As record crowds converged on the Fort. The Myers Boat Show last weekend’s success confirmed two observations that virtually every other fall show has also confirmed: first, boaters want shows and they will show up; and second, even with inventory shortages, dealers can find a way to put up good boat displays.
Flight. The Myers Show took place in the downtown Historic River District with boat exhibits spanning nearly half a mile on land and in the water, as well as inside the new Waterfront Caloosa Sound convention center filled with prop displays. Notably, attendance was up 52% from last year, a tremendous comeback from the 2020 show that weathered Covid and Hurricane Iota in the Gulf of Mexico that caused the show to shut down during the one of its four days while negatively impacting the remaining days.
“Our 2020 show was tough for us last year,” said John Good, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Southwest Florida. “Nonetheless, our dealers have reported good sales. This year we have a new convention center and an expanded outdoor footprint. Our dealers have done a really good job getting boats and also having good shows. ”
As a result, if this show is better compared to that of 2019, this year’s record attendance has seen a 19% increase. But despite good attendance and reports on exhibitor sales, this show also did what the boating industry now needs to do – pull out all the stops to engage and maintain the record number of new boaters sold during the pandemic. .
And I can attest that these new boaters were at the show. I had the opportunity to host the MIASWF exhibition in addition to giving a seminar on “the basics of boating” several times during the event. The theme of the exhibition and that of my presentation was “Know Before You Go”, with appropriate materials produced by MIASWF intended primarily for new boaters.
When I asked who was new to boating, I was amazed at the hands that went up. Many also stopped by the exhibit and said they were new and wanted to learn more. My point: they were at the boat show to find out more.
With the Fort. Myers presents the latest of the majors on the so-called Fall Show Circuit which began in Michigan in September, all eyes in the industry should now be on the critical upcoming winter shows and recognize the success of the fall shows. In short, if you stage it, they will come!
The winter show circuit is the ideal way to meet many prospects and customers and maintain the dynamic of boating. The Covid pandemic was an unexpected bonus, a real gift for the industry. But there should be no doubt that the gift has been unwrapped, opened and consumed. The box is empty and it is time to recognize that our industry must now get back into the fight for a fair share of recreation spending or be beaten by the competition.
It’s reconfirmed from our boat shows and boaters have started to come back this year, the basics haven’t really changed. The most cost effective way for dealers to interact with a large audience of prospects and customers who want this tactile experience are still our industry boat shows.
Plus, as dealers and builders continue to face inventory challenges, seeing the Ft. Myers’ exposure firsthand confirmed to me that every dealer can assemble a solid exhibit. For example, a large dealer shared that he told customers of certain models that while their boat arrived, it would be held up for the show and delivered immediately afterwards. No customer objected.
Another dealer indicated that he had “borrowed” two models for the show from another dealer in Miami. Yet another said that he and his maker had made a plan well in advance for some models scheduled for the show.
The point is, dealers who recognize the value and impact of upcoming winter boat shows will find ways around inventory issues and will continue to positively impact, sell products and fill that funnel with. critical leads for the sales team. I just witnessed it in Fort. Myers.