BOAT SHOWS - Melbourne sells up a storm on all fronts

Boat Shows - Melbourne Sells Up A Storm On All Fronts

The 50th Annual BIA Melbourne Boat Show sold up a storm, with a major boost in attendance and strong sales of everything from charts to half million dollar cruisers, organisers said.

Attendance totalled 40,000 for the five days, up some 6000 from last year, they said, and exhibitors reported sales were well in proportion with the numbers through the door.

BIA Victoria general manager, Clyde Batty said the dominant theme of the Show was one of recovery across the board in the recreational boating sector.

“In effect, everything you could measure or count was up on last year, which is a good sign that the recovery is well under way,” Batty said.

“Every day of the Show had its own highlights, from the first afternoon when St Kilda Boat Sales signed up its first customer for the new Caribbean 35 Flybridge Mk III, to late on Monday evening when Rolco Boats sold its fifth – and most expensive – boat for the Show.

“These sales typified the different types of customers: the Caribbean buyer had inspected larger and smaller Caribbean models, but his was his first look at the new model, straight from the factory, whereas the Rolco customer simply came in unannounced and bought the boat.

“They also remind us of the Show’s broad spectrum, with ski and wake boats, luxury cruisers and specialist marine equipment to complement the huge number of fishing boats of all types and the vast array of fishing tackle and accessories which reflect Victoria’s love of fishing,” he said.

Among the sales highlights Batty reported were more than 20 boats sold by Inverloch Marine, a best-ever show for the innovative Boatcatch coupling device, and strong results for all the big dealers including JV Marine World, New World Honda Marine, Streaker Boats, and Regal Marine.

Haines Hunter reported a great success for its two participating dealers, New World Honda Marine and Port Phillip Boating Centre, with deposits taken on 34 boats at the show and solid follow-up in the subsequent week.

Batty said accessories sold just as strongly as boats, and expensive electronics sold just as strongly as budget-priced fishing gear.

“At one point, for example, Nautek Marine services sold $3850 worth of marine electronics gear to just two customers in three minutes, not to mention doing a strong trade in marine chemicals and Fusion marine audio gear,” said Batty.

“We also saw people like Anchor Right end up selling some of their premium quality SARCA display anchors off the stand on the last day after selling out of the stock they brought for sale.

“Without doubt, recreational boating is more than holding its own in the hearts and minds of Victorians, as the Show stood up very well against other major events in Melbourne.

“There were more than 30 exhibitions and conferences in Melbourne over the weekend, so there was plenty of competition, and other recent expos have still reported soft attendance numbers, so our sector is definitely ahead of some others,” he said.

Included in the Show’s success, said officials, was the yachting sector, which did not have its own show this year. Barry Pares of Yacht Share was “pleasantly surprised with the level of enquiry” that led to Yacht Share organising an open day to be staged at Docklands on Sunday, July 18.

Batty said the interest enjoyed by Yacht Share proved that Victoria’s yachting community did come to the show, and encouraged other yacht clubs and yachting exhibitors to participate in the future.

He said the overall results for all exhibitors were a promising sign for the rollout of the boat-show season across Australia, adding that it rewarded and reinforced the confidence of exhibitors.

“We had to knock back a couple of late exhibitor applications this year, and we could not have extended at the last minute because of other events already booked in to the MCEC, but we hope to fit everyone in next year,” said Batty.

“Although it’s many months before we will officially begin bookings for 2011, we have already had a couple of exhibitors making their claims for the same stands next year, and we will happily take account of these advance requests from them and from any others,” he said.

Batty said three BIA Victoria initiatives which did particularly well were the launch of the BIA Boat Club, the introduction of the BIA Accredited Dealer program and a major push to increase online ticket sales.

He said online sales had almost doubled last year’s figure at more than 4000 tickets, while at-the-door sales held firm, so much of this year’s increased number of tickets was sold online.

“We have recently completely made over our website to form a platform for a wealth of recreational boating information, so it’s a good time for people to be engaging with us online through buying their tickets on the website,” Batty said.

“Membership of the BIA Boat Club will be an important conduit into the online resources, and we got the Boat Club off to a very strong start with hundreds of people signing up at the Show and follow-up enquiries still flowing into the office.

“It was also a major milestone to announce Leon and Paul Savage’s Streaker Boats as the very first BIA Accredited Boat Dealer, and this is the beginning of a great new program to boost consumer confidence and service levels.

“With so many new initiatives, so many sales in every category from beginning to end of the five days, and exhibitors already lining up for next year, there can be little doubt that recreational boating in Victoria – and probably around Australia – is well and truly on the road to recovery,” he said.