The Marine Dealer Conference and Expo (MDCE) opened its doors on Sunday and already show organizers are reporting an attendance boost over last year. The show, attended by many Canadian dealers, is being held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) and the Rosen Plaza Hotel, both in Orlando, Florida.
“We sold out our room block in the Rosen Plaza,” says Matt Gruhn, Associate Publisher of Boating Industry magazine, who co-produces the MDCE with the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA). “Then we sold out the rest of the hotel. We sold out the Rosen Center, which is at the other end of the convention center, and then ended up selling it out with an overflow that went into the Rosen Inn. We had 925 pre-registered delegates at 11 a.m. and there were about 60 who registered on location. So we're close to 1,000 people.”
Phil Keeter, President of the MRAA, isn't that surprised by the attendance increase. “This year has one added track – the service track. We didn't have that last year. Last year we had a sales track and a management track. That's one reason for our increased attendance. A lot of dealers are bringing their service managers.”
Organizers are hoping that dealers will pick up some best practices and strategies at the conference's sessions so that they can implement them to help their businesses grow. As Keeter described, the conference is poised to appeal to dealers on several levels with session speakers covering topics such as sales and marketing, service department strategies and ways business leaders can improve profits.
“The industry is down but our attendance is up, which goes to show that the people who are here really want to learn,” adds Keeter.