When you bring 1470 companies together from more than 50 key boating markets around the world it is no surprise that there should be themes that emerge from all of the collective activity and discussion. Given the political and economic developments of recent weeks, the marine industry could be forgiven perhaps for looking cautiously over its shoulder at how these events might be affecting business at the local level. However it seems that there are potentially much more influential issues that are likely to be provoking discussion in the halls and corridors of the RAI this week.
By Kim Hollamby: METSTRADE Online Community reporter
For my first blog on the METSTRADE Community I’ve chosen three that will demand our full attention in coming months and years.
Firstly is a rapidly emerging understanding of the very different desires of Millenials (the generation aged today between 18-35) and what that means for the marine industry’s future.
Writing as a late entrant to the baby boomer generation, I acknowledge it is firmly in my DNA that to ‘own’ something provides a personal feeling of gratification and success. So, although I have chartered and borrowed boats in the past, I am highly motivated still to own my vessel, pay its annual bills, buy the latest equipment for it and do the maintenance, even the dirty tasks. There’s a realisation though that I might be a part of a dying breed.
There is a lot of evidence now that ownership is completely counter-intuitive to Millennials (and most likely the generations that will follow them). This is of course partly for economic reasons. But also because it’s now all about the ‘experience’ – Millennials want to sample new things, enjoy them but then move on and try something else.
It all points towards the need for innovative forms of boat rental, charter and marine holidays that are suitable for an audience with much less experience of boating. If that is right, there are changes not too far ahead of us now that are the most profound the current generations of marine industry professionals have ever been faced with.
Secondly it won’t be enough to offer boats just as a service – they will need to be offered as a really great service, with excellent customer engagement and an experience that matches a five-star holiday. Commenting on this year’s DAME Awards, Bill Dixon, the Chairman of the Jury and internationally recognised boat designer reminded:
“In the marine industry we collectively need to make boating much more fun for the end user. To do that we need products that are interesting and that make boating easier, exciting, enjoyable, comfortable and less stressful.”
Thirdly – the ecological pressures and responsibilities we all face are becoming much more obvious now. In his Breakfast Briefing Keynote, Steven Beckers challenged us all to move our thinking – from cradle to grave where end of life is not planned for – onto cradle to cradle, where recycling is built right into the design and raw materials are seen as investments, not consumables.
The good news of course is that our industry is more than capable of innovating to create opportunities out of these challenges. METSTRADE provides a brilliant focal point for us all to collaborate and evolve solutions that capture the hearts of new generations of customers in a sustainable way.
I’m looking to learn much more about this as I walk the floors of METSTRADE this week.