Published: Thursday, 09 May 2013
Ryan Swift

Andy Treadwell is the managing director of Singapore Yacht Events, and is behind the highly acclaimed Singapore Yacht Show (April 18-21), whose third edition has garnered plenty of attention. Here, he talks about what it takes to put together a show like this in Asia, and where he’s headed next

A Qa With Andy Treadwell  1

APB: What are, in your view, the key factors to the recent success of the Singapore Yacht Show, particularly its 2013 edition?

Andy Treadwell: If it was successful (and it's certainly not for me to judge - although I do have to say we have had nothing but exceptionally positive feedback!) then unquestionably that is mainly because I took the show out of a big Plc and into a small private business. Having acquired the event from Informa last summer, I was at last able to invest the time and resources that it takes to develop a proper, quality show with a long-term strategy.

At the end of the day, it all depends on building relationships, spending time listening to - and understanding the needs of - your clients. It's simply about how much work you put into it. We worked really hard on developing the scale and the product range of the event, and on the international and visitor marketing - we’ve put a lot of time into trying to get it right.

I'm now able to focus properly on building the right business model for this industry. Asia is a really important region with lots of potential, but the boating sector has limited marketing budgets at the moment. So we have to work a lot harder to make sure our clients – the exhibitors - get results.

With the slump in the West, the international yachting industry has been looking for a new market, and in Asia they've found it – beautiful boating waters, and lots of wealthy people, but little knowledge of, or cultural affinity with, the marine lifestyle. When I first came to Asia in 2009 to look at new business opportunities, Singapore was my first choice as the place that really needed a proper regional yacht show – it is unarguably the best business hub for the industry here. 

I’m also fortunate to have found good strategic partners - One°15 Marina Club, the Singapore Tourism Board and Sentosa Development Corporation have all been behind the show in a big way from the beginning. We’ve secured private resources and we have built a tremendous team. I have made a point of getting the right people for the job, and I intend to grow and develop the portfolio they will work on; it’s one of the things you have to do to keep talented people. So we will be adding some new strategic events in the region which will help us achieve economies of scale and increase motivation all round.

APB: What are your plans for the future? How do you expect the Singapore Yacht Show to change, and what do you expect visitors and exhibitors at the 2014 show to experience?

AT: The show this year was a long way from being perfect, and to be honest there are several areas where we have to improve quality. We will work on our visitor marketing – we put a lot into it this year, but we’ll be putting a lot more into it for the next show. There are a lot of non-boating people all over Asia who have the wealth and who look like they are going to love the lifestyle – we have to reach out to them via private networks and promotional events to persuade them to come and join the party.

We will also be working on the scale of the show for 2014. There are a lot more brands that should be there, with more products on display - and not just yachts and boats. We should have all the marine accessories, outboard motors and apparel, and all the toys and tenders that go with superyachts. We get a lot of captains and crew at the show, and there’s room for expansion into all the service and supply areas that the professionals are looking to find.

Then there's added lifestyle attractions. Visitors from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia - from all over Asia - want to come to a "one stop shop" where they can find luxury cars, jewellery, watches and fine art, for example. All of this can be bundled together with the appeal of Singapore as a business and luxury destination, with its private banking facilities, its casinos, its shopping and its golf course – it all makes it a pretty attractive draw card for high net worth regional visitors.

A Qa With Andy Treadwell  2

APB: Does this mean we could be seeing pavilions of various types at the next edition, and considering that One15 Marina is already full, would this present any problems?

AT: We still have a lot more available space at Sentosa Cove, so plenty of potential to develop the exhibition side next year, and we really hope to be able to persuade more international companies to participate. As for the marina being full already, it’s hardly a new problem, and most marina berth leases allow for such events to take place. Even in Monaco, there is always some good-natured grumbling when boats have to move out to make way for the Yacht Show - but the fact is, owners love to see all the new stuff. They want to see what's going on in the industry; they may even be interested in upgrading, and they recognise that it's good for the vibrancy of the community – and anyway, it's part of the deal!

It is as difficult in Singapore as anywhere, as the marinas are all pretty full. However, the One°15 Marina staff and the local berth holders are always really helpful and we manage to find enough spaces. There are huge benefits for all of us from staging the show, so we all pull together. We’ll find room, we always do.

APB: At the end of the 2013 SYS, you announced that there would be a partnership with Nansha Marina (in China) to help promote their show in October. Can you outline the scope of this agreement and what particular strengths you could bring?

AT: Again, in a sector where the industry thinks there are far too many shows (and what industry doesn't!), it's just about collaborating rather than competing, if it makes sense to everybody. I am told that Nansha could be an important strategic show one day; they are very nice, smart people, so I think if we can help each other in a way that is good for the industry – and potentially mutually beneficial for the shows – then it's the right thing to do. I think we can probably help them with international promotion, while we could also use their help getting Chinese VIPs down to the Singapore show.

Similarly with Hainan, we have always collaborated on dates so as to be sure that yachts would have enough time to move between the shows and exhibit at two key events, without there being too long a gap. We should be collaborating with all the important shows in Asia. But we do have to be careful about having too many shows – and that's down to the industry to control, not the organisers!

APB: There are a lot of shows popping up all over the region, particularly China. How does that affect your expansion strategy?

AT: At the end of the day, our objective is to do what the industry wants – what works for them, and what they will keep coming back and paying for. If a show is not properly organised or promoted, it simply won't work, and the industry should not support it - then it will disappear.

China is a huge place, with each region having its own rules and regulations (with regard to yachts). There is probably a need for a small local show, or some kind of promotional event at least, for each region. I would be happy to look at any opportunity if I think it makes sense for the industry, and for us commercially. However, our focus right now is in one or two other areas, where there is a real need for a properly organised and strongly promoted event which will benefit all of us.

There are several key places where there are no shows, new shows, poor shows or even two shows currently, but is the industry happy that the best is being made of the opportunity in each case? If they are, then great – but if not, and there’s something we could usefully do through a launch or a collaboration, we'd be delighted to ­– provided it would result in something positive all round.

APB: There are plans for a new One15 Marina in Busan, Korea, as well as plans by SUTL to expand the One15 brand throughout Asia. Do you anticipate running events there as well?

AT: I think Busan sounds like a tremendous opportunity, as once again, it's a great geographical location, yet completely undeveloped yachting-wise. The One°15 team will have done their homework, and will have a good reason for thinking a marina club would work there. But then we also have to look at the two other boat shows that are already run in Korea – do they work? Do they tick all the boxes for the industry, including for the developers? Is there a need for another event – or an alternative concept? Personally, I think there is probably more of a need for "educational", consumer-facing events in "new" countries, rather than me-too boat shows all over the place.

In general, if One°15 – or any other developer for that matter – is going to a completely new area to build a new marina (and this takes a huge investment, so they wouldn't be doing it if they hadn't researched it properly), then of course it would make sense to look at the opportunity for events there as well. We are both aware of the mutual benefits.