CAPTIVA, Fla. — Sea Ray brought its best customers, top dealers and select media to an end-of-the-year yacht expo in Florida during the weekend to promote and sell its new product lines, especially the new L Class line of 590s and 650s.
The new lines have sold beyond all expectations, Sea Ray vice president of marketing Matt Guilford said at a media dinner Sunday night.
“We had more than 300 consumers here over the weekend; in the last 36-hour period we’ve sold more boats than probably anywhere else in the world,” Guilford said.
Guilford said sales were across all product lines, but L Class sales were especially strong and included the sale of several L590s.
Sea Ray has held the yacht expo for 15 years, but this year’s focus was the L Class. The annual event has always been focused on sales, Guilford said, and numbers sold in Captiva are strong every year.
“If you look at the 36 hours of sales at the expo during the last five years, we average $1 million of sales per hour,” he said.
Guilford said this year there was about $40 million in sales during the 36 hours of the Friday-Saturday consumer event.
The expo started Friday and continues through Tuesday at the South Seas Resort on Captiva Island.
Consumer attendance at the expo was up 50 percent from last year, with 320 people attending; only 13 percent of the consumers who attended this year were at the event last year, Guilford said.
“We are bringing in more and more new consumers each year,” he said.
One hundred people from 34 dealerships attended, along with 20 journalists from nine publications. Sea Ray and Brunswick brought 70 people, including members of Sea Ray sales teams, designers, engineers and executives. Five hundred people are participating in the five-day event.
Sea Ray released 11 new boats in 2014, starting with releases at the Miami International Boat Show in February and continuing through the Oct. 30-Nov. 3 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The new boats were introduced across four product lines — the SPX, Sundeck, Sundancer and L Series — and range from 19 to 65 feet.
“We’ve introduced a tremendous amount of new product across a broad portfolio and we will continue to do so,” said Brad Anderson, Sea Ray senior vice president of marketing and planning. “This year we’ve introduced 10 to 12 new products. We plan on introducing 10 to 12 products next year and we would like to see the cadence of new-product introduction be 10 to 12 every year.”
The amount of new product Sea Ray has come out with each year is more than the total number of products some competitors carry, he said. The average age of the Sea Ray products is two to three years, Anderson said.
The new L Class models for North American customers are built at Sea Ray’s facility in Palm Coast, Florida. Sea Rays from 19 to 35 feet are built at the company’s facility in Knoxville, Tenn. Sea Ray boats for European and South American customers are built in Europe and Brazil.
Sea Ray product design is driven by the consumer, Guilford said. During the development of the new luxury L Class, one of the things Sea Ray looked at was defining the traits of buyers in the $1.5 million to $3 million range. The company found that the group was small, but diverse.
“We tried to identify values that united them,” Guilford said.
For all of their wealth, they are mostly grounded people, he said. They are approachable. They are driven and interested in what’s new and innovative. For them, boats provide opportunities to interact with others. They appreciate attention to detail and are loyal to Sea Ray, he said.
“This is a group of real unique characters, too, as we saw last night,” he said.
Sales at the expo were a mix and included several L Class yachts, but also sales across classes. Some people bought two models, Guilford said.
“The delivery of [the purchased] L Class is already out a year,” he said. “Saturday was a very good day.”
Members of the media had a chance to test nine boats across four Sea Ray lines at the expo. Boats available for testing were the L650; L590 Fly; 470 Sundancer; 290 Sundeck; 270 Sundeck OB; 21 SPX Sterndrive; 21 SPX OB; 19 SPX Sterndrive; and the 19 SPX OB.