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Boat shows remain critical in a soft market

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Last Tuesday (Feb. 19) I reported on dealers saying some manufacturer boat show support programs had been reduced. I also commented that I believe boat shows remain critical to our overall marketing efforts and this is the time (a soft market) for manufacturers to continue, even increase, their show support for their dealers.

While the majority who wrote comments to that blog generally agreed, some voiced conviction that boat shows are no longer productive or important.

“Boat shows are dying a slow, torturous death,” commented Mike.

Well, I’d like to add a couple of more thoughts about all this.

First, I’m delighted by all points of view – they keep this blog worthwhile. Perhaps shows are no longer important to some, albeit I suspect they’re in a very small minority. But the report that was added to that blog by Captain Glen D at Route 113 Boat Sales in Ocean City, Md., says a lot about the continued importance of shows and does a nice job of illustrating the positive impact of manufacturer support. If you missed that blog please go back and review it in its entirety. Essentially, Captain Glen’s comment shares in detail how he, Russ Bennett of Triumph and a Garmin electronics promotion, combined, lit up the scoreboard for 14 contracts, 3 over last year!

Concurent with that blog were reports coming from the just-concluded Miami Boat Show, saying sales were slow. One observer, for example, commented that sales activity appeared “anemic” and lower than last year. I have no doubt that was probably true for some. My experience has been that there are always winners and some losers at every boat show whether in a good or bad economy.

But anemia isn’t my view of choice.

I prefer to focus on success and there was certainly that, too, at Miami.

Again, please go back to last Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook and check out what Pete Peterson, World Cat VP, reported: “World Cat had a fantastic Miami Show, with the best year ever in retail units. The quality buyers are out there,” he affirmed.

“There are people buying boats,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA President (NMMA produces the Miami Show.) “While sales were actually down last year by 9 percent in dollars and 15 percent in units, there are still companies and dealers that saw significant gains in sales. There are sales to be made for companies that have innovative product and a dealer base that’s aggressive,” he predicted.

Amen!

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