Smaller German show sees attendance drop

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Boot in Düsseldorf, Germany, has been the Big Daddy of boat shows on the old continent. Despite a decline in attendance this year, there was good news.

Veterans of the boat business cite two reasons for attending the Düsseldorf show — seeing old friends and finding new stuff. The 2013 show, which ran from Jan. 19-27, was not quite as lavish as it used to be, but it was still a formidable event. Show management touted 1,650 exhibitors from 50 countries that filled all 17 halls and a program that included hundreds of discussions, lectures and presentations. More than 50 vessels were introduced to the public with the usual fanfare, including boats by Bavaria, X-Yachts, Dehler and Beneteau.

And don’t forget the awards. During Flagship Night, sponsored by Delius Klasing, Germany’s largest publisher of nautical magazine and book titles, the category winners of the European Yacht and Powerboat of the Year contests were honored on stage, applauded by 400 invitation-only guests. And French sailing icon Loïck Peyron, who owns the fastest nonstop time around the world (45 days), flew in from San Francisco, where he works with America’s Cup challenger Artemis Racing, to receive the Seamaster 2013 award for outstanding contributions to the sport.

In the end, though, there were clouds in the picture. With 226,300 attendees, the gate was down by 8 percent from 2012. Sure, there was black ice on the roads and air traffic controllers went on strike, but it was hard to overlook the fact that many browsers stayed away this time.

“We noticed fewer attendees,” said Thomas Hornig, of Hansenautic, a vendor of charts and electronics. “Revenue was lower, but people were looking for detailed information, so we’re hoping for good follow-ups after the show.”

Manufacturers of high-end gear and accessories reported that attendees who had a defined agenda showed up, regardless of weather or labor unrest. “We did notice fewer people at the show, that’s for sure,” said Jens Ellermann, managing director of Bukh-Bremen. “But the quality of contacts was very high. People who came knew what they were looking for, and revenue was satisfactory. We think the show as a whole is on the right course.”

For boatbuilders, the story was somewhat different. “The show was fantastic for us,” said Remco Sol, of the Dutch company Winner Yachts. “The new Winner 900 was well accepted. We sold several boats right on the show floor.”

Said colleague Daniel Kohl, at Bavaria Yachts: “There were no unhappy faces in our booth. Dealers were generally happy. New products like the Bavaria Cruiser 56 were well-received. But regardless, [this show] is the place to meet.”

— Compiled by Dieter Loibner, with reporting by Alexander Worms of Yacht magazine

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