The Ultimate Boat Show Guide

Submerging yourself in the world of maritime transport is easy when you attend a boat show. In fact, we’d say it’s easily the best way of meeting fellow boating enthusiasts and keeping up-to-date with the latest news/tech.

These shows appeal to a wide array of people, from fisherman to yacht owners. There are also people with a general interest in boating that want to learn more who attend these events regularly.

See, you don’t even need to own a boat to enjoy yourself at boat expos!

Know that not every boat show/boat expo will feature electric boats. Some do, like The Green Tech Boat Show, but more on that later.

Today we’ll be looking at the benefits of visiting a boat expo, what to do ahead of visiting a boat show, and so much more.

Let’s not wait any longer and dive straight in.

Why Visit a Boat Show?

As mentioned, a boat show is a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the maritime industry in all its glory — out in the open, surrounded by like-minded individuals and businesses.

Visiting a boat show comes with many outstanding benefits that are almost exclusive to these events. Here’s a quick summary for the uninitiated:

  • Boat shows have a great sense of community amongst a wide spread of people/boat businesses.
  • Attendees can speak with vendors directly to ask questions or make purchases.
  • Businesses have the opportunity to expand their network and really get their name out there if they’re on the newer side.
  • Visitors are educated on the latest boat tech developments/companies.

Understand that most boat shows ask that you pay for tickets to attend. Prices vary from boat show to show but can be pretty expensive (especially yacht shows). Some are 100% free to attend. Make sure you check the site of the event in question to know for sure.

Honestly, the best thing about boat shows nowadays is the number of electric boat companies taking part.

Some of the most promising electric boats have been unveiled at these events. Swedish boat company X Shore — known by many as “the Tesla of e-boats” — revealed the popular Eelex 8000 at the Stockholm Allt för Sjön boat show.

Startup electric boat companies — and those working on EV tech — use boat expos to create a lot of buzz surrounded by their competition.

In fact, some EV tech companies only attend to attract interest from other companies. Boat batteries, for example, are like car batteries in that companies look for the best tech.

So as you can see, these events benefit b2b dealings just as much as standard customer sales.

Boat Expo Guide: What To Do On the Day

This section might benefit those visiting boat shows to buy something. Still, most of you reading this will find it helpful; this is the ultimate guide to boat shows, after all.

The goal is to get the most out of your visit. Remember, these boat expos only come around once a year mostly. However, some organisers run events in multiple different cities throughout the year. However, you can’t guarantee that the boat company you’re there to see will make the next event if you miss them the first time.

Step 1: Do Your Research Beforehand

Boat show websites tend to be very detailed, making it very easy for visitors to plan ahead.

Interviews with organisers and event podcasts are a great opportunity to preview what you can expect, but there’s an easier way to plan ahead.

Our first tip would be to head to the site of the event you’re eyeing.

Doing so will give you an idea of who will be in attendance alongside other helpful info — including dates, the event’s location, and a potential map of the boat show. If you have the map, you can highlight which companies you’d like to speak to.

Unfortunately, the number of exhibitors at boat expos make it impossible to talk to them all. It’s partly why some events run over a full weekend, if not a week.

You’ll want to prioritise certain companies over others. We’d recommend making a list in order of most important to least important.

It might be tough, depending on where these companies are situated, but this was always going to be the case for large scale boat shows.

Once you have a plan in mind, you simply head to the companies you want to speak to first. You might find you’ll have more time on your hands after, allowing you to shop around and enjoy the boat show at your own leisure.

Oh, and make sure you have enough business cards If you’re there to establish b2b connections.

Step 2: Pay Attention to Social Media

You want to plan ahead, yes, but you could find yourself changing course on the fly.

Some companies will likely be running giveaways and updates throughout the day at random intervals. So make sure you have notifications turned on and are willing to deviate from your boat expo plan.

Keeping tabs on relevant hashtags is another great idea.

You can typically find information like this on the day, either on the boat shows social media page or on any print show guides available.

This is why you should follow relevant boat companies on social media before the event even begins, just to make sure you’re kept in the loop come show day.

Remember, event sites make it very easy for attendees to track which exhibits will be in attendance — sometimes, months in advance.

Step 3: Ask Questions

If you’re attending a boat show, you need to ask questions, plain and simple.

That’s what these exhibitors are there for.

Besides, boats are very expensive, as many of you already know. You should never buy something that expensive without quizzing the company in question first. If you’re lucky, your questioning could reduce the price of some boats depending on your bartering abilities.

If you’re prepared, you’ll have formulated multiple questions ready to go beforehand. Use your ability to see which boat brands will be in attendance to your advantage.

Is an electric boat brand not clear with how many nm their vessel can travel? Ask them about it. Is a yacht company not clear on how much a certain model is? Ask them about it. Is a fishing boat receiving poor reviews from customers for faulty equipment? Ask them about it.

You get the idea.

Also, don’t feel pressured to buy right there and then.

It’s easy to get caught up in the boat show pandemonium, but you need to make sure you’re not making any rash decisions before thinking it over. Take their information and sleep on it.

Step 4: Enjoy Yourself

Above all else, enjoy.

You’re there, out in the open amongst people who share a similar interest — not to mention plenty of companies willing to speak to you.

It can feel stressful at times, given the number of attendees at certain events. Only getting stressed out will waste valuable time. Besides, boat expos were meant to be a celebration of how far boats have come over the years.

Moreover, the hype behind certain electric boat brands begins at these events. That’s worth the price of admission alone!

You’re there because you have an interest in boats/buying a boat, yes. But if you can have a good time while doing so, then the likelihood of you visiting another boat show in the future is pretty high.

Most boat shows take place in the height of summer and are outside.

It’s virtually impossible for you not to enjoy yourself.

Just remember to apply sunscreen.

What’s the Difference Between a Boat Show and Yacht Show?

A yacht show is slightly different to most boat shows in that they’re a lot more lucrative.

Like an exclusive club almost.

In other words, you need to be on the verge of buying a yacht to really get the most out of your time there.

That’s not to say that yacht companies don’t take part in standard boat shows because they do. But at a yacht show, you tend to be surrounded by those who can afford what’s on show, and have multiple viewings booked.

Yacht shows are very open about this too.

Visit any yacht show site, and they’ll tell you they’re looking for a specific type of attendee. Furthermore, ticket prices for yacht shows tend to be a lot higher to attract these buyers.

We get it.

We’ve all fantasised about owning a yacht of our own — à la The Wolf of Wall Street — but sometimes you need to be realistic.

Upcoming UK Boat Shows You Need to Attend

Covid has affected events worldwide, causing them to either postpone or outright cancel — this includes boat expos.

Thankfully, the UK is currently heading in the right direction, out of repeated lockdowns, where reality can resume as normal. This means you have plenty to look forward to this year in terms of boat shows. And trust us, there’s a lot of them planned.

Knowing what each boat show entails allows you to plan accordingly.

Some visitors will attend to browse, others, to buy. If you’re the latter, then you probably want to be as clued-up as possible ahead of time.

Like we said, boat shows tend to list the companies involved ahead of time. And every show is different somewhat. For example, a yacht show is only ever going to display/feature yachts, so if you’re in the market for a fishing boat, you’re out of luck.

Let’s look at three boat expos to give you an idea of what events are out there.

The Green Tech Boat Show

We are E4TP, so the first boat show mentioned here will focus on greener alternatives above all else.

The first Green Tech Boat Show will take place between June 19-20 at Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth. Unlike other boat expos, the Green Tech Boat Show looks to educate and amaze simultaneously.

Event organisers MDL Marinas understands that a lot of people are still on the fence when it comes to EV — especially buyers in the UK who appear to be the most cynical when it comes to the legitimacy of real change.

It’s why they’ve said the following on their site: “… we’re putting together an event that presents the information in a practical way, showcased next to other green technologies. This will allow consumers to understand what the total offering could be, and how they can help the environment by investing in green technology today.”

The show itself is designed to appeal to boat owners looking at greener options.

Exhibitors at the event include:

  • Aqua SuperPower
  • ePropulsion
  • Fischer Panda UK
  • Marine Energy Systems
  • Pixii Electric Boats
  • The Green Blue

This is but a taste. You can read the complete list of Green Boat Show attendees over on the MDL site.

If you’d like a preview of what’s to come, MDL Marinas have put together a podcast episode where the event organisers break down who’s in attendance and the reasoning behind the event.

Not a lot of boat shows have a supporting podcast, so give it a listen if you — preferably before the event — it’s easily the best way of planning ahead.

MDL Marinas have a South Coast Boat Show planned for May of next year.

Will you be in attendance?

Southhampton International Boat Show

Hailed as “Britain’s biggest festival of boating,” the Southhampton International Boat Show is an annual tradition. In fact, this upcoming boat show in September will be their 52nd event; one fit the whole family.

Many boating brands have used this event as a launching pad to really get their name out there — in more ways than one.

You see, boat expos like the Southampton International Boat Show are perfect spots for businesses to collaborate with other businesses.

For example, ECOBAT will be in attendance at this years event — a tech company that supplies batteries. They’re currently looking to branch out, and setting up shop at a boat expo is easily one of the best ways to do that.

It’s not just one type of boat either; it’s everything you could ever imagine and then some in one place.

At the 2019 Southampton International Boat Show, over 600 brands were in attendance — including over 240 product debuts.

You’ll find everything from paddleboards to superyachts at this event (you could call it a yacht show given the number of yacht companies listed on the exhibitors already).

The first Southhampton Boat Show ran between September 29th to October 4th back in 1969.

Only a handful of boats were moored at that time, and only 50 people showed up to look around. The show attracts over 100,000 visitors in the modern-day, all with one thing in common: they bloody love a good boat.

You will need to pay for a ticket to attend this boat expo; details can be found over on their site.

Expect this year’s event to be bigger than before. They’ll be looking to make up for lost time after missing out on last years show due to the pandemic.

British Motor Yacht Show

More of a high-roller looking for an expensive yacht?

Check out the British Motor Yacht Show taking place in June, again, in Southhampton.

An event like this will take place over 9 days to accommodate different buyers. After all, people travel from far and wide to visit yacht shows like this. Some actually make the trip from other countries — although the current pandemic might limit the number of overseas attendees this year.

To attend the British Motor Yacht Show, you’ll need to register on their site. As you can imagine, the appeal of a yacht show benefits those who are dead set on purchasing one. It’s not like the Southhampton International Boat Show, which is more of a day out for most than an opportunity to buy a boat.

Those that register can book private viewings ahead of time, allowing them to navigate every square inch of the yachts they like the look of before coming to a decision.

So, who will be attending this years British Motor Yacht Show? Exhibitors here include:

  • Agapi
  • Bavaria Yachts
  • Galeon
  • Sealine
  • Supermarine

Visiting a yacht show has many benefits, including the ability to speak to these companies directly. At some boat shows, speaking to these companies can be difficult due to the number of people there. Yacht shows, on the other hand, are a lot less busy, as outlined above.

The Best International Boat Shows

Thinking about travelling overseas to attend a boat show?

Good choice; your options are just as vast, if not vaster.

International boat expos tend to receive the most attention than UK shows, which isn’t to say they’re bad; they just receive less coverage than, say, the Dubai International Boat Show, to give you an appropriate example.

America and the Middle East appear to be boat expo hotspots, given their popularity and the number of visitors that flock to these events annually.

Like UK events, some of these events have been heavily affected by the onset pandemic — some have already postponed proceedings to 2022.

Below you’ll find a few examples of the best boat shows from every corner of the globe.

Miami Yacht Show

Dates: February 16-20 2022

The Miami Yacht Show held every February is one of the largest events in the state. A place where you can see “the world’s most extraordinary and uniquely designed yachts and superyachts.”

Here boat buyers can attend seminars and see a different side of Miami — one featured in shows like Miami Vice.

Unfortunately, the 2021 event was cancelled, putting the safety of attendants first.

This boat show is considered by many to be the pinnacle of maritime events. National Marine Manufacturers Association are to thank (operator of the event). Be sure to follow them online for up to date news and info ahead of next years event.

Dubai International Boat Show

Dates: March 8-12 2022

There’s luxury, and then there’s the luxury of the Dubai International Boat Show.

Honestly, organisers do such a great job in making this event feel like a big deal. Most of the boats featured have red carpets surrounding them, and the event leads all the way into the night, giving it that exclusive feel.

At this boat show, you’ll find a mix of companies/vessels to gawk at. Not to mention Flyboards which never cease to amaze us.

Moreover, Dubai is widely regarded as the place to be if you’re to bump into the right people. Maritime startups consider the Dubai International Boat Show a form of paradise. After all, all it takes is the right conversation with the right person, and the projects will follow.

Singapore Yacht Show

Dates: TBC

Another yacht show featured, this time from the orient. Introducing the Singapore Yacht Show, a premier event showcasing the development of luxury lifestyle markets at sea.

Like other yacht shows mentioned, this event has an aura to it — and the reputation to back it up. The event runs for four days, celebrating the yachting lifestyle, whilst highlighting some of the best vessels available to new buyers.

You’ll want the Singapore Yacht Show on your event bucket list. Ask anyone who’s attended the event in recent years; they’ll tell you the exact same thing.

Trust us.

Consider it the perfect excuse to visit the beauty that is Singapore.

The next event date is unknown; three guesses as to why.

Wrapping Up: The Ultimate Boat Show Guide

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that boat shows are incredibly popular. They could easily give electric car expos a run for their money in terms of community spirit.

They also take place outside most of the time too, which has its own set of advantages compared to other vehicle types out there.

Don’t let the fact that some boat expos have over 100,000 visitors intimidate you. If you plan ahead, you should have plenty of time to visit the boat companies you want to, with enough time left over to enjoy the event at your own speed.

Moreover, boat shows can lead to new friends/connections that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

For some businesses operating in the maritime market, this is essential.

Will you be attending any UK boat shows this year following our advice? Tell us all about it on social media.

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