Did you make any New Year’s resolutions that will force you to up your boating game? The much anticipated Chicago Boat Show begins today and will run through Jan. 13, providing boaters with the perfect way to start 2019 off right. Whether your resolution is to purchase a new boat, gain some more knowledge about the boating industry or simply get more time out on the Great Lakes, attending the Chicago Boat Show can prepare you to achieve all of your wildest dreams.
The Great Lakes Boating (GLB) staff sat down with Keith Ogulnick, Show Manager of the Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show to gain the inside scoop of how you can make the most out of your Chicago Boat Show experience.
GLB: Of all the boat shows across the country, what makes the Chicago show a must-attend for Great Lakes Boaters?
First of all, it gets people out of the house in the dead of winter and gets them thinking about warmer and sunnier days ahead. It’s the perfect place to dream about great times on the water with friends and family.
The Chicago Boat Show is such an amazing event because of its focus on the whole boating experience — from boats to hands-on seminars. McCormick Place is jam-packed with a diverse range of products (from the latest in powerboats to new sailboats and RVs). There are seminars each hour taught and led by the best in boating and sailing, and each day is filled with unique features and events for families, outdoor enthusiasts and avid boaters (such as Build-A-Boat with Maritime Arts Center, Huck Finn Trout Pound, and Paddlefest). It truly is a one-stop shop to search and find the latest trends and get the best deals of the season.
GLB: What are you most excited to see/unveil/get public reaction to this year? (looking for boat brands or “inside scoop” style things about manufacturers bringing a new/cool lineup to Chicago for the first time or something)
Being the first show of the year and one of the most important in the country, you’ll see many new boat brands and product launches in Chicago. For instance, Greenline Yachts will be showcasing their hybrid yacht for the first time, and we’re thrilled to have iconic brands such as Donzi, Baja, Fountain back in the show. We’re also very excited to debut the Chicago Boat Show Pass, an interactive app designed to enhance the show experience for attendees. Attendees can use the Chicago Boat Show Pass to manage tickets, navigate the show, collect product information, access exclusive show deals and discounts and participate in a gamified show experience with chances to win fun prizes.
GLB: How important is it that Progressive is a title sponsor of the Chicago show? What have you been able to accomplish with Progressive as a prominent supporter?
The incredible support we receive from Progressive has allowed us to build the complete show our attendees and exhibitors deserve. Again, it’s not just about the boats and RVs, it’s about the environment we’ve created and the education and family fun that’s offered. Attendees must stop by the Progressive Insurance Boat Club where they provide fun experiences for the whole family, like the new VR boatraces and top-notch education presented by the Annapolis School of Seamanship. Plus, it’s a great place to speak with an expert about boat insurance after you buy your new boat.
GLB: One overlooked piece of advice for first-time attendees to the Chicago show?
Take your time to enjoy all the show has to offer! There’s so much to see and do and such great food and beverage options that you really need to devote enough time to soak it all in. And if you’re overwhelmed, stop by the information center at the front entrance of the show to get some expert advice. We definitely encourage attendees to download the Chicago Boat Show Pass! It really is the best place to buy tickets, sort through show features, find exhibitors, score deals and sign up for seminars. It truly will put the entire show in your pocket.
GLB: If there’s a funny story or unbelievable anecdote from last year’s show that you’d like to share (we can’t believe we sold out of X or forgot to put up X or that X number of boats were sold last year, etc.)
The thing that overwhelms me every year is when I witness the incredible smiles on the faces of new boat owners. To know that they’re making their dreams come true makes what we do incredibly worthwhile. And I love seeing families spending time together or friends reuniting at the show every January. The vibe and excitement in McCormick Place is very special.