Annapolis show keynote urges industry: ‘Sell the fun’

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1008annapolisSail America held its general members meeting this morning at a new location, the Marriott Hotel, during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md.

With about 100 in attendance, executive director Jonathan Banks expressed confidence that the boat show will serve as the beginning of a stronger U.S sailboat industry and marine industry as a whole.

“Attendance is strong at the show. People are more serious about buying and exhibitors are reporting it is a qualified audience,” Banks says.

The focus of the meeting, however, was a presentation by keynote speaker Neil Schwartz, director of business development for the research division of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.

Schwartz had a simple message for the industry: “Don’t sell just boats. Sell the fun and sizzle” – and capitalize on ways to get people onto the water.

“Get butts in boats and make it fun,” he said. “If it’s not fun, it’s work and nobody wants to work.”

Schwartz said research clearly indicates that the more often people sail, the less likely they are to leave the sport. “Eight is the magic number,” he said. “People who sail more than eight times a year have a much higher likelihood to stay in the sport.”

On the business side, Schwartz cited a study conducted with 29 respondents from across the industry.

Seventy-four percent were optimistic about the future, he said. Although respondents see a brighter future, 70 percent think the industry is in a weak state.

His advice to the industry: Expand successful programs and increase access to the water.

– Dieter Loibner


3 comments on “Annapolis show keynote urges industry: ‘Sell the fun’

  1. Arch

    I’m trying my best to NOT be cynical here, believe me.  Seriously though.  SELL THE FUN?  That has been the #1 priority for decades.  Sell the sizzle?  Ohh, we’ve never heard of that one before either.  Real original ideas there.
    Geez.  Oh well, so much for NOT being cynical.  Sorry, but when I see stuff like this, it makes me realize how much people are overthinking the problem and full of nonsense so many in our industry are.

  2. Allaboard

    That is a “fun”ny article.  The spirit of the article is good, but come on.  There weren’t any better recomendations other than sell a fun lifestyle to help generate more sales?  How about programs, incentives, profit sharing, inventory awards…People will start to buy more toys when they can afford it.  Right now most families and people don’t have the money for a toy like a boat or sail boat.  In time they will because its fun to boat.

  3. Tory Salvia

    We were at the general meeting breakfast in Annapolis and we are ready to do our part by presenting the “fun,” plus the excitement, adventure and history of sailing to millions of U.S. Public TV viewers through our series, “Adventures in Sailing,” which we co-produce with WPBT2, Miami.
    Here is a chance for the sailing industry to step up to the plate. The series is scheduled for national distribution starting in March 2011,  depending on sponsors. Currently, there is no other sailing series on Public TV, which reaches an audience that’s a perfect match for our demographic: mature, affluent, highly educated, outdoor oriented.
    Keynote speaker Neil Schwartz made another important point. He called it the “Leaky Bucket” syndrome. In effect, sailing is losing almost as many individuals as it is gaining. To build the sport, it’s actually more efficient to keep current “dedicated” sailors involved (those 8 plus sails per year individuals) and convert sometime sailors (less than 8 sails per year) to the dedicated group.
    Conservatively, this series has the potential to reach millions of U.S. Public TV households–the very demographic from which sailing draws most of its participants. We believe our series can inspire current sailors to keep active and entice newbies to get out on the water. If at least one of our sponsors is Sail America, the American Sailing Association, or U.S. Sailing, then it can direct Public TV viewers to appropriate sailing venues from coast to coast.
    We know our TV series isn’t the only answer to the leaky bucket, but we believe it can help plug a lot of holes.
    You can watch all ten half-hour episodes of AIS Season One, free, online at Many Public TV stations that broadcast the series will also stream it from their station websites, greatly expanding viewer potential.
    If your company, association, or foundation is interested in underwriting this PBS series, please contact Melanie Ink Broeker, Director of Corporate Underwriting for PBS affiliate WPBT2 at (305-424-4018). Your sponsorship may be tax deductible. You may also contact the series at 301-358-5262, Email

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