Vancouver International Boat Show Attendance Report

Wrapping up on January 25, organizers report that the 53rd annual Vancouver International Boat Show generated strong onsite sales and leads over its five-day course. According to show producers, Canadian Boat Shows, the event attracted 29,665 people in total between its two venues this year, a five percent decrease from 2014. The event's indoor venue took place at BC Place while the outdoor portion occupied space on Granville Island, where 81 boats were in the water.

Despite a minor slip in attendance, show management points to a combination of historically low interest rates and the sharp decline in the price of fuel as resulting in a positive start to the year's boat sales in British Columbia.

"This year's features and seminar program were instrumental in driving strong media coverage, and Wicked Tuna's Dave Carraro helped reach a younger demographic of boating enthusiasts.' says Show Manager Eric Nicholl. "We were pleased with the effectiveness of this year's marketing strategies. Even though attendance figures were lower than last year, mostly due to adverse weather conditions at the floating show, most dealers are reporting strong sales due to the high numbers of motivated buyers.'

"It's been the best show ever,' said Salim Ladha from Steveston Marine, a marine products retailer with multiple BC-based stores. "The crowds on the weekend have been very strong, with the rain driving people inside to BC Place. Our sales this year were unprecedented, and up significantly compared to the last two years.'

"This show has been great for us,' said Sharon Ross at Performance Water Sport, a dealer of tow boats and pontoons. "The people we saw coming our this year were serious boaters looking to make a purchase and the weekend was busier than normal, especially on Sunday. Not only are our sales up from the last two years, but we are also confident that we'll have a lot of follow up in the weeks to come.'

"The sales at this year's show were unprecedented and well exceeded our expectations,' noted Berry Sherwood of Sherwood Marine, which carries multiple boat and outboard brands. "While the traffic was a bit slower, we saw a big increase in the quality of customers. The promotion leading up to the Show was really well done and we had a lot of people coming into our dealership with inquires in the weeks prior to opening day.'

Mike Hudson of Port Boat House made an observation about the quality of consumers that attended the show. "We really noticed an increase in qualified, knowledgeable customers and a shift to a younger demographic. We were satisfied with the level of traffic and our sales equaled to last year's so we are happy with that.'

While the rainy weather was a deterrent for attendance at the floating show, there was some positive feedback from exhibitors at Granville Island. "Overall it's been a successful show for us,' said David Campbell from Freedom Marine, a yacht broker. "Though the weather wasn't on our side for the majority of the show, the people that came out were serious and committed buyers, making it another record year in terms of sales.'

This year the event incorporated several new features, including National Geographic's Wicked Tuna star Captain Dave Carraro, the UBC SailBot team, and Prop Formula1 racer Mike McLellan were all big draws for the public and media. An expanded education series, offered more than 100 seminars held in three seminar rooms.

Visitors to the floating show at Granville Island also took advantage of Discover Boating's free boat rides and the new Hands On Skills Training clinics.

The show continues to see increasing attendance from the Asian community as a result of marketing efforts targeting this demographic's interest in boating. Certified boating instructor, Wilson Kao, presented: What a beautiful BC boating life! Let's buy a boat seminar in Mandarin, which was a big draw for Chinese Show goers. Kao's knowledge on boating trends specific to the Asian market also continues to garner media interest.

Although produced by Canadian Boat Shows, the Vancouver International Boat Show is owned by the Boating BC Association.

The 54th Vancouver International Boat Show is scheduled to return to BC Place and Granville Island from January 20 to 24, 2016.