Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Do boat shows sell boats?

by Bob Wonders on 24 Mar 2011
2009 Sanctuary Cove Boat Show Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show http://www.sanctuarycoveboatshow.com.au/
Do boat shows sell boats? I guess that’s a question many boat retailers and their customers often ask themselves.

It’s certainly a question that comes up often, particularly during boat shows.

During my recent visit to the Miami International Boat Show, I came across what I felt were some valuable comments on the matter from two men well-placed to offer an opinion on the subject.

They were Ron Hein, Executive Vice President of Michigan-based Foresight Research and Mike Mraz, recognised as a trade show strategist and educator.

Both men made some highly interesting points; Hein believes there is one answer to the question and declares it is a 'resounding yes.'

Mraz comes on even stronger; 'There’s nothing like a boat show to help sell boats,' he says.

As Ron Hein points out, ever year millions of power boaters, sailors and anglers, together with their friends and families flock to boat shows around the world.

'These people are not just out for a good time,' he says, 'their fun is mixed with a serious and generous helping of shopping to find the boat that is right for them.

'They usually mean business and that means business for boat, motor and accessory manufacturers and their dealers,' he adds.

As Hein says, manufacturers and dealers invest considerable time, effort and money into producing their boat show displays, manning their exhibits, giving demonstrations, conducting seminars and the like.

'Back at company headquarters, the skeptics may well be asking, 'Do boat shows really help sell boats?' Hein says.

'I believe boat shows remain one of the best marketing investments available.

'I’ve been researching buyer behaviour for nearly 25-years and when I was brand manager for a large automobile company, I pored over data focused on the intentions of new buyers, advertising reach and frequency, product exposure and Internet traffic.

'I discovered a problem in that each communication form had different metrics.

'So, next time around we went directly to the source, new buyers who had just completed the shopping and purchase process and we used the same scale to measure the influence of each form of communication,' he explained.



One source Hein called on was the 2010 US Boating Industry Marketing Communications Influence Study, the result of a survey of 3295 new boat buyers.

These buyers purchased their vessels over an 18-month period that ended in August, 2010.

The survey revealed some interesting numbers.

It showed that 50 percent of boat show visitors actually boarded a boat during their visit and that 60 percent of repeat buyers and 40 percent of first-time buyers made their purchase at the show.

The survey also revealed that 57 percent of all those who purchased a boat had attended at least one boat show in the 12 months leading to their acquisition of their boat.

Other survey results showed that 61 percent of boat buyers made up their mind about which boat to buy while attending a show and that an astonishing 95 percent visited the display of the brand they ultimately purchased.

Ron Hein said 14 different means of communication were measured, including three that are not necessarily marketing channels, but are influential, in prior brand experience, word of mouth recommendation and seen-on-the-water.

'Recent buyers easily recalled in great detail what they did, whom they spoke to, what websites they visited and what made a given communication channel highly influential to them,' he said.

'Here are some of those findings;

• For people who attended, boat shows had the most influence on their decision to buy a boat (57%) versus their experience at a dealership (54%) and the Internet (47%).

• Boat shows are the only marketing channel allowing prospective buyers to compare prices, brand and models side by side and to board the boats, two of the most important influences on boat buyers.

• Buyers said boat shows had the most influence during the consideration phase of the purchase process, when they often discovered brands they may not previously have known of.

• Among buyers who attended a boat show, 70 percent purchased their boat within three months of their visit.

• Nearly six on every 10 new boat buyers attended at least one boat show in the 12 months prior to their actual purchase.

• Nearly 20% of new boat buyers first met their eventual dealer at a boat show.

The independent study was funded by a group of industry organisations, led by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, Michigan Boating Industries Association, Southern California Marine Association, Boating Trades Association of Houston, Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association and Show Management, Inc.

'For those exhibitors looking for more than just a good hunch, the study offers rock solid evidence that investing in boat shows provides a powerful return on that investment,' Ron Hein added.

Comments from Mike Mraz solidly backed Ron Hein’s belief.

Mraz actually pointed out what he called ‘the true cost of not exhibiting’.

'Admittedly, exhibiting at boat shows can take a fairly big bite out of an exhibitors cash flow and the temptation to cancel the commitment and not exhibit can be strong,' he says.

'However, here are a few things to think about as you ponder your marketing budget.

'Buyers do go to boat shows and I’m living proof as I recently made a boat-buying decision as a result of meeting a representative at a boat show.

'Think about it, it’s winter, when boat shows are usually held, I’m in a centre surrounded by the toys of summer, I forget it’s cold outside and know that summer will eventually arrive.

'If you’re in the business of selling boats and related products, where else would you want to be but in the midst of hundreds of people with a passion for what you sell?

'Sure, the competition will be there, but if you had chosen to pull your marketing head into your shell, there’s no guarantee the competition will follow suit.

'If I was your competitor and found out you weren’t going to exhibit, I’d pump up the volume on my own presence.

'Face it, as far as the market is concerned, if you’re not at a boat show, you don’t exist,' Mike declared.

As he explained, a manufacturer or dealer knows what it costs to attract someone into their showroom.

'Take that cost and multiply it by the number of prospects you could meet at a boat show and you’ll have a pretty goo idea of what it will cost to replace boat show connections with showroom activity,' he said.

'Of course, the next logical step is to move those boat show connections into your place of business, right?

'Well, it’s kind of hard to meet me if you’re not even there!

'Just remember, there’s nothing like a boat show,' he said.

Of course to add balance to this discussion, the survey on the importance of boat shows, was done with boaters who visited boat shows. (you'd expect they felt boat shows were important, or they would be elsewhere.)

Of the people who made boat purchases the Internet is plainly the research tool of choice prior to a Dealership or Show visit. Dealer Principal's world-wide are finding that their sales staff have to work hard to be ahead of a very well informed potential buyer group.

As one leading Dealer commented 'In the old days, boaters came in with a vague idea of what they wanted and we were able to influence their decision making to a large degree, now they will call us, with a cut and dried specification and are shopping on price. The Internet is having a very strong effect on the market place.'

Naiad/Oracle SupplierWildwind 2016 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Predictwind now offers European high quality model for forecasting
PredictWind has added the ECMWF forecast model to their ensemble of top weather models. PredictWind has added the ECMWF forecast model to their ensemble of top weather models. The ECMWF model (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) is very highly regarded by Meteorologists and top Navigators around the world. This is the highest rated global weather model from a national weather service making it the perfect fit for PredictWind.
Posted on 11 Nov
World Sailing - GAC Pindar sign long term partnership with world body
GAC Pindar have confirmed that they have entered in to partnership with World Sailing. GAC Pindar have signed a memorandum of understanding for a long-term partnership with the international governing body and the anticipated relationship will see GAC Pindar become an Official Partner of World Sailing. The relationship will last until 31 December 2020, with GAC Pindar granted exclusivity in the marine logistics and shipping sector.
Posted on 10 Nov
Boat thieves want to steal - Five tips to stop yours from being taken
Is your boat less than 26 feet? Does it have outboard motor power and rest on trailer? Yes. You’re a target for theft Is your boat less than 26 feet? Does it have outboard motor power and rest on a trailer? If you said yes, beware – you’re a big target for theft.
Posted on 27 Oct
Hurricane Matthew's aftermath
Hurricane Matthew has morphed into what meteorologists call a 'post-tropical cyclone.' Hurricane Matthew has morphed into what meteorologists call a 'post-tropical cyclone.' As of Monday morning, Matthew was well off the Northeast USA coast and will continue to move out to sea to just off the Canadian Maritimes by the evening, the National Weather Service said. Whilst Matthew is now long gone, the countries it rolled over will be suffering for a long time to come.
Posted on 12 Oct
Boat owners - What to do after Hurricane Matthew
With Hurricane Matthew finally headed out to sea, the storm has left behind some damaged recreational boats in its wake. With Hurricane Matthew finally headed out to sea, the storm has left behind some damaged recreational boats in its wake. To help affected boat owners with the recovery effort, BoatUS has these tips to get the salvage process started quickly to protect and preserve the value of any boat harmed by the storm
Posted on 11 Oct
Eco-warriors Sea-Bin crowd sharing critical stage with nine days to go
The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised 86% of their target with 9 days left. The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised $198,020 of $230,000.00 with nine days left on their Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, but they need more help now.
Posted on 29 Dec 2015
Pay attention, YOU can make a difference to the marine environment!!
THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your destination OK, Sit up and pay attention, THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your final destination
Posted on 16 Nov 2015
Scheduled server maintenance - 23 September GMT+2 11pm onwards
Scheduled server maintenance - 23rd September GMT + 2 11pm onwards Scheduled server maintenance - sites will be unavailable for some hours between 11pm and 7am GMT + 2
Posted on 23 Aug 2015
BEP and Mastervolt transform CZone with the new Touch 10
Mastervolt, has announced the arrival of the next generation of CZone displays, the Touch 10. Mastervolt, the market leaders in off-grid power systems, has announced the arrival of the next generation of CZone displays, the Touch 10. Housed within a sleek, low-profile aluminum case, the Touch 10 allows for the seamless operation of a boat or RV’s entire CZone digital switching and Masterbus power electronics system
Posted on 12 Aug 2015
100x faster Weather Routing downloads from Predictwind
PredictWind’s easy to use weather routing tool is the best way to find the safest or fastest route PredictWind’s easy to use weather routing tool with intuitive drag and drop interface is the best way to find the safest or fastest route, and the forecasted conditions, for any passage. Weather Routing is now available across all PredictWind platforms. You can run weather routes online, on both iOS and Android apps and within the PredictWind Offshore app. Get the power of Weather Routing today
Posted on 5 Aug 2015