Welcome back physical boat shows! The physical/digital union is a winner


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Genoa Boat Show 2020

It’s about time. It’s back to seeing live boats, accessories, the boating world. From May 29, the Venice Boat Show starts in an incomparable setting. In September we are spoiled for choice. It starts Sept. 7-12 with Cannes, then moves to Genoa Sept. 16-21. In the meantime, there is no boatyard that has not equipped itself to give tours of its boats “live.”

Is this the end for digital boat shows like Milan Yachting Week – The digital boat show?

No, and we explain why.

The growth of the internet: 100 million new users

In these Pandemic years, a revolution has happened. Data from the most authoritative research testifies that the increase in the use of information via web and social has grown in Europe by 50 percent over 2019. There is more: it is estimated that among the 750 million inhabitants of the European Union, Internet use has grown from 70 percent to 83 percentofthe total population. We are talking about nearly 100 million new users in ages 8 to 85.

A study of global automakers found that the growth of digital preemptive (pre-sale) information related to new car models has grown by 25 percent over 2019. Used car sales sites have exploded. Today, 75% of used car sales take place through information collected on the Internet.

Mixing digital and physical is the way to go

But it is not true that the use of the Internet as a source of information, has “killed” the actual sales channel, on the contrary.

One example is that of automaker Stellantis (groups FCA, Peugeot, Citroen brands), which has just terminated contracts with its Italian dealers. The aim is not to bring about the elimination of the physical sales network. Instead, it is to adapt it to the changed scenario, that is, to integrate the digital world with the physical world.

Simply put, as an analysis by the world’s largest eyewear manufacturer, Essilor-Luxottica, has well pointed out, it is intended to create a new virtuous circle in which the prior information of the formidable digital tool, which is always available anywhere and at any time, is supplemented with a physical visit to a place where the product can be seen and, more importantly, tried on. Because it is impossible for the actual testing of a pair of glasses to see if they “fit” me wearing them to be replaced by just visiting the product virtually, via digital.

In short, to sum up, it can be said that no one is so crazy as to think that the real experience can replace the digital one.

So how do you integrate the digital with the real to create a new win-win situation for both the company and the public?

How the digital and real experience is integrated

We in our own small way, with our digital boat show Milano Yachting Week – The digital boat show are trying. With unexpected results.

Here are the numbers, which never lie.

Milan Yachting Week (data as of May 27) was visited in 255 days by 255,000 people who viewed a total of 1,255,000 products.

No physical salon, which lasts only a few days, can boast these numbers. Cannes claims (2019) 51,000 visitors, Genoa (2019) 150,000 visitors. The most visited in the world remains Dusseldorf with 250,000 visitors (2019).

So is it better for a company to be present at a digital show instead of a physical one? No, absolutely not. The dual user experience complements each other. As demonstrated by the examples from the auto and eyewear worlds, we need to distinguish and create integration between the two channels. With the sole purpose of showing prospective buyers the goodness and peculiarities of their products.

The logical process works as follows

Simply put, the logical process is this: as and when I want, I inquire about the products that interest me in a digital space (virtual boat show) where I find in one big “showroom” the products that attract me, where I can also compare them.

Having refined the search, I identify the products that interest me most and contact the company for insights or to make a physical visit to see the product live.

If I haven’t made up my mind yet, I take the opportunity to visit a real live boat show where, in a pleasant “vacation” atmosphere, I can compare multiple products that interest me. And then…I buy or put off the choice. And here the digital/real virtuous circle starts again.

That is why the return of boat shows and royal visits should also be viewed positively for those who, like us, organize a digital boat show, Milan Yachting Week. We are not a competitor, but a support that, it is now certain, is indispensable. For practitioners and the public.



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