As autumn begins, it’s time for boat enthusiasts to prepare for the ensuing season — boat show season! AERE will be attending the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from October 31 to November 4, and we want you to get the most out of the experience.
Sure, autumn and winter might not be quite as favorable for sailing as the summer months (some might argue otherwise), but the warmth of a boat show, not to mention the potential purchase opportunities, could be just the ticket to scratch that boating itch.
If you’ve ever been to a boat show (we know many of you have), you know how crazy they can become at their busiest hours. Dealers from all over will be showing off state-of-the-art boats, accessories and equipment, so you’ll want to have a plan prepared before you go. If this is the year where an actual boat purchase is under serious consideration, having a plan is strongly suggested to squeeze every ounce of value out of the experience.
These are our recommended considerations when creating your boat show plan:
1. Review the Boats and Dealers Before You Arrive
Before you step foot in the show, you need to get a lay of the land. Most often, they’ll have a layout of the show as well as the location of the boats and dealers.
If you’re serious about buying a boat, or even if you’re not, it might be beneficial to list out the qualities you’re looking for in your ideal, which will likely include your budget range. As you review the boats and take note of the ones that catch your attention, make sure to note where at the show the boat will be and the contact information of the dealer. Whether you’re looking to buy the boat at the show, or potentially buying a used model of a boat at some point, this will be an important step before you proceed.
2. Map Out Where You Will Go
Once you have an idea of the kind of boats and equipment that catches your fancy, prioritize the list starting with your favorite. If you’re really serious about getting a good look at your top boat, you should arrive at the show at opening time when the crowds won’t have reached their maximum size. You can tour your first boat or two without as much pressure, but it’s imperative that you know where the boats are and that you stick to the path you map based on your research.
Don’t get distracted by the bells and whistles! You can always go back to look at equipment and accessories after looking at the boats, so make sure you stick to your gameplan. If you are looking for accessories that could accommodate your new purchase, AERÉ inflatable fenders might not be a bad place to go once you’ve perused the boat list.
3. Take Notes at the Show
Take notes at the show so you’re not going purely off your memory. Do it analog style (pen and paper) but also take pictures of the features that catch your eye so you can quickly make comparisons at the end.
The notes you take on your notepad will give you much of the context you need to make a final decision, which might even include your first impressions of the dealer.
4. Take Time to Reflect On What You See
While there’s nothing like the thrill of buying off of impulse when things just “feel right,” it’s generally much better to take time to review your notes once you’re looking at the boats on your map. You want to be is as dispassionate a state of mind as you can, which will help you avoid any buyer’s remorse even when you think you have your heart sold on one boat from the start.
Once you’ve compared your notes and made a decision (if you were planning to at all), see if you can re-engage the dealer at the show. Dealers will sometimes sweeten the pot to incentivize purchases at the show itself, so definitely take advantage!
Presumably you’re at the boat show because you love boats, so get as much enjoyment out of the experience as you can. If you’re not going with a mission in mind, more power and freedom to you. If you are, the journey will no doubt be a thrill, even if it seems more rigid (having a plan can honestly help you enjoy yourself even more, regardless of goal).
Good luck and have fun!