Alex Nicholl talks us through the challenges of launching a brand new boat show. Alex has over 15 years’ experience in the exhibitions industry and is Business Development Director for the Abu Dhabi International Boat show
Exhibition organising is in our genes however, boat show organising was a new challenge which we successfully rose to, ultimately exceeding even our own expectations. When it was decided at IDEX LLC in April 2017 that we would hold a boat show worthy of gathering international renown in just 18 months, we knew it would be a rewarding yet challenging experience. The planning and preparation for the boat show provided a steep learning curve but was incredibly rewarding experience.
The message to our potential exhibitors was simple. Firstly, Abu Dhabi can deliver a concentrated audience of high-net-worth individuals. Secondly, not only is Abu Dhabi a marine industry hub for the Middle East but it is also a fantastic boating destination, surrounded by over 200 stunning islands, begging to be explored. For the launch edition of Abu Dhabi International Boat Show (ADIBS), we partnered with British Marine Boat Shows, the organisers of the London and Southampton Boat Shows, Abu Dhabi Ports, and with the Emirate’s Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA).
We exceeded our attendance targets, with over 21,000 attendees. The exhibitor and brand target was also topped by 80 per cent, with 270 in attendance, including renowned brands such as Gulf Craft, Princess Yachts, Monte Carlo Yachts and Sunseeker. There were 96 boats on display, 20% more than we had anticipated for the first year and I’m proud to say that there were 23 new product launches during the show. We concluded that launching ADIBS encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit and drive that certainly in this case led to incredible success. Additionally, the unique positioning of the show as a Uniquely Abu Dhabi experience that did not emulate the style of other international shows was the key to its success.
For an independent measurement of visitor and exhibitor feedback, we engaged Nielsen, who reported visitor satisfaction of 97 per cent and an exhibitor satisfaction rate of 95 per cent, exceeding the 85 per cent target we had set ourselves. ADIBS also attracted the attention of 105 international and local media representatives, so it is safe to say that it made a splash!
The planning and preparation for the boat show provided a steep learning curve but was incredibly rewarding experience. We concluded that launching ADIBS encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit and drive that certainly in this case led to incredible success. Additionally, the unique positioning of the show as a truly Abu Dhabi focussed experience that did not emulate the style of other international shows was the key to its success.
The inaugural edition of ADIBS organised by ADNEC has been shortlisted by aeoawards for Best International Show – Middle East and Africa, and Best Consumer Launch. ADIBS 2019 will return to ADNEC Marina 16th-19th October and we are already on track to have a bigger and better show than last year with an enhanced sports fishing zone and a newly introduced Luxury Boulevard. Online ticket sales will go live later this year.