Online Survey of Attendees and Exhibitors Show Overall Satisfaction with Strictly Sail Pacific & Power Boat Expo, But Identifies Areas for Improvement
More than 12,000 boating enthusiasts attended the five-day Strictly Sail Pacific & Powerboat Expo event in Oakland, CA, which brought together more than 250 sail and power exhibitors in mid April to the newly remodeled Jack London Square. Although total attendance was down 8% from last year's gate of 13,200, the mood was upbeat and exhibitors reported quality traffic.
The show’s special events and features helped draw an enthusiastic crowd to the show. New event records were set including the expanded seminar program that attracted 4,300 attendees; 410 people took a free Discover Sailing sailboat ride; and the Latitudes and Attitudes Cruiser’s Bash attracted a party of nearly 400 people. The show also introduced several new venues including the Green Boating Zone and Kid’s Day (both sponsored by West Marine); free kids’ seminars with Call of the Sea; and free sailboat rides for special needs kids through Heart of Sailing. The O’Pen Bic ran sailing demos, a junior windsurfing program, a Mercury and Snipe regatta, and demonstrations of the foiling Moth, all added up to non-stop action at the show.
“Although space sales and attendance were down slightly there were a similar number of exhibitors to last year,” noted Jonathan Banks, executive director of Sail America. “We were pleased with the results considering the current state of the economy and the drop in attendance and space sales that other boat shows have experienced this year. As in previous years, Jack London Square presented us with a number of challenges but many of these issues will be resolved by next year’s show.”
After each show, exhibitors and attendees are invited to participate in an online survey and the results are analyzed to help the show teams and committees improve performance. This year’s show results were positive overall, but also helped identify areas for improvement.
SHOW-GOER SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS
Just under 300 show-goers responded to the survey of the 2000 invited, representing a response rate of 15%. Key findings included:
- 75% were satisfied with their overall show experience
- The majority learned about the show from magazines, email, boat show website, internet ads or word of mouth
- More than 60% traveled 50 miles or more to attend the show
- The vast majority (+90%) were primarily interested in looking at sailboats and sailing accessories
- 90% had attended one or more Strictly Sail Pacific shows in the last five years
- 51% thought the show was the same or better than prior years; 40% ranked it worse. Open-ended comments suggested that attendees did not like the new layout of the show (too spread out)
- Almost 70% were over 50 years old.
- When asked about their preference for a combined show or a separate power and sail shows, 52% voted for separate shows, while 48% had no preference or preferred a combined show
Some other areas for improvement noted by respondents included parking, a desire for more vendors and a greater diversity of boats, along with better signage/direction to tents, and noise/lack of audio in the seminar tents.
EXHIBITOR SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS
At press time, 43 exhibitors had taken the online survey.
- Areas that generated high scores (greater than 4 on a scale of 1 – 5) included overall satisfaction with show staff, staff accessibility, staff communication, staff support during the show, ease of move-in and move-out, credential system and exhibitor kit
- Areas that scored less favorably (less than 3.5 on a scale of 1 – 5) included satisfaction with show attendance, satisfaction with the number of qualified buyers, ease of parking, sufficient areas to eat, quality of food, and the facility’s physical appearance
- On the positive front, exhibitors reported that the show was well run and show staff was professional and responsive
- Areas for improvement included interference of construction work, layout of the show, duration of the show, and the number of attendees
“Overall, I’m pleased with the feedback from attendees and exhibitors, but also understand there are definite areas for improvement we can work on,” said Sail America Executive Director Jonathan Banks. “The good news is that many of the key concerns will be addressed as the current phase of construction is completed and the new parking garage across the street from the large tent is opened.
“We will be working closely with the show committee to develop an action plan for next year’s show,” he added. “We are committed to producing the best possible sailboat show for West Coast sailors and look forward to returning to Jack London Square next year.”
Please email Jonathan Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or suggestions on Strictly Sail Pacific & Power Boat Expo.