CAPTIVA, Fla. — Sea Ray and Boston Whaler held their annual Yacht Expo during the weekend in conjunction with a media event in Florida, bringing their 32-foot and larger boats for customers and reporters to test.
The event with owners is designed not only to sell new boats, but it also allows communication between the owners and the companies. Sea Ray and Boston Whaler bring engineers and lead design teams to answer questions; the flip side is that they hear from owners who have been using current boats and get feedback.
“Every time somebody retells a story, something’s lost or slightly changed,” said Dexter Howe, who serves as a liaison between Sea Ray customer service and the company’s Palm Coast, Fla., facility. “That’s the best thing we do on these events. We do our best to think of every possible scenario, but the end user is going to find something we never thought of.”
“It’s kind of a family atmosphere,” Howe said.
“It’s nice to have all our large products here at once for them to see,” said Tony King, a technical service rep in parts in accessories at Sea Ray.
Mike Crucil, who owns a 510 Fly with his wife, Lisa, is eying the 550 Fly, but his wife prefers the 510 Signature.
“What I love about this is I’m dipping my feet in the water for the next step,” Crucil said Saturday night. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I know it’s going to be a Sea Ray. I love Sea Ray because of the people, the commitment and the product.”
The owners also get the opportunity to connect with other enthusiasts.
“These owners, when they get together, I don’t think you can have more fun than they have on an event,” said Sea Ray vice president Ron Berman. “Between the Yacht Expo and the media event, I don’t think we could’ve asked for better weather, better attendance, and we’re very satisfied with the results.”
The intermingling of Whaler owners and Sea Rays also is a draw, Howe said. A few years ago Whaler joined the event — which has been going on for 15 to 20 years — after the company started to build larger boats, said Jeff Vaughn, vice president of sales, marketing and customer service at Boston Whaler.
There were about 400 people at the event — staff, dealers and guests, Berman said. About 250 were customers.
“When you go on a Sea Ray getaway and hang out with owners, they love to hang out and have a good time,” Berman said. “They’re people that have really figured out how to work hard during the week but enjoy their downtime. They’ve figured it out.”