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YBAA agenda will zero in on the economy

Yacht brokers from around the country will gather in Baltimore in February in search of the tools they need “to weather the raging economic storm.”

The Yacht Brokers Association of America holds its annual conference Feb. 22-24 at the Conference Center of the Maritime Institute in Baltimore. YBAA again is partnering with the American Boat & Yacht Council and YachtWorld.com, along with affiliate member sponsors, to offer educational sessions, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and inspirational speakers.

YBAA says the conference provides the perfect opportunity for brokerage principals, brokers/salespersons and industry leaders to get up-to-the-minute information, insights and ideas to better manage their brokerage businesses, connect with industry leaders and increase sales. In the context of the global economic climate, the need for that kind of information is greater than ever, the association says.

“The biggest issue is the economy itself,” says YBAA executive director Joe Thompson. “That’s going to override a lot of other issues.”

Thompson says the continuing slump in marine sales makes it more important than ever for brokers to set themselves apart through professional certification. The conference will enable attendees to hone their craft and earn points toward recertification.

“The economy exacerbates the challenges yacht brokers face in being seen as professionals in the eyes of the consumer,” says Thompson. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve with certification.”

The YBAA developed the National Yacht Broker Certification Program nearly 10 years ago. The association recently broke through the milestone figure of 500 certified brokers in the United States and Canada.
Thompson says the benefits are tangible for those who achieve certification. “There are boaters now who seek out brokers with certification,” he says. “That’s one way to know these professionals are qualified.”

Each certified broker who attends the entire conference will earn 15 recertification credits. Brokers need 30 credits every three years to earn recertification.

The conference sessions will explore keys areas such as laws and regulations, technical knowledge of boats and systems, transactions management, ethics, and business practices and broker responsibilities.

The agenda includes technical sessions presented by ABYC, technology seminars presented by YachtWorld.com, the annual Manufacturers’ Perspective program, presentation of the new Paul Bennett Memorial Award and the Brokers and Principals table discussions.

In addition to the educational benefits, Thompson says the YBAA conference offers networking opportunities that can help in completing sales.

“There’s a lot of business generated broker to broker,” he explains. “Networking is important for co-brokering.”

The agenda also includes a keynote address by Sgt. Matt Eversmann, the Army Ranger depicted in the film, “Black Hawk Down.” The movie is a heroic account of a group of elite U.S. soldiers sent into Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 as part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation.

Eversmann is a friend of Steve McPherson, chairman of conference planning committee.

Thompson says the YBAA likes to bring in inspirational speakers from outside the brokerage field to give participants a broader perspective on how to improve their own businesses and achieve higher levels of professionalism.

For information, visit www.ybaa.com.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue.

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