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The six best ways to make the most of ICAST 2024


July means fishing season is in full swing across much of the globe, but for one special week each year, the attention of an entire industry shifts from the outdoors to the indoors.

That’s when the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) hosts ICAST, the largest trade show in sportfishing—one that annually draws thousands of visitors to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, for a jam-packed week of activities revolving around brand new products made for people living life on the water.

Last year, more than 13,300 attendees from 80 nations joined representatives from all 50 states in the host country for a star-studded affair; and it promises to be even better in 2024. If you are one of the many tackle store owners, manufacturers or other buyers making your way to Orlando for this year’s show, these simple tips can pay off big by the time you hop on your flight home.

1. Download the ICAST Smartphone ap

The ICAST app, free to download on both iPhone and Android devices, is packed with time-saving features like a show schedule, calendar organiser and floor map that can help maximise your time on the show floor. The app uses push notifications to keep attendees up to date on daily events. You can also save the details of exhibitors that you would like to visit on the show floor.

2. Go for extra credit

Show doors officially open on Wednesday morning, but ICAST rumbles to life on Tuesday with a series of outdoor events that are tailor-made for networking.

ICAST Super Tuesday takes off from Lake Toho with the ICAST Cup presented by Major League Fishing, before shifting over to the Orange County Convention Center at the ICAST On the Water Demo Day sponsored by Garmin. There, attendees can test new rods, reels, electronics, watercraft and other products from the ICAST show floor in their natural environment nearly 24 hours before trade show doors open.

Super Tuesday is capped by the New Product Showcase Preview Reception sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer. Open to buyers and editorial media only, this happy hour comes with access to hundreds of brand-new products in the famed New Product Showcase and offers attendees the opportunity to vote for winners in 41 product categories.

3. Reserve a seat at breakfast

Beginning at 7am on Wednesday, the State of the Industry Breakfast sponsored by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation gives attendees a candid insight into the goings-on behind the scenes in sportfishing. Reserve tickets in advance for this seminal event that brings together American Sportfishing Association officials alongside this year’s keynote speaker, author, world traveler and motivational speaker Seb Terry.

4. Take notes at world-class seminars

ICAST isn’t only about seeing products. A large part of the show is devoted to selling products. Complimentary for all attendees, the daily Lunch & Learn seminar series delivers university-level knowledge on topics ranging from customer recruitment and retention to social media marketing and the role that artificial intelligence could play in outdoor recreation.

Dealers can find information on the overall health of the sportfishing industry as well as insight into consumer-specific trends. This year’s highlights include uses for artificial intelligence in retail and marketing on a budget.

5. Save time for Social Hour

A full day at ICAST is typically packed with business meetings, break-out sessions and seminars, meaning that Happy Hour comes early. The show’s acclaimed social hour kicks off at 4pm on Wednesday and Thursday (noon on Friday). When the hour hand turns, the show’s energy can change immediately. Live music and pop-up beverage stations signal a change of pace that gives attendees a chance to unwind away from the conference table.

6. Consider the Brightline

2024 marks the first year that international travelers can conveniently fly to the show from either of Florida’s two largest airports thanks to a new high speed rail corridor that opened from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Orlando (MCO) in September 2023. The Brightline train travels between the two cities in just three and a half hours, opening the doors for travelers who find it more convenient to take advantage of direct flights to Miami.

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