The boat show organizer sees more fair seas ahead of the industry as it gears up for two major Florida Gulf Coast shows. | Business Observer

The boating industry has undoubtedly been one of the big, if not the biggest, winners of the pandemic era. Sales are up across all vessel categories, from entry-level runabouts to superyachts, with major retailers such as Clearwater-based MarineMax enjoying record revenues.

Led by CEO Brett McGill, MarineMax posted $1.24 billion in revenue in 2020, a solid, if not dramatic, improvement from $1.18 billion in 2018. Then came 2020…and the coronavirus. The company’s revenue jumped to $1.51 billion, and 2021 was even better, with $2.06 billion in sales.

These stunning figures are generating enormous excitement within the marine industry as boat show season approaches. First up is the 44th Annual St. Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show, which runs Jan. 20-23 on the downtown waterfront, followed by the Suncoast Boat Show in Sarasota, scheduled for April 22-24. .

Andrew Doole, an executive at Informa Markets, which owns the two shows, expects strong attendance and robust sales for exhibitors as the lingering pandemic continues to cause families to seek outdoor recreational opportunities. air.

“Attendance has been very strong at every show we’ve held since last January,” Doole, president of Informa’s boat show division, told Coffee Talk. “The boating industry has experienced an incredible boom. There are waiting lists [for boats] and I don’t think manufacturers will catch up until the end of 2023.”

Changing the date of the St. Pete show also turned out to be a savvy move. The show was held in late November or early December, but Informa moved it to mid-January, delaying the 2020 show, which was scheduled for December 3-6, to January 14-17, 2021.

Doole says the St. Pete show “was battling Santa and New Year’s Eve” for attention. Plus, having it follow the busy holiday season has given sellers better access to a demographic that tends to have a lot of disposable income and free time: snowbirds.

“We’re going to have the best time of the year,” Chris Fleming, director of business development at Informa Markets, told Coffee Talk in September 2020. “We welcome winter residents who come after the holidays.”

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