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Boat Show News

Dress the part, smile and welcome all to greatest show on earth

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This month, captains and crew will have their greatest career opportunity of 2015: attending the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Crew who are not near Ft. Lauderdale should buy a plane ticket and get there.

This is the biggest big boat show on the planet and this chance only comes once a year to experience a massive display of all things boating. Five full days of opportunity to enlarge every yachtie’s knowledge and value, network with old friends and make new contacts that could impact their career and alter their life.

There is no excuse for missing this amazing event. I have not missed one in more than 25 years.

Some crew will work the show, most likely on a boat exhibited for sale. Having boarded a couple of boats over the years, I have a few suggestions to hopefully enhance a crew member’s value during a boat show. Fortunately, I have just returned from the Monaco Yacht Show where I experienced some outstanding lessons worth sharing with crew and their handlers (brokers) during a show.

My favorite showing (not necessarily the boat, but the experience) was with M/Y Heliad II, a relatively recently launched 110-foot yacht built by a new Dutch yard, Lynx. Every showing should go like this one.

Seated at the umbrella-covered podium on the dock was a pleasant young lady. She stood up, extended her hand, introduced herself and said “Welcome to Heliad. Would you like to see her?”

Rainbow to Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Rainbow to Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Sadly, this part of a showing is often a grunt, a visual evaluation of my wardrobe, and a “Do you have an appointment?” followed by a request to complete a two-page application (including shoe size) and a suggestion to come back on Tuesday after the show was closed.

She then pointed to a chair on the dock where I could sit to remove my shoes (what a concept) and motioned us up the passerelle to view the boat. There was no interrogation or demand to know if I had a broker. This boat was for sale, and I was made welcome to see it.

Upon landing on the aft deck, we were greeted by two extraordinarily beautiful stews in formal uniforms (not shorts and a T-shirt), smiling broadly. “Welcome to Heliad. Thank you for coming.” One held a silver tray with chilled glasses and chilled bottled water (both still and sparkling), along with the yacht’s custom cocktail napkins. The other held a silver tray with chilled, moist cotton towels. The only thing better would have been an icy cold Bud, but nonetheless, this was exemplary behavior.

Once we were refreshed and dazzled, the stews introduced us to the chief engineer who gave us an efficient yet unrushed tour of this unique boat. It was spotlessly clean with flowers everywhere.

Unlike many guides on boat tours, he eagerly offered to show us the crew quarters, which is always high on my list but not often offered on the official tours. As we passed through the crew mess, the uniformed captain sat eating his lunch. He put down his fork, stood up and introduced himself with a handshake and a friendly smile. He then suggested that if we had any questions after the tour that he would be more than happy to meet with us to answer them in detail. The rest of the tour was similar; smiling, eager faces all around. And it was the third day of the show.

If this sounds simple, it is, but I dare every captain and crew member to pledge this is how showings are orchestrated on their boat. I have been through too many boats where crew are either off the boat entirely or huddled in the crew mess and do not even acknowledge the presence of a visitor, perhaps even a buyer and potential future employer.

I would bet I have been offered a cold beverage less than a third of the times I escaped the sweating throngs on the docks at the Ft. Lauderdale show to view a boat, maybe even less.

Full dress uniforms should be the standard. Pretty stews are a big plus. And most importantly, a smile is critical. Yachting is supposed to be fun. Even old fat guys in jeans like me can be real buyers. We come in all shapes and sizes. Be gracious, be welcoming and smile. This is boating. It is fun and needs to look that way, even on the fifth day of a show.

High tide only and bow west.

Peter Herm is the pen name for a veteran yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. Contact him through www.the-triton.com/author/peter-herm.

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