The best thing about the boat show for someone serious about buying a boat is the opportunity to comparison shop.
Imagine being able to go car shopping and being able to check out three different makes of automobile in one dealer's showroom. That's the beauty of the boat show.
If you're in the market for a center console fishing boat, you can compare the features and prices of three or four or more similar models. Get in the boats and study their layouts, sit at the helms, open the hatches and lean against the gunwales.
Likewise for a sportfisherman or trawler or superyacht: Climb aboard, walk around, sit down and figure out what you like and don't like. Sometimes you can arrange for a test drive with a similar boat that's not in the show, but in most cases you'll schedule that sea trial after the show.
Once you've narrowed down your choices, you can negotiate prices with the advantage of being able to say, "That dealer will sell me the boat for this much. Can you beat that?"
Before you get to that point, you can determine your financing options with any number of lenders at the show and find out how much insurance will cost. You can price a new boat lift if you live on the water or secure a slip in a marina.