- Opinion - Roll up, roll up!

By SuperyachtNews

Roll up, roll up!

The countdown to the circus begins – our Chairman on what to expect at the Monaco Yacht Show 2024…

There was quite a bit of noise when Farouk Nefzi, CMO of Feadship, announced that the shipyard would not have its traditional double-decker stand at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show in the yacht-builder section on the T-Dock. It is worth recognising that by not having a conventional stand, Feadship is more likely to be big news on site.

At a recent marketing event in London, hosted by Breed Media, I recall the CMOs of Burgess and Benetti, two of the biggest brands in the industry, stating that they spend too much on boat shows and need to cut back, or reinvest in other experiential or customer-focused projects. Clients and brands have been saying this for years, but it seems that things don’t really change, due to the FOMO aspect or perhaps it’s just the marketing cycle the industry seems to follow religiously.

In essence, Monaco has become the Mecca of superyachting, an annual pilgrimage made by several thousand industry stakeholders, advisors and clients, with the Yacht Club de Monaco,assuming its role as the temple of worship, with breakfasts, lunches, bar tabs, dinners and a myriad of replicant parties on the respective decks.

Do I love yacht shows? I suppose the answer is “No, not really”, but it’s more about how you approach them and plan for them. One year, a captain friend and I were chatting about the ‘brand-off’: the semi-naked hostesses who knew nothing about yachts, the parades of sharp-suited sales people, the installations and stands that were just shy of live tigers on pedestals or the potential for big brands to have bejewelled elephants with CEOs seated on high. It really was becoming a literal circus, although stalled somewhat by a virus. However, this decision by Feadship is likely to have an impact on the future of the more valuable and perhaps most expensive yacht shows.

As one ex-media CEO explained to me with his croaky words of wisdom, there’s big money in events, the only way as a media player you can make real money … I smiled and reflected on this comment and did some of the maths on a small notepad. He was right, but my concern is that too many people focus their attention on investing in a boatshow stand and flying their myriad teams over, or perhaps asking them to cycle there for charity – all at huge expense. It’s clear to me that Farouk is right. There must be a better way to entertain, engage and enlighten clients about our wares and opportunities during the annual pilgrimage to Monaco, the superyacht Mecca.

About 15 years ago we hosted private VIP lounges and now nearly every restaurant in Monaco is a VIP hospitality club, with common audiences moving from one to the other for a cold beer and warm, sweaty handshake or, worse, hug. We stopped exhibiting at Monaco about eight years ago through frustration with people who’d come to the stand to try to explain their latest and greatest design they did at university and then ask how can they can get a job in yachting. Or talk to us about a cool new product that will polish stainless steel to a five-degree-higher shine. Or seeing my editorial team on its knees after trying to win the PR marathon of 30 press conferences in a five-hour window on the first morning of the show.

If you break the Show into its constituent parts – 120 superyachts on water, plus numerous yachts at anchor subject to swell, a few hundred exhibitors in the large tents ranging from fine tableware and one-off pieces of collectibles all the way through to garbage management and eco-friendly washdown products, coupled with about 40-plus VIP hospitality areas and copious branded bars/restaurants – for a newcomer to yachting all this must be overwhelming. It is absolutely impossible to contemplate seeing or meeting everyone or everything you need or want to see, so I’d like to make a candid statement about the Monaco Yacht Show.

If you are planning to make the pilgrimage, come with a very simple objective – to have fun and enjoy the buzz, the energy and the atmosphere. I can almost guarantee that while you’re having fun you’ll meet customers and potential clients in the most unusual places like Yacht Club de Monaco bathrooms or on the complimentary shuttle buses whizzing around the streets paved with gold or, more often than not, in a bar well after midnight.

So thank you Monaco Yacht Show for being our circus, our Mecca, our week-long escape from the office. We will be there in our ambassadorial capacity, just not as exhibitors. See you in about three months for all the fun of the fair! 

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