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The New Year brings an optimistic economic outlook - North America MarineBusinessWorld newsletter

by Peter Rendle 16 Jan 08:00 PST
Chicago Boat Show © George Burns

Happy New Year to all our subscribers and we hope that 2020 is a prosperous year for all marine businesses. While the world economy 'tiptoes' along at the moment it appears that President Trump is patching things up between the US and China with some relaxation in the current trade tariffs. This news is especially pertinent to gaining ongoing consumer confidence amidst the boat show season currently happening.

The 2020 Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show, Progressive Insurance Kansas City Boat & Sportshow, and Progressive Insurance Nashville Boat Show run through Sunday, the first of NMMA's 16 winter boat and sportshows to kick off a big selling season for NMMA members and the industry nationwide.

Last week, the Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show® opened in McCormick Place. In its 90th year, the show will feature more than 600 power and sailboats and nearly 100 RVs. In addition to the array of this year's most innovative boats and products, the show is also launching the new interactive hub, the Discover Boating Experience (DBX). An area where guests can mingle, relax and enjoy short form seminars from experts about a variety of boating topics, DBX will also be a part of five other NMMA winter shows.

Subsequently the NMMA today announced that Carl Blackwell, its long-time chief marketing officer and president of Discover Boating, has decided to step down. The move comes as the Discover Boating campaign reaches key milestones and hits its stride in attracting new boaters to the boating lifestyle. The association has tapped Ellen Bradley, NMMA chief communications officer, to lead both marketing and communications. Blackwell will remain onboard through the end of March to ensure a smooth transition.

Some good news from the industry. the NMMA announced in a release recently that retail unit sales of new powerboats are estimated to have held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007. The busy winter boat show season kicks off this week across the country and NMMA expects new powerboat sales to be up as much as 2 percent in 2020. "Sales in 2019 were nearly on par with the 11-year high we saw in 2018, even with some softening particularly in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to unseasonably cold and rainy weather in spring and early summer. Looking at 2020, with the economy on solid footing and key economic indicators like consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy year for new boat sales, which could be up as much as 2 percent," said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. "With approximately $42 billion per year in retail expenditures, boating is not only an economic driver but a unique vehicle for the kind of meaningful experiences consumers are seeking more and more—ones that take you outdoors, bring together family and friends, and create lasting memories."

Technology continues to play an important part of boating developments and VesselVanguard, the leading customer experience management platform for manufacturers and boat owners, announced today full integration with the Boatrax IoT gateway. VesselVanguard in collaboration with Boatrax, a Miami, Florida-based telematics services provider, have created back-end connectivity to process data from any IoT or telematics gateway. This solution simultaneously informs the owner and designated service providers of suggested next steps based on OEM recommendations factored within each digital boat profile.

The core functionality of the VesselVanguard cloud-based application is the automated delivery of pre-programmed maintenance instructions conforming to time-driven intervals recommended by the OEMs. By applying telematics data within the full context of the entire boat profile, greater value will be realized by each party to the boat ownership experience. This eliminates guesswork, provides meaning to given data and informs users of what tasks are ahead. Further, OEM recommended benchmarks established within the VesselVanguard profile can now be analyzed against known performance variables to suggest abnormal performance or potential failures.

While communications giant Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) announced that on December 19, 2019 a Letter of Compliance was signed by the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), stating it has positively verified the operational and technical requirements as requested by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for Iridium to provide Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) service. The Letter of Compliance was formally presented to Iridium CEO Matt Desch by the Director General of IMSO, Captain Moin Ahmed, during a ceremony at Iridium's headquarters on the morning of January 13, 2020. The issuance of the letter formally authorizes Iridium to now provide satellite GMDSS service, bringing truly global coverage and a choice of both network and equipment to this critical emergency service for the first time.

And if you want to play a part in the industry's development, registration for the 2020 American Boating Congress (ABC) is now open and NMMA is encouraging all stakeholders to reserve their spot today. Register now for this event. ABC 2020 - the recreational boating industry's annual advocacy summit in Washington, D.C. - will be held on Tuesday, May 12 through Thursday, May 14. For the first time the event moves to the InterContinental located at The Wharf - a remarkable, mile-long stretch of waterfront property along the Potomac River.

There is lots more industry marine news on our www.marinebusinessworld.com/NorthAmerica website and we welcome your latest news including new products, new people, new location, new job vacancies or event promotions.

Peter Rendle - peter.rendle@marinebusinessworld.com

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