Are maritime exhibitions dead or just evolving?

Davide Scalia from Namaka Consulting on the future of the shipping show.

The pandemic has been a wake-up call for those enterprises in the marine industry which rely on old-fashioned ways to do business. There had been a slow movement away from in-person meetings and toward new methods of communication already established in other marketplaces, but the marine industry was a little behind.

The pandemic has changed the way you can connect with your customers, accelerating the evolution of doing business. Most effected within the marine industry are the exhibitions. Today, SMM, the Monaco Yacht Show, Nor-Shipping, Salone di Genova, Posidonia, and more are facing a sudden evolution. In other words—they have all been replaced by LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms.

Surf the the wave of innovation or get pulled underwater

If until yesterday the best platform to show your company was at one of the above exhibitions, today social media has the capability to expose you and your company to the world, certainly in a different way, and also in more detail with much higher outreach.

There is no comparison between the number of visitors attending a physical exhibition and numbers you can reach with your digital assets. The 50,000 visitors at the last SMM in 2018 can be reached every week of the year through social media, with huge cost-effectiveness.

Therefore, if companies in the marine industry will invest in and use these platforms properly, they will see higher success.

Do I believe exhibitions are dead? Absolutely not. Especially for yachting, the ability to see and meet others still holds great value. But in-person meetings—essentially, offline human interaction—will not be a key element for deal closing in the future.

Companies in the marine industry must realise they need digital assets, which you might call online exhibitions of sorts. And when the ‘official’ exhibitions come back into play, the companies that are already investing in their online presence will be the winners.

I would not be surprised if the future of exhibitions turns out to be more ‘glocal’, meaning each exhibitor will have their virtual space where they invite visitors all over the world without having to step out of their offices. That is partially what is happening with remote surveys, webinars, and online conferences.

I also believe that exhibitions have to change, reassess themselves, take a close look at the world’s status quo, and align themselves with the exhibitors’ and visitors’ needs using new technologies.

AR and VR are not well established technologies yet, but they are improving day by day. The bigger a part they have in our lives, the less need to move we will have.

The future which we once considered far off is now. It is happening around us, and we need to understand it to get the best from it. Our society is moving in a new direction, and the big names in marine industry exhibitions have to innovate together with everyone else.

As always, at the end of the day, the market will decide whether you survive or not. So everybody, exhibitions included, needs to make this decision now: surf the the wave of innovation or get pulled underwater.


  1. Virtual exhibitions platforms have been around since 2000 – and have failed to gain traction..

    They lack real human interaction (guess what? Humans like meeting other humans) and it’s difficult to build trust
    They lack serendipity
    They aren’t “fun”

    Virtual events with high levels of knowledge sharing, however, do work – and are increasingly popular

    Organisers of events need to be able both a viable digital platform that intertwines with a live event – a sort of hybrid model.

    1. Virtual exibition have failed because the technology is still far to give a full experience similar to in person meetings.. It is matter of time

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