XPO have made a carefully considered decision to pause the Boat of the Show Awards and Gala for 2024.
The Boat of the Show awards are steeped in history, and many companies continue to hold the coveted trophies proudly on display in their showrooms and/or prominently on their websites. However, amongst previous winners, entrants and even non-competing companies we have witnessed and heard first-hand of a growing tide of frustration; what many have pointed to as divisiveness.
The reality is that any awards have the tendency to delight a few and disappoint many. That in itself is not a reason to cease running them, however feedback across many key stakeholders (from both current & lapsed exhibiting brands) has been that the awards are not uniting the industry. Participants and gala attendee numbers have decreased markedly in recent years and a few brands (as a direct result of the awards) have chosen to exit from the wider show altogether.
We acknowledge that companies have exerted significant hours, effort and cost historically into their awards submissions, and the esteemed judging panel (whom are independently and voluntarily appointed), have through no fault of their own been challenged by limited timeframes in which to carefully assess each submission. From a helicopter view it’s a recipe for disappointment and frustration – and it’s time to reunite this industry, not divide it.
We believe it’s time to freshen up the format, so in 2024 we’re introducing in its place an all-inclusive exhibitor function on the Saturday evening. A relaxed industry networking function with great F&B, music and entertainment.
Importantly we will continue to award the Hall of Fame inductee and continue the long-standing tradition of etching those deserving inductee names on the hallowed plaque on the walls of the Auckland Showgrounds.
We are acutely aware of, and aligned with, the key principles behind the awards, which place an emphasis on striving for excellence and driving innovation in the industry. We will continue to showcase innovation and new product development within the Boat Show, highlighted across our marketing channels including a soon to be launched brand new show website, social media platforms, eDMs and the popular event showguide.
Furthermore, we are reviewing suggestions made to introduce in the future a ‘People’s Choice’ award within the show, allowing the public the opportunity to recognise/interact with your product and democratically vote for their favourite innovations across various categories across the show.
So yes we’re most certainly listening to the industry and yes we will continue to consult with exhibitors with regards to awards. In the interim we look forward to hosting our all-inclusive function as a catalyst to help unify the broader industry and break down the hurdles blocking the return of industry brands. Importantly we will continue to deliver active promotion shining a strong spotlight on leading product development & technology across the show.