Chicago Boat Show: Affordability Pavilion / by Trevor

The NMMA, in an effort to respond to the recession, has run an "Affordability Pavilion" at all of their shows this season. This is an area set aside, not grouped by brand, but by price point. These boats are all attainable for a monthly payment of $250 or less (with some money down). I thin k it is a great idea to have a few boats that may have one or two salesmen wandering around, but a lower pressure atmosphere than the typical booth. Also, it is much easier to compare boats against each other when they are station 4ft from each other, and all the pricing/financing options have been outlined. Hop in one, hop in the other, see what fits.

Some may say "How much boat can you buy for $250 a month?" Well, most boats were under 20 feet, a few in the mid 20's, but plenty of smaller fishing boats, bass boats, a pontoon, typical sport boats, a large (dual engine) jet boat, a bit of variety. I was surprised to hear the wide audience this booth is projected to appeal to:

According to the NMMA, while recreational boating in the U.S. is perceived to be an activity for the affluent, the vast majority of boaters are middle class. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s 2008 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, approximately 75 percent of boat owners have a household income under $100,000, and an estimated 95 percent of boats on the water today are trailerable boats that are 26 feet or less.

(source)

We see many attempts to make the boat affordable, and this reminds me of Sea Ray and Costco's partnership. It is important that manufacturers keep up quality, otherwise it becomes a race to the bottom-- stripping quality and features from their boats to make the product cheaper than the next guy, who has to be more drastic to keep up.