Boats or video games?

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I was sitting in my dentist’s chair last Monday morning. I’m listening to the whine of his drill that reminds me of the sound of a Japanese motorcycle. He’s the kind of dentist that must think ‘if he keeps talking to me while he’s drilling, I won’t notice when he hits my tooth’s nerve’ as he inevitably does.

He’s recounting to me what a perfect weather weekend we’d just had. On Saturday he took his 12-year-old son and two neighbor kids, and headed for the boat for what he anticipated would be an afternoon of riding around, swimming and tubing on the lake.

They launched his Baja 233 at the Hi & Dry and he set things up for the kids to tube. “The tubing was great,” he said, “the boys were having a blast and we tubed for nearly an hour.”

“Then what did you do,” I asked, fully expecting him to say they cruised around the lake and anchored off a popular beach where dozens of boats are always rafted up for swimming and beachcombing. “We went home,” was his answer!

I was momentarily speechless, and not because his hand was in my mouth! I couldn’t understand. The weather was perfect for boating and they were having good time tubing; how they could head back home! But his explanation was telling and, should, at the very least, give us something to ponder as dealers.

He said, with some disappointment in his tone, “The boys just wanted to get home to play their video games.”

As an industry, we always talk about satisfying the customer whom we see as the adult buyer. But my dentist hit ‘a nerve’ with me when I realized his boating day was cut way short by 12-year-olds who preferred video games to staying on the water.

Now, I’m not advocating video games in all our new boats (I do know an innovative dealer - Chuck Armstrong, Boat Masters Marine – who installs video games in his larger cruisers at the boat show to cleverly engage the prospect’s kids,) but I am suggesting we need to consider ways to better engage this video game generation. Perhaps, we need to develop and promote more kid’s activities that will make boating appeal to them, or the sad truth is the boats may stay in the Hi & Dry. Worse, they won’t even want a boat!

And that’s the way I see it, how about you?

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