The Abu Dhabi Yacht Show welcomed a strong industry presence last year, acting as the perfect platform for exhibitors, guests and clients to network and gauge the potential of the emerging Middle Eastern market.
However, the attendance of yachts, exhibitors, clients and visitors alike were thin on the ground this year in comparison to 2010.
Speaking to several exhibitors at the show, sweeping impressions of the event’s first day were those of low expectations. Yas Marina was showcasing a wide range of impressive mid-range yachts but a lot of empty berths.
With the political state of the regions surrounding the Middle East reaching a critical phase, overall show attendance was waning; presenting a number of personal, political and safety reasons which may have dissuaded owners from taking their yachts to the show.
On the second day, however, the show saw an influx of guests, altering initial doubts as exhibitors became more active and the show began to pick up; providing a few key clients and a plethora of international interest.
Giulio Bertani, Sales Director of Sanlorenzo, stated, “We have an agent over here called Luxury Sea Boats, who are based in Dubai, and together we weren’t so happy with the results from the Dubai Boat Show. So we came here just to have a look and get an idea of the market but when I saw the marina, it was completely empty, and I was worried.”
“However after the first day, which was quite slow, on the second day we worked from 3pm till 9pm, there was always something to do and we got at least ten or twelve good contacts”, continues Giulio Bertani. “Luxury Sea Boats sold a small boat here, obviously Sanlorenzo yachts are different and it takes more time to sell them but we have a wonderful Russian client who came yesterday and came today, so business goes on. I think it was worth it, it has been better than Dubai.”
Exhibitors took the time to entertain existing UAE-based clients and cultivate relationships with the few seemingly key Middle Eastern visitors at the show.
“The Gulf is a very relationship-dominated market. A satisfied client almost certainly means return business and several referrals. While this may not be the best time to buy a boat in the Middle East, companies know that when the time is right again, clients will go to the brands they have an affinity towards,” says Andy Treadwell, Managing Director, Informa Yacht Group, organiser of the show.
Sand storms threatened the already dwindling attendance levels on day three, but even though the show did not have the same attendance levels of the 21 year old Monaco Yacht Show, we must remember that a concentrated number of key visitors and potential clients is something the Middle East can offer.