Boat Show Preview – The Best Way to Buy

By Patrick Farrell December 13, 2011

Boat Shows

As the winter chill grips most of the country, buying a new boat may be far from your mind. However, you could be closer to buying your dream boat than you think. Experts agree the best time to buy a boat is during
the off-season, which corresponds with the winter boat show season. Plus, boat shows provide a great opportunity for boaters to get special deals and incentives on new boats, as well as the opportunity to meet a variety of dealers and manufacturers. Any person seriously considering buying a boat should begin with attending a boat show, but first use these boat show tips to make the best of your experience.

Do Your Homework

Boat shows are a great way to begin the process of buying a boat. Each show offers shoppers an assortment of different boats. However, the best way to determine if you are getting a good deal is to do your homework ahead of time. This can be somewhat difficult since boat dealers don’t typically have online tools to choose boat features, and compare costs. However, there are many great brokerage websites that can help you with pricing information.

Attend Multiple Shows

The primary winter boat show season is January through March, which is the best time to find and buy a boat. If you are a serious boat shopper, then use the boat show season to youradvantage. First, attend the fall boat shows to browse your options, and then use the winter shows to make your choice. Shows are held across the nation, and there is certain to be one, if not more, near you. By attending multiple shows you can build your knowledge of boat manufacturers, dealers, and prices, which will help you narrow down your options.

Boat Shows are Your Friend

Boat shows exist for you, so use that resource to shop all the makes and models of new boats. One of the best parts about boat shows is being able to comparison shop in one place. Be sure to take along your camera and a notebook to record your observations about each boat. Write down what you liked or didn’t like about each model and your impressions of the boat. Grab brochures for the boats you like best, but take your own pictures because the brochures may leave out features you consider important. Most importantly, write down the boat show price and the list price of the boat
so you can compare prices between boat shows and dealers.

Shop for Boats and Dealers

As you shop for a boat also shop for a dealer. Keep a record of your impressions of the sales people as you tour the boats. When you purchase a boat from a dealer, it could be a long and rewarding relationship or a disastrous one. Boat shows are a good place to make contacts and determine the best dealers. Finally, don’t be afraid to talk price with a dealer, even if you know you aren’t ready to buy. This can give you a more accurate price for a boat you may be interested in, and how much a dealer is willing to work with you.

Don’t Impulse Buy

Unless you have thoroughly done your homework and are certain you are getting the best deal, do not buy a boat on your first visit. Try to attend on the first day of the boat show so that you have time to think about a possible purchase. Some veteran boat buyers recommend waiting until the end of the last day of the show. It may be possible to get a better deal then, because dealers are trying to recover their show costs. Other boating industry experts disagree with buying at boat shows, and suggest boaters to buy at the dealer’s location.

NBOA Marine Insurance attends hundreds of boat shows across the country. We are there to help new boat buyers obtain insurance, answer any insurance questions, or counsel potential customers on how to work insurance costs into their budget. If you see us this upcoming boat show season, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello!



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