Talk about bad karma.
I visited the Miami International Boat Show last week on behalf of several clients. As the world’s largest boat show, the event attracts hundreds of journalists, and with them throngs of PR guys…like me.
Though the weather was sunny, the show operated under a very dark cloud. Literally every conversation I had touched on industry people being laid off, boat companies going under, magazines cutting staff and dealers sitting on inventory. Certainly, none of this was surprisingly; hell, few product categories are more discretionary – or expensive – than recreational boating. In reality, the boat business was reeling from high gas prices and consumer unease even before the housing/banking crisis of last fall. The Wall Street meltdown just turned that downward trajectory into an out-and-out nose dive.
The gloom was noticeable on the show floor, where consumers were few and far between, and in the media room, where many long-attending writers were conspicuous in their absence. It was also noticeable in the press conference schedule (there were few); the corporate hospitality bashes and splashy magazine events (there were none); and even in the area restaurants, which sat mostly empty.