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Index : Shows and Events and Days Out : National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show 2007 - by harwoody

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National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show 2007

A review of the 2007 show from a UKCampsite.co.uk member:

We visited the show on Saturday 24th February and having arrived at 9:30am were surprised how empty the majority of the car parks were!

Having last visited this show two years ago, it was evident that there were fewer people in attendance and this was confirmed when we reached the main entrance 15 minutes prior to the gates opening and were right near the front of the small queue in the main entrance to Hall 5.

The next 5-10 minutes saw more people arriving and the NEC staff requested the latest arrivals to go up the stairs towards Hall 4 to ease some minor congestion! Why they did this remains a mystery as the people who did make their way up the stairs thinking they could gain entrance through Hall 4 were then turned around at the top, at which point the NEC staff taped off the staircase to form another queue, only to have everyone go back down the stairs when the show eventually opened!

The show itself had the usual selection of manufacturers & suppliers but compared to the show two years ago, most of the stands seemed smaller & disjointed. We don't know if this was due to having more exhibitors or the possibility that there are more shows being held throughout the year, resulting in the exhibitors taking smaller stand space due to the costs involved. We suspect the later was a more realistic assumption.

The crowds did seem to pick up during the first three hours of the show but tailed off significantly after lunch. From a personal point of view it was far more comfortable getting around with less people but I'm sure the exhibitors would not agree, as many of them were left on open stands & talking amongst themselves for the later part of the afternoon!

Our suspicions regarding the poor attendance were later as good as confirmed when speaking to an exhibitor from Salop Leisure who said that the show attendance was 40% down on last year and it had been a very dissapointing show as far as sales were concerned. He felt that having shows so close together (referring to the one held back in October) was a major cause of this disastrous statistic.

Not good news at all for the exhibitors who spend so much money supporting these events & not good news for a major venue like the NEC, who will obviously be taking a very close look at why the show failed to have the support of the public.

Our own opinion is that there are just too many shows held during the year and the market just cannot sustain such a high volume. Yes, the popularity in the great ourdoors has increased but with the ever increasing costs of living, the market now seems to have reached saturation. This must be worrying for the smaller manufacturers & suppliers on many fronts as they also have to compete with cheaper imports from abroad. Based on our observations at the show, I fear some may struggle to survive over the next 12 months.

Back to the show and Bailey of Bristol seemed to have the largest caravan stand compared to their competitors, but the layout seemed far too tight as they had vans far too close together. Our winner of the worst dressed staff has to go to the company (we are not sure who they were but someone out there will know) that had the men wearing beige patterned jackets, absolutely awful... we couldn't even bear to go on the stand for risk of feeling sick!

The kids were dissapointed that there were not more activivites to keep them occupied, even the 'canoe villiage' where youngsters could try out this sport, had seen a pool a third of the size from the last time we visited. Add to this the fact that there were no archery introductions etc. We felt that as the show is promoted as a family event, the shows organisors could definately do with having a play area & more specialist activities for the kids to get them interested in ourdoor pursuits and away from the computer consoles.

The accessory shops offered a good range of items and overall it was good to see that many of them had greater space between the shelves, better for disabled visitors and shoppers in general. Our favourite accessory shop was Towsure & we got a bargain with a caravan cover we had been after for some time. Only critisism would be that they had no string available in which to make a carrying handle for such a large awkward box. The amount of people walking around fully laden with weird shaped goods was a sight to behold.

The static homes section had a good range of units available, our favourite being the Atlas Caravans 'Concept 2' which had a price tag in excess of 40,000. The separate glass partioned dining room was modern and exceptional in design. We had never really considered having a static at some point in our lives, but the lastest designs have certainly made us interested in the future.

The luxury boats area was well laid out and although they are only dreams for the majority of visitors, it is good to see how those with rich pockets may spend their day on the ocean. The Sunseeker '47 Portofino' was the highlight here although all the cruisers were splendid.

Although motorhomes are not really our thing, it was noticeable how popular this is, not just with retired people, but families now seem to be chosing this method of outdoor activity. The motorhome area had a vast amount of choice and we were really surprised as to how much floor space the motorhome section had at the show.







The 'Holiday & Tourism' area didn't seem very large and from the companies who had stands, the overseas camping sites were head & shoulders above those from the UK, both in presentation, cataloges & friendliness of the staff. The Spanish Tourist Office was our favourite, while Les Castels also offered a good selection of information.

In Summary

Overall we felt that the show was clearly not as good as two years ago, both in floor & stand planning as well as the choice of companies exhibiting.

Hopefully the organisors will listen to the feedback both from the exhibitors & the public and move away from the rather predictable & stale feel the show offers. If the event is to survive, it needs to attact many more visitors and avoid the mish mash of the current layout. Each main area of Products & Services needs to be clearly defined, at present I don't think the show knows what it's market is or what the paying public wish to see. One idea I have would be to have a vastly reduced two-day ticket on offer, that way the public have the chance to see more of the show and the exhibitors are likely to see more orders & income. The exhibitors in turn have to realise that qaulity over qauntity is what the a show is all about & avoid packing their stands to capacity. They also need to motivate their staff more to become more customer friendly, many seemed to be going through the motions and treating it as just another show. Exhibitors also need to highlight how repulsive it is to be confronted by a salesman smelling of smoke or perspiration. We were amazed that five minutes before the show opened, the amount of exhibition staff who were standing just outside the halls getting in that last cigerette!

If we didn't live so local, I don't think we would make the effort to go to a future show. The show needs a breath of fresh air or it will fade into history

Index : Shows and Events and Days Out : National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show 2007 - by harwoody

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