Boat Show Time! It’s an excuse to ditch work a little early or bring the family down for a fun afternoon looking at all the new products and technologies, but how can you attend a boat show like a pro? Let us explain.

Boats shows are a huge deal for the industry as there is not a bigger concentration of potential customers to view your product. Insurance companies, clothing, gear, and of course boat dealers roll out the red carpet for 4 days of non stop action. If you own a boat and are looking for new gear or ideas  you will find something to enjoy at a boat show. Right after this blog is published we will be moving into the San Diego Sunroad Boat Show taking place on Harbor Island January 25th-28th, here is how you can get the most out of the show:

Rule #1. Bring shoes that you can easily take on and off and in Southern California, this means flip flops! Without exception, you will be asked to remove your shoes before boarding any of the boats at the show and if you plan to view every boat (over 100) this is going to get annoying if you’re wearing anything other than slip on shoes.

Have a Plan. Before entering a show you should scout out the exhibitors online and make a mental list of what you want to see. Do you want to concentrate on the land booths that are selling foul weather gear, anchors, life jackets, insurance, sailing tours, etc, or do you really want to see the new Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 and compare to another brand? Having a plan will help you stay focused and get the most out of the show. Some boat shows will have exhibitors that offer new boats, used boats, and clubs that offer sailing lessons. Most shows will have seminars or on the water activities so make sure you see what applies to you best.

Pack Light. Sort of in line with the golden rule of no shoes, you will want to leave the backpacks and heavy gear at home. Most exhibitors will ask that you leave the larger bags on the dock for fear of zippers and other sharp edges scratching the wood surfaces. One of the sponsors is guaranteed to give you a plastic bag with handles as you enter the show for you to collect brochures and business cards.

Arrive Early. Most boat shows will start on a Thursday and end Sunday evening and as you can imagine the crowds can become pretty massive on the weekends. If you want a more private setting with ample time to get into the details with a rep. then we recommend exploring the boat show the first or second day, you can always come back on the weekend if you need a second look or want to see more.

Keep an Eye on Kids: If you have a child under the age of 12 a life jacket is required while aboard any moving boat, although these boats are not moving it’s encouraged that you bring a life jacket for the young ones. The docks are skinny and the crowds are big so keeping a close eye on the young ones is not to be underrated. This responsibility continues when you get aboard a boat as it will move as people step on and off.

Research. Some people attend boat shows for the fun while others are there to take advantage of special deals. If you do a little homework beforehand you will be able to get into more detailed conversation with the reps. The internet is full of data, videos, opinions, etc. so you can prepare yourself for detailed conversation. Don’t be afraid to call a rep or schedule an appointment weeks before a show as sometime there will be “pre boat show” deals that are even better than the show specials. (we have one!)

Bring a Check Book. This may sound a little aggressive but it’s the honest truth. These boat shows cost the dealers thousands of dollars per boat not including the set up time, break down, marketing dollars and staffing. Some of the larger shows come with a price tag over $100K just to be there. With such a large bill, dealers will create boat show specials in order to recover some of these costs. A lot of the dealers have manufacture backed specials that absolutely expire on Sunday evening so if you’re in the market don’t be afraid to take advantage of the huge savings that are offered at these shows. Think Black Friday for boating!

These are just a few tips on how to best explore a boat show, bottom line is mark your calendar for January 25-28 and come enjoy this lifestyle with us. Harbor Sailboats and SailTime San Diego will be in the water with a new Beneteau Oceanis 31, Oceanis 38.1, Oceanis 41.1, and a Oceanis 45 along with the Beneteau power line of Wellcraft boats in conjunction with South Coast Yachts.

To learn more about the show and to get a sneak peek view of the specials contact Harbor Sailboats today!

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