A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Boat show attendance

I want to share a story, which really grabbed my attention.

It comes from the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers, of which the National Marine Manufacturers Association is a founding member.

I was impressed with the group’s ground-breaking initiative to create a Code of Excellence, designed to enhance the quality of boat shows.

The code would incorporate six criteria. I liked the uniform system of counting visitor numbers and exhibition space sold the best.

Given the mucho bucks exhibitors must pay to participate in a show, they deserve to have accurate numbers of attendance.

Too often, I get press releases from boat show organizers, touting their attendance and how the
numbers increased by a certain percentage from the year past. But what criteria are the organizers using to determine those numbers? Are they comparing apples to apples when they compare existing numbers to last year’s numbers? Are they looking at the number of tickets sold? Are they including the number of comp tickets? Are they looking at the number of visits (people entering through the gates)?

What do these numbers mean? Is it just PR spin?

To that end, the International Council of Marine Industry Associations asked exhibitors what they wanted out of boat shows. According to Tom Willis, secretary general of IFBSO, the wish list ranged from the “plain wacky” to the “reasonably practical.”

One thing was clear, though. Exhibitors wanted to know what they were getting into before committing themselves to a show. And getting reliable comparative data about shows was key.

This, among other issues, led to the code of excellence, which requires member shows to have their figures audited, and adopt a “uniform system of counting visitor numbers and exhibition space sold”.

As Willis explained to me, an audit isn’t enough because counting standards vary from one audit bureau to another worldwide, so the uniform standard provides a more level playing field.

All the member shows, including New York and Miami, will be expected to comply with the code by June 1, 2010.

I look forward to seeing accurate numbers and accurate comparisons in the future.

The exhibitors deserve that much.

Lois Caliri
Editor
Soundings Trade Only

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