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Houston show tries a unique attendance grab

Question: What is a boat show manager’s worst nightmare? Answer: Failure to open on the biggest day for attendance.

That never happens, does it?


“We love our football and our boat shows,” Ken Lovell, president of the Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston, told me on Monday morning. “No question not opening on Saturday was a loser and our team lost [30-0] to boot. But the boaters turned out big on Sunday and we have seven more days to see all those that would normally be here on the first Saturday.”

The show occupies the NRG Center, which shares the site with the football stadium of the Houston Texans. The team made the NFL playoffs and because both venues use the same parking, the boat show could not open on Saturday.

“Some people must have anticipated the closure and came in Friday pushing that day’s attendance up,” Lovell said, “and [Sunday’s] crowd packed in like the good old days, about as much as any dealer would want to handle. So we’re feeling pretty good about the rest of the run and the dealers on the floor are already reporting good sales action.”

Having run shows for 34 years, I know firsthand that there’s no guarantee you’ll get back all the attendance lost from a down day, never mind a day you didn’t open at all. With that perspective, if Houston does it, or even comes close, it will be a very strong sign that the industry’s winter shows are going to do well overall.

Cruise planning course

Many boat shows, Cleveland and Seattle to note two, feature multiple seminars on cruise planning because being at the show turns boater’s attention to the season ahead. So, with visions of the sun-splashed days of summer, timing couldn’t be better for BoatUS and the United States Power Squadrons to introduce their latest online course called “Planning Your Cruise.”

Like all BoatUS/Power Squadrons online courses, this one can be taken from the comfort of a warm home this winter. Designed to help power and sailboat owners get more out of each trip as well as prepare for the unexpected, the online seminar is targeted for those who have a limited amount of time for cruising inland and coastal waters. It’s suited for both first-timers and seasoned cruisers, offering skills advice and knowledge including crew selection and comfort, meals and provisions, chartering, cruising foreign waters, emergencies, medical care and security.

“Planning for Your Cruise” follows the introduction of “Weather for Boaters” and is the second of three courses that will, together, replicate the classroom course “Cruising and Cruise Planning.” All BoatUS/Power Squadrons specialized courses can be taken on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The course cost is $30, while BoatUS and Power Squadrons members receive a 20 percent discount ($24). Access to all courses is available at


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