Organisers of the show want to reach "untapped" boating audience

While London struggles under the weight of two competing boat shows just weeks apart, the Birmingham Boat Show, on at the NEC until 24 February, only seems to be getting bigger.

One of the persistent rumours at the show this year is that organisers are considering handing another hall at the NEC to boats, a move that would make the event a major player on the boat show calendar.

While not dismissing this rumour outright, organisers did say in an interview with MBM today that there would be more products, more choice and more features next year in a very deliberate move to attract an “untapped boating audience that isn’t going to Southampton or London”.

The enthusiasm of organisers towards the boating side of the show is infectious, and is reflected in the comments collected from various exhibitors dotted around the Motor Boats Monthly Marine Hall.

Chris Manners, MD of Penton Hook Marine Sales, said: “If it gets bigger, we will absolutely invest more in the show. We’re not going back to the Earls Court Boat Show, ExCeL needs to succeed and this could be something that grows alongside it.”

Such comments may spell trouble for the Earls Court show, but the British Marine Federation seems untroubled by Birmingham’s expansion. The trade body is here in a “supporting role”, and conversations are ongoing to make Birmingham and London complement each other.

It’s also refreshing to see such a vast range of boats in a single hall, and this, organisers said, was something that was very important to the event’s ‘ethos’.

“We could not afford to have half a dozen manufacturers taking over half a hall,” said Andrew Whalley, the show’s deputy sales manager. “It’s about continuing to make sure options and choice are there for the customer.”