We talk to José María Sans, Director of the Palma Boat Show, which has managed to situate itself among the most important boat shows in the world. The Balearic Islands are one of the top destinations for recreational nautical tourism and in this interview, Sans explains to us the keys to taking this show forward, capitalising on the islands’ tourism potential.
With almost 30 editions of the Palma International Boat Show under its belt, how has the Balearic Islands’ nautical sector evolved?
The Balearic Islands’ marine leisure industry has evolved significantly in recent years, increasingly focusing on industrial services directly linked to the integrated management of boats (repairs, maintenance, refurbishment, modernisation, etc.) without losing, as is to be expected, the direct commercial demands such boat sales, equipment and accessories. An important change has converted the nautical sector based on the Balearic Islands into an international benchmark within these professional areas.
Exhibitor figures are rising every year, what do you think this is due to?
There are many factors, but one of the most evident, in my opinion, is managing the show based on a consortium model, between the private and public sectors, striving in all cases, to structure a large-scale event with contained costs for the exhibitors. As a result, this management generates direct revenue, providing many resources for promotion and capturing new customers-buyers and using the means provided by the administrators involved in the project (the Government of the Balearic Islands and Palma City Council), and the business networks associated with the project. On the other hand, it is worthy of mention that the Balearic Islands are internationally renowned in terms of recreational nautical users, both in leisure activities as well as in maintenance, repairs and modernisation works on boats. This has allowed us to give an important added value to the Palma Boat Show, by being located in a destination where the nautical sector is extremely active.
Do you think that April and May are the best months to hold this event?
Yes, absolutely, to hold this show just before the start of the main season is perfect timing. It is a magnificent moment to commence large commercial transactions for the autumn, or to close pending business deals that perhaps started at the beginning of the year during the winter shows. It is also a great time of year to test drive boats in an extraordinary setting. In addition, it offers the city the chance to boost its deseasonalising trade. Furthermore, it gives the island an opportunity to showcase its magnificent range of marine facilities, goods and services.
Within the show, there is an exclusive section for super-yachts. Do you use a selection process to choose exhibitors?
The selection criteria are established by the market, and obviously in part by the Show’s Organisation Committee. Conceptually we try to bring together the best range of exhibitors possible and attract visitors and buyers. But in any case, each and every participant is analysed to guarantee a good end result.
What does an event like this bring to the Balearic Islands?
It brings everything. The show is designed and managed in collaboration with the sector’s businesses. It is a very close and effective public-private collaboration. The show is no more than a powerful tool to boost the marine leisure industry in the Balearic Islands, referring to both commercial and industrial networks. It also covers an important promotion for nautical tourism in the archipelago.
Currently, the Palma International Boat Show is among the top three trade fairs of its type in the worldwide nautical industry. What are the keys to positioning yourselves among the best in the world?
The problem isn’t the position but the performance. It’s very true that today the Palma Boat Show is a leader in its category, a reference that has permitted us to increase our popularity massively. The last year we have closed with over a hundred companies on the waiting list. The secret lies in the fact that the show exceeds the exhibitors’ commercial and promotional expectations, that’s why 95% of companies participating in the show come back year after year. This is the point to consider. It is a matter of promotion, costs and potential involved with hosting the event. The show is going to continue opting for promotion, attracting customers and strengthening the image of the Balearic Islands as a perfect destination for nautical consumption.