Chicago show app will allow attendees to ‘gameify’ the event


The 89th Progressive Chicago Boat & RV Show, set for Jan. 9-13 at the McCormick Place, will feature more than 600 boats, 100 RVs, marine accessories and outdoor gear.

This year’s show will offer an extensive boating and sailing seminar series with experts including John and Amanda Neal, Pam Wall, Nigel Calder, Brian Adams and Howard Rice.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, the group that owns and organizes the show, is unveiling ‘The Chicago Boat Show Pass’ app — the third venue to introduce a mobile app that allows attendees to “gameify” the event, said Jennifer Thompson, senior vice president of boat and sport shows at the NMMA.

The app will give show-goers access to deals and discounts prior and during the event, organizers said, and give attendees access to scan their phone at various kiosks to win prizes.

It will allow attendees to manage their tickets, schedule seminars and navigate the show digitally.

The NMMA partnered with the company Fish Technologies in developing the app, which was first launched at the Miami International Boat Show and the Tampa Boat Show, said Thompson.

“The way we approached both shows was very different, so we learned a lot about what went right and what went wrong,” Thompson told Trade Only Today. “We’re doing what I’m calling a 3.0, and we will implement that at the Chicago Boat & RV Show. The overall goal is to improve the exhibitor experience by letting them know more about attendees.”

When using paper ticketing, no information is captured about attendees, said Thompson. But with e-ticketing, exhibitors can learn who exactly is visiting their booth.

“You can pretty quickly click through a tire kicker versus a serious prospect, which is something completely new,” said Thompson. “It will take time, but if you think about it, it’s pretty exciting because it will give exhibitors much more insight into who these shoppers are at our shows.”

Attendees are incentivized to download the app because it qualifies them to get deals, win prizes, and if they choose, create a gaming experience at the show, Thompson said — essentially trading experiences for more information about shoppers.

The show will also offer remote control sailboat racing for the first time, and the Chicago Maritime Arts Center will allow attendees to build a boat from a sheet of aluminum foil — the design that can hold the most golf balls without sinking will earn a prize, organizers said in a statement.

Carver Yachts will showcase the largest yacht at the show, the new Carver 52 Command Bridge.