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January 15, 2020 3 min read

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Beginner’s Guide to Your Local Boat Show

Boat shows are big, busy, and loud. It’s pure chaos/excitement. Some of you might live for that environment. Some of you might find a corner to curl up into the fetal position. Either way, there are some universal tips and tricks that will help everyone get the most out of their experience at the boat show.

Not all boat shows are the same. Some are more focused on selling boats and revealing the latest models while other shows take a balanced approach that gives boat manufacturers, engine builders, gear hawkers (hey, that’s us!), and lifestyle brands equal visibility.

Every boater has different tastes, needs, and wants. So we’re not here to tell you how to enjoy the boat show. We’re here to help you avoid some of the mistakes that first-time boat show attendees make.

Come with a plan

We get it. Once you set sight on all the pretty things, you just start throwing money at them. But if you’re aimlessly wandering and window shopping, you probably won’t see everything and you might end up with buyer’s remorse. We’ve all met that salesperson who can sell an ice cube to the human torch, so know what you need or don’t need ahead of time.

Know where you’re going

Some boat shows are MASSIVE. And the labyrinth of pathways, booths, and people isn’t always easy to navigate. Take a look at the show’s exhibitor list and map (or app if they’re fancy) so you know what’s where. Some activities and events like live music or contests will draw more people to certain areas at specific times, so be aware of those if you’re trying to avoid bigger crowds.

Set a budget

Brace yourself, deals are coming! Everything seems to be marked down, discounted, or “specially priced” at boat shows. Data shows that marine dealerships account for around 50% of their annual sales at boat shows. Ultimately, every exhibitor is fighting for the finite amount of money that you’re willing to spend. Decide what that number is before walking into the hall so you can still afford gas when the season rolls around.

Kick the...rudders?

Depending on the boat show, you’ll have the chance to take boats for a test cruise so you can get a better idea of how it performs on the water. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin, so why not do the same with a boat? Check the boat manufacturers’ schedules (if available) or contact the local dealer ahead of time to see when you can get into the captain’s chair.

Talk to people

This might sound like an odd “tip” but it’s 2020 and face-to-face human interaction is on the verge of extinction. Don’t be afraid to pop into a booth, talk to the folks working there, ask questions, or just shoot the breeze. Even if you’re just curious about what they make/sell, they’ll appreciate that you took the time to stop by. Who knows? You might stumble onto something you didn’t know you needed. Or maybe you’ll find yourself chatting up some MISSION team members, who may or may not be pretty rad cats.

Whether you walk out of the hall with a new set of keys or just a free drink koozie, boat shows are all about having fun and discovering the coolest new trends in boating. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it but, hopefully, these tips help you get the most out of your experience.

See you at the show!


1 Response

Mckinley Gomillion
Mckinley Gomillion

February 12, 2020

My first boat show was at Javits Center in NY and it was crowed. Everything in your article is absolutely correct. There was only one thing my wife and I found not cool. There was hardly no where to sit, so that being said; if they can add more area’s to sit, that would make it almost perfect.

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