Period of choice for boat shows
Autumn and late summer are traditionally a key period for boat shows worldwide. Complex logistics and the associated costs mean that the organisers have to make a commitment several months in advance. The beginning of July is therefore the time of choice for the first boat shows of the season scheduled for September. Should they maintain the event at the risk of a last-minute cancellation due to the return of restrictions linked to an upsurge in the coronavirus epidemic or is a preventive cancellation more judicious? Faced with these cut-off dates, each boat show adapts its position according to the local health situation, the boating market in the region and its financial health.
Cancellation wave in the United States
Faced with a worsening health situation across the Atlantic, the trend is towards cancellations in the United States. The Newport show, which traditionally opens the season in America, has announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition. "There are just too many unknowns at this stage and a very high probability that the show will not take place, or if it does, in a format that would not be appreciated by our exhibitors and visitors," says Paul O'Reilly, owner of the Newport International Boat Show. For its part, the Brunswick Group has replaced its dealer meetings organised by its Land'N'Sea subsidiary with virtual events. The NMEA, the marine electronics association, did the same for its annual conference. On the other hand, the IBEX trade shows and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show scheduled for October have been maintained to this day. The owner of the latter, Informa, is counting on FLIBS to compensate for the cancellation of the Monaco Yacht Show.
Cancellations also affect other continents. The Cape Town fair in South Africa has been cancelled, as has the Sydney fair.
Cautious maintenance in Europe
While the evolution of sanitary constraints and the limits imposed on public gatherings seems positive, the organisers of European boat shows are communicating on the maintenance of the events. Apart from the notable cancellation of the Monaco Yacht Show, the major European boat shows are competing with reassuring campaigns. The Cannes Yachting Festival is still confirmed for September, as are the Grand Pavois in La Rochelle and the Genoa boat show in Italy. Scheduled for later in November, the METS Trade yachting trade show is communicating on the re-engagement of more than 1,250 exhibitors, while affirming: "METS Trade 2020 can only be held if we can make it a safe and successful show". For its part, Boot Dusseldorf is now launching its promotional campaign for the 2021 show.
How will boaters react?
Beyond the holding of the events, one unknown remains: will boaters come to survey the alleys and docks? If the answer is still uncertain, it will surely determine the future survival of many events and the relevance of their holding. The multiplication of surveys sent to visitors' mailboxes is not misleading, but their results are jealously guarded to this day.