In Taiwan last week for the pre-show media briefing and launch of the 2014 Taiwan International Boat Show, President of the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers (IFBSO), Jurij Korenc joined a group of international journalists and VIPS to tour factories and meet the Taiwan industry proponents. In this exclusive interview, he describes the global conditions and challenges boat show organisers are facing, the role of IFBSO and his impressions of Kaohsiung and its ability to host an international boat show.
Jurij Korenc took over as Acting President of the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers in early 2011, when Andrew Williams, President of IFBSO since June 2008, stepped down from the Presidency to take up a new post as Marketing Director of Princess Yachts International. Korenc was then elected to the position.
The founder of Internautica International Boat Show of Portoroz, Slovenia, the epicentre of yachting on Slovenia’s Adriatic coastline, now in its 16th year, Korenc has been a member of the IFBSO Executive Committee since 2006 and Vice President since 2009.
His background includes 25 years in PR and marketing for boat manufacturers. As he explains: '18 years ago, I decided to take advantage of this experience and create a boat show in the Adriatic region, which is attractive for tourists. I had to do it from scratch with not as many resources and support as there is these days. It was very difficult but we managed to create a boat show that became a member of IFBSO 12 years ago.'
Most recently, Korenc collaborated on developing the Kuwait Boat Show, but political instability in the region meant it was a challenging climate for such a project.
Korenc’s purpose for being in Kaohsiung for the pre-show media briefing and launch of the 2014 Taiwan International Boat Show was twofold: to meet the major manufacturers – stakeholders who will participate in the inaugural event – and to offer the event organisers the collective experience of IFBSO and its members.
'I am here to give them as much feedback as possible. This is a very specific business. Our hosts are very capable and well organised, but they need support.'
According to Korenc, the key is organisers, industry and the Taiwanese to 'change their approach to marine culture'. 'I spoke to a yacht owner today and he told me what a big deal it is to go sailing. He spent an hour speaking with a Coast Guard officer to get permission to go out to sea because they didn’t understand if he wasn’t carrying any freight, why he wanted to go out of the harbour.'
The capabilities and ambition of TAITRA are not in doubt, Korenc continues. 'They produce 30 trade shows per year. They will build these venues, and they will fill them. They can establish a specific type of boat show. Taiwan is in a good position between Asian countries. They have Japan on one side, and China and Hong Kong close by. If China can host a boat show, Taiwan can. The Taiwan industry is buying a lot of Japanese products, then there are many Chinese and their own production. They just have to work with their strengths to create their show.'
As the head of IFBSO, Korenc says the organisation is very open to new members and dedicated to disseminating information.
'We want IFBSO to be a live organisation, not rigid, and to be a useful platform for the exchange of ideas and to business between marine industry and organisers of boat shows. From my point of view, boat shows are essential grounds for business.'
IFBSO currently has 40 members. There is a 'small annual fee' and boat shows need to qualify. 'That is important and one of the missions why I am here for all new developers, to give them the guidelines so they don’t waste time.' The guidelines, known as the 'IFBSO Code of Excellence', has been devised through the input and experience of IFBSO members.
'Sharing information is our main objective,' says Korenc. 'We also have the feedback from the marine industry, which is often difficult. They want to formalise things and compare everything. But you can’t put tea and coffee in the same cup! They want a tool to measure the efficiency of boat shows and to know whether or not to attend. They try to figure out a certain tool so their members can evaluate boat shows – but that’s impossible!'
Korenc asserts that the European economic crisis is impacting on boat shows and IFBSO membership. 'The main issue for IFBSO is membership, particularly in Europe, a market which is suffering a lot. Many boat shows are not efficient.
'The aim of boat shows is to attract quality exhibitors, but once you start losing those and visitor numbers fall, you’re on the way down. Some are trying to compensate by merging with other shows or sport events, but it’s a question of how long you can survive.'
In Europe, the future is bleak, with no light on the horizon for a few years, according to Korenc. 'We expect that in Europe, the situation will go on for another two years. According to the latest developments, my personal opinion is that it will last another four to five years.
'It’s not just economical and political, it is now becoming psychological. It’s not ‘in’ to visit boat shows because there are so many more important issues. As long as there are economic problems in Europe, the industry will suffer. And the marine business is the last to bounce back. It will never come back to the heights of five or six years ago. If it can get back to 50% of the former situation, it will be a success.'
IFBSO recently hosted its annual conference in Cape Town South Africa, an emerging market, a venue selected by ICOMIA. There are many other forums too, explains Korenc. 'We hold gatherings of the executive committee at METS, Cannes, Genua or Dusseldorf, depending on our needs. Most business is done from our head office in London, run by the Secretary General, who provides information to our members.'
Kaohsiung convention centre - construction underway and set for opening in 2014. - .. .
As for Kaohsiung, the manufacturing hub of Taiwan and by length, the seventh largest producer of superyachts in the world, Korenc is confident that by April 2014, the event organisers will have a show worth attending.
'There are ways to get exhibitors to come,' he states, referring to incentives and the allure of doing business with this powerhouse of production. 'The first show may not be spectacular, like Cannes, but they can learn and train staff how to do it and in two or three years it will be strong. TAITRA have 58 offices worldwide and they know the people they need to bring to make it a success. Look at the boats they build here from nothing. So why can’t they do this?'
About IFBSO IFBSO's mission is to help member organisations mount cost-effective, quality exhibitions for the recreational marine industry around the world, by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and the development of co-operation between members.
This mission translates into four key aims: * To help IFBSO members create dynamic, cost-effective, customer-friendly and profitable marketing events for exhibitors; * To help IFBSO members produce viable shows; * To help the growth of the recreational marine industry; * To promote the boating lifestyle.
Principles In addition, member organisations are expected to: * Promote their show honestly on its own merits. * Seek the endorsement of the national marine industry association in their country, or an MIA in a neighbouring country if none exists in their own. * Display the IFBSO logo and slogan on all relevant trade marketing material. * Provide prospective and actual exhibitors with accurate information concerning the number and demographics of visitors at their shows. * Inform other members when planning to change the dates of a show outside its traditional cycle, or to launch a new event. * Submit all suitable boat shows within their control for IFBSO membership; or, if this is inappropriate, embrace the principles of IFBSO in all other boat shows within their control.
The IFBSO Code of Excellence At its 2007 Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, the Federation adopted the IFBSO Code of Excellence. All IFBSO member shows have now confirmed their compliance with the provisions of this Code.
* Transparency of entry rules, allocation of space, appeals system and waiting list rules * The organiser will make publicly available within the application form and/or in the terms of participation: * Entry rules for the exhibition; * The rules governing allocation of space including the operation of any waiting list; * Details of the allocation appeals system, including the person or body charged with responsibility as final arbiter.
Exhibitors’ compliance with construction standards * Boat show organisers will inform exhibitors that it is the exhibitors’ responsibility to ensure that all their products on display and for sale must comply with the construction and manufacturing standards for craft and other specified equipment in the country where the show is held.
Additional costs * The show organiser will provide full details of costs for technical services and compulsory additional costs payable to the organiser. * In the case of charges payable to a contractor, such as electricity or forklift work, the organiser will either provide details of such charges or identify the contractor whom the exhibitor can approach for details.
Counting of visitors and sold exhibition space * Organisers will provide details of attendance and net sold space in accordance with the standards and definitions published by UFI.
Auditing * Organisers will publish audited attendance figures and state the auditing body.
Promotion of boating * Organisers will take active measures to promote boating at public shows. by Jeni Bone
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