The first speaker, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Büddefeld (University Niederrhein), made the comparison between the boating industry and the car industry (presentation part 1, 2 and 3); the car industry has embraced the digital revolution to make their products interconnected for the benefit of users, while the boating industry made progress which need to be deepened so that boaters can enjoy an easier and more comfortable experience.
Teodora Marinska (European Travel Commission) then presented an outlook of what people expect nowadays from their leisure time: more variety of activities, more flexibility, and the possibility to use the digital tools. While this trend is valid for all types of leisure activities, boatbuilders verify its accuracy more and more.
Part of this new trend comes from the fact that people are now used to more collaborative models of economy. In particular, the temptation to “only” use instead of owning can influence the boating industry. Sergio Garcia (Fanautic) presented this emerging economic model in the boating industry, which should be seen as an opportunity to attract new-comers towards boating. If there are less boat owners but more users, the industry will need to follow closely this development.
The second part of the event focused on elderly people. The general demographic trend of an ageing population of boaters, was illustrated by the presentation from Philip Witte (BVWW) of a brand new German study. Although the sector will definitely face a reduction of its traditional base of users, the industry needs to see how it can keep elderly people on board for longer.
Dr. Wolf-Dieter Mell (Institut für Boots-Tourismus) explained the potential difficulties met by elderly people while boating, and hinted at some interesting ways to help them address these difficulties.
The numerous questions from the audience showed how topical this theme is. The complexity of the issue at stake calls for a variety of solutions, which the industry is capable to offer.
Pictures are available on the website: http://medianet.messe-duesseldorf.de/press/boot/main and all presentations are available.