GREAT NEWS FROM STRICTLY SAIL PACIFIC
The winning combination of strong crowds, packed seminars, great weather and the resulting uptick in the sales of boats, gear and accessories, led Strictly Sail exhibitors and show producer Sail America alike to characterize this year’s Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show, held April 15-18, 2010 at Oakland’s Jack London Square, “a great success.”
According to Sail America Executive Director Jonathan Banks, ticket revenue matched the previous year’s, despite the shift from a five day event to only four days, while attendance was higher on the first three days, with a slight drop on Sunday. More positive news included higher average ticket prices this year vs. last, more multi-day passes sold and an impressive 14% increase in seminar attendance.
But the bottom-line telltale for many exhibitors was resulting sales.
“Our cash registers haven’t stopped ringing,” said Chandlery Manager James Morgan of Svendsen’s Marine. “Our foot traffic was more than expected and it looks like we are ahead this year in terms of sales, and not in a small way. It looks like people are ready to spend money again.”
Added Sausalito-based West Marine Manager David Forbes, “We are definitely seeing an increase in sales.” Said District Sales Manager Galen Piltz, “Generally, people had an optimistic view about the economy and boat sales. Our traffic was definitely up and people seemed interested in our products and pleased with the (new) exhibit location.”
“The show was really a great success,” said Banks. “Attendance was brisk, the new show layout worked really well, seminar participation was through the roof with 63 speakers, 86 topics and 110 slots, and boats and gear were sold.”
Strictly Sail Pacific benefited from an intensive marketing campaign that delivered a highly-targeted mix of in-market radio, print, internet and e-mail advertising, along with a successful public relations and social marketing blitz. Retail promotions were also employed including distribution of posters, discount coupons, ticket giveaways, plus an easy-to-use marketing toolkit provided free to all exhibitors. Latitude 38, working in cooperation with Sail America, also produced a very strong show directory that was distributed to magazine subscribers and also available as a download on both the magazine and boat show website.
A major PR and attendance-driving coup for the show was the appearance of the BMW ORACLE Racing Team on opening day for a free presentation by members of the crew, along with the opportunity to showcase the winning America’s Cup.
“According to the BMW Racing Team blog, this was the best presentation of their tour so far,” said Banks. “The venue was packed for the evening show with ‘tighter than standing room only,’ and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd was eager to lean more about the team’s successful challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup.”
Hull & Humber and California with the Clipper Round the World Race was also a draw on Thursday and Friday as crew members met with the public to share news about California’s mid-Pacific knock down.
In addition, Sail America’s popular Discover Sailing program set new records, with more than 500 people signing up for a free sailboat ride, while the Heart of Sailing organization hosted free rides for more than 50 families with special needs children.
“Our sales have definitely increased this year,” said Pineapple Sails owners Sally and Kame Richards. “This was a better show, business-wise, than last year, and it looks like the economy is definitely picking up.”
Beneteau Vice President Mike Lecholop agreed. “The traffic and crowds this year have been wonderful … the best in four years.” Debbie Reynolds, vice president of Beneteau dealer Passage Yachts added, “Sales have been excellent and the level of interest in sailing seems to have been renewed.”
Banks concluded, “Based on the feedback from our exhibitors, coupled with the buying attitude and activities of our show-goers, I really don’t think we could have asked for a better show. Overall, everyone seemed to be very upbeat and positive. Strictly Sail Pacific ultimately served to promote sales and enthusiasm for sailing on the West Coast, and hopefully serves as a bellwether indicating better days ahead for the industry.”