The opening of this year’s Metstrade just as the Netherlands was entering a partial Covid-19 lockdown initiated a lot of speculation and skeptical exhibitors. A sizable contingent outright cancelled plans to attend, with others sending smaller crews to cover the show. A slew of posts on social media platforms expressed doubts for staging a successful event.
However, the reality turned out to be different from the impression we got just a few days before the show. From the very start of opening day, a solid international audience turned out at RAI Amsterdam and, once again, it was the place to be for leisure marine professionals around the world.
The nature of the crowds was positive. Some described the situation as a filter, leaving only the serious to attend, with the result being a high-quality audience.
For many, networking is a significant reason to attend Metstrade. At the heart of these are the B2B events, award ceremonies, dinners or perhaps casual cocktails. This year, the larger-scale events could not take place under the government regulations. The organizers were clear to everyone in the RAI when it was time to leave, and discretely dispersed post-show crowds that naturally formed around bar areas.
Overall, the organizers hit a balance between encouraging people to network and be social, whilst also keeping safety in mind. There was plenty of socializing and networking in compliance with government guidelines, a harsh reality for the events, but the situation was certainly well-addressed.
What are people talking about most?
Initially, talk was all about Covid and the impact on travel getting to the show. That was immediately followed by shows of appreciation for meeting in person, as it was much easier to open new leads and develop business relationships that way.
There was also a lot of excitement around the DAME Awards, where Volvo Penta’s Assisted Docking Solution was announced as the overall winner. On display at the DAME presentation was a big range of products from the awards, including special mentions and nominees like the Remigo One, which the company touts as the world's first fully integrated electric 1,000-watt outboard. In general, sustainability was a leading driver at the DAME Awards and its growing importance to a customers’ purchasing decisions.
With attendance down, Metstrade did an excellent job staging a hybrid show, allowing those who didn’t make the event to engage with the industry. Metstrade Connect allowed people to organize both in-person and virtual meetings. For the second year, Metstrade TV was in in full swing, giving us highlights of what was going on around the industry as well as specific events taking place at the show.
The negative speculation around the show created low expectations, putting a lot of people on edge, as significant exhibitor budgets seemed at risk. However, as soon as the show began, I believe they were largely relieved and, by the end of the show, attendees were satisfied, happy with the performance of the show and what it will do for their businesses.
This year’s Metstrade was a refreshing event that’s created further unity within our industry, despite a challenging turn of events outside of the organizer’s control.
Ben Taylor is the host of British Marine Digital Networking and the founder of Taylor Digital.