The 2021 Virtual Toronto International Boat Show has successfully concluded its seven-day show, January 18 – 24, during an unprecedented year that saw Canada’s largest in-person boating event go virtual for the first time in its 60+ year history.
After announcing the cancellation last September of its annual indoor event in light of the pandemic, Canadian Boat Shows forged ahead to present a virtual show in response to consumer and exhibitor feedback, record demand for boats, and growing interest in the boating lifestyle.
The Virtual Toronto Boat Show attracted 35,641 registrations made up of returning boat show patrons, new boaters, and first-time show attendees from the Greater Toronto Area, regionally across Ontario, and as far reaching as British Columbia. Over 26,340 of registered individuals actively attended the show at least once (73% engagement rating); contributing to total visits of 46,938 times.
Consumers flooded the show eager to shop, experience and interact on the new platform. The newly developed virtual show, designed by Canadian company Unity Event Solutions, seamlessly supported highly innovative and interactive virtual showrooms, thousands of product listings, video content, as well as live-streaming and chatroom capabilities.
Exhibitors found new ways to connect directly with consumers during the Virtual Toronto Boat Show. Many utilized virtual appointments, online live chats, Zoom meetings and Facetime, 3D technology, virtual boat tours, and live showroom cameras that offered personalized customer service as with an in-person experience. “We saw an overwhelmingly positive response from our participating exhibitors; and were impressed by their creativity, innovation and resourcefulness to adapt from preparing for an in-person show to a digital environment,” says Linda Waddell, Director of the Toronto Boat Show.
"The show was an absolute success! All the hard work of organizers paid off; we had a near perfect experience as an exhibitor. The setup of our virtual booth was relatively simple, and we didn’t have any technical issues throughout the entire show. The virtual environment had a significant benefit in attracting qualified customers, even more so than the in-person show. We probably had a more successful week than the in-person experience,” says Chris Purchas, Marine Solar Innovations.
Toronto Boat Show organizers are currently reviewing extensive post-show analytics, which will be shared with exhibitors and industry at a later date.
In the meantime, some preliminary insights include:
- 76% of attendees have visited the Toronto Boat Show in the past
- 24% of attendees are new to the Toronto Boat Show
- 17% of attendees came to the show with the intention of purchasing a boat
- 45% of attendees came to the show with the intention of shopping for accessories and services
- 44% of attendees came to the show with the intention of a boat purchase in the future
- 15% of attendees came to the show to learn about boating