2014 New England show to be held after school vacation

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BOSTON — The Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show will not be held during the week that many local schools are out for winter vacation week in 2014.

It will be held Feb. 22-March 3 instead of earlier in February, as it has in the past, show manager Joe O’Neal told Soundings Trade Only.

Though they often debate whether holding the nine-day show concurrently with the vacation week is a positive or negative, many dealers hold that much of the boat-buying clientele is on vacation when the kids are out of school.

Last year the New England show was held the week following vacation week, and it saw attendance of 44,051. That was only slightly more than this year’s show, where attendance was 43,389, though the first weekend was affected by snowstorms, O’Neal said.

“We do try to avoid school vacation week,” O’Neal said. “And this way Miami won’t conflict, either.”

Those who do stay in town often bring their children to the show, which can have its advantages and disadvantages, said John Huether of Cataumet Boats.

“I love having kids and families running around the show,” Huether told Trade Only on Saturday during the show. “But it does make it more difficult to talk to serious buyers because they’re more distracted.”

John McLaughlin, of 3A Marine, said sales were much better this year than last, but he didn’t know whether that was attributable to the timing of the show, the addition of the Robalo brand to his lineup or just a more confident buyer.

“At this point we’re doing better than last year,” McLaughlin said. “I think having the show at this time has its pros and its cons. If they’re going to buy a boat, they’re going to make time to come.”

Formula sales consultant Gerry Fagan had two words when he was told next year’s show dates: “That late?”

Having a show later in the cycle can be a disadvantage, Fagan said.

“What happens is production gets all choked up in a late show,” Fagan said. “You’ve got all the orders from early shows ahead of you, and you can’t get stuff until May and June. The guys in the earlier shows have the advantage.”

As with the timing debate, there was still much discussion over the length of the New England show, one of the few owned by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that has such a long run, said James Milne, of Baert Marine.

Although many dealers use terms such as “brutal,” or “a killer” to describe how grueling such a long show can be, there is resistance from dealers to shorten it, Milne said.

“When you have only one weekend of the show in a place like this and then get a storm, it makes it tough,” Milne said.

— Reagan Haynes

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