The London Boat Show. Murray Ellis explains the changes
We explain what changes are afoot for 2018 with Murray Ellis from British Marine Boat Shows
How will next year’s London show differ from previous ones?
The two main differences are the timing and the format. Instead of opening on a Friday and running for ten days, it will run for five days from Wednesday January 10 to Sunday 14. The format is changing to include three different shows under one roof: the Boat Show still takes centre stage but the Boating & Watersports Holiday Show will occupy one end of the hall and Bespoke London the other.
Whose idea was it?
“All of the changes are based on feedback from our exhibitors, visitors and sponsors, with the ultimate decisions being made by the British Marine Board which consists of both members and exhibitors. The show is ultimately owned by the industry for the industry. All profits go back into providing services and activities for our members and it’s essential that we take them on this journey with us.”
What changes did exhibitors want?
“Two strong themes came out of our market research. Firstly, that many would find it of benefit to exhibit at a five-day show instead of ten, and one that offers more of a break following New Year. Secondly, it was highlighted that offering different market sectors and new products would appeal to a broader audience.”
Why five days?
“A reduction to five days will keep the show and its exhibitors fresh and improve the atmosphere. It will still retain weekdays, popular with our loyal visitors and important for industry events, and a weekend, which attracts families and aspirational enthusiasts. The shorter show is more appealing to other markets, meaning new and increased exhibitors.”
With three conjoining shows, will the actual boat element shrink?
“As we confirm exhibitors, the layout will start to take shape with some of our current exhibitors moving across into the new show areas. The current layout plan is concept only and may change. However, the boats will continue to be the main feature and will be shown off in their full glory.”
What about moving to a spring show?
“We looked at all factors, including timing. However, there is no definitive demand from exhibitors or visitors for an alternative date. The London Boat Show has become an established part of the schedule of events held at EXCEL London, where demand for tenancy is high throughout the year. The show has a formidable place on the crowded international calendar. Over the last few years, we have worked with the organisers of Boot Düsseldorf to try to ensure the shows don’t overlap, and next year there will be a five-day window between the two events. Plus, the introduction of the Boating & Watersports Holiday Show will attract some of the record number of holidaymakers who book in the first couple of weeks of January.”
Are there plans for more ‘show’ this year?
“We are re-imagining the show to engage future visitors. New shows, like the Boating & Watersports Holiday Show, will provide additional marketing opportunities and a new relevant additional audience, plus exciting new attractions and a vibrant ambience.”
Is there room for two major UK shows?
“Both of our shows (London and Southampton) are internationally renowned, playing their part on a global scale, not only to represent the strength of UK boating but to offer visitors an opportunity to see the best British names alongside the wide array of foreign brands they attract. There is high demand from exhibitors and visitors for both our events to continue.”
Will exhibitor space be cheaper?
“Yes. Some will be able to benefit from a reduction in on-costs like staffing, accommodation and subsistence, too.”
Do you expect visitor numbers to increase?
“It’s a long-term strategy. By investing in new audiences and offering them relevant exhibitors, attractions and shows, we hope to increase the audience – but it may take a few years. We’re looking to attract more core boaters as well as investing in new audiences and will be teaming up with media partners, travel titles and exploring international channels. We are confident in attracting a quality audience resulting in a great vibe about the show with lots to see.”
Will more or less retailers come?
“We’re aiming to retain and attract as many exhibitors as possible. Though fewer days may not suit all our previous exhibitors, it has been called for by a large proportion, and we are certain it will attract new exhibitors from across the industry.”
Is this the last roll of the dice for London?
“The London Boat Show maintains a loyal audience and remains an important selling platform for British and international brands. It continues to be a notable financial, promotional and social asset to the marine industry. Approaching its 64th year, it isn’t going anywhere fast. We are fully aware that we needed to make changes and are confident in the plans we are putting in place.”
The provisional layout has the Boat Show in blue, Watersports Holiday Show in green and Bespoke London in yellow