By this time of year, one of two things have happened in the houseboat industry. Either Houseboat Magazine's National Houseboat Expo is underway, or we are in the thralls of guessing just how good attendance will be for the upcoming show.
This year it is the latter situation, and the indications are good.
For starters, the show is poised for a great display thanks to the commitment from a rich conglomeration of exhibits, ranging from houseboat specific aftermarket products and services to a beautiful fleet of cruising condos.
"We are also encouraged by attendance reports from the mainstream boat shows," notes Houseboat magazine editor and Expo staffer Steve Smede. "When Nashville does well, the houseboat show in Louisville usually does well too. We're poised for a great year."
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, attendance at both the 20th Nashville Boat & Sportshow and 52nd Baltimore Boat Show were up this year, continuing on courses of steady growth over the last several years. The shows took place January 11-15 at the Nashville Convention Center, and January 21-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center, respectively.
In Nashville, which wrapped up its 5-day run on January 15, attendance was up 7 percent over the 2005 show and attracted nearly 20,000 attendees. Organizers and exhibitors were buoyed by the quality of attendee traffic, as well as the large crowds.
"It's been a phenomenal show," says Chris Cooke of Erwin Marine. "We've sold a lot of big yachts, including 60-footers and a lot of 40-footers."
The Baltimore show closed on Sunday, January 29 with a reported 23 percent increase in attendance over the show's three-year average. The 2006 turnout in Baltimore is the best it's been in the last five years.
Exhibitors agree. "This was a record-breaking Baltimore show for us," says Randy Deatherage, of Full Tilt Marine. "It was the best show we've ever had, and we've been here for 25 years."
Source material: NMMA