Upsides and Downsides of Purchasing a Boat at a Boat Show

Upsides and Downsides of Purchasing a Boat at a Boat Show

Purchasing a boat at a boat show might seem like a good idea, and a great place to fraternize with fellow boat owners and gain a new vessel. After all, what better place to purchase a vessel than at an event where marine manufacturers and other providers congregate? Apart from commercial sellers, you’re also likely to meet private owners looking to trade up or get out of the ownership game entirely.

But despite the favorable prospects, there are a few drawbacks to purchasing boats at such events. It is time to look at the advantages and the disadvantages.  

Are Boats Cheaper at Boat Shows?

One of the best things about purchasing a boat at a boat show is the prospect of getting huge discounts. In some cases, you might find brand-new models going for 10% to 30% less than they would cost at a dealership. These events give manufacturers and dealers an ideal opportunity to sell their inventories, but the increased competition also means buyers can enjoy significant savings.

Dealers often mark down their products considerably at these events. Some also throw in additional perks to boost sales. Therefore, anyone looking for great deals should at least visit local boat shows to see what’s available.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Boat at a Boat Show

However, boat shows aren’t necessarily the best place to purchase a boat. Thus, it is wise to look at the advantages and disadvantages of 

boat shows for prospective buyers:


Convenience: One of the main benefits of boat shows is the availability of plenty of options in a single location. With so many dealers in attendance, buyers have many more choices than they would have at any dealership.

Possibly Better Deals: As mentioned previously, boat shows are great places to get good deals. Not only are prices generally lower, but dealers will often add perks and bundled items that add more excellent value to the purchase. 

Negotiable Prices: Of course, lower prices are always an attractive come-on. Dealers are more likely to negotiate at a boat show considering the competition. Some may even slash prices to make up for the transport costs and fees they had to pay to participate in the show.

Informed Purchases: The more casual atmosphere of a typical boat show makes dealers more likely to accommodate prospective buyers. They will be more eager to answer questions and provide information about the specs and features of the boats they are selling. Even if a buyer purchases a boat elsewhere, they will probably pick up plenty of helpful information. 


Impulse Buying: The highly-charged environment of a boat show can potentially move products as quickly as possible. Consequently, buyers are much more likely to purchase impulsively, leading to rash decisions. 

Limited to Brand-New Models: Dealers take advantage of boat shows to showcase new models. While this might be good for those looking to purchase a brand-new boat, those who want to save money on used models will be out of luck.  

Inability to Test Drive: Dealers at boat shows generally don’t allow buyers to test drive their wares. Anyone counting on taking a planned purchase out for a spin may have to go elsewhere or risk buying a boat they haven’t tried personally. 

Long Wait Times for Delivery: Buyers who purchase at a boat show may have to wait a while for the vessel’s delivery. It is often the case when upgrades and customizations are requested, which happens with most standard models on display.


It is always worth going to a boat show whether or not a prospective buyer decides to purchase their dream vessel there. Nevertheless, shoppers should explore all their options to find where they can get the best deals. By shopping around and comparing as many different offers as possible, buyers are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase. 

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.