Great first show for Gateway Yachts! Thank you to all in the industry who encouraged and nurtured us, and also thanks to the overwhelming majority of people who “get” the concept, “get” the numbers, and understand that our program produces a better ownership experience.
Set up for the show began on Monday, for our first show booth we think it looks pretty good!
Our booth was right down from the Aspen C90 on the water so we were able to connect people to the actual boat – that was very helpful and productive for everyone.
Tuesday night was VIP Night, and the show reports that there were 200 more invitees this year than last. A good start, but most of these people already owned their own boats – still we received a lot of interest.
Wednesday and Thursday were a little slow, but talking to regulars that was normal for those days. Interestingly, this provided a clear snapshot of where the hot spots in the show were. It was obvious that Gateway was relatively busy and so was the Aspen boat. Every glance down the docks one could see very few people… except there were almost always people looking at the Aspen – the energy level around that boat was different all show, it stood out.
It was during this relative quiet that I had several very experienced boat industry executives come straight out and say, “Gateway and Aspen are the future of the industry.”
Wow! That’s quite the acknowledgement and welcome for a new company, but in our minds it solidifies our model and the relationships we have formed with quality and innovative manufacturers.
Friday through the weekend was extremely busy, as the show produced a ton of local media coverage. Attendance was reported to be up substantially over last year and the activity was pretty much non-stop.
We generated a copious number of good contacts, including several in the media who are helping Gateway gain traction with the public. Nor’westing Magazine, in particular, wrote a brilliant article on Gateway that will make a terrific marketing piece, AND they are publishing the recent Gateway Yacht Talk article “Two Engines or One.”
More publicity is likely as we follow up with other media. We will be promoting the teaming up of local manufacturers and this fractional program as an innovative alliance to combat and smooth rough economic seas – after all, those who innovate survive, while those who stagnate… well, let’s just say there were a lot of very heavy boats at the show with two very heavy, inefficient, and fuel hungry engines (and not a lot of people surrounding them, imagine that)!
We are working with at least a dozen seriously interested parties in the Aspen and I’m sure will convert at least a few of them into Gateway customers. We also received significant interest in the larger Nordic Tugs, but Gateway’s first sale actually came in a fully optioned and outfitted Hewescraft Pacific Explorer. What's interesting about this Hewescraft sale is that it is an industry insider who is purchasing it for his own business use! He saw the concept and came back the next day realizing that instead of forking over more than $140k for his own machine that a fractional share would more than suffice and save him more than $100,000 in the process! Now that is how the numbers work, and why we believe that Gateway is the future of the industry.
On top of that, we were just about to pull the plug on the Sportsman's Show this January as we don’t yet have the personnel to man two booths because the big Seattle Boat Show is on the same weekend. But this very experienced professional right away also agreed to help Gateway market the fishing versions at the Sportsman’s Show they were already committed to attending! This is an important win as the Washington Sportsman's show is a big show with more than 44,000 in attendance last year. This will ensure our exposure there and probably fill out the first Hewescraft boat.
The traction is beginning to take hold. We now look forward to the Anacortes show at the end of this month, and then the big Seattle Show this January will kick off the next boating season.
The Manufacturers are raising prices for next year, Aspen has already raised theirs, and thus Gateway must do likewise prior to the next show. As affordable as they are, some of Gateway’s prices are going to have to rise as much as 10% to keep pace.
Again, it was a terrific first show, thank you to everyone who was so kind and helpful. Special thanks to the Aspen team, great people, innovative, the FUTURE of boating. Thanks to AZRainman for the endless hours developing our website and creating all of our world class graphics! Also thank you to Chuck and Jim of Nor’westing Magazine for the great exposure and nurturing, as well as to Bell Design and all our booth-mates who were also most supportive!