Are the growing number of Chinese boat shows hindering rather than fuelling boating in the region?

As China moves forward in developing its marine leisure industry there is a growing opinion amongst international players in the market and leading domestic companies that the programme of boat shows currently being held is going to have to be redefined.

“The problem is simply that there are too many shows and the challenge is to choose the best ones so that you can use your marketing spend to best effect promoting your range and achieving sales,” a senior executive of a leading international company in the Chinese market told IBI. “The issue is not only too many shows but increasingly it is about the quality of the events, exhibitors and of the visitors.”

“The market,” the executive, who asked not to be names, added, “is now at a stage where a number of shows need to aim for a better quality of event or to be more sophisticated not only to help educate China about marine leisure opportunities, but also to underpin the status of the Chinese boating industry. Quality is a key issue with yacht builders in China but the same applies to boat show events in China”.

Comments like the aforementioned are being increasingly expressed to IBI at events not only in China, but also elsewhere in Asia. Outside China there is a clear pattern with events in Phuket and Singapore being the leaders both as national and regional events. Other events, such as the recent Indonesian show, have not been so well received.

There is significant room for improvement for events and presentations in China and Hong Kong. Currently there are said to be some 40 shows a year in China that include yachts, with many focusing on the lifestyle and/or luxury sectors.

In the current calendar, the annual Shanghai Show in April is by far the most established.  In recent years some luxury exhibitors have been shifting allegiance however to less equipment oriented events, to shows such as the China Rendezvous in Sanya.

Sanya, a leading yachting centre in the south of China and Hainan, has about five shows a year, mostly locally supported. Other cities hosting shows in 2014 are Shenzhen, Nansha, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Qingdao, Dalian and Chungsha, to name a few. Most of these are local shows, but a number of them do attract some international exhibitors.

The four-day SO Dalian event, which has just ended, perhaps presents one model for going forward and developing events that provide a diverse range of exhibitors and additional attractions, such as the beach polo in Dalian, for visitors to enjoy.

Of the 80 plus brands at SO Dalian around 50% were yacht related with several leading international names represented such as Lurssen, Ferretti, Sanlorenzo, Azimut-Benetti, Benetaau (including Jeanneau, Lagoon, Prestige and MCY) and Mondo. Leading domestic brands such as HeySea were also exhibiting, as were several leading Chinese dealers and distributors promoting both international and domestic boat brands.

– by David Robinson