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A ‘year-round virtual boat show’

New technology that allows members of the Northwest Marine Trade Association to post boats for sale on the trade group’s Seattle Boat Show Web site will launch in May as part of a new agreement between the NMTA and Boats.com.

The new program essentially converts the Web site from a marketing tool to promote the annual event, to a year-round virtual boat show, according to NMTA director of communications and marketing John Thorburn.

“The Seattle Boat Show is a brand that is well-known throughout the region and we intend on building on its reputation of quality through these enhanced features,” Thorburn said in a statement. “Prospective and current boat owners will come to know SeattleBoatShow.com as the best resource for boats and boating services all year long.”

The Boats.com technology and other site upgrades are funded using NMTA’s Grow Boating dollars, which started in 2003 and are generated from a portion of exhibitor space rental fees at its Seattle show each January.

“Our members are faced with challenges many of them have never seen before,” said Thorburn. “New boat sales in Washington state were down nearly 55 percent during the first two months of the year. NMTA is investing in these new technologies to help members sell products this spring and summer.”

Despite the drop in new boats sold by dealers in January and February, association leaders say interest in boating remains high in the region. The 2009 Seattle Boat Show saw a 13 percent decrease in attendance — a positive note after other shows around the country saw larger declines, according to organizers.

The NMTA represents more than 800 companies in the recreational boating business.

Boats.com provides an online marketing venue, along with marketing tools such as lead management, inventory management and data distribution, for boatbuilders and dealers. Boats.com is a division of Dominion Enterprises, the parent company of Soundings Trade Only.

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