With so many unknown factors still at play, it is impossible to accurately predict the makeup of the superyacht events calendar come the end of 2020. However, there are major question marks over the viability of even the industry’s most established boat show.
“Personally, I am doubtful if there will be a Monaco Yacht Show in 2020,” starts Theo Hooning, secretary general of SYBAss. “This will obviously cause a lot of disruption, but from the SYBAss perspective we feel like it will be difficult to hold the show for two key reasons. The first issue relates to logistics; will everybody be able to get to Monaco at the end of September? Equally, will the show be allowed to go ahead? The Dutch government for example has recently announced that all events are forbidden in The Netherlands until 1st September. Secondly, and I think this is the most important issue, will there be customers, especially US customers?”
"...will there be customers, especially US customers?”
Regarding the logistical issue, while there remains a degree of uncertainty today, the situation will become clear at one point or other. However, in at least one instance SuperyachtNews is aware of, it should be noted that MYS has reserved the right to make a final decision on the viability of the show up to 31 July, leaving question marks over the ability of various industry stakeholders to recoup their investments at that point.
Perhaps more pressing is the question mark over customers. Even when lockdown restrictions are lifted and a degree of international travel is made available, will people choose to do it? At this point, there will still be a degree of global paranoia and it seems unlikely that UHNWIs will be rushing to attend an event that is traditionally busy and, at certain times, open to the public. While people’s behaviour is often difficult to predict, one would assume that UHNWIs, where possible, will avoid crowds and unnecessary contact.
"It is questionable whether or not that is the right image that the industry wants to put out.”
“These are exactly the concerns that SYBAss has discussed,” continues Hooning. “There is also doubt, given what is going on in the world, that the kind of celebrations associated with MYS and the superyacht world will be appropriate while the world is still in shock, both emotionally and financially. It is questionable whether or not that is the right image that the industry wants to put out.”
Hooning strikes on an interesting point. While those working within the industry are aware of the good that superyacht owners do for the world, the environment and society at large, the market of today walks a tightrope, where any perceivably overt act of conspicuous consumption or ostentatiousness will create a negative mass media maelstrom. As the world comes out of this crisis, there will be major question marks over celebrations of extreme wealth.
“From the SYBAss perspective, if our members do attend MYS 2020 it will likely not be as full out as we have done in previous years,” explains Hooning. “The question is, do you want to have the show and is the timing right? There are two elements of timing that are important to consider. There is the technical timing; can you travel, what is the status of the virus? And then there is the emotional timing; is it appropriate to attend the show in that moment?
“Whatever happens there is going to be large disruption to the superyacht calendar of events. However, such a disruption is also a possibility for change. There are two options; do you restore the calendar to how it was? Or do you take this as an opportunity to make changes to better serve our clients, both new and existing? As far as we are concerned, MYS is still the most important yacht show for the industry as it comes close to the level of excellence that the customers demand. However, we feel that the appropriate shows for business to business activity are The Superyacht Forum and METSTRADE.”
"...such a disruption is also a possibility for change."
No matter how you look at it, the events calendar is going to be drastically changed and, while the industry may well feel the need to resume activities as quickly as possible, there remain question marks over whether or not the timing is appropriate, or indeed if customers will be willing to attend. However, with businesses investing less in events, might we see the development of a boat show season that is more focussed of exhibitor and buyer quality in the future, thereby making the event arena more enjoyable and beneficial to the market.
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