MRAA announces new dealer conference for 2019

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IBEX will return to its new permanent home this week in Tampa, Fla.

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas says that its Annual Conference and Expo will take place in Tampa, Fla., from December 8-11, 2019, at the Tampa Convention Center. The trade association said in a statement that the event will deliver “invigorating energy and offerings” to what will be its 43 annual dealer conference.

It will include an on-water element for MRAA’s exhibitor and sponsor partners to display their products. MRAA President Matt Gruhn said he expects that the new conference will attract more dealers.

“We are most excited about evolving the event experience into something far more rewarding and impactful for our dealers and the industry at large,” Gruhn said in the statement. “Dealers can expect the same high-quality educational programming that MRAA has always delivered, with a focus on stronger tools and resources for successful implementation and results.”

Gruhn said that MRRA has “invested significantly” into the study of the latest trends in annual conferences. It has attended several event-focused programs and retained the services of an event consultant. It has also added staff for education and events.

The association said that it has a new logo and brand for the conference but decided not to release it until the 2018 MDCE conference is finished in December.

Boating Industry and MRAA announced last week that the two partners were going their separate ways after this year’s event. The two began the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in 2008. Boating Industry is setting up its own separate conference in the fall for dealers, suppliers and other industry participants. It said further details would be forthcoming.

MRAA said it would convene an industry strategy session next month with dealers and suppliers in an effort to fine-tune and maximize the impact of the 2019 MRAA Annual Conference & Expo.

“The next evolution of MRAA’s Annual Conference & Expo will be the most significant to date,” said Liz Walz, MRAA vice president and director of education in the statement. “We’re combining our expertise for building world-class educational programs with deeper relationships and insights from our dealer and supplier partners, and proven, real-world advice from an event experience authority.”

The MRAA Annual Conference & Expo started in 1977. MRAA said it has evolved several times over the years. In 2008, it was rebranded as the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo.

“The MRAA Annual Conference & Expo has generated success by maintaining its focus on dealers,” said Gruhn. “When we do that in collaboration with industry manufacturers and suppliers, as with this reimagined annual conference, together, we can inspire our dealers to accomplish great things.”