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Thread: WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Saco, ME

    Default WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

    Well, I am back after a pretty good WB Show in Mystic. I enjoyed meeting many people new and old on the Forum. And although I have not been as active as I would like, I am encouraged that people are paying attention to these small craft. My business is Chase Small Craft and I do designs and kits for boats, mostly my own but also in collaboration with a couple others. I felt this show was a strong showing for me, especially when a giant like CLC is still capturing so much attention. It is daunting at times to wave from left field and say, "hey you guys, come check these neat boats out...they're really cool!".

    In that light I am reflecting on what makes a really strong exhibit at these shows and would love to hear from you about what you think.

    I think:
    1) As many boats on display as possible for people to look at and with a couple ready to roll over to the waterfront on a dolly for a sea trial is good. I have been located in Tent A which is decent, a little far from the waters edge, but visible enough. I hope to move to the center of the tent and take the much of the north end. Then the masts can be up on the smaller boat with a larger boat just outside the tent door with the rig up (I had the GIS out there this time). We can dolly the boat right out, through the IBIM section and to Israel Beach. I need a good dolly plan.

    2) Good literature for people to take and read on each boat and give them fodder for discussion should they wish to engage in conversation (or if I am swamped in other conversations, they can take and read and maybe come back to the booth). Some were amazed that I did not have a fancy color catalog. But the two-sided boat presentation sheets for each boat model were popular (an not cheap to make).

    3) I had a Calendar Islands Yawl building jig on display and that seemed really good so people can really see what a kit looks like set up and ready to be planked. Having the quarter-scale model of the finished boat really helped folks see the finished boat, even though I could not have a full size example there at the show. In fact the models are proving very useful for this purpose. Wish they were not so time consuming in and of themselves to make for each boat.

    4) It seems really difficult to actually sell a kit at a show. Suppose it is a large commitment in time and money. So what am I getting out of it? I think it is the ability to have good conversations with interested folks, really show them what they get in the kit and how they go together, and make sure they have all the info they need when they leave so they can make an informed decision when they go home.

    5) Need ideas for little things to sell at the show. I have these great knock down sawhorses, been thinking about a knock down glue station, model boat kits for one of my skiffs (almost ready to bring those to shows) and any other little things that can be flat packed and handed out at shows.

    6) Because of you-know-who, everyone thinks boat kits are stitch and glue by definition. I find that I do a lot of education around this subject -- and happily do it -- and people leave with new knowledge and understanding.

    7) Am I in the right place in the north end of tent A or is there a better placement? I like being adjacent to the IBIM section.

    8) It was great having JR and Mary with their Deblois Street Dory over at the JGSC Workshop tearing around the harbor. They must have taken 20 people sailing. This is great for me, but just as important for the traditional small craft community and spreading the small boat love. Thanks to both of them and thanks to the TSCA for the hard work over there at Israel Beach!

    WoodenBoat Show 2017 is done! by Clint Chase, on Flickr
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Blue Hill, ME

    Default Re: WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

    A good show it was. Can't get much better than a weekend at the Seaport.
    Will try to get some photos posted later on...
    Steve B
    RIVUS 16' Melonseed

    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Hyannis, MA, USA

    Default Re: WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

    To the viewer, there is real value to targeted boat shows. I may take in the WoodenBoat Show, the Cape Cod Boatbuilders Show, and the Maine Boatbuilders Show. Regrettably I've only taken in Cape Cod the last couple years but I hope that changes next year. Anyway, targeted means we can avoid vast expanses of overpowered plastic AFCs. ADC = Another ------- Condominium.

    And the people are nicer.

    For venders, some may make sales if they have stuff one can carry off. I've bought charts and a head. More you talk to venders and may order later. My happy relationship with Squetague stems from their going to the Catboat Association Annual and the Cape Cod Boatbuilders. And I settled on Meg's engines and props and vendors at the Maine show.

    Or not. I've learned a great deal from Landfall Navigation but have yet to reciprocate his generosity of information with an actual purchase.* For the sailor or amateur builder, a good show is the best way to get ideas and choose among products. Boaters need to keep up with the industry even when we're not on the market for something particular.

    Among my friends who are builders, I know of none who actually sold a boat or signed a contract at the show, but most have at least stimulated a shop visit that led to a new boat.

    While some vendors may actually make sales that exceed the direct costs of being in the show, most expect that it's really an advertising expense, but so much more interactive than a page in WoodenBoat. And most venders who survive more than one show have a very high tolerance for tire kickers and other know-it-all members of the Dock Committee.

    I love the social aspects. Seeing friends. And parties like the Bauers' or the venders' on Cape. And the time I took Marmalade to Mystic and people brought beer and ice to hang out under my sun awning.

    Next year Portland by car and Mystic by boat.

    *Edited to add - I forgot. Christmas before last I bought four very nice rigging knives from Landfall to make presents for my brother, my sister, and their respective spice. (Surely the plural of spouse is spice.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    North Shore, Massachusetts

    Default Re: WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

    good work Clint, you are a trooper... and now the reward of sailing on Blue Hill bay is only 3+- weeks away

    I went to 3-4 Mystic WB shows with the IB 18 and the Alpha Dory, one of the years you were there building echo bays. It is a huge comitment... it was the heat humidity and lack of wind/ good sailing and the road trafic and the $ which put the nail in the coffin for me... like I am fond of saying "there are so much simpler ways to NOT sell a boat"... I can do that sitting on the couch at home

    you are right though the conversations are potential and quite possible future sales.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Default Re: WB Show 2017 debrief: What makes a great boat show exhibit/exhibitor?

    This is only a minor thread drift...

    A few years back, I brought my newly completed Caledonia Yawl to the IBIM section. On one hand, I asked myself why I was sacrificing a great sailing weekend just to show off my not-very-professional skills.

    On the other hand, every attaboy feels great, and now I make a special point of congratulating every IBIM participant I talk with.

    So, we are glad that you, Clint, and all the other professionals and amateurs make the effort to show us what you have been doing. Thanks to you all.

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