Sarasota’s Suncoast Boat Show 2015

The Suncoast Boat Show is going on down in Sarasota this weekend so I went today.  This is my first time at this one in the three years I’ve been going to the shows.

I didn’t bring home too many boat show literature pamphlets (boo! sad face!) but I did bring home… BOAT SHOW PILLOWS. The last five-ish shows I’ve been to I have wanted to purchase the bamboo pillows and today I finally did.

Now. Yes, I know they’re *just* pillows but they are special, comfy and from “A” boat show!! So I am all kinds of excited! THANK YOU to the person behind booth area who sold them to me.

For my run down of the show…

The Cool Factor

“Turn your jet ski into a waveboat!”

“UH—WHAT?” was my initial reaction. I must say WAVETOYS, that is pretty cool! That is definitely something innovative and different to the marine world.

Best New Product Idea …

goes to Propulse Inc / USA

Their product seems genius. Break a prop blade? Why not just replace the blade and then adjust accordingly? They sell prop blades by themselves! If you are a parts dealer do yourself a huge favor and look into this!

Hello Again!

BlackJack! Your brand-name icon has a Pirate sword, you still rock my socks! Nice boat too. 🙂

Cobalt! My favorite since waaaaay back when… however, where the heck was MarkerOne?!?!

To my favorite yachts – Galati & Tom George – thank you for the beautiful eye candy once again!

THANK YOU Hi-Tide for being awesome and offering me a bag (I declined, since I had a backpack) but you let me take a pen instead. You guys are always super friendly every time I have walked past your booth every show.

And thank you Boat Shopper Magazine / The Mariner for always having that reading material out for me to grab. 🙂

It was a good show as always. TO MY FAVORITE – SHOW MANAGEMENT / BOAT SHOW HOTELS – THANK YOU FOR A GREAT SHOW ONCE AGAIN!! Love you guys! One day I will actually meet you all in person.

– Karen Maeby

Boat Show Poetry [1]

These were from the Tampa Boat Show in September 2014. Photo and poetry credit to me. Thank you Montecarlo and (?) for the inspiration for my lines of poetry. 🙂


“Hit play on the jukebox, drop me a line and throw it back to yesterday. Braid my heart into your tomorrow, because I’m here to stay. Retro sings as our eyes meet knowing that our yesterday will also become our future, as our footprints prove we’ve walked the path before.” 2014 © Karen Maeby Bates


“Sometimes, I can’t see, because I can’t tell if this reality is different from my dreams. I wash the window only to see reflection all around me – where the dreams and reality meet – and there’s only pieces in between keeping it all together….when everything else disappears.” 2014 © Karen Maeby Bates

Anyone ready for boat season?

Tis the boat season–IT HAS OFFICIALLY BEGAN–and we are all getting busier and busier. I am an assistant to the service department, and from here on out, about half of my responsibilities will be to answer the phone and take messages. Not that it hadn’t been before, it’s just that all four lines are now ringing a lot one right after another.

It’s hard to believe that at the end of next month (May) I will have been working at my dream company (Thunder) for a year. Last year, I was new to the crazy. But this year? I have a lot of things down and I can actually be helpful.. which makes me really happy.

I keep reading on about the economic turnout at shows and just in general to buy a boat. It’s good to see that beginning rush of people bringing their boat in for service, as well as going to the boat shows and seeing people work deals for the buying of new ones. It seems with the lower gas prices that’s just a good portion of people being happy to get out on the water again. I was never in the industry when the collapse happened, so I cannot compare there.

On another note, I also saw a few articles today on about sales and service in general and how to keep customers happy. That will be saved for the next entry which deserves its own post.

For anyone who works in the industry, I wish you the best and to hit those goals and collect the much-deserved bonuses you (might) earn. I hope this year is better than the last.

As for me, I will be around–working–and (hopefully) be at the next boat show in Sarasota (Suncoast).

– Karen Maeby

Customer service at boat shows.

First of all, I need to say how much I love reading Today Jonathan Sweet, one of their writers/bloggers, came out with such a great article as a reminder for any readers in this industry.

An article from April 1965 stated what was wrong with the companies at a boat show which mostly talked about the disengagement of boat dealer employees to the buyers.

Reading that reminds me of a story.

My first show ever was the Miami International Show, right? I distinctly remember talking to this one company at their booth about some product and then [we] asked about a specific product that they carry. Their marketer was sitting at the booth and had absolutely no clue about that product.

With me having zero knowledge about what went on with boat shows at that time, I knew right then and there that someone like that should not be manning the booth (or at least alone). I walked away like, “Did that really just happen?” Then I texted my then boss and thanked him for giving me the knowledge that I did have, so that I wouldn’t end up in that situation.

Yes, everyone has to hire new employees as old ones move on, but to have basic knowledge of everything their company covers is very, very important. Say the top dogs who’ve been there for a while was busy with other customers, the new employees must engage and answer questions quickly enough to grab the customers attention before they give up and move to someone else. Think bait to fish, you need to tug on the line just a bit then reel it in after you’ve gained their full attention.

Back to the article by Boating Industry– two other blog entries written were about their individual reaction to going to a boat show. Some dealership employees were ignoring customers by constantly having their nose in their phones.

I personally haven’t experienced anything like that since Miami, but I know the more that I continue to go to the shows, the more I’ll see. To me, the bottom line is: that it is disappointing to see someone at the booth who has no clue about the company/industry/product. That’s bad business. It’s also bad business to not say a simple “hello” — at least you threw the line out there.

– Karen Maeby

General customer service in the boating industry.

A few entries back I stated “tis the season for boat season.” Yes, I believe it has finally hit this area at least. One of the things that I do is study the behavior of customers when things go right/wrong, not just at my location, but anywhere I go or what I may hear out in the world.

I have also read’s article about the behaviors of salespeople and what makes them not gain the sales.

In general, here are some key pointers I would like to stress for all departments.

– DO NOT rush the customer to get your sale. Listen, listen, listen for what they want.

– If you treat the customer with respect through the sale, then the service goes smoothly–they are yours for life. The last thing you want is trouble from the beginning because they will quickly regret their decision.

– Get to know your customer throughout this whole process. The more personal you get, the better off you will end up.

– If you have several departments, make sure the communication is A-A. The busier it gets, the crazier it will get– so everyone needs to be on the same page to seize any bad that might happen.

– Now is not the time to have any “trouble makers” on board. Now is not the time to hire new people who don’t have the knowledge to just jump right in and work.

– If the customer’s parts are on backorder or for whatever reason you don’t have them, call the customer and let them know. They will be more mad at you for not telling them than if you did call and tell them. At least at that point, it’s out of your hands.

– Keep the communication line open with your customer. If you do not call them back, they will keep calling and will not be happy about it. Always, always, always update them.

– If you make a promise, you deliver. You were the one that told them it was going to be there / done / what have you, now you must make that happen.

– Get all of your documents signed that you are supposed to. This covers the customer, as well as you.

I know that sometimes some of these things are nearly impossible or can get out of control when it’s busy, but it is always best to keep calm and keep pushing on. Just do the right thing and it should fall back in place once the stress is over.

– Karen Maeby