The powerful economic impact of the 5th annual Gold Coast International Marine Expo is still being measured a month after the event, with ongoing activity translating to total confirmed sales in excess of $50 million.
In the 30 days since ‘the boat show with so much more’, organisers have been compiling feedback from all exhibitors to gauge the full effect of Australia’s new and truly unique boat show, which this year brought its dates forward to May.
Held in the heart of the biggest recreational shipyards, luxury motor yacht and aluminum boat building facilities in the southern hemisphere, the Expo is run by a not-for-profit association created by marine industry leaders. Seeking to reinvent the concept of the traditional boat show, Expo is more than a massive showcase of all things aquatic. Spanning a 3km long display circuit, visitors are treated to interactive and educational entertainment as well as almost every possible marine display.
The overwhelming consensus, says Event & Marketing Manager Emma Milne, confirms the Expo is continuing to produce outstanding results across the entire spectrum of the marine industry well beyond its four days.
“Our exhibitors have certainly capitalised on the new customers they met throughout the four fantastic days of Expo and the result so far confirms that this year’s event was our most successful ever on many levels,” said Ms Milne.
“But it’s only been a month: the true success of a major event like Expo will be reflected for many months to come because, realistically, many people like to undertake research before committing to significant purchases.”
Ms Milne said although some exhibitors prefer to remain confidential about their business activity, reported sales both during and after the Expo reveal a sales figure thus far in excess of $50 million.
“A great deal of that activity – in fact over 40 per cent – has come in the 30 days since the actual event … and that’s only the sales that have been reported to us,” she said.
Ms Milne said the extremely positive results encompassed smaller boating businesses through to on-water brokers as well as engine, equipment and accessories suppliers, all the way to major manufacturers of trailer boats and large luxury yachts … and then right through the supply chain actively servicing those businesses.
“That means new jobs, real growth and new opportunities in our marine industry … resulting in very positive feedback regarding our decision to bring the Expo dates forward to May to better suit the boating business cycle,” she said.
“One smaller shipwright service business told us that, before Expo, they were faced with the prospect of laying people off but, now, they have eight months of forward orders already signed … and the work is still coming in,” she said.
“Another smaller boat-builder reported that they received four orders for new boats each valued at $250,000 at the Expo, and there are now eight more orders in the pipeline – again all through the exposure and opportunities generated by Expo in May.”
Brett Thurley from Pacific Motor Yachts and Clipper Motor Yachts said that he could directly attribute the contracting of 10 new and pre-owned boats valued in excess of $4 million to the Expo, with most having been now delivered to their new owners.
“We also have ongoing discussions on four new Clipper models from the customer relationships commenced at Expo,” he said. “Our conversions from deposits to completions was very high but it’s probably more important to highlight the ongoing impact of the Expo in terms of jobs and opportunities.
“We contract 10-12 family-owned businesses and the flow-on effects will mean they can grow, pay their bills and employ more people – that’s the impact that really matters … the activity continues to filter through the broader economy.”
The creation of new jobs was confirmed by Riviera chairman and owner Rodney Longhurst who said Australia’s marine industry 2015 Exporter of the Year was now advertising for more boat-builders and tradesmen, adding to the 430-strong team currently based at the marque’s world-class Coomera facility.
“We sold 12 luxury motor yachts at the Expo and an additional three in the past month as a direct result of our on-water showcase – our largest ever in Australia,” he said.
“Some of our models now have forward orders carrying through to the end of 2016 … and this means Australian jobs not just here at Riviera, but right throughout the Gold Coast Marine Precinct where over 2,500 people are employed and the value of the supply chain servicing the businesses located domestically and internationally runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Ms Milne said over 40 per cent of Expo visitors came from outside of the Gold Coast, and while they were here they spent money on accommodation, on meals and on enjoying everything else the Gold Coast has to offer.
“The full flow-on effect of the Expo certainly has wider economic benefits and these are very substantial,” she said.
“It’s very satisfying that visitors are also reporting that they loved the fact they could come to Expo by car, train, helicopter or boat and they loved what they experienced. In fact almost 60 per cent of all visitors surveyed spent over five hours enjoying all that the Expo had to offer. Over 70 per cent rated Expo an 8 or better out of 10, and over 25 per cent rated Expo as 10 out of 10.
“It’s this kind of result that inspires us to deliver a unique experience for our visitors and a strong return on investment for our exhibitors.”
Lee Randall from Spirit Marine International said four luxury boats had been sold through his brokerage business as a result of relationships started at the 2015 Expo.
“And that’s not necessarily the stock we exhibited on the water there,” he said. “I’m stoked with the result – the contacts we made at Expo are still being followed up but at this stage we can report that we have sold boats to the value of over $2.5 million … with more to come.”
Noel Leigh-Smith from Leigh-Smith Marine said he felt Expo was terrific value for money from an exhibitor’s and visitor’s perspective.
“We had a lot of interest in both the brokerage boats we had at Expo and we’ve since sold one boat we didn’t even have on display, and that’s as a result of the contact and discussions we had during Expo.”
Barry Martin from Jaeger Boats made his first foray into a boat show at Expo and is very excited about the fact he sold his first highly polished, unsinkable 255 Dinghy at its World Premiere, and has since worked hard to establish solid relationships with key trade representatives.
“We put a lot of research into the product – it’s a brand-new concept – and Expo was a fantastic introduction to the market,” he said.
Troy Dibben from Troy Dibben Boat Building said the Expo was the best boat show he had ever attended.
“Expo produced an outstanding result for us. We had a continuous flow of people and handed out a lot of brochures and now the work is continuing to come in. We restore classic boats to their former glory – some from the 1920s – and we’ve been able to help a lot of people see the benefits of doing that.”
Dylan Lopez from Sirocco Marine North – which specialises in rigid inflatable boats – said relationships commenced at the Expo were still being followed up and sea trials are still being conducted … and more prospects were coming through the doors each week.
“Expo has always been great for us – it’s definitely a winner,” he said.
Paul Phelan from Australia’s largest aluminium boat-builder, Telwater, said the Expo produced the best Gold Coast boat show result ever for the popular Quintrex line, with orders still coming through from dealers placed throughout South East Queensland and beyond.
“Expo was a terrific opportunity for us to showcase all the boats our team of over 200 people builds here at Coomera, including Quintrex, Stacer, Savage and Yellowfin plate boats,” he said.
“However Quintrex and our new 2015 range is the outstanding success story: just one of our dealers reported sales in excess of $700,000 at the Expo, and a further $300,000 since then.
“We are now forecasting to grow 10 per cent next financial year … and that can be attributed in part to the success we enjoyed at Expo and we are actively recruiting new people to help us meet this growing demand.”
Expo’s 2016 dates are 19-22 May.