The Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, Sports and RV Show closed Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 22) attracting 37,817 visitors, an attendance boost of 8% over 2013. While heavy snow hit the Windy City on Saturday, affecting the gate, the show’s attendance was steady throughout its five-day run, according to a press release.
“The mood of our exhibitors was generally positive, most reporting a great show with strong sales and a number of solid leads. We also heard positive reports from several of the RV dealers who met with interested, quality buyers,” said show manager, Keith Ogulnick. “The 2014 show was the largest it’s been in five years, and the quality and number of product and companies exhibiting at the show drew out the crowds.”
Comments from exhibitors included:
• “People were glad to see electronics back in the show. We got great exposure, and being here was great for brand awareness,” echoed Steve Weith, Garmin.
• “We were extremely impressed with this year’s attendance. We sold a mixture of product – large, small, deck boats and pontoons at the show,” noted Mike Porreca, Skipper Bud’s.
• “Traffic was up and buyers were here. We sold a lot more RVs than last year!” said Mike Prosser, Prossers Premium RV Outlet.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced today (Aug. 11) it is joining forces with Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) Affinity Events to produce the 81st Annual Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show in 2011 in order to strengthen the depth and breadth of the RV Pavilion at the largest outdoors show in the Midwest.
“We’re pleased to partner with Affinity Events and combine our strengths in the boating and recreational vehicle industries to produce an outstanding event for Midwestern outdoorsmen,”Ben Wold, executive vice president of NMMA, stated in a news release. “Our partnership will allow the 2011 show to offer the best of both industries and will contain significantly more boating and RV product, features, events and seminars than in recent years – becoming a must-attend for both outdoor industry companies and enthusiasts.”
Affinity Events has agreed to oversee all aspects of the Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show’s RV Pavilion, which will consist of more than 100,000 square feet of a number of RV models from the region’s leading RV dealers, plus exhibits of campground destinations, RV products and accessories. There will also be a variety of RV-related features, seminars and entertainment.
“We’ve worked with NMMA on several projects in the past, and we look forward to forging a strong partnership with this event,” said Steve Hedlund, president of Affinity Media & Events. “Our goal is two-fold. We intend to strengthen the value provided to RV enthusiasts in the Chicago area by leveraging our knowledge and media assets in order to bring more RVs, product, information and education to the show. Furthermore, we’ll help exhibitors connect with their target audiences by aggressively tapping into the marketing power of our affiliated companies including the Good Sam Club, MotorHome, Trailer Life and Camping Life magazines in order to bring qualified buyers to the show.”
Affinity Events, a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), is the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events. The company currently produces 21 RV shows throughout the United States.
The 2011 Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show will take place Jan, 12 -16, 2011, at McCormick Place.
AGI is the parent company of RVBUSINESS.com.
There are fewer exhibitors at this week’s Chicago Boat, RV and Outdoors Show at McCormick Place, but organizers hope warmer weather (it’s almost 32 degrees, after all) will push attendance to 45,000, where it was last year, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
This year’s show has 250 boat and RV exhibitors, down from 300 last year, a result of the recession that saw discretionary income disappear.
Last year’s show also was affected by super-cold weather, so organizers hope this weekend’s forecast brings out buyers.
“I’ve already sold five boats, and it’s not even the weekend. That’s when people really buy,” Warren Moulis told me this morning before today’s 11 a.m. opening.
By Sunday, Moulis hopes to have sold 30 to 50 boats. “The weather’s going to be a tremendous help. Last year was miserable. We’re hoping this year that people get out of their houses.”
A third-generation owner of Fox Lake Harbor near Gurnee, Moulis is one boat dealer who has survived the recession. His company is diversified: Along with selling a range of boats — from speed boats to pontoons — Fox Lake Harbor offers boat slips, a service department and storage.
The boat and RV show, which opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday, also has a lot of bells and whistles to attract passive boating fans.