Nov 27, 2016
The ICOMIA World Marinas Conference (IWMC) 2016, held in the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre from 17 to 19 November, was a truly international event. Over 200 marina professionals from 39 countries joined the ninth edition of this prominent travelling conference – the theme of which was ‘Future of marinas in a changing world’. With over 40 speakers representing leading marina organisations from almost every part of the world and an extensive conference programme running the gamut of the sector, IWMC focused on the future development of marina facilities around the globe. The conference was held in parallel with the METSTRADE Show and its dedicated Marina & Yard Pavilion.
Organised by the ICOMIA Marinas Group in partnership with RAI Amsterdam and hosted by the HISWA Holland Marine Industry Association, the three-day event kicked off with a warm welcome by ICOMIA President JoukoHuju and ICOMIA Marinas Group chairman Roberto Perocchio. Geert Dijks, managing director of HISWA Holland Marine Industry, then gave a speech which highlighted the importance of learning from other industries and business models.
“The marina and watersport market is bigger than we realise,” Dijks emphasised. “Together we need to invest in promotion in areas where our industry is not yet active in order to reach new customers and new markets. The ultimate aim is to have more people enjoying more hours on the water,” concluded Dijks, introducing delegates to the HISWA Welcome to the Water campaign aimed at growing the watersport sector in the Netherlands.
Inspiring keynote by trend watcher AdjiedjBakas
The keynote speaker on the opening day was renowned trend watcher AdjiedjBakas, who shared his distinctive vision on the world in an inspiring way. Bakas examined the future of leisure around the world, explaining how the middle class will have less money but more time thanks to robotisation. He also gave an analysis of the boating and marina market trends, underlining that people will look for affordable boats with low maintenance costs, often sharing them through dedicated systems. Marinas will move from being parking lots for boats to places where people share a community lifestyle. Bakas: “We have to change the garage into a leisure destination.”
After the opening ceremony was concluded, the 200+ marina professionals present joined various sessions designed to facilitate knowledge and information exchange. The primary areas of focus were on new opportunities in emerging markets, different approaches to marina management, regulations and legislation related to marinas & boating, and the intersections between the public & private sectors.
One of the first-day sessions was entitled ‘New consumer trends – the share economy’. This showcased the growing trend of asset sharing, which is already dramatically changing many traditional business sectors. Another area clearly on the up is the superyacht sector, and a session on this subject discussed the unique challenges being created by the growth in the number of large yachts worldwide. The specific conditions required for realising a successful superyacht marina were covered in depth.
The second day of the conference also featured a range of impressive sessions on issues such as innovative solutions for marina operations, staffing and training, marketing and customer care. The business matchmaking event on the Friday morning proved very popular, as did the tour of some of the top marinas in the Netherlands on the Saturday. Add in two nights of social gatherings and it was clear why the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference has such an excellent reputation for facilitating the type of one-to-one contacts which enable people to learn from each other and exchange experiences.
“The conference keynote by futurologist AdjiedjBakas underlined the significance of how this world is changing and set the stage for the following sessions on marina development, regulations and much more besides,” commented Udo Kleinitz, ICOMIA Secretary General. “IWMC 2016 attracted a large number of marina professionals from all over the world and confirmed its international profile. The enormous efforts put into creating and shaping this conference by HISWA, RAI Amsterdam and the ICOMIA Marinas Group paid dividends for all delegates. And special thanks are due to the 11 key players from the global marina industry who sponsored the event.”
Exceptional marina hub
This year’s ICOMIA World Marinas Conference was held adjacent to the METSTRADE Show, the world’s largest B2B marine equipment trade exhibition. The show included a completely sold out Marina & Yard Pavilion featuring 64 exhibitors specialised in equipment for the global network of marinas and associated boatyards. The synergy between the pavilion and the conference created an exceptional marina hub for the industry within a show that featured a record total of 1,471 exhibitors and 23,702 visits.
Next stop: New Zealand
The next edition of the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference will be held in Auckland in early 2018 and will be presented by the New Zealand Marina Operators Association. “This conference will again be a perfect opportunity to accelerate contacts and new investments in the branch, generate ideas and trends to make marinas more sustainable, and enable the expansion of marina chains and consortium on an international level,” says Roberto Perocchio, chairman of the ICOMIA Marinas Group.