Trade shows ready to converge on Las Vegas

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MAATS exhibitor list outstrips ’07 pace; ICAST and S.T.E.P. are being held simultaneously

The tripleheader of trade shows — MAATS, S.T.E.P. and ICAST — returns to Las Vegas in mid-July.

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades and the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Tradeshow have a “good synergy,” and it’s exciting to have the shows back together, said Kathleen Clickett, manager of trade events for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Last year, ICAST was held a week earlier than MAATS.

“We also know that the majority of our distributor members who participate in the NMDA’s Sales, Training, Education and Purchasing conference were going to do MAATS meetings,” said Nancy Cueroni, executive director of the National Marine Distributors Association.

“We worked very closely with the NMMA on the MAATS buyer-supplier meetings; all of our distributors send in their S.T.E.P. meeting schedules ahead of time, and then we make sure we don’t overlap or book a distributor with a meeting they’ve already got,” she added.

Once again, MAATS, scheduled for July 16-18, will follow the S.T.E.P. conference, set for July 14-15.

This year’s MAATS has been promoted to dealers through online venues and magazines. Many manufacturers want access to dealers; in part, just to educate them about their products because most do not sell directly to dealers, Clickett said. “We’re strengthening our dealer presence and getting the word out there, encouraging dealers to attend to use it as kind of an educational tool.”

There were nearly 300 exhibitors registered at the end of May, Clickett said, which was ahead of 2007 numbers for the same time period. Last year, there were 319 exhibitors, down from 365 in 2006.

“We hope to be better than last year, but we also have a little less space because the show floor is open with ICAST,” she said.

MAATS kicks off with a welcome reception at 6 p.m. July 15. New product showcases run each day of the show from 7 to 8 a.m. Here, accessories suppliers have the opportunity to make brief product debuts to a targeted audience of buyers. A complimentary breakfast is provided.

Pre-scheduled buyer-supplier meetings run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 16 and 17 and from 8 a.m. to noon July 18. These private, prescheduled meetings provide manufacturers with a guaranteed schedule of buyer meetings away from the distractions of the show floor.

More than 1,500 meeting slots are available during the event.

MAATS also includes a reception July 17, when the Innovation Awards will be presented.

NMDA’s conference is the association’s premier event where distributor and manufacturing members get to meet in private to plan their programs for the year.

Of the 26 distributor members of the NMDA, 23 are expected to be at S.T.E.P., with 21 likely staying on for MAATS.

S.T.E.P. also includes an awards luncheon where the supplier of the year is honored.

Cueroni noted “the accessories aftermarket isn’t doing as poorly as (other markets), which is the good news.”

Her members, she pointed out, “have allowed the dealers to be very efficient in promoting what they have, and making them look like they have a lot of inventory without requiring them to invest a lot of dollars.”

In April 2008, NMDA members reported sales were up 4.72 percent from the year-ago period. In year-to-date figures, sales were up 3.59 percent.

The most recent figures from the NMMA are from 2006 and show aftermarket accessories sales down slightly from the previous year. Sales in 2006 were $2.8 billion, down 5 percent from 2005. Spending per boat averaged $156 in 2006, down $6 from the previous year.

For information on MAATS, visit: www.maats.net.

This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue.

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