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BoatLife 2024 affirms position as key UK boat sales show

by Boat Life Events 20 Feb 18:13 UTC 15-18 February 2024

During its four-day run, BoatLife 2024 - Powered by Suzuki, solidified its position as an important sales show for the UK boating community.

Despite current market challenges, the organisers were pleased to see attendance figures closely mirroring those of last year. This trend was notable, not only at BoatLife, but also at coinciding long-standing events such as the Camping & Caravan Show - this year experiencing a departure from its typical sell-out status.

It was encouraging to see from the start the show generated a successful sales platform for a number of brands, setting the tone for days to come. Clearly from feedback exhibitors enjoyed a flow of quality enquiries, solid leads and potential deals - not just for boats but also equipment, holiday packages and products. One of the most significant news stories came from Lakeland Leisure who carried out sales for two narrowboats on the very first day! Moreover, the show's emphasis on lifestyle generated a warm and welcoming atmosphere for family fun, with the pool, beach and bar area becoming a vibrant hub of activity.

Opinions are what really matter within the BoatLife community and we are delighted to share a selection of the comments received:

"BoatLife has been fantastic! We have a number of dealers here and the great news is they've made sales and enjoyed working with quality customers. We are very happy all round." James Tonks - Suzuki - Headline Sponsors

"The clientele has been spot on with people coming who are actively looking to buy a boat, and people that have seen the brand before. Next year, we're going to be looking at bringing the XO defender A8 fishing model to the Boat Show for 2025." XO Boats

"We've amalgamated the brands that we are dealing with, which is Viking River Cruises, Jenneau and Delphia and we found that by doing so the stand was a lot busier, with very good leads and enquiries. Hopefully a couple of sales will be confirmed in the next week or so and generally a very good show which will be back attending next year." Guy Girling - Tingdene

"We have sold 3 trailers and overall the quality of the people we've spoken to has been very good." Seve - Vanclaes BV

"It has been an impressive show for sales, we've seen Brigs and Kolibris sold plus lots of solid enquiries and leads." The Wolf Rock Boat Company

"This has been a really good show and great for us participating as a multi-brand company. The stand saw plenty of footfall, lots of questions asked and quotes being sent out. This year was really well organised." Amber - Navico

"Showing the Bass Pro Tracker Boats has proved great and we sold the 18 model on Friday, which was impressive! New brands always take time to be seen, known about and understood, so BoatLife is a great way to showcase them." Ben Stevens - RBS Marine

"What struck us about BoatLife were the friendly visitors and exhibitors that created a very positive vibe. Partnering with The Rustic Chef on the Main Stage was a great move and we've sold out of most products - couldn't be better!" Laura - Mermaid Gin

"Loved being the demo chef for the first time at BoatLife! Created some unique dishes in partnership with the guys at Mermaid Gin. The crowd was great - had plenty of fun cooking and interacting with everyone at the show." Martin Dawkins - The Rustic Chef

Plus, we also love visitor feedback, this comment certainly sums up the whole ethos of BoatLife: "We love the show because of its size, it's not too big and it's full of boats that the ordinary family can at least aspire to. We started looking at canoes at the Excel Boat Show. 12 years on and on our fourth boat we are slowly upgrading and our next one will be much bigger, but that will be a couple of years yet!" Bryan & Elena

Other highlights recognised an array of achievements in the marine industry, such as the new Best of BoatLife Awards, voted for by the public. Technical Marine Supplies clinched the title of Best Interactive Stand, while category of Best Inland Boat went to the excellent Balt 818 from Bray Marine Sales Ltd. Wills Marine's impressive Nordkapp Airborne 8 took home the prize for Best RIB, and Best Adventure Boat was claimed by XO Boats whose DFNDR was a true standout.

Amidst this celebratory vibe, the Yachting Journalists' Association Awards added an extra layer of excitement. At the forefront was Lawrie Smith, awarded Yachtsman of the Year, acknowledging his exceptional skill, dedication and achievements in the world of yachting. Alongside him, Jess Powell and Ben Greenhalgh emerged as joint winners of the Young Sailor of the Year award, with their talent and promise being appreciated.

The Angling Zone was buzzing, notably with the highly anticipated announcement of the inaugural BoatLife Fishing Tournament. Interactive activities such as the Shimano Fishing Simulator drew continuous crowds, proving to be a big hit. With 526 fish fights, including 294 adults and 232 juniors, the overall winner received a full Mustang waterproof set, and prizes worth £2k were distributed. In total approximately 800 people, including disabled anglers, participated over four days. Similarly, immersive experiences in the GJW Activity Pool run by Rockley saw more than 220 people take to the water for some entertaining have-a-go sessions that amped up the fun factor.

Richard Dove, Director of BoatLife Events Ltd said, "It was great to watch BoatLife's third edition come to life and run so smoothly. Exhibitors went all out with their displays, and it was wonderful to welcome both new and returning companies. Despite the current climate, the industry remains encouraged by the steady flow of sales from the right type of buyers."

In a niche market, and only in year three of operation, BoatLife 2024 produced good sales results for many businesses, with a positive attitude expressed by exhibitors and visitors alike. Alongside the great range of boats on display, activity experiences and targeted zones, this years' show broadened its audience appeal with some well-received lifestyle features. Amidst challenging times, the marine industry's resilience and determined efforts came to the fore to firmly establish BoatLife as an excellent opportunity for successful boat sales.

The dates for the next BoatLife show will be 13-16 February 2025.

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