How are the organisers anticipating the 2020 boat shows?

Cannes Yachting Festival

Change of date, planning, booking of exhibitors and collection of down payments, resizing, visitor gauge... BoatIndustry took stock with the managers of the Cannes Yachting Festival, the Grand Pavois and the Nautic on their strategy to face the sanitary crisis. Here is how the 3 main French boat shows of the year 2020 anticipate the situation.

The dates of the French boat shows maintained in 2020

While the coronavirus-related health crisis has disrupted the calendar of spring 2020 boat shows and the cancellation of many shows, the focus is now on the autumn boat shows. The 3 main French events have confirmed that we will maintain their initial dates. The Cannes Yachting Festival is scheduled to take place from 8 to 13 September 2020, while the Grand Pavois will be held from 29 September to 4 October 2020 and the Nautic from 5 to 13 December 2020. Only the Salon La Rochelle concedes to have studied the possibility of a shift at the beginning or end of October. "The trade show calendar is complete with a lot of events in the spring. It is difficult to envisage a move," sums up Alain Pichavant, head of the Paris Nautic.

Decision schedules for maintaining events

If the dates of the events are confirmed, their holding will depend on the decisions of the authorities. Each has set itself a back schedule and a deadline for the final decision to maintain the event. "Like all major events, the decision must be made about 2.5 months beforehand. This is the time when the major commitments are made with suppliers. For us, we set ourselves September 15," says Alain Pichavant. For the Grand Pavois, the decision will be taken at the end of June. "This is the time when we make commitments with the biggest suppliers, such as the one for the covered halls. We won't put the Grand Pavois association at risk if there's too much risk. We've had the experience of the Nauticales where everything was set up and we had to take it down," explains Alain Pochon, president of the Grand Pavois Organisation (GPO).

Different business situations at different trade fairs

As for the Cannes Yachting Festival, they are showing their serenity on the participation of the workcamps, while affirming that they are listening. "Bookings always take place at the end of January. So that was before the start of the Covid crisis. The clients booked and we haven't had any significant cancellations since then. The major shipyards are due to resume on May 3 in Italy and early May in France. The important thing for us is to accompany our customers" indicates Sylvie Ernoult, general commissioner of the Cannes boat show.

The GPO Board of Directors has chosen to reassure exhibitors by voting new provisions for the reimbursement of advance payments. "The regulations of the Grand Pavois did not provide for reimbursement in case of force majeure. If the exhibition does not take place because of the coronavirus, we have decided to reimburse the advance payments. Moreover, the payment of the deposits was postponed to the end of May. We're now at 35% of bookings as opposed to the usual 60%, but customers have confidence in the crew of the Grand Pavois," says Alain Pochon.

On the Nautic side, the submission of commitment requests has been postponed until deconfinement. "We're also going to simplify the stand offers and adjust the terms of payment. It is already assured that the down payments will be refundable until 30 September," explains Alain Pichavant.

A different face of boat shows

If they are held, trade shows will probably have to adapt to new health regulations. Cannes should keep the configuration inaugurated in 2019 in the Old Port and Port Canto. "On paper it's just like last year, even if there will be changes depending on production and legislation," explains the general commissioner of the Cannes Yachting Festival.

In La Rochelle, GPO is working on scenarios to adapt to possible restrictions. "If necessary, the equipment hall could be transformed into small tents to stay outdoors. The aisles could be widened. We could consider setting up a route to avoid crossings and setting up real-time counting, as is already done on weekends to limit the number of people on the pontoons. We already have the specifications for temperature measurement gantries. We can also extend the Grand Pavois to 7 days for more fluidity" indicates the president of GPO.

A scene that will probably not be seen at the Grand Pavois 2020

As for the Nautic, for which 2020 should be the year of change with the abandonment of Hall 1, the organisation remains very flexible. "The new organisation was to be presented on March 16 just before the containment. Today, we will wait for the return of the requests for commitment. We set ourselves July 14 to have visibility on the fall shows and to be able to adjust the size of the show and imagine it. Today, the major exhibitors do not yet know what they want to do at the autumn shows. The show also depends on the visitors and what we can be sure of is that the desire to sail exists" concludes Alain Pichavant.