As this issue goes to press, the Schroders London Boat Show has just closed...
As this issue goes to press, the Schroders London Boat Show has just closed its doors to a huge sigh of relief from the marine trade. The industry took a big gamble in relocating the Boat Show from Earls Court to ExCel, but it seems to have paid off. And then some!
More than 210,000 of you made the trip to ExCel, which is 54% up on attendances at Earls Court last year. And, it seems, most of you will be going back again next year. And that?s the important thing. Most industry analysts (me and Dave and some bloke on the Guinness stand) predicted a good turnout this year because a lot of people wanted to see what the new show was like. But the long-term success of the venue would depend on people?s experiences this year. If people liked it, they?d be back next year. If they didn?t enjoy the experience, they might never return.
There were plenty of people who predicted the move would be a flop. Some high-profile industry leaders anticipated a disaster. One well-established British motor boat builder didn?t even bother booking a stand for the show this year, so convinced were they that ExCel would be an unmitigated failure. Well, it wasn?t. Despite concerns about the location and the transport infrastructure, a huge number of you made the effort and were rewarded with a truly memorable experience.
Yes, there were some gripes about food prices and signposting for people travelling by car (should have read the directions in January?s issue of MBY, eh?), the Docklands Light Railway caused a few people a bit of a headache, and some days the queues to get in were long, but generally most people got there okay, got in okay, and had a pleasant experience once there. Compared with Earls Court, the simple layout, the wide aisles, the cleanliness of the venue and the helpfulness of the ExCel staff made it a great place to visit. On the last Saturday there were twice as many people at ExCel as ever went to Earls Court in one day, yet the place still didn?t feel crammed or claustrophobic. The on-water attractions made for an interesting diversion when the kids got bored of opening and closing cupboards on boats, and even the windsurfing came good.
All in all, a phenomenal success. Now, if they could shift all those things with masts and sails outside, there?d be room in the north hall for more engaging attractions… the much-needed women?s indoor beach-volleyball displays, the eagerly anticipated swimwear show, and such like.