Biggest summer boating show in the Nordics launched season of in-water boat shows
The floating boat show presented more than 300 boats, while the exhibition stands covered a record 3000 square metres on land. The event has grown into an important presentation place not only for boats, but also an important sales exhibition for the industry. More than 150 companies participated this year.
“The exhibition area at the HSK yacht club covered more than two hectares, offering a wide range of accessories, supplies and services for boaters,” says Jarkko Pajusalo, CEO of Finnboat, organiser of the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show.
Pajusalo states that consumer confidence in their personal finances is being tested due to inflation, deteriorating economic forecasts and the war in Ukraine. This has resulted in more cautious purchasing decisions and slower trading than in recent years.
"Nevertheless, many boats were sold at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show despite the challenging market situation; the sale of new boats has slowed down but by no means stopped. Serious customers were active on the piers this year as well, and the show as a whole provided an indication for next season,” Pajusalo reflects.
According to Pajusalo, the boat offerings at the show reflected the types of boats popular in Finland, with motorboats making up more than 90% of all the boats presented at the show. Relatively few new sailing boats are sold in Finland, which is also reflected in the number of sailing boats exhibited. New sailboats were on display, but the programme for visitors interested in sailing, as well as accessories and equipment, played a bigger role.
Major marketing event for vendors selling equipment and accessories
Mika Vanhala, Managing Director of Oy Esco Ab, a company that specialises in boat heaters, electrical systems and electronics, considered the show a great marketing event for growing companies like his.
"From our perspective, everything was done right: the show had a lot of boats, a lot of exhibitors and the restaurant area was really good. There was a nice crowd at our stand without many quiet moments – people were chatting constantly. The constant challenge is to get an even wider customer base interested in the event and to experience the joy of boating," Vanhala says, summing up his experiences of this year’s show.
According to Vanhala, boat shows have become an important tool for acquiring new customers. Products are also sold at the show, but a significant part of the trade takes place after the show.
"The company and the brand get recognition at the show, which makes it worth having a stand and displaying products that will get people interested. For example, we sold only two heater packages at the show and the third immediately after the fair, but in the next six months, we expect to make another 20 deals. Customers like to familiarise themselves with our products at the show but actually order them a little later,” Vanhala explains.
Products that visitors to the show were particularly interested in included lithium battery systems and charging technology, as well as telecommunication systems for boats. In addition to heating devices, antennas and modems were exhibited at the show together with representatives of manufacturers and wholesalers.
Electric boats and large catamarans attracted the public
The chance to test drive electric boats was the main attraction of the new stand of Valkama Watercrafts from Mikkeli – the pier was sometimes congested even. Valkama's technical director Petri Ääri expects to see orders come in soon after the demonstrations at the show.
“Visitors were clearly interested in electric boating, and some said that they had come specifically to see our products. They asked many questions about range and charging, for example. Many visitors wanted to take a test ride and commented afterwards that it was a positive surprise how quiet the boat is and how efficiently it glides through the water,” says Ääri.
The largest boats on display at the show included the impressive Lagoon 42 and Lagoon 50 catamarans. Timo Salminen of YachtsAgent, who has been exhibiting boats at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show for twenty years, also brought aluminium-framed Highfield rigid inflatable boats to the show. Four presenters assisted visitors interested in the boats.
"We had a pre-booking system for the Lagoons, and we also had a long line of other visitors who wanted to see them,” says Salminen.
According to Salminen, customers have come to appreciate the large and practical social spaces on catamarans. The company's turnover has indeed doubled compared to the previous year.
Wooden boats and sailing shoes also appealed to visitors
Boats on a smaller scale were represented by the Nordwind 20 wooden yacht of Jakobstads Båtvarv, established in 1904, which found a buyer already on Friday after a test sailing. The boatbuilder’s previous boat was also sold at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show.
"Visitors asked mostly about repairs and restoring wooden boats. One couple was also interested in a larger boat, so maybe such an order will come through in a couple of years," says wooden boatbuilder Fredrik Östman.
The Navy Blue Shop, which has an outlet in Lauttasaari on Veneentekijäntie right next to the exhibition area, as well as in Hanko, also had a stand at the boat show. The company, which specialises in sea-themed leisure clothes, also has summer pop-up stores at the guest marina in Kuhmoinen and in Uusikaupunki.
"Sales of sailing shoes in particular were good at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show, even though the partly rainy weather slightly reduced the number of visitors on Saturday. The excellent arrangements and the possibility of eating right next door supported the event,” confims Topias Tarma.
The Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show has been organised at its current location at the HSK yacht club in Lauttasaari since 1998, but the history of the event stretches back to the end of the 1970s.
The boating industry is a significant employer in Finland: 3500 people work directly in boating companies, and the total employment impact is 4000 to 6000 people. Unlike the other Nordic countries, Finland has strong domestic production, and the export share of total production was no less than 73 percent last year.
- Uiva Flytande 2024 will be held in Helsinki on August 15-18 and Helsinki international boat show Vene Båt on February 9–18, 2024
Jarkko PajusaloManaging Director, Finnish Marine Industries Federation FinnboatTel:+358 40 673 email@example.com
Käenkuja 8 A 47
Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat is the umbrella organisation for Finland's marine industry and trade. Finnboat membership represents close to one hundred percent of both the nation's domestic marine industry turnover and the value of boat exports.
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