Working a Boat Show To Your Advantage

When buying your first boat, the boat show is a great place to begin. It’s also a great place for veterans to learn what’s new, whether it’s in boats, electrical or laws changing.

In an interview with Joe O’Neal, show director for the New England Boat Show in Boston, he talked about his main goal for the show. “The goal is,” according to O’Neal, “to create a marketplace for the dealers and the manufacturers to sell all their products. And to create a marketplace for the consumer to come in and hopefully in one day or two days, view everything they need to view to make a decision. You can imagine how much time, effort and money you have to put in to go from dealership to dealership trying to figure out what you want for a boat. So, it’s really a win-win situation for the consumer and the dealer.”

The show also offers a variety of seminars such as: knot tying, navigation, qualifying for a captain’s license, radio communications, boating for women, etc.

Working the Showroom Floor Efficiently

At first glance, walking onto the showroom floor can be overwhelming. In order to get the most out of your day, you need to have a plan of action. So, what’s the best way to get the most out of a boat show?

  • Grab the exhibitor list as you enter the hall then walk around the perimeter of the show and see who’s there. Look to see which booths are busy. If a booth is empty is it because there’s no one there or is it not appealing to the visitor. Are the exhibitors all standing around talking to one another with hands in their pockets; are they eating, reading or actively engaging with potential clients? What kind of raffles are they having? Does the raffle represent the company’s product or are they just using the raffle to grab your attention? If the later, don’t expect a call from them for business.
  • Make notes next to the exhibitor’s name of which you’d like to go back and talk to.
  • Check out the schedule for the various seminars and make note of the ones you’d like to participate in. Make note of where the seminars are being held in case you need to get back there in a hurry.
  • Once you’ve circled the place, then go back and start talking to those you need/want to see, grab their information (brochures, business cards, etc), talk to others in the booth (both exhibitors and boaters) and climb on board the boats you’re interested in. Don’t forget to take notes along the way to review later when you’re home. At home, go through all the information you’ve collected and your notes. Research the boats online, call your boating buddies and/or ask questions in various forums (ex. or MassBaySailors group in Yahoo). Then go back again to the show armed with pointed questions.

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