Jan 30, 2024
This was the 66th Anniversary of the Toronto International Boat Show at Exhibition Place and as I write this, the show is now closed and the move-out is well underway. It was no surprise that the show was well laid-out, totally organized and attendance seems to have been near historic norms.
The big surprise this year, was the new boat show at the International Centre on Airport Road. That show opened its doors just one week before the traditional Toronto International Boat Show and there must surely have been a collision of advertising and marketing messages for two “Toronto boat shows” held a mere week apart.
We needed to know more about this new boat show and our Canadian Boating team went down and attended on their second day. The new boat show was a mere fraction of the size in both boats on display and total floor space. It had a few “promotional aspects” but was not at all comparable to the established show in terms of a visitor experience.
The International Centre is old and although it has been spruced up a bit, the buildings cannot accommodate larger boats. Also, the lighting and ambience is flat, even dull. By comparison, the lighting and the facilities at the Direct Energy are comfortable, rich-looking and the lighting is great. The boat colours really pop and the chrome glistens. We saw families spend a full afternoon and longer at the Toronto International Boat Show. We walked the whole show at the International Centre in about an hour including several conversations with exhibitors.
On the other hand, perhaps the real purpose was to single-mindedly move a lot of product left stranded by the rapid interest rate increases last summer. No one wants to be financing new non-currents as they depreciate.
Whatever the results may turn out to be, the new show was a surprise and the opinions I heard from exhibitors at TIBS was that we don’t need another boat show. And, we certainly don’t need another major marketing expense like that.
Time will tell if the new show survives. It was less expensive, but it looked less expensive, and didn’t seem to attract families like TIBS does.
On a different note, one surprise that hit me at the Industry Breakfast, was the announcement by NMMA Canada that I was being inducted into the NMMA Canada Hall of Fame. As the opening speaker and host of the Breakfast, I had not heard who the NMMA would name, but normally it would be a surprise to the audience and Marie-France Mackinnon is the NMMA’s new Executive Director so I didn’t see it as unusual that I would not know.
Apparently, the look on my face was entertaining to my associates at the table when they said my name!
That was Tuesday morning and by the time I left the show this past weekend, literally countless members of the industry had offered their congratulations and best wishes. This was an unexpected but amazing and memorable experience and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart of this wonderful recognition!
Andy Adams – Editor