A new deal for dealers?

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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas today named next year’s dealer conference. “Dealer Week, The MRAA Conference and Expo,” will be held Dec. 8-11 at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida.

Dealer Week, according to MRAA president Matt Gruhn, will be an “all-new conference experience.” Gruhn told Trade Only Today the new event will have an educational focus and format that will be different from what attendees at other shows are used to experiencing.

MRAA co-produced the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo with Boating Industry magazine in Orlando, Fla. Its final edition ended this week. Dealer Week will be MRAA’s 43rd edition of its annual expo.

“Our job at MRAA is and always has been to serve dealers, and we wanted to be extremely clear this event is built for dealers,” Gruhn said. “We were even strategic with the name. We didn’t want to create another long name that would get whittled down to an acronym because we think the impact Dealer Week can have for dealers will be critical to the success of our event and our industry.”

Gruhn said the group started planning for the event two years ago. MRAA retained a consultant, visited other trade shows and spoke with industry experts to “reimagine” the conference experience beyond an expo hall, educational events and networking opportunities.

MRAA also held a two-day strategy session with 60 industry leaders to shape the next event.

Gruhn said that a number of the participants of the strategy session, including Brunswick Dealer Advantage, CDK Global Recreation, Correct Craft, Global Marine Insurance, Volvo Penta and Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, have signed on as strategic partners for Dealer Week.

“We’ve designed Dealer Week so that dealers of all shapes, sizes and levels of sophistication can have a rewarding learning experience that will make their businesses stronger,” Gruhn said. “Everything we’ve designed with this reimagined event experience has been built on a foundation of maximizing the impact that Dealer Week can have for the marine industry.”

The statement added that Dealer Week will “deliver deeper collaborative opportunities and a richer experience that will showcase business solutions in all-new ways.”

The idea is to make the experience more “immersive” for attendees, Gruhn said. “We’ll have a new approach to how we lay out the floorplan, and how we engage our partners.”

“Our association exists to invest in the growth of the marine dealer body and the marine industry, and you’ll see that investment come to life at Dealer Week,” added Liz Walz, MRAA vice president and director of education, in the statement. “We already offer high-level educational programs specifically for marine dealers, but our event-based education is improving. At Dealer Week, we’re stepping it up by adding new elements, a variety of learning opportunities and deeper dives into the topics that matter most to dealership success.”

Joe Lewis, president of Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina and board chair to the MRAA, is also enthusiastic about the approach. “I think Dealer Week is going to be like something this industry has never seen — certainly a more immersive experience, one where you feel like you’re a part of the event versus attending the event,” he said.

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