Fall Show Season Begins this Week

The 2008 round of major fall in-water boat shows gets underway at the Michigan City (IN) In-Water Boat Show this Thursday and winds up in early December at the new St. Petersburg (FL) Boat Show and Strictly Sail. In between, the industry will be watching for any results that indicate our sales decline has bottomed out and increases are finally a real prospect.

If you’re slated to exhibit in one of these fall shows, you will be in the right place at the right time! But, please don’t read that statement as meaning I’m ignoring comments some of you have recently made in this blog that boat shows aren’t delivering the results they did in the past.

The facts are, with rare exception, attendance and sales have declined at our industry’s boat shows. But, to have it otherwise makes little sense. Could we expect our boat shows to increase while overall sales for our industry were in acute decline? No, like it or not, our boat shows cannot create a market that doesn’t exist. Rather, shows only reflect the market that does exist. The real core value of our boat shows has always been that they will draw the active market, whatever its current level.

That’s certain to hold true again as we head into this fall’s show season. When it comes to sales prospects, the current “herd” may be thinned but there is still a lot of “beef” out there. And, as has always been true in the past, our boat shows will corral that “beef” in one location where area dealers can get a shot at them. That isn’t something a dealer can unilaterally duplicate back in the showroom. Moreover, if there is momentum for a sales increase it will be manifested at these shows.

It’s also important to recognize that the buying cycle is getting longer. Gone, at least for now, are the days when prospects come into a boat show and buy on impulse. The time between thinking and buying has significantly widened. Prospects do more research and comparison than ever before. And, because there is a longer time from looking to buying, many sales experts say this extended time causes most sales to be lost because the salesperson quits too soon. Keeping contact with prospects, including the likelihood that they will turn up at the boat show, can be key. In today’s climate, it’s critical that the sales team maintain contact in the context of “we’re always here for you whenever you’re ready.” Of course, if you’re not there, likely someone else will establish contact with your prospects.

Like them or not, attendance up or down, sales strong or soft, our boat shows still remain the single most effective promotional vehicle, with the most impact on the sales, available to us in this industry. If there is a fall show in your area and you’re not, yet, committed to exhibiting in it, I urge you to seriously consider it. In a down market, any expenditure to be in the middle of the active prospects will always be well worth it.


‘A Phenomenal Success’

The Southampton International Boat Show had more than 88,000 visitors during its 10-day run, after last year’s cancellation.

TopSide Marinas Makes First Two Acquisitions

Founded in January 2020, the firm has thus far acquired Beavers Bend Marina in Oklahoma and Galveston Yacht Basin in Texas.

Two Boosts for Boating and Fishing

MBIA’s Metro Boat show show draws a crowd, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expands boating and fishing opportunities.

Norwalk Boat Show Held This Weekend

The NMMA show runs through Sunday at Norwalk Cove Marina in Norwalk, Conn.

Raritan Expands Team

Patrick McNeel joins the New Jersey-based manufacturer as a marine equipment product developer.

Industry Mourns Walter “Bing” Burns O’Meara

The longtime publisher of Lakeland Boating magazine has died at 81.

NMMA Announces Hall of Fame Inductees

Regulator Marine’s Joan Maxwell and Bill Watters of Syntec Industries will be honored at IBEX.

Brunswick Acquires SemahTronix

The supplier of wiring harnesses and other electrical assemblies will be part of Brunswick’s growing Advanced Systems Group.