Visitors to the Nautic: between relief and gloom
The opening of the Nautic 2018 was obviously marked by concerns about the movement of yellow vests. While many feared empty aisles on the first Saturday of the show, the attendance was certainly low for a weekend, but not catastrophic, despite the difficulties of access to the Porte de Versailles, a consequence of many closed metros. Being one of the only tourist sites opened in Paris on December 8th was certainly an asset.
This relative success of the first day should not hide the reality of the week. It was always easy to walk in the aisles, but also to visit the boats. We tried it incognito. If it is most often necessary to show white paw, and especially to leave your email address for marketing purposes, the appointment setting is mostly theoretical. It is a long way from the time of the 2000s when it was necessary to arrive early to hope to visit the new products. It is now possible to board the ship within the next hour at the latest.
In the last official video of the show, shot on the Sunday of the closing, Nautic Festival's general manager, Alain Pichavant, already anticipated a drop in attendance. "The Nautic 2018 did not go so badly, since despite a difficult economic situation[...] our visitors were well attended. We'll probably have fewer visitors than last year, but it looks like a good edition."
Major shipyards absent
A boat show is the meeting place between shipyards and boaters. For the latter to move, the first ones must be there. The absence of major shipyards, as is the case for all Hanse Group brands, whether sailboats or motorboats, and the reduction of the presence of many others at counters displaying videos and models, is a sad reminder of this reality. Faced with this, it is necessary to fill the space. A large stand selling barbecues and garden furniture, in the heart of the sailing area or a petanque pitch in the equipment manufacturers' hall are examples of this.
Discover the variety of pleasure boating
A relative, who was visiting the show for the first time in 10 years, told me of his surprise at the shrinking of the Nautic. He was desperately looking for the small habitable sailboats that he is used to looking at on the water. How to make the Paris Boat Show a reflection of the variety of the pleasure fleet? Small boat builders are often the poor relation of the show to large manufacturers. "I order a stand of a certain depth and in the end I don't have it. There's no length for my boats! "says one of them, while another gets stuck between two partitions.
Dynamism, animation and modernity
Since the takeover of the Nautic by the Federation of Nautical Industries, many initiatives have been taken to make the show more lively, closer to festive events such as nautical events abroad. The social context does not help, but it is probably possible to make these initiatives more visible.
The professionals, who must be the instigators of this celebration, must regain the desire to come. The holding of user-friendly BtoB events outside business hours should probably be encouraged and not made subject to a charge. When the stands of the main manufacturers, massive, closed and intimidating, occupy the centre of the halls, electric boats, sailing dinghies or pretty old motor boats are relegated to the outskirts, instead of sharpening everyone's curiosity, to the heart of the festival.
It is in the interest of the entire French nautical industry that the Nautic remains a major event and does not become a regional show. If the situation is difficult to assess, we have tried to give some suggestions. The sector remains dynamic as will be seen in the articles to come, gleaned from the aisles of the show.