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President's Report
May 2018

It’s early May and there are strong boat sales to report from the 2018 first quarter - new boat sales were up 6.4 percent in units and 19.8 percent in value and brokerage sales were up 24.2 percent in units and 29 percent  in value compared to the first quarter of 2017. We saw similar sales increases for Washington in the third and fourth-quarters of 2017 compared to the same quarters in 2016. Add on, that the Consumer Confidence Index was at an 18-year high in February, and I think it is safe to say we have a strong flood tide for all our members!

The 2018 Seattle Boat Show played its part in getting boaters and anglers excited about a new year of boating. This was the 15th year the NMTA and Northwest Yacht Brokers Association teamed up to promote and produce the largest boat show on the West Coast and in the end our net attendance was up 2.1 percent from 2017 with 52,957 attendees.

With an eye on the future, NMTA decided to add Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina as a new, third location for the Seattle Boat Show. Our board, Boat Show Committee and staff recognized Bell Harbor’s amenities, location and abundant parking were needed remedies in a fast-changing city for a growing show. This year we sold tickets in 42 states and Canadian provinces which ties our previous record from 2007. Our Seattle Boat Show is an indispensable regional show, but it’s also a destination boat show for boaters all across North America. Seattle’s waterfront is on a path to become one of the most beautiful and vibrant destinations in the country, and I appreciate the vision of our volunteer leadership to embrace it.

There are lots of ways to measure success at a boat show. For me as a show producer, I put a lot of weight on attendance and am proud of our 2.1 percent increase this year. The attendance at Bell Harbor Marina was 7,349, indoors at CenturyLink Field & Event Center it was 46,938 and at South Lake Union it was exactly 12,000. As I mentioned earlier, our “unduplicated net attendance” for all three locations was 52,957. This means we do not “double” count attendees if they visit more than one location on the same day, and, as always, do not count exhibitors or unredeemed tickets.

Following the show, we sent our traditional two question survey to attendees and exhibitors -- What did you like best about the show? What can we do better for next year? In typical fashion, a compliment was often matched up with a concern. For example, attendees love the variety of boats and accessories, yet still want a larger variety of boats, specific brands not on display, and even more accessories. Attendees love the quality and quantity of our seminars but expressed equal concern about not having enough new topics and crowded rooms on some days. For me, I liked our Free Parking promotion at Bell Street Garage best. It sends the message that the Seattle Boat Show is still affordable and accessible and provides much needed parking. A little over 3,000 cars (6,000 attendees) used the parking promotion at Bell Street Garage or South Lake Union, while the CenturyLink Field & Event Garage and North Lot were at capacity on weekends. That said, I know there are things we can do to improve the parking experience at Bell Street Pier Garage for next year.

Later this month the NMTA Board and Boat Show Committee will continue their discussion about NMTA’s lease renewal with CenturyLink Field & Event Center. We have one year left on our 10-year lease and we will need to decide what changes, if any, need to be made to our new lease.

In the next few months, there’s much work to be done. Boat show dates and show hours are the most complicated and divisive subject for our members. This spring we will organize a series of “town hall” meetings with members to hear your thoughts about show dates and hours. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of “wiggle room” with our dates. In front of us on the calendar, we have the Seahawks regular season, NFL playoffs and Super Bowl and behind us we have the Sounders and the start of the MLS season. In between the NFL and MLS seasons the Boat Show, RV Show and Home Show, all with long term leases, need to find dates that work for all parties. Like I said - it’s complicated.

I hope you’ve heard about our new show in Anacortes. It’s a collaboration between NMTA and the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce. Details for the first major boat show in Anacortes at Cap Sante Marina are coming together nicely. We currently have 101 exhibitors planning to display new and brokerage boats in the water and at nearby boatyards, on trailers in the parking lot, and in a 10,000 square foot tent for marine accessories.

AnacortesBoatandYachtShow.com is at full strength and I am really pleased with our exhibitor list, boats on display and promotions. We are promoting the show as a weekend get-away with boats and accessories from A to Z or as I like to say from Stand-Up Paddle Boards to Superyachts. We’ve come up with eight fun weekend itineraries to help paint the picture for a fun weekend of boat shopping and activities for boat buyers, couples, families, dog lovers, and foodies in Anacortes.

New promotions we’re excited about are: Families Free - free admission for everyone under 17, Boat $how Bucks - discounts from Anacortes businesses and show exhibitors, Military & Veteran discount, a daily happy hour from 4-6pm with live music, Free Admission for Yacht Club Members on Thursday and Friday, and hotel stays that include show admission.

E-tickets are on sale now at the website and we’ve already started our digital advertising which will be followed by our traditional television, radio and print advertising that starts on May 9. If you’re not exhibiting this year and just want to cruise the show, we’ve included two complimentary tickets for the show in the print edition of WaterLife.

Board Elections
Later this month NMTA voting members will receive their first ever “electronic” ballot from NMTA to select three new members to serve on the NMTA Board of Trustees. You may remember last year members approved a by-law revision that allows for electronic voting. In April the Trustee Nomination Committee (three Board members and two at-large members) reviewed ten self-nomination applications from members that would like to serve on the Board and selected six to appear on the ballot - our by-laws require the Nominating Committee to select six for the ballot. The four members not selected to appear on the ballot had the option to get 15 signatures from members to appear on the ballot. You can view the board candidate bios HERE

As you can see, we have a full plate here at the NMTA office this spring and it’s sometimes even hard for me to keep it all straight. The good news is that we have it all taken care of. That’s what your dues support! 

See you on the water.


George Harris
NMTA President/CEO
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