seminars. Last year, there was only one seminar held while this year, there are three. The seminars included Improving Dealer Margins Through Online Education, hosted yesterday morning, followed by two earlier today, Using eLearning to Improve Your Sales and Margins and Enhanced Marine Retail 101.

“The first seminar we had today (Wednesday) was really chosen because we wanted another reason for dealers to attend the show,” said Evans. “We had one seminar last year, now we have three this year. We wanted to give the attendees another element at the show this year.”

Another concept that has proven popular so far is the Green Product Zone, a display of several environmentally friendly products currently on the market.

“This isn't the first time we have done a green boating display,” said Dammrich. “We have done these displays at many of our boat shows last year. There's a lot of green boating products and a lot of boaters care about the environment so it's a natural move.”

According to Evans, some of the reasons for the Green Product Zone were to enhance attendance, recognize several of the products on the market and offer exhibitors another element of the event.    

“The green display was another reason for attendance and to have our loyal manufacturers to stay with us. Our industry has every reason to be friendly to the environment and they are very proud of that. It also provides another element to MAATS and I would think that we will continue with this display for next year,” continued Dammrich.

MAATS continues through today until to tomorrow, Friday July 17.

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