2019 Best in Class: Best Boat Show

Nautical Ventures
Dania Beach, Fla.

In a market saturated with a multitude of dealerships and home to some of the nation’s largest boat shows, standing out during show season is no easy task. To shine at shows like the Miami International Boat Show and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world’s largest in-water show, dealers are forced to get creative when it comes to getting the dealership name in front of the public.

From a 40,000-gallon AquaZone pool to show off products to unique digital marketing and plenty in between, Dania Beach’s Nautical Ventures continuously makes a name for itself on some of the largest boat show stages.

Nautical Ventures begins planning for each show about four to five months in advance to ensure everything is on track to go as smoothly as possible once show season hits.

“We commit early for space, negotiating for what we feel are the most desirable locations available,” Nautical Ventures director of marketing Frank Ferraro said.

At the 2018 Fort Lauderdale show alone Nautical Ventures had 26 booths for displaying everything from boats to high-end yacht “toys” and everything in between. Crafting displays that engage and welcome customers while properly representing brands involves a number of logistics from planning to execution.

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In order to nail everything down Ferraro said that Nautical Ventures’ in-house event manager prepares cad-cam renderings for each booth, while working closely with the brands that share the dealership’s space.

However, the Nautical Ventures team doesn’t stop at just booth design and placement to make boat shows a success for the dealership.

“Aside from boat placement, we strive to unify our look and messaging throughout all of our booths by using cohesive colors, graphics, signage and staff uniforms,” Ferraro said.

While the main goal for the dealership is to sell boats at boat shows, many of Nautical Ventures’ sales and efforts extend before, during and after the show. With this mindset, the Nautical Ventures team breaks that main goal into various different tasks.

“Our main goal is to sell boats. We close many deals that initiated at the store level, but closed at the show due to manufacturer and engine incentives,” Ferraro said. “Many new leads are initiated at boat shows where prospects are first exposed to boats they’ve never seen before. So one goal is to use shows to cultivate those prospects, taking them for sea trials after the show, and closing many sales within a three-week post show period. Another goal is to create brand awareness for our dealership.”

On the digital side, Nautical Ventures uses a variety of tactics to ensure their message is heard and their brand is recognized.

“During key boat shows, we utilize Micro Proximity Live Time to send strategic messages to show attendees to attract them to our booth, Ferraro said. “While it’s difficult to measure direct results, we sold a record-breaking 15 Axopars from the show using these marketing measures”

Ferraro added that if the dealership doesn’t use up all the impressions it pre-pays for, they then re-target select demographics with a post-show campaign.

As another effort to build a relationship with potential customers and bring more into the Nautical Ventures family, the team uses iPads at each booth to collect consumer data to be used in future marketing campaigns. This is often paired with various promotional incentives and giveaways.

“Our goal is to grow our in-house customer database and foster these newcomers to feel like a part of our family through CRM promotions,” Ferraro said.

The crown jewel of Nautical Ventures’ boat show efforts comes in the form of a 40,000-gallon AquaZone pool used to demo the dealership’s high-end water “toys” from SeaBobs to Flyboards and much more.

The dealership teams up with show promoters to showcase the AquaZone, offering a hotspot to show goers to see some of the wildest products on the market.

“The AquaZone serves as almost a centerpiece of a show,” Ferraro said. “It’s brought interest to some of our more unique products and earned the attention of local media outlets, giving more exposure to Nautical Ventures as a whole.”

Nautical Ventures speaks very highly of its company culture to be daring enough to try new things and it certainly backs it up with all of the dealership’s boat show efforts to be bold and bring new concepts to the traditional show. 

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