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’Tis the season when next year’s models are launched and boat shows descend on floating docks and convention center floors around the country. If you’re itching to make a purchase, these exhibitions offer a great opportunity to see the newest of the new vessels, as well as the latest electronics, gear and accessories. The benefit to you is selection (all the products and dealers are gathered in one place) and deals you probably won’t find anywhere else.

However, these events are often so large and bewildering that it can be difficult to walk away feeling like you maximized your shopping time. What you need is a game plan. boat showsHere are some tips on how to navigate your local boat show effectively, so you end up with the right product at the right price.

Know What You Want. If you’re seriously considering a purchase, not just shopping, do your homework ahead of time and know what boats and brands make sense for you. Then, go to the show’s website and find the booths or slip numbers for your targets. This will save you tons of time wandering at the show.

Go At The Right Time. The first day is usually less crowded, especially if it’s a weekday. You may have to pay a bit more for a “preview” or “VIP” ticket, but the chance to see more of the show and get more attention is worth it. Go in the mid-morning or afternoon, before people get off work.

Meet and Greet. Take time when looking over a boat you’re considering purchasing. Sit at the helm. Check the lines of sight. Open hatches to see if they’re finished inside. boat showLook in the engine compartment. Imagine having to maintain the boat or make repairs. Also be sure to get to know the dealer. Discuss things like experience and service capability. Ask the same questions to each dealer to get apples-to-apples answers.

The Real Deal. Boat shows can be a great place to make a deal, but be sure to read the fine print. Some discounts may only apply to boats with (or without) the power and features you want. Also ask about freight, prep and delivery. Again, make sure you are asking apples-to-apples questions between boats and brands

When you find that next boat, make sure you have great boat insurance with United Marine Underwriters.

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