Bombardier Recreational Products will once again be taking a grassroots approach to marketing its Sea-Doo brand of personal watercraft and jet boats, growing its traveling demo tour to a total of 28 cities for the 2012 season. Consumers will have an opportunity to not only see, but actually try the personal watercraft or jet boat they may be interested in. The 2012 “Sea-Doo Life Test Ride Tour” also directly benefits area dealers that choose to become involved. A consumer’s interest is immediately peaked following a test ride and is put into a buying frame of mind.
Similar to last year’s iControl Tour, the Sea-Doo Life tour will again feature a series of fun, three-day weekend events geared toward giving both current and potential boaters a controlled, structured opportunity to experience what Sea-Doo has to offer throughout its line. In particular, participants will get the opportunity to try the brand’s iControl technologies, which include both the Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR) system as well as the Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) features. The former will not only highlight the craft’s braking ability, but also showcase Sea-Doo’s enhanced maneuverability around the dock; the latter aims to display Sea-Doo’s multiple acceleration mode profiles, as well as convenience features like cruise control and no-wake modes.
"There is no better way for consumers to understand the value of the new Sea-Doo iControl technologies than to experience them first hand,” says LOOK Marketing’s Tim McKercher, who coordinates the tour. “Though the iBR system is entering it’s forth year, there are still a large portion of the 1.4 million registered PWC owners who have not experienced how valuable starting in neutral at the dock and having the ability to brake really is."
It’s once again a substantial undertaking for the brand, which has grown the 2012 tour to include more cities than ever before. Two dedicated teams are put on the road to most effectively cover both coasts and key cities in between. Teams feature carefully trained specialists who can knowledgeably converse about the brand, demonstrate the product’s features and answer consumer questions. Once rides are complete, those interested in talking to a salesperson are directed to local dealer personnel on hand, who will hopefully convert the most interested into sales, and establish relationships for the future.
“It’s huge,” says Gary Meloon, owner of Southeast Marine Sales/MasterCraft of Orlando, whose dealership has participated in the Orlando event for the last three years. “It’s what every dealer wishes every boat manufacturer would do, put something on like that. It benefits me as a dealer, but it also benefits the manufacturer because if I’m moving units through this demo so are they.”
According to Meloon, key to the demo from the dealer perspective is just how cheap and easy Sea-Doo makes it for the dealer to be involved.
“I can’t tell you how many units we have sold over the last three years we have participated in this. I can’t imagine why a dealer wouldn’t get involved. They basically set the site up, they pay the site fees if required, they bring the tent, they bring the personnel, they bring the equipment, they bring everything you need to have a successful day on the water demoing to potential clients. And all you have to do is show up with warm bodies who can pass out business cards and talk to them. That to me is such a no-brainer.
“And the promotion they do, everything they do to promote this day and bring people out, it’s a very successful event for us. My only criticism is that I wish they’d do it more than once a year!”
According to McKercher, the demo tour should reach over 4,000 people during the course of the 28 different tour stops. Each is briefed on proper boating etiquette before taking to the water, and given a hands-on explanation of operating procedures on each boat from a staff member. Guests are given the opportunity to try as many of the boats as they like, typically on a course that offers different zones set up to highlight one of the craft’s advantages. Laps end with a stop sign in an area designed to showcase the PWC’s braking ability. The free, no-pressure rides end with an event t-shirt and the invitation to talk to a salesperson.
McKercher quotes a 12 percent demo-to-sales conversion rate, indicating that the tour is particularly strong in getting people “off the fence,” as well as bringing those who may not have been previously interested into the market simply by offering them the opportunity to try a personal watercraft or jet boat in a relaxed event situation.
A major social media component of the tour is also planned, though details have yet to be announced. MPN