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

Motorboat & Yachting - - News -

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

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