The era of the virtual boat show


Bob Denison of Denison Yachting.

The coronavirus is forcing American families to shelter in place for the foreseeable future, so some savvy dealers and show organizers are finding alternatives to traditional boat shows since gatherings were all but banned.

Denison Yachting launches A boat show from your sofa Friday, touting the Event as “a socially distanced boat show experience”.

“We are as non-essential as possible,” said Denison Yachting owner Bob Denison. Trade only today. “We’re doing our best to understand this and allow people to shop and interact online at a boat show from your couch. We want to show them that if they respect social distancing in a responsible way, they can also have fun and interact with people who love boats.

And boats are the “ultimate social distancing vehicle,” Denison said.

“One of the interesting things to see here in South Florida is that the number of people enjoying their day on a boat is through the roof,” Denison said, echoing many Floridians. (State authorities have closed the boat ramps due to some irresponsible rafting, but Denison said they are reopening the ramps and focusing instead on closing popular hangouts.)

The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will also feature insights from industry leaders like Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, and PassageMaker editor Andrew Parkinson. (PassageMaker and Trade Only Today are both owned by Active Interest Media.) Speakers will share information about the coronavirus and what it could mean for the industry, Denison said.

Some regular physical broadcasts were being diverted to an online format. The owners of Progressive Northwest Sportshow have partnered with TRMG to bring this event online as well.

“The Virtual Sportshow is intended to provide exhibitors with an alternative way to participate in the show and digitally reach Northwest Sportshows’ dedicated audience of boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts,” said the National Association of Marine Products Manufacturersthe group that owns the show.

United Yacht Sales launched its own virtual boat show and outlined steps customers could take to reach brokers in a way that didn’t compromise the lockdown.

The United Yacht Sales website has given advice to customers on how to proceed with the boat buying process, and the dealership will host a virtual boat show.

The United Yacht Sales website has given advice to customers on how to proceed with the boat buying process, and the dealership will host a virtual boat show.

“You can virtually walk the boat with the broker, ask questions and get a feel for the boat before deciding to see it in person,” the company said. says on his site. “United is no stranger to using the latest technology to help you buy or sell a boat.”

Maine-based Port Harbor Marine is putting its inventory on youtube to help customers get excited for the upcoming season, and reaches out to all of its customers to explain how they can arrange a virtual boat tour.

Denison Yachting was inspired by MarineMax for its virtual boat show, a company that has been successfully hosting online events for a few years now. But, using technology to reach customers in new ways has always been part of Denison’s DNA.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re able to adapt and pivot so quickly,” Denison said. “We have a library of about 300 walkthroughs and virtual tours that we’ve done that we can slip into this format. We’ve been training brokers for years on how to do Facebook Live. In total, there should be about 50,000 views This is not something we just put together at the last minute.

Companies that have been hesitant to build online capabilities should start now, especially given the new normal, Denison said.

“I think there’s going to be a few things like that that are a product of this moment in time,” Denison said. “I think you’ll see some manufacturers going direct. I think we will see some consolidation in the industry. I think you’ll see a much stronger focus on digital and marketing experience, even when that goes away. I think there will be things in our industry that will be changed forever.

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