Some of the strongest dealership profits in years and the attractiveness of New Orleans as a destination have more dealers planning to attend the 2014 National Automobile Dealers Association convention than did a year ago.
"Attendance is up," said David Westcott, outgoing chairman of NADA and a North Carolina Buick-GMC dealer. "We've sold out every hotel in town."
Paid attendee registration is tracking 10 to 15 percent higher than last year's convention in Orlando, NADA officials said, with more than 21,000 expected.
Exhibition space -- more than 650,000 square feet -- is sold out, with 36 companies on a waiting list. Expo floor space is up about 5 percent from last year. Of the 550 companies exhibiting, 100 are signed up for the first time.
New Orleans is a draw, Westcott said, and the economic forecast for dealers is bright.
It could get even better. NADA usually gets a big rush of registrations the week of the convention, he said, with many dealers signing up to go at the last minute.
Westcott said: "We're expecting a huge number this year."