Having rewritten the record books for exhibitor as well as visitor attendance, this year’s edition of the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) reconfirmed its status as the most authoritative B2B event of its kind in other ways too. Amsterdam RAI’s new Innovation LAB platform was a huge success and there was significant growth in the number of decision makers visiting METS. With new awards announced for boat builders and post-event surveys showing impressive satisfaction rates among all who were in Amsterdam this November, METS is on course for further growth in the years ahead. Next year’s METS will take place from 17 to 19 November in Amsterdam RAI.
Irene Dros, Maritime Domain Manager at Amsterdam RAI, is obviously delighted with the bar-raising statistics for the event she helped organise. “To be able to welcome 1,358 exhibitors from 48 countries along with 21,086 visitors is very pleasing,” comments Dros. “However, it was the atmosphere on the exhibition floor and in the adjacent conferences which struck me most. A good vibe has long been the basis for year-on-year growth at METS but in 2014 – with a 6.5% rise in international visitors representing no less than 108 nationalities – it became clear that something special was happening within the halls of the Amsterdam RAI.
“Globalisation drives business growth and the global economy was very much in action at METS. We may live in a digital world but the event reconfirmed the unrivalled importance of face-to-face meetings in a tradeshow environment. METS 2014 has proven that the marine industry is continuing to develop strongly worldwide with this exhibition as a vital hub.”
Nigel Craine, Marine OEM Sales Manager at Garmin (UK) agrees. “Garmin generated a lot of interest internationally at METS and received a positive response from a significant number of potential new customers as well as our existing customer base. Overall there was a very positive outlook throughout the show and we are confident of further growth within our marine sector over the coming year.”
Chris Feibusch, Head of Global Marketing at Drew Marine Signal & Safety UK Ltd, is also very pleased with the way METS 2014 facilitated his company’s global ambitions. “Once again, METS provided an excellent opportunity for the Drew Marine Signal & Safety team to meet with global distributors from as far afield as New Zealand, Singapore, Middle East and Africa as well as from all over Europe. METS provides the platform for us to introduce new products and discuss business strategies for the year ahead. No other show on the calendar betters METS for its global reach and quality of visitors.”
As Feibush mentions, another factor behind the bustling B2B buzz at METS was the superb selection of innovative products and services on display from around the world. This backed up the RAI’s decision to introduce its new Innovation LAB concept to the METS community. This onsite activity platform pays even greater attention to innovations, products and technologies in a wide variety of ways, including the Innovation Stage and an enhanced spotlight on the DAME award nominations.
“This was just the start and we have ambitious plans to expand and develop the Innovation LAB further in the years ahead,” adds Dros. “There will be more virtual technologies deployed as we increase the all-year-round availability of information on innovations.”
Attracting the right people
The success of an exhibition revolves around the ‘quality’ of the exhibitors and visitors as well as their number. An analysis of the data for METS 2014 makes encouraging reading for the RAI. For example, the number of decision makers present increased by three percent and there was a significant growth of twenty percent in the attendance figures for yacht builders, designers, naval architects, naval engineers and interior designers.
This latter statistic reflects an enhanced focus on this group at METS 2014, including the HISWA Symposium on Yacht Design & Construction, the Material Xperience presentation and a VIP programme for executives from the boat building industry. The more prominent role for boat builders was further emphasised by the fact that Carla Demaria, President of the Board of Directors of Monte Carlo Yachts and board member of the Bénéteau Group, gave the keynote speech at the opening ceremony as well as meeting members of the METS Young Professionals Club.
A special position
Demaria described how the philosophy of adaptive evolution has paid dividends for her company, ending her speech by urging the marine industry to see the crisis as an opportunity for progress. “Be open-minded, flexible and always ready to react to changes,” she concluded before moving on to be interviewed on the new Innovation Stage in the RAI. “METS has a special position among the exhibitions in the marine industry,” Demaria stressed. “It offers the most extensive showcase of equipment and yacht accessories and – as the extremely challenging market drives research and innovation – the number of new applications shown continues to grow. This makes METS an event one cannot afford to miss.”
Her comments about METS were echoed by Lorenzo Cesari, Area Sales Manager of Quick S.p.A. Italy, who said that “METS is the trade show for any worldwide marine industry player.” Charlotte Rutgerson from Rutgerson Marin in Sweden agreed: “METS is the ultimate meeting point for our industry worldwide. The show is perfect for doing business with both existing customers and new prospects.”
The highlights for Blair Hellyer, Sales Manager at On Board Marine Group Ltd, Hong Kong, were “meeting leaders in the marine industry and getting to see all products and service under one roof.” And Melissa Yeomans, General Manager at DeckHardware and Director at Sydney Sailboat Expo, Australia, described METS 2014 as “a fantastic event and the busiest I have attended. The young professionals club is an excellent initiative that very much helped me during my first METS a few years back.”
Returning to the boat builders theme, the opening ceremony was also addressed by Nick Hopkinson, Publishing Director of IBI magazine. He revealed that IBI news and METS have joined forces to create the Boat Builders Achievement Award, designed to offer yards the platform they deserve during the world’s largest annual gathering of marine equipment suppliers. “Nominations will be sought from across the entire industry and subject to a rigorous judging process,” Hopkinson explained. “This will include polling the industry to rank the nominations and having an international jury decide on the outright winners. These prestigious new awards will be presented at a gala dinner in the National Maritime Museum during METS 2015.”
The three dedicated pavilions for superyachts, marinas and construction materials also enjoyed unprecedented success as the global marine industry got down to business at METS. The Marina & Yard Pavilion, for instance, hosted a record number of 45 companies and organisations. The new Waterfront Stage featured a range of presentations from leading lights in the sector, including Jean-Michel Gaigné, CMM, Marina Manager, member of the board Global Marina Institute and member of ICOMIA Marinas Group.
“The Marina & Yard Pavilion was successful for us due to the fruitful discussions we had regarding projects and partnerships,” commented Virginie Segura, export sales manager with the French company Poralu. “It would be a great idea to duplicate this event in other territories such as Asia and the Middle East as markets are expanding in these regions and there is no appropriate show.”
As Mr Gaigné’s speech recognised, the networking potential of METS is another reason for its success. Guido Grulke, CEO at Solarlink, Germany, praised the “very reliable connections and innovative products. It is hugely impressive to meet all the manufacturers from all over the world in one place.” Peter Bresnan, Director of Onesails, added that: “METS 2014 fulfilled our goal of staying up to date with the latest innovations and technological advances. It also served to increase our group’s global exposure through very efficient networking.” And Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Director of Baitra in Spain, encapsulated the business that underpinned everything at METS: “From the first moment of the show until fifteen minutes after the end we were busy meeting new contacts.”
The fact that 62% of the stand floor space has already been booked for METS 2015 speaks volumes about the impact METS 2014 had on all those who attended. Colin McMurray, Managing Director of Pacific Aerials Limited, summarised the event very well: “If we could only pick one show a year to exhibit at, it would be METS. It’s the biggest and the best for marine equipment manufacturers, and more often than not delivers better results than all the other shows we do put together.”