Heading into this year's Fort Lauderdale boat show, we polled a few industry experts for their best tips for buyers.
What makes the Fort Lauderdale show a good place to discover charter?
The Fort Lauderdale boat show offers hundreds of boats for sale, but it’s also the best venue for prospective charter clients to learn about chartering, as many of the yachts on display also charter. I always encourage clients to attend, as they can step on board a variety of sizes, manufacturers and styles of yachts in one central location. There’s no substitute for actually seeing, touching and smelling the yacht that you’re interested in chartering. Clients can also spend time with crew, which is so valuable. One client recently planned an itinerary with the captain and went over menus with the chef during the show. Fraser Yachts always has charter brokers available to introduce clients to charter and escort them through the maze of boats, focusing on the boats that best meet their desires.
—Robin O’Brien | charter broker, Fraser Yachts Worldwide
Why is it a good idea to walk the show with a sales broker?
A broker can help a client zero in on the best type of boat that fits a client’s criteria and show lots of boats quickly. It’s a real time-saver to work with a broker who knows the client’s criteria, the boats and the layout of the show. Also, at Northrop & Johnson, we have a great database that can guide a seller or buyer with price using empirical data.
—Ann Avery | sales broker, Northrop & Johnson
What does the Fort Lauderdale show offer the new-boat client?
The Fort Lauderdale boat show is the perfect opportunity to purchase a new yacht. Other than the Cannes boat show in Europe being the first of many debuts for 2015, the Fort Lauderdale boat show is the pinnacle for the nautical season in the Americas.
Like many, the Ferretti Group will have new 2015 inventory arriving from Italy just weeks before the Fort Lauderdale boat show, as well as a selection of previously owned yachts that typically move very quickly. The timing of this show is also ideal since owners use their yachts heavily during the peak holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s in the Caribbean and South Florida.
Since so many headquarters for the Americas are in Fort Lauderdale with satellite offices in Palm Beach, Miami and Stuart, Florida, clients can feel assured that service and yacht management teams are close by to help them get up to speed with their new yacht.
—Brett Keating | vice president of marketing, Ferretti Americas
What’s the state of the superyacht market as we head into the Fort Lauderdale show?
The market is firming up. Owners know that demand is surpassing quality inventory, so those great deals where clients were able to negotiate millions off an asking price are gone. The ‘economy’ end of the superyacht market is seeing a lot of movement, with the $8 million to $12 million sector especially hot right now.
—Alex Clarke, director of Denison Superyacht Division
From a builder’s perspective, the market is positive; the best it’s looked since the recession began. Demand has returned, especially for larger and more complex yachts. The reputable yards all have full order books. Clients continue to push hard on prices, but are typically staying with the yards that have proven to deliver quality.
—Timothy Hamilton, director of Feadship America
How is the buying climate for the American consumer around this year’s Fort Lauderdale show?
The chatter I’m hearing suggests it is the perfect time to buy a yacht, with a strong period of sustained yacht sales, particularly in the 90-foot to 120-foot range.
—Alastair Callender, yacht marketing manager, Burgess
How can consumers get the most value out of a brokerage yacht this fall?
Clarke: Shop around. There are always deals to be had at a boat show—that’s why owners put their boats in the show—and there’s always room for negotiating. Some of the best deals happen at the show, not after it.
What’s new and exciting in the market this year for consumers?
Clarke: We’re noticing a few cool new trends. High quality 30-, 40-, even 50-foot RIB tenders are hitting the U.S. luxury market, a testament that Mediterranean-style, open-layout cruising is gaining popularity here in the States.
Hamilton: Builders are finding ways to use less fossil fuels while providing increased performance and incredible onboard experiences conceived around the personality of the individual owner.