Image Credit: Joel Vandekrol

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Discover Boating Boat Shows Spur First-Quarter Sales Amid Headwinds


While market conditions coupled with winter storms tempered event crowds last weekend, the Discover Boating Atlanta, Chicago, and New England boat shows, in partnership with Progressive Insurance, drew in more than 60,000 determined buyers and boating enthusiasts to shop the thousands of new boats and the latest marine gear, taking advantage of winter show deals.

Despite higher interest rates after years of record growth in recreational boat unit sales, several exhibitors across each show in Atlanta, Chicago, and New England reported encouraging sales and a kick-start to new leads in the new year, with some exceeding expectations.

“We are very pleased,” said JJ Bauman, central regional sales manager for Cobalt Boats and Chicago Boat Show exhibitor, “We sold more boats at the 2024 Chicago Boat Show than the previous year. Our dealer secured more space and displayed more boats than last year. We definitely feel the premium buyer was in attendance this year — 2024 was a good show! Looking forward to the follow up, and upcoming shows for Cobalt.”

“We are thrilled to have returned to the Atlanta Boat Show after a few years of not participating. The 2024 boat show brought in an abundance of boaters of every kind providing us a tremendous platform to showcase our brands,” said Kyle Roney, district president, MarineMax and Atlanta Boat Show exhibitor. “We had two world debuts at the Atlanta show and are excited to support this community of customers here in the Atlanta market.”

The Discover Boating Beach Club returned to Chicago and launched in New England, and the Lake Life Lounge in Atlanta was reimagined with a host of new activities to immerse attendees in the boating lifestyle. Each of these areas also hosted VIP Opening Night Parties, happy hour events, special giveaways, and entertainment from local celebrity chefs, mixologists and DJs, helping attract a mix of avid boaters and new show goers.

“We had an exceptional experience as a new exhibitor at the New England Boat Show. The quality of attendees surpassed our expectations, with a diverse mix of enthusiastic buyers, including both retail customers and dealers. We were pleased with the positive interactions and promising leads, making it a highly successful debut for Wolfeboro Boats at the event,” said Nate Drouin, partner, Wolfeboro Boats and New England Boat Show exhibitor.

Boat Finder, which features a new design and layout to drive more shoppers to boat brands and dealers, saw increased activity in Atlanta, Chicago and New England, attracting more people (nearly 60,000), resulting in more boat card views than in 2023 (1.6 million boat card views). Boat shoppers are using Boat Finder across mobile and desktop, helping brands gain additional exposure and attract potential buyers.

Next up:

The Discover Boating Boat Show Partner Toolkit includes a host of marketing assets for dealers and manufacturers. Make sure to also follow and engage with Discover Boating shows on social media across Facebook and Instagram. Contact Sarah Salvatori for more information and media requests, ssalvatori@nmma.org.