Dues increase and new members boost Discover Boating

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Marine accessories manufacturers have seen a 25 percent increase in NMMA dues that are helping fund Discover Boating, the industrywide initiative to increase awareness of and participation in boating.

“We have a new slew of contributors this year,” Discover Boating president Carl Blackwell told Trade Only Today.

The 700 accessories manufacturers that are members of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, of which Blackwell is chief marketing officer, have had their dues — which vary based on sales — raised 25 percent in recent months. That cash goes directly into Discover Boating coffers, Blackwell said.

“If we can get more parts of the industry to contribute so it doesn’t all rest just on the backs of engine manufacturers, boat manufacturers and dealers, I think that’s how the industry wins,” Blackwell said. “So having the accessories manufacturers contribute as well was a nice win for the campaign and a nice endorsement for us.”

The group lost “one or maybe two” members after the increase, Blackwell said. “But we’ve more than made up for that because we’ve gotten new members since. They’ve embraced it.”

“If we can get some of the other niches out there to contribute and do what they can, that’d be great,” Blackwell said.

Joe Lewis of Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina in Florida, chairman of the Grow Boating initiative and Discover Boating, agrees.

“We have a funding task force that’s been making recommendations to the board about increasing our budget,”Lewis told Trade Only. “One way to do that is getting more industry stakeholders contributing—industry segments like insurers, bankers, other lending institutions, both at a wholesale and a retail level, marinas, aftermarkets and parts guys—they’re really not supporting the initiative the same way they probably might if they were so inclined.”

Lewis pointed to the Go RV marketing campaign as an example.

“If I had to look at the two industries, all the players on the Go RVing side have really embraced the marketing concept of GoRV. They have gotten fully behind it and are using it to their full advantage. I can’t say that of the marine industry to date. We do have some that have gravitated to it and are using it to their benefit, and we have others who have no idea what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and how they can benefit,”Lewis said.

That’s in part because Go RV has been in effect much longer. And it’s up to the Discover Boating folks to educate the industry one by one about the benefits, Lewis said.

“Just look at the results,” he said. “One of the most shining examples I can give you now is the number of referrals to manufacturers’ websites from Discover Boating. We’re up over last year by 38 percent.”

Of the 3.4 million people visiting DiscoverBoating.com, 1.8 million then clicked on to manufacturer websites — something that takes some clicking around on the website, Blackwell said.

“If you think about that, it takes a consumer a little bit of time to work their way through our site to find a place to click to go to a manufacturer site, so at that point it means they’re pretty interested,” Blackwell said.

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