The Hunt Is On

Tips on how to handle the tents, the lines, and the sea of new products at a boat show.

Be a Boat-Show Pro

Headed to the Miami International Boat Show? You may not be in the market for a new boat, but this is also the best place to look for new equipment. There’s no better environment to compare features and prices — if you know how to approach it. Anyone can just walk the aisles of new products on display at a boat show, but diving in blind with no pre-game research is certainly not the best way to spend 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 plan of attack. 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 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 and never find what you need. Take a look at what you want to see and where it is located at the show. Set priorities and make a targeted list. In the case of the Miami boat show, you'll most likely be spending most of your time in the Convention Center — don't let the concentrated location fool you with thoughts of simplicity-- this place is a madhouse, so know what you want and where you're going. Whatever your goals for the show are, you'll accomplish them easier with a well-laid plan.

3. Keep your head on a swivel. So you've got your planned route and you know where you're heading, but you don't necessarily want to put on the blinders once you embark on your mission. There are new products on display at boat shows that are a surprise to everyone (including magazine editors with inboxes full of press releases), so keep your eyes open to surprises — you may find something you need but weren't looking for. Now this is a balancing act to be sure, it's 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.

Approach the maelstrom of product-hocking salesman and tables of overflowing miracle creams with a plan, you’re guaranteed to have a more successful day at the show.