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10 Tips to Navigating Boat Shows

10 Tips to Navigating Boat Shows

The key motto when attending a boat show is the same one used by the Boy Scouts: Be prepared. If you are planning on attending the Gold Coast boat shows in May or any other shows throughout Australia, then these tips will ensure you and your family will enjoy your days as you take advantage of the buyers’ market.

 

1 Early start, long day

Be standing in line when the gates open so you give yourself plenty of hours without being pressed for time. As you gain knowledge throughout the day, you will be walking back and forth from stand to stand comparing brands and models and asking those same hard questions of each dealership. Use a camera to remind you of unique features that can be easily shown to competing sales staff. These photos will also assist in keeping your family members updated in case they missed something during the decision process.

 

2 Mind your shoes

With many kilometres of boats on display, you really need to wear comfortable shoes. Constant walking will make your feet expand, so soft comfortable walking shoes will ensure you avoid blisters and sores. Many dealerships will ask you to remove your shoes before boarding the vessels so your shoes need to be easily removable and quick to slip back on.

 

3 Prepare the Kids

Boats shows are a lot of fun for children but arriving unprepared could be stressful for the parent. Make sure you suggest to your family to use the bathroom before leaving for the boat show and have a big breakfast at home before you set off. Bring with you fresh fruit, juices, snacks and plenty of water. Remember to take sunscreen, a stroller (if required, as this will be handy for the long walks), sunglasses, and make sure everyone is wearing a sun hat. The weather can be fickle, so be prepared for cold weather or rains too. Have enough cash ready to avoid waiting at an ATM in case there are no credit card or EFTPOS facilities.

 

4 Family game plan

On the way to the shows, have a talk to the kids about the need to stay together and look out for one another. The adults should plan to take it in turns keeping an eye on the kids while the other looks around. If you are all going your separate ways, have a designated meeting spot and time.

 

5 Mix up family time

While dad might find the boat show very close to a heavenly experience, mum and the kids might not be so thrilled about hours and hours of boat-hunting. So alternate your time between shopping for your next boat upgrade and having some fun activities as a family—whether it is watching an on-water show, riding on a train and ferry, or simply stopping for a refreshment break. For sure, every dad wants the wife and kids to enjoy the demonstrations, lectures and sales-person chatter as much as he does; but the key is moderation and variety. A boat show can be a great place for the family to invigorate a love for boating which involves many new life experiences and first-time activities. Let your children keep an eye out for the freebies!

 

6 Prior Research

Most boat shows will have a list of exhibitors and a floor plan on the official website. Take the time to study the possibilities. Make lists of the activities (and times) of the demonstrations you would really like to see. Pinpoint the boat brands that you also want to visit. If you are serious about buying you can pre-arrange a guided tour or to discuss your enquiries with a technical expert. The boating industry offers a very wide variety of vessels in an array of lengths and styles. Knowing what you want before you arrive at a boat show will ensure you have the maximum available time for brand comparisons so that you can make an informed buying decision. Aspects to consider are your budget, frequency of use, where you will go boating, what type of boating it will be used for, and who will be on board.

 

7 Know your prices

If you are aware of the street price of the boat you want, then a boat show is your chance to get a great ‘show special’ price. Many manufacturers, dealers and brokers have senior management, key international executives and business owners at their display stands during the show. So you can negotiate directly with the decision makers who can immediately improve their offerings to ensure you buy on the day. Be sure to discuss potential rebates, extended warranties, express delivery dates, and expert training. It is advisable not to sign anything until you are absolutely sure, and do not mix alcohol and boat-buying so that you have a clear mind when make your buying decision. Remember that there are ongoing boat ownership costs such as storage, maintenance, slipping, fuel, and mooring fees—oh, and a champagne budget!

 

8 Make friends

It is always better to buy local because you will need your local dealer’s support for warranty issues, regular servicing and ongoing maintenance. Having a good relationship with your boat dealer is important, so meet the teams, and ask to speak with the service manager who will become your point of contact after you have purchased your vessel. Many dealerships have their own niche areas of expertise so make sure your boat dealer is experienced is supplying and maintaining the boat brand and model you choose.

 

9 Be ready

You should be armed with a pen and notebook, and plenty of business cards if you have them, so that you can enter the numerous dealer competitions. These days a phone can be your camera and good for taking notes, and even scanning QR codes or surfing the internet to check on price or details.

 

10 Be inspired

Finally, be prepared to be inspired! A serious boat buyer should attend as many boat shows as possible before making a decision. Your aim is to narrow down your choices to make a well-informed decision about your new boat. Boat shows are your best opportunities to make brand and model comparisons, knowing that a well-informed buyer is less likely to buy on impulse or make the wrong decision.

 

By Andy Kancachian

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