From The Helm: Increasing Sailing’s Presence at Boat Shows
National Show Committee Chair Stanton Murray Talks About the Changes, Value and Future of Sail America Boat Shows
By Stanton Murray
President, Murray Yacht Sales
Sail America National Boat Show Committee Chair
This past year, Sail America has made a fundamental shift in its business model. The organization’s focus has shifted from owning and running sailboat shows to partnering with other boat show producers to help increase sailing’s presence at boat shows around the country.
In 2008, Sail America signed a new agreement with NMMA to endorse and support Strictly Sail Chicago and Strictly Sail Miami, and also merged Strictly Sail St. Pete with Show Management’s St. Petersburg Boat Show. And, earlier this year, Sail America and NCMA created a combined sail and power show called Strictly Sail Pacific and Power Boat Expo.
As we move into the Fall shows, it’s important for our members to understand that our Association’s underlying goals regarding boat shows remain focused. We survey our members and show-goers on a regular basis to monitor our success and to ensure we are investing in the right activities and initiatives.
As we move toward the future, the National Show Committee is hard at work developing new strategies to increase sailing’s presence at our shows. We are currently exploring partnership opportunities to work with other show organizers for mutual success. We believe that with our experience, we are uniquely qualified to help create quality sailboat shows and can add great value to shows other than our own.
One new concept includes a branded “endorsed by Sail America” seal of approval that can be used on promotional materials, websites and press releases. Those outside shows who receive the official seal will enjoy reciprocal links on our website, and we will provide select partners with access to sailing companies and sailing enthusiasts. We are also seeking opportunities at endorsed shows to operate the Discover Sailing program, plan and conduct seminar series including coordinating celebrity speakers, plus organize and run sailing events, along with numerous other initiatives.
In the short-term, with less inventory in the field, Sail America boat shows, or those in which we partner, will be the only places for our collective customers to see a critical mass of products. We need to work together to grow the sailing pie and understand that the real competition is not other sailing industry members, but other products, services and programs that are targeted to our customers and demographic. And there are plenty out there competing for our leisure dollar!
Together, we are stronger and better poised to promote the health and growth of sailing. I hope you’ll continue to support our boat shows and become actively engaged in the many exciting new initiatives we have underway. In addition, we always welcome your ideas and recommendations, as well as your feedback on our shows.