Pens? Check. Printer? Check. Extension Cords? Check. I must have done this with about 50 other things before the show, twice… The Toronto International Boat Show was the biggest and most important thing I have done for my business to this date. The exposure, the networking, and the motivation are all things that I saw as huge positives. This show is quite a bit longer than most, with a total of 9 days. It was held at the Direct Energy Centre and received about 80,000 visitors. It was great exposure for someone just starting out, such as myself. I can’t even count the amount of times I was asked who the owner was and where I was sent from. Although a little disheartening, I took it as a compliment and explained that the owners had no idea I was running their booth and that I was only here for some good entertainment and free food samples. I’m just kidding, I didn’t say that, but sometimes I wanted to. I explained to them that I was the owner and that I was just starting out, and they seemed to like the ambition of beginning my own venture.
Setup was hard and time consuming, and I underestimated it. One of my brand-new televisions wouldn’t turn on, and that was quite the disappointment. I was scrambling with 5 minutes left before show time, trying to make sure everything was working properly. About an hour into the show I was still trying to set up my Vista Print banners, and local celebrity Mike Holmes from Holmes on Homes, an HGTV television show, walked passed me and looked down at me. The only thing I thought of was how bad he probably wanted to tell me to get my act together. If anyone has seen the show, Mike’s number one goal is to criticise other contractors on poor workmanship. Anyways, shortly after that I was ready to chat, deal, and network with other industry professionals.
Midweek started to feel like I was singing the same old song, and I was beginning to lose my voice, so I started to venture around the show. I went to seminars, spoke with other brokers, checked out some inventory, familiarized myself with all of the big players, and got some ideas for next year. To be honest, my booth was a little bush league compared to some of the big guns, but I saw it as it was more important that I showed up with what I had and what I could afford.
By the end of the show, I felt like I had really accomplished a lot. I had made many connections, learned many important things about brokerage, learned about key players, learned about what the current market is offering, learned about pricing, and most importantly I learned that there are 98,864 little squares in the carpet that I purchased from Home Depot. Let’s just say it’s amazing how much time you really spend in your booth.
Cole Ritchie – North American Yacht Sales