TransEurope Marinas Chair Jean-Michel Gaigné, rounds up the year with a report from METS TRADE, and a review of the latest trends affecting marinas and boating.

METS and 2021 boating trends

The present situation is still pretty weird. The pandemic continues to be a threatening presence, with new restrictions arising here and there, every day. But life goes on, and people adapt their attitude to deal with the present situation.

This is what happened last month during METS TRADE Amsterdam, when a partial lockdown was announced by the Dutch government, just 2 days before the opening, with the event left to pick up the pieces and find the means to go ahead.  Anyway, the professional show was successful and despite the lack of people from Australasia, and very few Americans, the marina pavilion was vibrant, and the business was reported to be good. Many marina managers, including a few TransEurope members, had made the trip, and we had a few interesting meetings with the European group of CMMs, or ICOMIA Grow Boating Committee.

During the GMI CMM meeting, TransEurope colleague Maarten Desloovere talked about the recycling options for end-of-life boats and abandoned yachts, based on his personal experience in Belgium, while we had a discussion about the initiatives to revive the boat movements between UK and the continent, severely damaged by both the Brexit and Covid-19 governmental decisions. TransEurope Marinas has a key role to play in that matter, to stimulate the berth holders and to demystify the paperwork complexity.

ICOMIA Grow Boating meetings are always very inspiring in terms of discovering actions being undertaken in the different countries to promote boating and attract future customers. Advertising campaigns on the TV in the Netherlands, and determination of target groups with the help of the market researcher “Motivaction” have permitted the Dutch to form a clear picture of what type of person is interested in different types of water sports.  The US and Canada have produced their famously attractive “Discover boating” promotional campaigns, and open days in sailing clubs, marinas, or beach spots to test and discover a full range of water-based activities, have proven popular in various countries.

We have seemingly reached our goal if we just refer to what happens on the market. Marinas have never faced such a strong demand over the last season, even being overbooked at times. The boat manufacturers are experiencing difficulties with delivering new boats within a reasonable period, and the secondhand market is booming too!

All this is very positive for our industry, and we can dream of a bright future, if we just are agile enough and attentive to new market trends, such as younger consumers finally entering the market with a more versatile behaviour; the emergence of boat clubs and the need to provide coaching for newcomers. Other shifts include cleaner and greener marinas, developing digital marketing platforms and generating more visibility.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas time and look forward to catching up with members in person on the 25th of January for our next meeting in boot Düsseldorf. We need to meet up and enjoy a fruitful discussion to meet tomorrow’s challenges!

All the best,

Jean-Michel Gaigné CMM