By, Nicki Polan, Executive Director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association
It has been a stressful 14 weeks for all of us and I want to be sure you know that MBIA has been with the boating industry every step of the way as we worked to get boating back underway, get marinas and dealership open again, and finally to safely open pools, club houses, and restaurants.
As we all slowly get back to our normal routines, many people are now coming to understand something that boat owners have known all along. Boating offers families a safe, healthy, and fun recreational opportunity like no other activity. This knowledge has led to a spike in traffic on our industry’s DiscoverBoating.com website and ultimately a spike in traffic into the dealerships to purchase boats. What was thought to be a lost selling season in March and April has bounced back quickly and vigorously.
Canceled trips to Europe, U.S. destinations, theme parks, and cruises have left families with discretionary dollars and seeking alternative recreational choices in these uncertain times. Ultimately with the abundant water resources of our Great Lakes State, and the desire to stay close to home, it is no surprise boating and fishing have come to the forefront.
Typically, boat dealers would order 2021 product in March, but as that is exactly when the C-19 pandemic shut down Michigan, in many cases, these orders were delayed. Many dealers thought boat sales would plummet, but once we were able to get boating underway again, the complete opposite happened and a huge rush for product has left dealers with very little inventory.
There is likely to be an even greater demand around the corner with our industry’s new marketing campaign released in mid-June called “Get On Board.” As summer kicks off, stresses typically subside, but unfortunately, today the stress persists across America. The “Get On Board” campaign aims to help more Americans experience the restorative health and wellness benefits of recreational boating and fishing. With the #TheWaterIsOpen, we remind all that boating offers space, freedom and safe family fun. The campaign and also shows our industry’s commitment to inclusion.
In most cases, 2021 orders have now been placed so inventory will eventually catch up. But demand is not expected to lighten up, so if you are in the market for a new boat it is important to plan ahead for this purchase. As boat shows provide the ultimate one-stop-shopping experience, the MBIA feels our upcoming boat shows will be very busy. The Governor’s “Large Events Workgroup” has submitted best practices which we are prepared to implement to assure our MBIA produced boat shows are a safe and fun environment at which you can shop for all things boating. Our commitment to safety extends to our exhibitors, their employees, and our attendees. Our September Progressive Metro Boat Show is an outdoor event and spans over 200,000 square feet offering plenty of room for social distancing throughout the Lake St. Clair Metropark. Our January Progressive Detroit Boat Show (500,000 sq. ft.) and March Progressive Novi Boat Show (425,000 sq. ft.) will also implement every recommended best practice whether required or not. Hopefully, we will receive approval to conduct these events soon, to help current and new boat owners find the boats, motors, trailers, and accessories they need to continue making memories to last a lifetime.