I'd been to plenty of boat shows in the past and always knew that if IBF is to be taken as a serious contender then it's the major ones that we need to be exhibiting at. Southampton Boat Show being one of them and after visiting recently, Boatlife also needs to be on that list.
Inflatable boat fishing falls into two very large categories, Fishing and Boating, and although my plans are always to do the major boat shows as soon as funds allow, I was contacted by the Big One fishing show organisers who were keen to level the playing field between sea fishing companies and the dominant carp establishments to attend their show.
So with an offer I couldn't refuse I found myself on the list of exhibitors at The Big One show in Farnborough.
Should I be doing a fishing show(especially a carp show) before a boat show? That was the question.
Not many of the leading inflatable boat suppliers promote their boats as fishing boats. This is where IBF stands alone so attending fishing shows might be the better approach.
So with lots of planning going in to it, the time had finally arrived for myself and Susie to exhibit at IBF's first major show.
We invited YouTuber Fish Hunter UK aka Rhys and his wife Paige to join us as he and his channel had done so much to help promote IBF since its launch. It was a great way to say thank you and for him to meet and greet some of his followers.
With IBF popup and wall banners as well as Railblaza displays adorning stand 33, the Hydrus IV and H5 Camo Hydrus took centre stage.
Myself, Susie, Rhys and Paige loaded with flyers and big smiles eagerly awaited the footfall of 18,000 visitors that passed through the show throughout the two days.
Day 1 was a bit slow and I was beginning to wonder whether or not this Carp fishing world was the right place to be selling an inflatable boat that is used mainly for inshore fishing.
With only one boat sold the whole day, was it really the right approach? I was beginning to wonder.
I'd met up with and chat to a few people in the industry who gave some great advice so I was still optimistic. Quite a few of the Facebook group members had turned up to say hello including two or three that had already pre ordered a Hydrus so it was nice to meet them and show them their new boat.
Day 2 of this particular show is apparently when anglers turn up for the better deals knowing traders are a little more eager to sell what they have left so I wasn't expecting much but the day got off to a great start with two boats sold in quick succession. Rhys was in his element posing for photos with his fans while Susie and Paige were busy encouraging passers by to check out the goods and even sold some IBF merchandise.
Steve Bruce from F-Ribs and Epropulsion had promised to pop by and help out at the show to demonstrate the Spirit 1 Plus electric engine to passers by so a massive thanks to him for his help. It was great to spend some time chatting to him over a beer and a Cornish Pastie about how he set up his F-Ribs business.
By the end of the day we had four boats, two engines, a couple of Garmin striker units and a bunch of Railblaza accessories sold to some very happy visitors.
I'd set up one or two trade deals as well as having the main man Ali Hamidi pop by to see the boats as promised and I look forward to hopefully doing something with him and One More Cast in the future so we certainly ended on a high.
I also had an interesting visitor to the stand offering another show that I'll be exhibiting at where some very exciting things will be happening so watch this space.
At the end of it I was truly exhausted but absolutely buzzing about what lies ahead for IBF.