Industry leaders gather for boating summit

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Approximately 160 marine industry leaders from around the country gathered Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago for a first-of-its-kind Recreational Boating Stakeholder Growth Summit.

The summit was hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and attended by leaders from all industry segments, including bankers, big-box retailers, consumer organizations, dealers, distributors, insurance companies, boat, engine and accessory manufacturers, marinas, boatyards, trade associations, publishers, yacht brokers, marine representatives and government groups.

It was the largest and most diverse all-industry discussion ever for the recreational boating industry, the NMMA said.

Prior to attending the summit, participants completed an extensive survey, answering questions and providing information to help the facilitators create a foundation that the group worked from to begin the all-industry dialogue.

Out of the survey came four “vision statements” for the industry to work on during the summit, including: “Visions for our industry in 2021: Unified Industry Cross Sector Collaboration Brings Results — Boating Now the Preferred Recreational Choice,” “Boating Participation Soars — New Generation, Highly Diverse, Family Friendly Lifestyle and Consumer Friendly,” “Expanded Access to the Water and the Lifestyle Has Been Achieved” and “Smarter and Fewer Regulations and Better Boating Education Results in Safe, Affordable and Enjoyable Boating.”

“I think a lot of participants were shocked at some of the missed opportunities, industry trends and overall need for our industry to adjust to the changing population in the U.S.,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “The summit opened a lot of eyes and created a sense of urgency throughout all industry segments to put something in motion to build recreational boating that we can all work toward.”

Dammrich opened the summit with a presentation on “Trends in U.S. Recreational Boating,” which was followed by a presentation on “Changing U.S. Demographics and the Boating Industry,” from Steve Murdock, professor of sociology at Rice University and former director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Over the course of two days, topics addressing each vision included, but weren’t limited to: existing and future demographics of the boating consumer; marketing and communication strategies; the boating experience; innovation and technology; industry collaboration; and legislation and regulation.

As a result of the summit, a universal recognition developed among all participants that all segments of the industry have an important stake in working together to develop approaches to grow the recreational boating industry.

During the next six weeks, the facilitators from the Consensus Center will compile a report of action items and focus areas agreed upon by summit participants that will act as a blueprint for the industry to work against.

Click here to see all presentations as well as the summit’s survey results.

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