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Is the new boat show online?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by YachtForums, Oct 28, 2019.

  1. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Email blast from MarineMax:

    "Fort Lauderdale is where many of our brands debut new models and we do an excellent job connecting with customers that attend the show. Now we decided to push the envelope further," stated Abbey Heimensen, MarineMax Director of Marketing. "This year, we plan to host an Online Boat Show in conjunction with the physical show so everyone can see these debuts. Our team has been hard at work designing an online event for those who would like to attend the show from the comfort of their own home."


    They're a little late to the party, but a welcome guest. I think they'll find the metrics support a digital boat show. Logistics, cost and a diminishing ROI for vendors, compared to spreading those resources digitally, well...

    .... I think the new boat show is online.

    What do you think?
  2. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    I watched most of the Cannes Boatshow online. Did I miss the crowds, traffic. parking and prices?

    Err...have a guess?
  3. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    No, and I'll clarify.

    I believe tire kicking, looking at boats in general, advance looking, window shopping, narrowing down interests, and pre-shopping are done well online. You don't have to go to physically see all the boats.

    However, I think the Boat Show still has it's place. First, it's important for those in the industry to interface with others. Second, it's a tremendous resource for the serious shopper, even the one not buying yet. It's for in-depth looking. You can't walk a boat and get a feel online.

    I think what Marine Max is doing is wise and that is using the two to complement each other. It's not unlike what we're finding in retail. Online sales are not killing our brick and mortar stores, but they're supplementing it. People can look and decide what they want to come see closer or try on. Or they can order another color of the item they bought last week. We show our store inventories online, allow ordering there, then handle those orders with store personnel who also contact the customer acknowledging the order and updating the status. We also have customers call and ask for ideas and a salesperson who knows them can suggest, look at item 12345. Looking at one product, women's apparel. Over 20% of it is now being sold online. Return rates are 30-50% with some higher. Then there's a substantial percentage of customers disappointed (normally with fit) who don't return but don't rebuy. You can't be profitable with those return rates. Also, if you buy from those trying you will be getting previously worn items much of the time. You can't do fit online even as much as many have tried.

    I think online is excellent for preliminary looking and shopping and that's it's limit. You might say fit isn't relevant to this discussion but it absolutely is, determining how it feels when you step on it and into it.

    Brokers perhaps could do fine having their own shows online and offline. However, that would be a dangerous move. You miss those not initially knowledgeable about you and you lose the value of presence. Not being seen has a cost. Not having a nice representative inventory at a show is even seen as a reflection on the health of the broker or dealer. Builders need FLIB's and there is no end of that in sight.

    So, I agree that online is the place for preliminary looking and shopping for many. It can eliminate the need to go to many builders and many shows before you even have an idea. It can lead to a better prepared and more knowledgeable shopper at the show or in the showroom. This can also work both ways and I'd say any broker or builder without computers set up with their web sites, with all available models, at the show is failing to use the available technology.

    Oh, and crowds for shows will decrease due to online, but buyers and serious shopper will still come. It's those just out to look around who won't be there.
  4. sgawiser

    sgawiser New Member

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    We have learned a great deal at boat shows even when looking at boats that were not at the top of our list. Sometimes a boat that can't meet our needs has features that we had not thought about and end up on our must have lists.

    And that educational process helps to focus us when we are purchasing a new vessel. At least for us old folks, looking online while very helpful, cannot replace siting on a helm seat and checking the real visibility among other things.

    So I would agree that both have a role to play.
  5. Maxwell

    Maxwell Senior Member

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    Completely agree with Olderboater with online being a great avenue for preliminary looking etc. When we first started getting into a little bit larger boats (for us), I had scoured the web for as much information about the boats we had narrowed our search down to. This however didn't give us a completely clear picture as most of the available content (excluding YF) consisted of basically paid advertisements in magazines, online reviews etc where the writer would be hesitant to say something negative about the boat for fear of lost advertising revenue. The ability to spend time on all the potential candidates in the same place (Miami show in our case) allowed us to really compare features, serviceability, and functionality of the boats and make the right buying decision for us at the time.

    Max
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I once got into a conversation with the owner of a large car dealership from whom we bought two cars that day. We talked about the impact of the internet. He said, if anything, it had increased his business as customers were so much better informed when they called or came in. He said tire kickers were down substantially as they did that online. Now, one difference in cars vs. boats, is now pricing is far more transparent and he said that had eliminated competing against those less honest about prices. Also, now people came in not talking about wanting a Porsche 911 and asking what colors it came in and what they had. Now they walk in to look at the Blue Metallic 911 shown online for $150,810 and that if it was as pretty in person as online, they were definitely interested. One short walk to the car, a short ride and they signed to buy it. He commented that when we arrived, my wife already knew they had the car she wanted in stock.

    Those who will get left behind are those who fail to integrate new technology into their business. You can't fight change, so best to embrace it. FLIBS does not do a good job of that yet, in my opinion. They should have full photos and descriptions of every boat in the show on their website. That wouldn't keep interested buyers from coming. Also, they would then be offering the builders and brokers a virtual showcase and help offset the pricing resistance they experience. Then it would be, "You don't just get XXX visitors to the show, you get YYY visitors online as well."
  7. gr8trn

    gr8trn Senior Member

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    I just searched Marine Max online virtual boat show. They have good SEO as it came up right away, good start.
    I would have to sign up to "receive access". As I am not shopping and only like to look at all sorts of boats, I am no that interested to cause me to sign up.
  8. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Good for you to not sign up I think. I once signed in to the METS trade show in Amsterdam to get an advance ticket, and since then my mailbox is flooded with all kind of offerings in Dutch... So after this, I never register online to anything and usually gives away a fake mail address when needed to have access to boat shows...
  9. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I also resent requirement to sign up. You're advertising and want me to jump through hoops to see your ad? Not going to happen and definitely not going to use a legitimate email address. Have many extras for that purpose that I only look at to verify and get access.
  10. Alzira II

    Alzira II Member

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    After the recession when a lot of companies were cutting back on boat show expenses and sales were down and internet was new everyone thought boat shows would become obsolete. I think the only thing that changed is our front doors moved to the web. They land there first, if they like what the see then maybe they swing by. In hindsight I think its like the rollout of instant communication/ video conferencing digital world we live in. I think there was a time when we thought you would be able to avoid travel for work you could just videoconference everyone. In reality the mobile age just made it easier to do business further away and the end result was we actually began traveling more. So from a marine marketing perspective I think by the time they walk in the booth or the dealership it's the dealer deal to lose.
  11. gr8trn

    gr8trn Senior Member

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    Well there was that virtual boat show. I still don't get that as YouTube and web surfing has always been a virtual boat show. I wonder if one did a study or created a spread sheet to look at all of the online website visits and YouTube views for each model and compared that to actual sales, what they would find.
    Seems like an interesting project for an MBA candidate.
    Does online exposure correlate to sales?

    If online exposure is important do buyers then skip shows and go direct to dealer/manufacturer?
  12. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    They always say that. It's Industry speak for "it made sense for us to be here, whatever the circumstances".
  13. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I read "industry speak" and hear it as well, but I also have contacts who speak off the record and truthfully and they've expressed disappointment before so I believe their comments. Problem is that it may just apply to their boats.
  14. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    AIM (Active Interest Media), the former owner of the South Florida Boat Shows and owner of a diverse portfolio of enthusiast magazines (including several marine titles) recently announced they are coming online with a virtual boat show. This is no surprise to me as AIM was actively looking to acquire YF ever since they sold their interest in the boat shows to Informa.

    As of yesterday, I received a press release from Informa announcing they are going into the online boat show business too. The Palm Beach Boat Show is going to become a virtual boat show and will launch mid-May.

    I've been saying the new boat show is online for a couple years. It's an easy claim to make. We have more traffic (on a daily basis) than any boat show, no matter what attendance numbers are claimed by the ad agencies representing show promoters.

    I rest my case.
  15. Cruz

    Cruz Member

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    Today's Boattest newsletter touted their Virtual Boat Show which they launched yesterday with "the videos of over 2,700 boats – and over 3,500 boats on display."
  16. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    I took some flack a while back for saying BoatTest should be held liable for their slogan... "boat reviews you can trust". I think not! Their reviews are merely paid advertorial. Here's proof...

    Attached Files:

  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Well, there can be all the online boat shows one wants right now and no one is going to sell any boats. Time to position perhaps and give free spots to try to get them underway.

    As to trusting boat reviews, I wouldn't advise anyone to fully trust any online or print review on any site or in any publication. However, can still pick up some useful information in them. Most of what is written is ok, it's what is left unsaid. The dirty laundry isn't going to make it to a review anywhere. Well, except Pascoe and I'd rather have any sites reviews than his outdated, personally biased reviews designed just to show his brilliance.
  18. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    I followed him for quite a while, and learned quite a bit.
    Yeah, old school, biased and hard hitting but there was some good stuff
    on his web site, but I will never ever buy a Carver after seeing his reviews of them :eek::D
  19. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Excuse me while I defend YF's boat reviews:
    1. YF doesn't do full length reviews on manufacturers that are known to have not been fair to clients or to have not owned up to mistakes
    2. YF does reviews on manufacturers that are not YF advertisers; the reviews are not income driven.
    3. Negative features are pointed out in YF reviews
    4. The average word count on magazine reviews is 2,000 (so I'm told); YF's word count per review is frequently 5,000-6500 words
    5. Bad reviews? See what manufacturers and/or models are not in YF's lineup and that's your bad review.

    Judy
  20. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    That is all true, Judy, and the reviews you've done have been excellent. However, as you make clear in points 1 and 5, YF doesn't do bad reviews, just chooses not to review. YF also publishes other things such as news and features and I can point to one specific feature that I would think YF might have later liked to retract, the one on the new ownership of Northern Marine. However, your point and the one Carl has made is that YF chooses not to review many boats. I believe Carl is also selective with advertisers but likely has some he later regretted.

    YF does relatively few reviews compared to other sites. I know at least one site that reviews that follows similar refusal to review guidelines and yet they have reviewed boats for companies that later turned out to be problems.

    So to discuss those other than YF. I find the reviews of other sites including the one Carl mentions to be helpful. Mostly, I like the performance numbers. However, while the overall reviews are always positive, the reviewers often mention things they would change. The reviews are also simply of one boat at one time, a boat provided by the manufacturer, and by that very nature are generally going to be decent boats. No one really reviews builders or talks about support after the sale. That's where forums like YF do excel.

    I do feel sites should put the disclaimer at the bottom of reviews that Company ABC is an advertiser on site XYZ at the time this review is written.

    A publication we own once reviewed a restaurant, glowing review, that a week after the review was published (six weeks after the review was written) was shut down for Norovirus. That was most embarrassing and we did publish that information which we did with an interview of the owner as to the steps they were taking. He wasn't pleased we were publishing a follow up.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020