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Are Boat Shows Still Relevant?

Four industry pros share their thoughts

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A collage of four boat professionals.
Four industry sales professionals give us their thoughts on the future (from Left): Courtesy Jeff Struble, Courtesy Michele Renick, Courtesy Tom Downey, Courtesy Capt. Scott Levin

Jeff Struble, South Jersey Yacht Sales, Point Pleasant, New Jersey

Jeff Struble, South Jersey Yacht Sales
Jeff Struble, South Jersey Yacht Sales Courtesy Jeff Struble

Boat shows are a vital part of the marine industry. For manufacturers, it’s a time to introduce new products to the world. For the public, it’s a chance to see what’s out there. And as a broker, it’s both a time to sell and to meet-and-greet with clients. Boat shows have been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, and attending them—in person—fueled my passion for the industry and led me to where I am today. Virtual shows are good for showcasing a product, but without a true boat show, you lose the experience that is a big part of why they exist.

Michele Renick, Michele Renick Yacht Sales, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Michele Renick, Michele Renick Yacht Sales
Michele Renick, Michele Renick Yacht Sales Courtesy Michele Renick

This past year has provided a realistic insight into the future of traditional boat shows. While virtual shows have proved to be successful and sales are at an all-time high, there really is no substitute for seeing and touching a product in-person, or even meeting potential clients and connecting with business associates face-to-face. The virtual shows do, however, provide a unique experience as an attractive option for those unable to attend in-person. With brokers who present live walk-through tours and interactive yacht presentations, potential buyers can narrow down their search ­without the crowd.

Tom Downey, Downey Yacht Sales, Riviera Beach, Florida

Tom Downey, Downey Yacht Sales
Tom Downey, Downey Yacht Sales Courtesy Tom Downey

The simple answer: absolutely! Boat shows maximize exposure for yacht owners and manufacturers by publicly showcasing their products to a captive buying audience. Modern-day boat shows are incredibly well-organized and -advertised, and represent all facets of the marine industry in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. They draw worldwide attendance with an in-person product viewing experience so comparisons can be made, ultimately making the decision to buy much easier to “seal the deal.” These events are proven sales platforms that benefit both the buyer and seller with pre- and post-selling opportunities, socially reaffirming past and present relationships, and creating new ones for the future.

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Capt. Scott Levin, HMY Yacht Sales, Stuart, Florida

Capt. Scott Levin, HMY Yacht Sales
Capt. Scott Levin, HMY Yacht Sales Courtesy Capt. Scott Levin

In today’s digital age, marketing has become more concentrated on devices and computer screens. Being able to meet with potential clients to illustrate my passion and knowledge of the industry is the No. 1 factor. Those who attend boat shows are motivated, which means an audience who has incentive to hear what I have to say, and the opportunity to educate them about products to help them understand more about what they’re trying to achieve. Networking with others in the industry, learning and seeing new products, and putting a face to the names help strengthen those relationships.

This article originally appeared in the December 2021 print issue of Marlin.

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