No avatar required for Miami “Virtual” Online Boat Show

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The Wall Street Journal reported last year that “Marine enthusiasts are being drawn to the boat shows and to dealerships in part by big discounts, as dealers are still working to unload new vessels from the past couple of model years and used boats they are taking as trade-ins.”

The recent financial meltdown tightened the national waist to such an extent that it was inevitable that used “brokerage” sales would replace new boat sales as the staple diet for sail and power yacht dealerships across the country during 2010.

While new yacht sales offered bigger margins in the past, today many dealerships are forced to sell more used boats (and catamarans) to offset the effects of the dampened economy.

There are signs of a recovery but interestingly the turnaround may be surfacing in the sailing vacation or “charter” market first.

This includes The Catamaran Company whom I presently work for, which is feeding the rising interest in sailing vacations in the British Virgin Islands and elsewhere by offering big charter discounts on various Gemini and Lagoon models for the duration of the Miami Boat show.

In a surprise twist our charter department will from today also be running a virtual online boat show offering massive Internet discounts to those unable to attend the show due to work or family commitments (or just plain terrible weather! Did I read that 22 inches of snow recently fell in Chicago?)

Sailing Vacations are also increasingly becoming an “underground” or grassroots alternative to the commercialized “cookie-cutter” packages offered by massive cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The keyword is “escape” with a sailing catamaran representing the best features of family vacation in an island setting.

The Miami Boat Show is always an interesting barometer to gauge the current strength of the yachting industry in general and the catamaran sector in particular. On a final parting note, early signs indicate that February yacht sales for The Catamaran Company may turn out to be the best the company has had in several years.

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