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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Boat Show Blues by Jay Coyle

Boat show
Boat Show Blues

Buyer discrimination: it's rampant at boat shows.

Jay Coyle's recent article, Boat Show Blues, Yachting 3/13, hit home on a number of issues surrounding the boat show scene.  Let me preface this by saying that trade shows are not easy; long days, adverse weather, and an incessant stream of tiring faces and conversations can make for some grueling times at trade shows.  While we, the attending public, are having a grand old time, we can sometimes forget that the people we interact with at these shows are there trying to make a living.

That said, I have often found myself conversing with a representative not about the latest and greatest features of this particular boat model, but about the representative's lost weekend time or less-than-ideal hotel arrangements at the show.  One wealthy Hampton-ite on a $1.4 million dollar Marquis at the 2012 Norwalk Boat Show spent half the time grumbling in the corner of the salon about the amount of golf he could have played if he had stayed home.  Hi, I'm Peter - aren't you here to sell a boat?

Another issue that I imagine is more prevalent than most would assume is the misjudgment that descends upon some otherwise qualified yacht buyers.  Jay writes, "Lots of enthusiasts wandered about, but were they superyachters?...Given the average boater's deceptive plumage (fake timepieces, eyewear and leather goods), identification without a bank statement is difficult."

How about, you've traveled all the way here to show off your wares...show them to whomever is interested??  As Jay agrees from his writings further on, some of the wealthiest people I've ever met look like they just came off the inner-city commuter bus.  Can boat representatives really afford to judge attendees by their clothing, or hinge their sales figures on preset appointments, especially in this economy? I would assume not!

Jay writes about his "pal who gets it," where "everyone is welcome aboard his yachts."  That's how it should be.  Even if the guy wearing tube socks and sandals doesn't look like he can afford it, you never know...and one day when he can afford it, he just might remember which representatives were friendly, and which ones weren't.

In the meantime, if you're heading to the shows and you don't want to be turned away despite your ticket price, be sure not only to dress the part, but also to make an appointment.  And just like any other industry, take note of the salespeople who treat everyone correctly.  That's the person you want to call back when you finally sell your business and you're ready to take off into the sunset.
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