A big-boat migration to Collins Avenue

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Move to brokerage show by some is called a 'natural sorting out' that benefits both builder and buyer

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Tough economic times are no reason to stand pat. During the Miami International Boat Show, several manufacturers showcased products for the first time at the neighboring Yacht & Brokerage Show on Collins Avenue.

They made the move for different reasons, but Grand Banks Yachts, Nordhavn, the Egg Harbor Group, Maritimo USA, Sunreef Yachts and Stidd Systems were all first-time exhibitors at the brokerage show.

"We feel like we made the right decision," says David Hensel, director of brand and marketing for Grand Banks Yachts. "We had been exploring the move for the last several years. This year we closed on a 46SX at the show and came away with several quality leads."

Hensel says the driving force behind the move was to capitalize on the synergy created with its two new Southeast dealers - Galati Yacht Sales and HMY Yacht Sales. The three companies' exhibits were side-by-side and linked by dockage.

Grand Banks displayed three boats, one from each of its lines - Heritage, Eastbay and Aleutian. The builder also had a 52-foot brokerage boat at Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center with signage and cards that directed potential buyers to the brokerage show. E-mails and direct mail prior to the show also tipped off owners to the move.

Nordhavn also made the move to Collins Avenue while maintaining a presence at Sea Isle. The builder had exhibited exclusively at the marina for the last 12 years. Jennifer McCauley Stern, director of marketing, says the shift made sense as the passagemaker builder moves further into the large-yacht market. The builder displayed its N62 and new 75-foot Expedition Yachtfisher. A Nordhavn 47 was on display at Sea Isle.

Although Stern says foot traffic was disappointing, she was pleased with the change in venue. "Despite the negative forces the shows faced this year - the economy, the weather - I think overall we were pleased with the results," Stern says. "We were especially pleased with the quality of attendees. In fact, we are working on closing at least one brokerage deal as a result of our presence at that show."

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Dave Northrop, president of Maritimo USA, the Seattle office for the Australian motoryacht builder, says the rules that the membership-driven NMMA-         produced show must adhere to, which give senior exhibitors the best exhibit spots, made Sea Isle the wrong fit for his company.

"NMMA is forced to be rules-oriented rather than results-oriented, which does not produce the best outcome for the yacht buyers' needs," says Northrop, a member of the NMMA's boat show committee. "After three years at Sea Isle, Maritimo moved to Collins Avenue this year, and although attendance was down slightly, our display was dramatically improved, and we experienced the highest sales in our history at the Miami boat show."

The company does not reveal sales figures, but Northrop says it "sold several boats" at the show.

Efrem Zimbalist III, chairman and chief executive of Active Interest Media, which owns Show Management, says there is a "natural migration" going on between the Miami shows. "I would point out that exhibitors flow both ways," he says. "Brokerage boats and larger new boats are migrating toward Collins Avenue, whereas smaller new boats and the whole accessories market are concentrating at the NMMA show. "I think this natural sorting out benefits the boat buyer, whom we are all here to serve." He notes that the two shows cooperate and that "both are dedicated to making our shows work seamlessly together."

Viking Yachts was at the brokerage show for the third year "after a millennium at the Sealine [Sea Isle] marina," according to Peter Frederiksen, director of communications.

"There are many advantages and perhaps a few disadvantages on Collins Avenue, but overall, it is the place to be for a builder like Viking," he says.

The Viking display was one of the largest at the brokerage show, and the company also had a few slips at the Miami Beach Marina, where it berths boats that can be sea-trialed during the show. Frederiksen says it's easier to conduct sea trials from that location.

There is no admission charge for the Yacht & Brokerage Show, so there's plenty of foot traffic. "The downside is that being a totally free show, people walk in off the street, [though] often just to browse," Frederiksen says.

Viking reports 2,837 people signed in at its exhibit on Collins Avenue, down about 11 percent from last year, but weather was a factor. "Through it all, we moved three boats at the show, and we are following this up with two more deals getting close to fruition," Frederiksen says.

Sunreef Yachts, the family-owned Polish power and sailing catamaran builder, moved from its usual spot at the Strictly Sail show to Collins Avenue for the U.S. debut of its 70 Sunreef power cat. "From a sales point of view, we met a totally different clientele than at Strictly Sail," says media and public relations executive Ewa Stachurska. "And we had a good flow of yacht and charter brokers all looking to see our first power unit."

By the numbers

The Yacht & Brokerage Show does not charge admission, so organizers look to concession sales as an indicator.

  • Concession revenue was down about 11 percent, which organizers had budgeted for. They pointed to the impact of airport closures in the Northeast and cold weather in the Southeast.
  • There were 151 exhibitors this year, down from 155 in 2009.
  • The number of boats was down about 10 percent, with new boats down slightly more than brokerage boats.
  • The average size of brokerage boats increased; 76 yachts were larger than 100 feet, compared to 68 last year.
  • The middle market - 40 to 70 feet - seemed to outperform the superyacht market.

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue.

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