A little planning goes a long way.
Looking at a new windlass? Considering a stabilizer system? The boat show is the best place to do your first round of shopping and research. But the show is so big, you need to have a strategy.
“Know what categories you want to research and possibly shop for,” says Eric Braitmayer, director of marketing for IMTRA. “Do some homework ahead of time and figure out what the key companies are at play in those markets. And then try to set aside some time before you start walking around with the book, find out where they all are, and create a plan.”
Braitmayer’s advice is well taken, but where to begin? “At a big spread-out show like Ft. Lauderdale, the customers miss stuff because they just start walking,” says Braitmayer. “Take shopping for a bow thruster for example, something we do. Try to figure out what the key brands are in that market. Where are they going to be? And then actually map out a plan on how you’re going to work the show. So you don’t have to retrace your steps and you don’t miss something.”
And there’s one thing to remember at the show: Real buyers stand out. If you’re serious about making a purchase, say so. “If you’re talking big-ticket stuff, it’s not impossible to make appointments ahead of time,” Braitmayer says. “Sometimes the timing is hard to get exactly right. But if you know the companies before you get to the show, reach out to them and say ‘I’m coming to the show, is there a time that I could carve out so you could be available for me.’” And don’t be too late for your meeting—your new bow thruster is waiting.