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2011 Miami International Boat Show Guide

Creating a plan for the show is key to having fun and finding deals.

January 28, 2011
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2011 Miami International Boat Show

As has been said time and again, preparation prevents poor performance. One can walk into any situation — a job interview, a football game, the all-important third date — and either succeed or disappoint based on the amount and type of advance planning. If you want to go the Miami International Boat Show and the Yacht and Brokerage Show in Miami Beach and just wander around, that’s fine. But you probably want to see everything you came to see. You likely will want to gain insight on the market for the boat you currently own and learn about the niche you’ve got your eye on for your next upgrade. So you’re going to have to do your homework and get ready. You may be surprised how much time you have left over to see the sights, enjoy the weather and your companion, or even stroll around the boat show.

Day 1
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Premier Day means one thing: even many hardcore attendees who plan to be at the show all weekend are going to be at work on this day. Get in Wednesday evening, February 16, and if you play your cards right you can make it pay.

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Have brokers you’ve been working with? Let them know a few weeks in advance that you’d like to reserve a chunk of their time for this day. They should be excited to hear from you, since many of the boats they’ve been researching for you are going to be at the show, and they can e-mail you the listings well in advance. Don’t open the e-mail on the laptop in the airport lounge before boarding for Miami. Look at it when you get it, read it and send the brokers a revised list, cutting boats that will be a waste of time. If they are disappointed you’re cutting some of their suggestions, hear them out — again, in advance. You want to start narrowing your list, but not too much. The idea is to make the first day your most open-minded boat-hunting day. Printouts work great but can be bulky — we’ve seen people using iPads and tablet computers and even mobile phones very effectively to review PDF-format web brochures of boats.

When you part company with the broker, you may want to chill out a bit and digest what you’ve seen. Have a drink at a waterfront bar or one of the cocktail tents at the show. A quiet supper and off to bed, you’ve got a big day tomorrow!

Day 2
Friday, February 18, 2011

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Big day today. You’re going to be revisiting a select few of the yachts you saw the previous day. Pin down your broker to come along, but if you revisit three to five boats in which you’re really interested with your companion, a friend, or even the whole family, the listing brokers or salesmen will turn on the charm. Take the whole tour again, and throw out some insightful questions and concerns that will test their knowledge as they realize you’re a serious prospect. Get contact information for brokers/dealers for each boat and keep things organized. A notebook or pocket video camera can keep your thoughts in order and record critical or positive details that will start to blend together over the next few days.

Day 3
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Clear your head of specific boats, interior configurations, engine choices and the nitty-gritty details. Today is a free-form day to immerse yourself in the festival of boats that is Miami in February. Hit the equipment displays early (see “The Hunt is On” below) then walk the docks and just see what’s out there. You may see something that changes your whole perspective on the sport. Remember how much fun you had racing dinghies as a kid, or that you were the only one small enough to fit in the hydroplane your friends built for the pond? Those are the moments that form the foundation of your love of the sport. Maybe you’ll see something that will jog some memories you haven’t thought about lately.

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Day 4
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chill out, take it easy today, spend the morning by the hotel pool. You may be the picture of unproductivity, but not really. You’re going to make a call to your broker and see if he can play a little ball with the listing broker or dealer on that boat you may want to make an offer on. There are deals to be had, and great values at the show — it may be wise to strike with an offer. Tomorrow is the day. But it doesn’t always hurt to let them know you’re coming by sending the broker ahead to establish a beachhead.

If you just can’t stay away, you can cruise over to the show. There’s plenty to see on the brokerage docks. Or you may want to take in the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. From February 19th through 21st from 10 am to 6 pm each day, the festival will host the work of more than 380 artists from around the world, with musicians and chefs adding to the flavor of this funky scene along McFarlane road and South Bayshore Drive, Miami. As the day winds down, you may want to check out the Jay Blues Band performing live at Maxine’s Bistro and Bar located at the Catalina Hotel & Beach club (www.catalinahotel.com).

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Day 5,
Monday, February 21, 2011

Meet your broker and head over to the boat you’ve chosen. Have another walk-through and see if any other questions arise. Make your offer. And celebrate. Pending the survey and your final approval, you’ve just bought yourself a boat.

The Hunt is On
Here’s how to handle the sea of new products at the show.

There’s no better place than a boat show to compare features and prices — if you know how to approach it. Anyone can just walk the aisles of new products on display, but diving in blind with no pre-game research is certainly not the best use of your time. Here are three ways to find what you need, avoid wasting time and money, and not miss out on the real deals.

1. Do Your Research. Just as you wouldn’t cast off for a cruise without charts (we hope), you don’t want to approach the boat show without some sort of attack plan. Thanks to the Internet, you can get a good idea of what new stuff will be at the show before it starts. In the case of the Miami International Boat Show check out www.miamiboatshow.com to get the list of all the companies that will be at the Miami Convention Center — the mecca of new boat products during the show.

2. Location, Location, Location. Without proper planning you can easily spend your day in taxicabs and lines for shuttle buses. Look at what you want to see and where it’s located at the show. Set priorities and make a targeted list. At Miami, you’ll most likely be spending most of your time in the convention center. It’s best to know what you want and where you’re going once you’re there. Get a map of the building as early as you can, mark your targets and knock them off.

3. Keep Your Head On a Swivel. Don’t get distracted, but don’t wear blinders, either. New products at boat shows are always delightful surprises — you may even find something you need but weren’t looking for. This is a balancing act to be sure — a slippery slope between an efficient, targeted hunt and a day of aimless wandering. Have a plan and stick to it, but keep your eyes and ears open for new things. –Christopher White

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