MINNEAPOLIS — More than 520 dealership personnel from across North America attended the Marine Retailers Association of America’s Dealer Week Conference and Expo in Austin, Texas, last month. The event, MRAA’s first live conference in more than 725 days, hosted 1,022 total attendees at the Austin Convention Center in the Live Music Capital of the World.
For the first time ever, the conference will span two years, however, as the education continues with Dealer Week Online Jan. 11-13. Dealers who attended the in-person conference will be able to attend the online event as part of their registration, and those who were unable to attend can register for online-only attendance at DealerWeek.com.
The in-person portion of Dealer Week was a four-day gathering designed to provide education and best practices to boat retailers. It successfully reunited dealers, educators, manufacturers, service providers, consultants and more to focus on current hot-button topics and pain points within the marine industry. The conference generated discussions around tactics and strategies to strengthen communication, improve timeliness and advance processes in the face of inventory and supply issues as well as a growing customer base — more than 400,000 being first-time boat buyers — to maintain the industry’s current momentum. It also featured an Industry Celebration that took advantage of the setting in Austin with live music that lasted late into the night.
Dealer Week Online will premiere online versions of all the sessions that were presented in Texas plus nine new workshops with live Q&As. Utilizing the same platform as Dealer Week 2020, when the event went totally virtual, Dealer Week Online will include interactive features, including the ability to schedule video-based meetings with fellow attendees, as well as a full online exhibit area. Following the 2020 event, many attendees reported that they were excited to return to in-person gatherings, but that there were many aspects of the online event they didn’t want to give up. With the option of in-person Dealer Week as well as Dealer Week Online, attendees can get the conference experience that best meets their needs.
For three consecutive years, backed by outstanding industry support and continued engagement from dealers across North America, the MRAA has innovated and reinvested in its annual Dealer Week Conference and Expo. The inaugural and reinvented Dealer Week event in Tampa, Fla., in 2019 set attendance records for an in-person MRAA event with more than 600 dealers and 400 exhibitor attendees. The challenges of 2020 forced a pivot to a virtual conference, where once again the industry proved its resiliency, as it showed up in force and record numbers. With no flights or hotel rooms to worry about, the 1,047 total dealer attendance figure smashed the previous record of 650 participants at an MRAA Annual Conference, representing more than a 61-percent increase, and surpassed the total attendance at the inaugural in-person Dealer Week in 2019 by 77 percent.
With an ongoing pandemic and COVID-19 variants emerging, the 2021 Dealer Week event also requires reinvention, as MRAA combines an in-person, four-day conference Dec. 6-9, in Austin, with a three-day Dealer Week Online event happening Jan. 11-13. The new format allows registered dealers of all size and comfort levels to participate in both portions of Dealer Week, giving more potential to learn from all the educational pathways and expert speakers.
Dealers that attended the in-person Dealer Week in Texas can attend Dealer Week Online for free. Registration remains open and is encouraged for those who didn’t make it to Austin. The show kicks off at 9 a.m. (CDT), Tuesday, Jan. 11. The virtual event also features all-new content on Thursday, Jan. 13. Register now!
MRAA, celebrating its 50th year in 2022, will return to Austin in December for its fourth official Dealer Week Conference & Expo. We hope you will join us for boating’s only event focused on dealer success.