New organizers recap L.A. boat show

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The 61st annual Los Angeles Boat Show wrapped its four-day run on Jan. 22 and exhibitors reported strong sales and leads in the first show under new ownership.

Organizers said those results occurred despite nearly record rainfall for the four-day event, as well as a change of venue to a snow-ringed Pomona Fairplex from the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The new venue and its accompanying torrential showers for all but a bright and sunny Saturday did not dampen attendees’ spirits, organizers said.

A strong preshow marketing effort — which included daily live interviews on Southern California radio stations and taped TV pieces that aired on news and weather segments — reached out to the region’s growing demand for new watercraft.

“I have to believe that a key to this year’s success was an over-the-top billboard campaign across area freeways,” show producer Duncan McIntosh said in a statement. “It provided more than 62 million impressions, while digital efforts added another million, helping drive boaters to the show — the first iteration of an L.A. Boat Show under the management of the Duncan McIntosh Co.”

“Our marketing effort was wide-ranging and targeted, encompassing both traditional and new media,” McIntosh said. “We think it paid off in both the quantity and quality of attendees. Saturday was the only rain-free day of the event, and despite that we were pleased with the crowds each day. Any time several thousand people will brave rainy and slick roads to attend a boat show, something right must be going on.”

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, new boat sales are at their highest level since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, and Sun Country Marine’s performance at the show seemed to bear that out. It reported a 400 percent increase in sales, driven largely by wakeboats, pontoons and family cruisers.

In addition to offering boats as large as 37 feet, show exhibitors had gear and accessories in virtually every category, including marine audio, bedding, docking systems, cleaning, decking, insurance, water sports, canvas and towing services.

“The wakesports segment has seen a significant amount of growth, especially wakesurfing,” McIntosh said, “and boat manufacturers have been busy innovating in an effort to give boaters and boarders what they want — an exceptional experience. That segment was well represented by manufacturers such as Centurion, Tige, Malibu, Nautique, Cobalt, MasterCraft and others.”

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