Boat Shows are increasing in size exponentially- in 2013, Palm Beach increase its land display area 22% and its boat display in water by 33%! If you don’t know how to walk a show, you won’t survive the crowds and excitement a 200’ Mega Yacht can generate. Here are some tips in making the most of your day without pushing anyone over the edge…
- First and foremost, find out the shows hours and locations. Going to a show right when it opens is typically the least crowded time. As the day progresses and more people begin stirring, you will see a lot more congestion and have a much harder time getting face time with any brokers/dealers or reps. Also, by going early, you avoid long entrance lines and have a better shot at choice parking, as it is usually limited to begin with.
- Find out who the guest speakers are and what the most advertised events are. At the Miami International Boat Show in 2013, the guest speaker and wildly advertised big event was Bear Grylls. However, he spoke at 10 am, right when the show opened on the very first day. You had to be in line, waiting to get in so that you could even have a chance to see him. Often times the larger shows will host other boating and marine celebrities. For example, Guy Harvey or Carey Chen may be doing autographs and pictures at specified times. You may have marine legends and stars who speak on behalf of their shows or charities. Also, usually the shows manager will point out a few of the must see items, and progress/history of the show itself.
- BRING CASH! Almost every boat show I have gone to has required you to pay for everything in cash. You can use the ATM’s they install but you’ll pay at least $5 in fees per transaction. If you don’t have cash, you won’t get in, nor will you eat or drink. You can usually save a few dollars by buying your ticket online before the show also so make sure to check into that.
- Bring food and drinks with you. Most shows allow you to bring in outside bags. Food at the shows is expensive. You will easily spend $4 for a water and $10 or more for a measly portion of cafeteria quality food (I should note that not ALL show food is bad. Just all show food I’ve had!). Bring in some sandwiches or chips and a couple of drinks. This way you can stay hydrated and save a few bucks. You’re going to need every penny for that new boat anyway!
- Try to go to the show during weekdays. Most shows are at least 3 days so go on Friday. The weekends are when EVERYONE goes. That means docks are crowded, you can’t get on boats, lines are long, and there are typically people that are just looking around and aren’t seriously considering buying a boat. If you want to be able to talk to vendors or brokers, you need to be there as early in the show as possible. Usually the first day in a show is considered the industry day. It can be more expensive depending on which show you go to, and is typically less crowded. It’s a good day to talk to people if it’s information you seek. Plus, if you are going to the show to purchase a boat, by getting their early you have a better chance your dream boat doesn’t sell before you buy it!
- If you are seriously buying a boat, know which brokers you want to talk to. Who is local? Who has what inventory? What kind of boat are you getting? When do you want it by? Where do you need it shipped to? If it’s used, make sure to know its history. Was it used in fresh or salt water? Has it ever been in an accident? Did it get swamped in Hurricane Sandy? Is there an environmental lien on it? Run a history report (a good one is www.boathistoryreport.com) on their inventory beforehand or bring a smart phone/iPad with you to run it there (might be best to buy an account with the history site first so you don’t have to hassle with it while trying to hold a brokers attention). It would be a terrible shame to waste your day looking at a boat only to find out at the end of the day that it’s been salvaged.
- Once you get down to the marinas and boats in the water, it is a maze of floating docks and walkways. You could easily get lost and look at the same row of boats over and over as the crowds start growing, you’re eyes start blurring at the wealth and your head grows dreary from the rocking docks. By knowing what is there and where yachts of interest are located, you have a better chance of actually finding them. Everyone is going to go see the biggest yachts so you know those walk ways are going to be crowded. Hit them right away. This will be your best chance of getting that awesome photo or asking all the usual questions- How much to charter it? What is it selling for? Who is the owner? Does it come with a diamond ring?!
- Many shows run contests that aren’t overly advertised. The Miami show for example gave away all sorts of gift cards, hotel stays, food certificates and boating excursions. They were all listed online under a small section called “Contests.” The odds of you winning at least something are high because no one knows about them!
- Lastly, HAVE FUN! Go in with a positive attitude. Look around. Talk to people. Watch people. Enjoy the weather and the water. Be appreciative of the fact that you even live in or close to a city that offers a boat show. ENJOY IT!!