EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S CORNER
By Jonathan Banks
A packed crowd of key sailing industry leaders gathered in the Chesapeake Ballroom at the Marriott Hotel on Friday, October 7 during the United States Sailboat Show for Sail America’s Annual Industry Meeting.
The meeting kicked off with a recap of Sail America’s many accomplishments over the past year. I was pleased to report that Sail America is financially healthy and growing. There has been a dramatic turnaround in the financial health of the association over the past three years. When I joined Sail America in 2006, the Association was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it was earning. Following a restructuring of the business in 2008, we have made a small profit for the last two years and are projecting another small profit for the current fiscal year.
Other notable successes in the past year that were reported on at the meeting include membership growth, a successful Strictly Sail Pacific show, strong partnerships with other boat show producers and associations, and record seminar attendance. None of these accomplishments could have been achieved without the enormous support of the Board of Directors and volunteers, and the amazing efforts of the Sail America team.
Sally Helme, President of Sail America and Publisher of Cruising World and Sailing World magazines, announced several new strategic initiatives that are designed to support Sail America’s mission to promote the health and growth of sailing:
- Continued Financial Health – reducing costs, growing membership, and identifying new revenue streams will lead to a healthier and stronger Sail America.
- New Marketing Initiatives – the new Discover Sailing video was shown for the first time and received rave reviews (click on the following link to view the video: http://vimeo.com/30686812) and plans for the new consumer website were announced.
- New Show Partnerships – a new partnership with the South West International Boat Show (Houston, TX) was announced.
- America’s Cup – the America’s Cup represents a unique opportunity to create excellent exposure for sailing. Sally Helme reported that Sailing America is working closely with the America’s Cup to create a strong AC presence at Strictly Sail Pacific and will host the next Industry Conference during the AC World Series in Newport.
- Education and Research – Sail America will continue to provide ongoing business education for industry members via the Sailing Industry Conference, the Waypoints newsletter, and various market data reports.
Josh Adams, Association Chair and Publisher of SAIL Magazine, outlined plans for the 2012 Sailing Industry Conference, which will be held in Newport, RI on June 26 and 27 to coincide with the AC World Series. The Industry Conference and Regatta will bring the industry together for two days of business education mixed with fun and competition on the water.
Stanton Murray, Show Chair and President of Murray Yacht Sales, gave a quick update on the shows that Sale America runs and supports, including (in chronological order): the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, Strictly Sail Chicago, Strictly Sail Miami, the South West International Boat Show, and Strictly Sail Pacific. Sail America will also partner with NMMA to increase sailing’s presence at the New England Boat Show and with SCMA to support the Long Beach Yacht & Boat Show.
The meeting wrapped up with the “Best in Show” awards that recognize exhibitors for marketing excellence in presenting their products and services at the United States Sailboat Show. Congratulations to winners Sunsail, Pettit Paint, Lagoon Catamarans, and Jeanneau Yachts.
The United States Sailboat Show is a remarkable show and was just the remedy we needed to lift our spirits and remind us that there is still life in the sailing market. It certainly hasn’t been easy over the past three years, but I continue to be impressed by how well many in the industry are coping and adapting to the new economic realities, and how companies and competitors are working together towards a common goal. We are truly fortunate to work in such a wonderful industry.