London Boat Show Cancelled
As many of you will now be aware, the London Boat Show 2019 has been cancelled. Whether this is going to be a permanent fixture still remains to be seen but it was not a shock to many in the Marine industry.
I have been attending the London Boat Show since 2011, only since owning Lovesail. Up to that point it was not on my radar. I had attended the Southampton Boat Show before but I live not far from the city so that was a given. In the seven years I have been visiting the London Boat Show there has been discontent among the visitors and exhibitors alike. I made it a habit to ask everyone I met at the show, both visitors and exhibitors what their thoughts were about it.
Visitors have been far from happy for some time. The London Boat Show used to be run from Earls Court and was a popular venue. The move to Excel had to be the main reason for their unhappiness. Earls Court is central and easy to get to. Once you had visited the show you were free to pop into “town”. This was especially important if you had travelled far. It was a weekend away, a treat, something to look forward to. Excel by comparison is over in Docklands, a hassle of a tube ride which takes 30 minutes from Waterloo station. Nothing much else would compel you to visit Docklands, the city airport? Beckton Sewage Works?! It’s a bleak place in January. This coupled with the stark exhibition halls, lack of atmosphere and sky-high prices in the on-site eateries, it’s no wonder ticket sales struggled.
“……The place is inaccessible, soulless, dreary, small”
Exhibitors were complaining too. A nightmare to get to and not much to do in the evenings if you were staying locally for the duration of the show. The timing though, was the big problem. The London Boat Show falls just before the much bigger and better Boot Show in Düsseldorf, quite a feat for the London exhibitors to pack up and be in Germany in time for the Boot. The Boot is a must diary date for anyone serious in creating connections in the marine industry.
Many reasons were cited for the move, the need for water, better infrastructure, Sunseeker had insisted! Only a select few will know the real reasons but if it was to display the boats in water, why were the docks empty?
Southampton Boat Show by comparison is huge, with a purpose-built marina to house the boats, the vibrant city of Southampton within striking distance and good road and rail links. If you are there from afar, you can make a short break and visit the Isle of Wight too, capital of sailing.
“In Southampton you’ve got movement of the sea, the wind in the rigging and you can imagine getting on board and casting off there and then”
I for one hope the London Boat Show does not return. There must be a need for a boat show for our Northern countrymen with plenty of brilliant venues to choose from.
A close friend summed up the London Boat Show rather succinctly, “…..that London venue is ****. The place is inaccessible, soulless, dreary, small etc etc. Manky modern docks not a good place to showcase beautiful yachts and boats. There’s no emotion down there, no spirit of adventure. As for boats being displayed in the exhibition hall……aaarrggghhhhh! Ghastly. In Southampton you’ve got movement of the sea, the wind in the rigging and you can imagine getting on board and casting off there and then”.