Book your reservations for IBEX and MDCE

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Dealers who know the importance of investing some time and money to stay ahead of their competition will find themselves heading for the Sunshine State twice before Christmas.

Both the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference and the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will offer dealers equally powerful opportunities to grow.

First up, IBEX is headed for the Tampa (Fla.) Convention Center from Oct. 4-6. Previously held primarily in Louisville, Ky., IBEX tried out the Tampa location in 2014 and its success surpassed expectations, attendance skyrocketed and exhibitors cheered the city. So IBEX has contracted the Tampa site through 2018.

The popularity of IBEX has resulted in the addition of a second exhibit hall this year to accommodate the more than 550 exhibitors (100-plus new this year). Both halls are sold out. But there’s more. The convention center is on the water, so there is now 1,000-feet-plus of floating docks for demonstrations, plus 6,000 square feet of dockside space for demos and clinics.

So why should dealers attend? The name of the show is misleading. Yes, it’s the industry’s biggest annual event for boatbuilding, design, maintenance and product/materials introductions. But is no longer your grandfather’s boatbuilding show. Dealers can benefit from today’s comprehensive event in three ways: (1) Learn about the latest materials, products and accessories that builders will be incorporating in boats headed for dealerships; (2) Spot potential new profit centers for the dealership; (3) Talk with builders about the technology that changes so rapidly today. Moreover, having a dealership’s service department leader exposed to the latest techniques could mean increased profit from that department.

There’s never been a better time to book a trip to Tampa for IBEX than now. To review all the speakers, exhibitors and specialty sessions planned, just go to

MDCE deadline

The MDCE is aptly named because it is the largest annual event designed to bring marketing, sales and management expertise exclusively tailored for the industry’s dealers. And if you complete registration by the Aug. 31 deadline, you will receive the valuable VIP Event Planning Kit.

The kit is loaded with exclusive benefits such as discounts on MDCE speaker books and training courses; the “Insider Tips” on how to make the most of what’s new and different at this year’s conference; and an advance copy of the MDCE on-site directory.

But the reason a thousand dealers and industry leaders attend the MDCE each year is the wealth of education and information offered. And this year is the most extensive list of events, speakers, and sessions with experts ever assembled. Check out some of the MDCE’s first-class presenters. In fact, right now look at some sample marketing and sales blogs from three of this year’s speakers: Taking Advantage of In-Store Technology by Colleen Malloy;Five Tips to Get Your Email Noticed by Samantha Scott; and Get Fat with Chat by Jeff Sterns.

Overall, the MDCE includes 20 education-packed track session; 11 in-depth workshops with experts; more than 100 manufacturers and supplier exhibits in the expo hall, not to mention networking receptions and social activities.

And just as dealers stand to gain from attending IBEX, boatbuilders benefit from attending the national dealer conference. Builders looking to expand into new markets learn the issues facing their dealers and and have a lot to gain from attending the event.

Frankly, I have attended the MDCE for many years. So I can say without reservation that if you’re on the retail side of this industry, attending this conference is a must. It stands alone in terms of timely education for everyone in marine retailing.

MDCE is slated for Dec. 5-8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. It’s produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine. Click here to register.


Maine Boatbuilders Show opens tomorrow

In its second year in a new location, the Maine Boatbuilders Show opens tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Portland Sports Complex. Sail and powerboats, plus engines and accessories will all be on display.