“We just finished our amazing 30th annual Progressive Novi Boat Show,” beamed Nicki Polan, executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, “and in my 30 years producing this show I have never seen crowds this big. It was electric!”
This 4-day, in-person show returned last weekend to suburban Detroit following a two-year Covid-driven hiatus, and the area’s boaters left no doubt that they want their boat shows back. The show, held in the Suburban Collection Showplace, saw nearly 14,000 people attend, a whopping 40 percent increase in attendees compared to previous years.
A major driver of the success was that Polan and her staff took extra steps to expand the event as a family experience by creating and promoting fun family features within the show. These included hands-on activities such as virtual boating and fishing simulators, lawn games, a unique paint-a-paddle workshop, lighthouse crafts and the popular Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel show.
In addition, the show boasted a special Harbor Side Market that spotlighted nautical clothing and home décor, and many other exhibitors with summer-oriented products and services.
“We were very encouraged to see the amount of traffic and interest for our first indoor show in 2 years and this was our best Novi show in recent history,” said Paul Vanderdonck, sales manager at Colony Marine.
Rob Davis, owner/general manager of Club Royale, summed it up this way: “This was a crazy good show for us. There were a lot of people and buyers at the show. We sold a lot of boats, and if inventory wasn’t low, we could have sold more,” he added.
The success of the Novi show, like virtually all other industry shows since Covid began winding down, again authenticates that boat shows provide a powerful one-stop, face-to-face shopping experience for consumers while stoking dealers’ sales funnels with lists of qualified prospects for the sales teams to follow after.
“Attendees were upbeat. Sales desks were full. Boat sales were reported strong and booth exhibitors were very busy all 4 days,” said Polan. “Because of limited inventory, we made a one-year exception and allowed limited pre-owned ‘like new’ 2020 and 2021 models to be exhibited, along with the new boats. Dealers indicated that the change worked well.
“It’s going to be a great boating season here in Michigan,” Polan predicted. “You could feel the excitement in the air.”
MBIA and MCMF Awarded State Grant
It’s apparently going to be a good year in Michigan for increasing awareness about aquatic invasive species. Michigan Boating Industries Association and the Michigan Clean Marina Foundation was awarded a grant of $302,700 to increase awareness with boaters of ways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in Michigan. The funding was announced during National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
“With this funding we’re able to utilize our events, resources, and connections to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in Michigan by engaging and educating the boating public with the steps they need to take when moving vessels from one body of water to another,” explained MBIA’s Polan.
The MBIA/CMF project is one of 31 selected to share in $3.6 million in grants through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant program. The program — cooperatively implemented by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and Natural Resources — addresses prevention, detection, eradication and control of invasive species in Michigan. This year’s grantees have offered $541,500 in matching funds and services to support these projects, leveraging a total investment of $4.14 million.
Michigan is the only state that borders four of the five Great Lakes, and is also rich in inland lakes and rivers widely used by recreational boating. It is always among the top states in annual boat sales.
“We have the world’s greatest resource of freshwater,” said Polan, “and we all have a part to do in keeping lakes and rivers clean and available for generations to come. Both MBIA and CMF are eager to do our part in spreading awareness to our boaters.”