The eurozone’s recovery has stalled and some analysts are saying the region is at risk of another recession, but the Marine Equipment Trade Show will welcome a record number of exhibitors to Amsterdam next month.
METS is the world’s largest trade exhibition for the international recreational marine industry, and organizers expect about 1,345 exhibitors representing 46 countries to attend the Nov. 18-20 show at the Amsterdam RAI Convention Center.
Irene Dros, Amsterdam RAI’s maritime domain manager, says METS continues to grow because it is the kind of event marine exhibitors appreciate — “a truly global business-to-business show, suitable and appropriate for all kinds of companies with the uniform look and feel that fits the business focus.”
“METS has stood firm throughout the recession, consistently growing in both stature and visitor and exhibitor numbers representing countries from all over the world,” Dros says. “In financially difficult times, companies choose the market-leading show, which is METS.”
Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, says marine companies that are serious about doing business internationally recognize the value of METS.
“When you export or are working to export, it is important to be in the market consistently,” he says. “You can’t come and go. There is business to be done in Europe. It may be down from previous levels, but there are signs of recovery in several countries, and companies exhibiting at METS should be looking at the long term to be successful outside the U.S. So, depending on your product and your preparation, there will be opportunity at METS.
“NMMA has been promoting exporting by American marine manufacturers,” Dammrich adds. “The data clearly shows that companies that export are more successful, more profitable, and pay higher wages. It is a big step to begin exporting, but it is an important one. To grow sales outside North America takes time and commitment, and there is no time like the present.”
U.S. companies that have exhibited at METS for years agree.
“I have been going for 14 years now,” says Joseph Schneider, director of international sales and operations at Bennett Marine, the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based manufacturer of trim tabs and accessories.
“It is the only show where I can talk with all my distributors at one location and discuss new products and upcoming strategies. We have over 50 distributors, and I probably see about 35 of them at this show. I also get to visit with OEMs from all over the world. [It’s] not just a European show. I have many OEMs from Australia, China, the Middle East, South Africa and South America that attend.”
This year Bennett will be highlighting a new product — Bolt electric actuators.
“We have a 10-foot by 20-foot booth in the U.S. Pavilion,” Bennett says. “We have increased our presence over the past few years, mainly due to the number of visitors that go to the show. Many come to the U.S. Pavilion because they want to see what the U.S. manufacturers have to offer, and they like the fact that the products are made in the U.S.”
“This will be our fourth year at METS,” says Cj Lammers, president of Clearwater, Fla.-based Short Block Technologies Inc., the world’s largest aftermarket supplier of personal watercraft parts and remanufactured PWC engines
“As a business not based in Europe, we were missing the face-to-face contact and ability to explain the value of our parts and our business. METS has allowed us to make direct contact with many dealers and distributors and provide a real face to our company,” Lammers says. “While it started slow, dealers and distributors have seen our commitment to Europe by our continued presence, and new business has grown each year.
“We will be exhibiting our parts, our processes, and our diagnostic tool at the show,” Lammers continues. “This year, our businesses have grown and we expanded our space to 10 meters by 3 meters. Each year we’ve grown our space, and with continued success we can see growing it next year. As far as business from the show, there is more than one way to measure it. It is both the business we generate in signing up dealers and distributors and the marketing of the company itself. We think it has been worth it.”
In mid-October, 147 U.S. exhibitors had registered for METS — 79 on the U.S. Pavilion and 12 on the SuperYacht Pavilion, Dros says. A year ago, there were 140 U.S. exhibitors. The show has 18 national pavilions, and the Chinese and Slovenian pavilions will grow about 50 percent this year, she says.
The recreational marine industry in the United States is continuing to make a moderate but steady recovery from the Great Recession and the global financial crisis. Europe has done less well, but Dros says the European marine market “is slowly climbing up after the crisis. Europe is always a little behind the United States. When the crisis hit the U.S., it took a while before it hit Europe. It might also take some time for Europe to experience the same upbeat vibe.”
Dros says innovation has been a key theme since METS opened its doors for the first time in 1988.
“Each year METS showcases thousands of innovations and new products, yet due to the large number, not all of these premieres get the attention they deserve,” she says.
“Surveys of the many thousands of visitors from around the world consistently show that innovation is the No. 1 reason to come to Amsterdam each year for METS. With this in mind, we are introducing the brand-new Innovation LAB, an onsite activity platform that pays even greater attention to the exhibition’s innovations, products and technologies.”
Dros says METS this year is offering exhibitors the free use of new lead generator software called Visit Connect. The software will be available for a range of devices, including tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktop applications. The app is available in Google Play and the App Store and can be used to scan barcodes on visitor badges to follow up on business contacts.
“As a European leader in the exhibition market organizing the No. 1 show in the leisure maritime world, it is only right that we lead the way in increasing [return on investment],” Dros says.
Carla Demaria, president of Monte Carlo Yachts, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast briefing on Nov. 18. She will be the first woman in the history of the show to make the address.
The breakfast briefing will be followed by presentation of the DAME Awards.
Soundings Trade Only will have a booth at the entrance and exit area of the U.S. Pavilion and is working closely with METS and the NMMA.
“In 2014, we are embarking on the combination of the world’s largest marine trade event, Marine Equipment Trade Show, and Soundings Trade Only — by far the largest trade-only communications brand in the U.S.,” says Dean Waite, publisher of Trade Only.
“This strong new relationship is a perfect match as we help the NMMA to add to the U.S. Pavilion and we are able to inform the rest of the world about the strength and vitality of the American market through our magazine, our daily e-newsletter and website at tradeonlytoday.com. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with NMMA and METS as an official part of the U.S. Pavilon and the show at large.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue.