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This article has been written by Bert Fowles, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at IGY Marinas, for the SuperYacht Times.For many years, the yachting industry has grappled with the position that global trade shows play in the industry, the challenges of reconciling the different needs of regional and international target groups and remaining relevant in an increasingly digitised environment.Photo: Phil BlakeNow, the pandemic has provided a natural opportunity for the industry to reconsider the role that trade shows will continue to play and what they will look like in the future. Here, Bert Fowles, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at IGY Marinas, explains why the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show, which will take place from December 9th through 12th, 2021 at the Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas, USVI, will represent a shift away from the traditional rendition to the innovative role that trade shows will play in the yachting industry.Rethinking the traditional boat showLast year saw a shift towards virtual boat shows and digital initiatives to facilitate networking and marketing. The boat shows that did happen, did so in an online capacity, adaptable to disruptions and logistical hurdles such as country regulations and travel restrictions. In an industry – inherently tied to personal relationships traditionally curated through face-to-face meetings – the pandemic forced us to find alternative ways to foster these relationships in order to keep educating prospective, and current customers, about the joys of leisure boating. Photo: Phil BlakeHowever, this digital shift has made evident the importance that yacht shows carry for local, regional and national economies. From an external perspective, yachting trade shows have been a “must do” for international sales and marketing, as they provide superyacht companies and industry professionals the opportunity to continue promoting the enduring appeal of the yachting lifestyle and all it encompasses.Photo: Phil BlakeCustomer attitudes, journeys to buyership and behaviours have morphed due to the pandemic. It proved the marine sector can’t rely alone on technology for lead generation or information distribution. Put simply, there will always be a need for human interaction and skilled yachting professionals to sell that dream.One of the essential assets of yacht shows is their huge potential for interaction and transformation. The year 2020 demonstrated that our social and physical environments are more fluid, and are therefore due some fresh positioning in a traditional trade show marketplace. Stakeholders have leaned into a more innovative, specialised boat show format that satisfies robust objectives and builds commercial goodwill.Despite the industry-wide digitalisation, the gap formed by the lack of in-person events cannot be entirely filled by digital events. For us at IGY Marinas and IYBA, it was obvious that the show must go on, but not necessarily based on full-on traditional practices.The inaugural edition of the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show will be open to international charter brokers and will be tailored to the needs of the charter yacht community. It will show off their Caribbean offerings for the 2021/2022 season and provide opportunities to visit participating yachts, network with like minded peers, and get inside information about the best experiences available for their clients. Creating opportunities for interaction is earmarked for success as visitors help shape the experience by attending this debut yacht show.Yacht Haven Grande: A strategic Caribbean positionConceived in the spirit of innovation, the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show will be an experiential showcase that will highlight some of the best superyachts for charter, world-class exhibitors, as well as educational seminars and vital information on local cruising grounds, logistics, supplies and shore support.Photo: Phil BlakeThe event will be hosted at the award-winning Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas. Due to its location in the USVI, a focal point in one of the most popular charter destinations during the Caribbean winter season, the superyacht marina is ideal for hosting the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show. Capable of berthing vessels up to 200m (656 ft), Yacht Haven Grande will not only gracefully host 50 of the most notable superyachts for charter, but will also serve as an ideal environment for brokers, clients and crew with ample opportunities to network, socialise, recharge and explore.Tom Mukamal, IGY’s CEO comments: “As the leading superyacht marina owner and operator, over the years IGY has worked hard to provide a great platform for yachting businesses to connect with customers and each other and has implemented new, innovative and frankly more economical ways for all stakeholders to generate ROI.” The strategic location of the show in St. Thomas brings a distinct USVI theme. Many charter shows are carbon copies of one another, which lack the authentic touch of the local culture; in most instances, you would have no idea which country you were in unless you looked at the show name. Charter shows benefit immensely from being held in various locations globally because adding a community element to the show agenda via Caribbean-themed activities, seminars and entertainment which serve to enhance interaction, foster visitor engagement and have a higher economic impact locally.With an eye firmly on trends and development, IGY Marinas and IYBA are rewriting the charter show playbook with a forward-thinking event shaped by a distinct Caribbean sensibility. Most importantly, the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show aims to go beyond being just another yacht show by resetting the boat show model and providing charter brokers with a unique experience to prepare them for the future.Preparing for CCYS The first edition of the Caribbean Charter Yacht show will provide clients and yachting professionals with the opportunity to attend a unique event. Participants will have access to an array of benefits, such as: • Lower registration fees and dockage with no minimum stay period or high season premiums• Discounted hotel accommodation, special flight arrangements (including for the European community) and US visa support services• Easy access to view the world’s top superyachts• Welcome centre, VIP charter broker lounge and vendor promenade• Dynamic lineup of activities and entertainment with a USVI Caribbean theme• Strict health and safety measures due to a scaled down eventPhoto: Phil BlakeEvent Overview: What: Caribbean Charter Yacht ShowWhere: Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas, USVIWhen: Thursday, December 9th through Sunday, December 12th, 2021Who: Open to international charter brokers and 50 of the world’s best charter superyachts from 80-450 feetWhy: Opportunity to improve and innovate from a traditional boat show format. A catalyst to build commercial goodwill, initiate charter business and stimulate the winter charter season.More details and the full show agenda will be provided over the coming months. To register for the event, please use the contact details below.
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