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Dealers should consider attending IBEX

The announcement last week that registration is now open for the 2016 International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference should resonate with both dealers and manufacturers for two reasons.

First, IBEX returns from Oct. 4-6 to Tampa where, in 2014, it drew record attendance. It was held in Louisville last year and saw a major attendance decline. Not only is Tampa a very popular Florida destination, but it boasts an ultra-modern convention center that also sits on the waterfront, allowing for virtually unlimited in-water displays and demonstration activities.

Perhaps the reader who commented here in Dealer Outlook after last year’s expo in Louisville said it best: “Louisville is not an attractive location. Mediocre hotels & restaurants, relatively poor service and a very short list of activities beyond the show. For most people, Tampa is easier to get to than Louisville. More non-stop flights and equivalent or cheaper airfare from most locations. Tampa offers better hotels, many within walking distance of the show. There are literally thousands of people related to the marine industry that live and work within a four- to five-hour drive of Tampa which also offers a “resort” experience for attendees that want to bring a spouse or family along for the trip.”

 IBEX will now permanently reside in Tampa, Fla., where organizers can host in-water displays and demos.

IBEX will now permanently reside in Tampa, Fla., where organizers can host in-water displays and demos.

Second, IBEX is the industry’s biggest annual trade event for boatbuilding, design, maintenance and product/materials introduction. While once considered just a boatbuilder’s show, the scope of today’s IBEX make it a great event for dealers as well.

Specifically, a dealer can benefit from touring the more than 500 exhibits in three ways: (1) See many new accessories, materials and products that they could soon be seeing builders incorporating into new boats; (2) Influence their manufacturer(s) on which new products they want in their boats; and (3) Looking for potential new profit centers for the dealership.

But since this is our industry’s largest technical event, having a dealership’s lead service person(s) attend this event could generate the real payoff. Let’s face it, we’re living with technology that’s changing faster than today’s presidential hopefuls can try to pass off M&Ms as Godiva chocolates. Having a dealership’s service department exposed to the latest equipment, materials and techniques could lead to better customer service and increased profit from that department.

Moreover, the advantage of Tampa’s in-water exhibit section can’t be overstated. Literally dozens of hands-on demonstrations were conducted there in 2014 and many more can be expected this year.

It’s also no overstatement to say show director Anne Dunbar always delivers a powerful Industry Breakfast boasting an exciting keynoter. This year, she’s lined up Kevin Harrington, the original Shark on ABC’s hit TV show “Shark Tank.” Talk about an entrepreneur: since the 1980s, Harrington has launched more than 20 businesses that have grown to more than $100 million in sales each.

Exhibit space in the 2016 expo has been sold out for some time, even with the addition of a new first floor exhibit hall and more than 150 new exhibitors. For a complete list of exhibitors, click here.

Why not make an early decision now to book a trip to Tampa and register online for this year’s IBEX. For show information and the various Seminar Series, Super Sessions, Technical Workshops, discount programs and more, simply go to



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