One city, two shows, lots of excitement

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The Miami Yacht Show this year moved to a new home at One Herald Plaza.

The Miami Yacht Show this year moved to a new home at One Herald Plaza.

For one boat show it was more growth; for another, a difficult wholesale relocation. For the host city, however, the two were a killer combination.

This year’s Miami International Boat Show and the new Miami Yacht Show both closed their five-day run on Monday with reports of success. MIBS, now in its fourth year on Virginia Key, continues to grow, with enhancements that make it a world-class event with visitors from 35 countries.

The Miami Yacht Show completed its relocation from Collins Avenue on Miami Beach, where it had been held for three decades as a combined brokerage and new-boat show, to One Herald Plaza, just north of downtown Miami. Despite the complexity of essentially creating a totally new in-water event involving hundreds of boats, MYS racked up a successful start in its new home, according to observers who anticipate the moving pains will pass and next year will see adjustments.

For MIBS, it was another year of exhibit growth, big crowds and impressive improvements. Under manager Larry Berryman’s leadership, the show had an enhanced grand, central courtyard; new show operations and exhibitor service centers; more amenities and conveniences for exhibitors and visitors, such as new lavatories; more air conditioned areas; expanded docks; heightened water and land transportation systems; and more food service options, among other changes.

Another improvement that drew rave reviews was the show’s sailing section. Last year, sailing show manager Kevin Murphy moved the entire fleet from Miami’s Bayside location to join the rest of the industry on Virginia Key. This year, more sailboats took up in-water space on Pier 9, as well as taking up some connected spaces on Pier 8 for the first time.

“The sailing industry looks to add even more sailboats in 2020,” Murphy said. “Pier 9 was buzzing with boat buyers, and sail exhibitors were boasting of boats sold. The changes we’ve made for sailing this year have really proved to be successful.”

Aside from more dock space, all exhibits of sailing equipment and related products were together in Tent A leading out to the sail docks. In addition, a top-rate series of seminars and clinics were located in an adjacent area that made sailing’s footprint much larger, more comprehensive and staged in a more exciting way.

For the seventh year, I had the opportunity to man the Discover Boating Center at MIBS. I got to talk to and provide a variety of DB guides and materials to many prospective boating families. And based on the number of people who stopped for our information, industry predictions that we’ll continue to stay on a roll in 2019 look solid.

That said, something happened that I didn’t anticipate, and it focused attention on something dealers may be failing to do when a new boating family drives off with their first boat.

I met a number of families that had recently purchased or were taking delivery of their first boat. It wasn’t surprising that they didn’t want our usual Discover Boating guides, which deal with how to select a boat, finance it, where to use it and more. No, they were asking how and where they can learn about handling and operating a new boat. They wanted recommendations on formal education and learning to use their boat.

Having such unexpected conversations leads me to speculate that dealers may be failing to take the necessary time to make certain that customers, especially first-timers, are being properly introduced to the operation of their new purchase.

Sure, a salesperson can show the buyer which switch does what, but introductions such as these end without considering practical on-water training. Is it worth the time to examine what your dealership offers first-timer buyers in terms of a delivery program? Does it include hands-on time with the customer, and will that increase the chance that the customer will confidently remain in boating and, perhaps, upgrade in the future? It’s worth some thought.

JL Marine honored

I have to give a Dealer Outlook shout-out to JL Marine Systems on receiving the U.S. Senate’s Small Business of the Week Award. The Tampa, Fla., firm manufactures the Power-Pole anchoring system, which is very popular with shallow-water anglers.

In presenting the award, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, also recognized JL Marine for its actions in support of hurricane-relief efforts; its backing of community sports leagues for youth; and JL’s sponsorship of local fundraising events.

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