Sunday, December 02, 2007

Boat Show Shocker

This is what the Earls Court Boat Show looked like this afternoon. Empty.

The organisers were promising exhibitors 200,000 visitors, but attendance on the first day was just 900.

Nine hundred people, all day. What will it be like tomorrow, Monday, when most people are back at work? I hope those manning the stands have books to read and the Wifi works.

Its a shame as it could be a good boat show. There's the indoor marinas, there's lots of boats and exhibitors, bars, bands, massages, Santa abseiling down from the ceiling, and all the usual suspects exhibitors.

Plus there's a couple of specials. There's the Gypsy Moth (which won't be at Excel):

There was the Top Gear amphibious car made out of a converted Triumph:

Then there was the James Caird, that Shackleton sailed across the wilds of the Southern Ocean after Endurance was crushed by the pack ice:

But the famous atmosphere of Earls Court was dead. The champagne bar (below) was deserted, as were half the other bars and stands. If you want to see a boat or talk to an exhibitor then there is no queues anywhere. I was the only non UKSA staff on the Gypsy Moth

After the show closed the organisers got the exhibitors together with an open bar upstairs on the second floor. Having manned the Blue Spirit Yachting - recommended for all your yachting needs - stand for all of 10 minutes (and almost sold a day skipper course in that time) I went along.

The organisers were upbeat, talking about quality rather than quantity, and how this was the best attended of any new exhibition. But there was no doubt that the issue of "foot-falls" was at the top of everyones mind. Many of those exhibiting are small companies and such poor returns will hurt them hard.

But there are many that want this to succeed. Even if Excel has the copyrights and trademarks of "The London Boat Show" many yearn for the days when the cosy halls of Earls Court sheltered the boaties of Britain during the winter.

If you're in London, go. There's lots to see and no danger of crowds or queues. I think the exhibitors will be very glad to see you!

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