The Versilia Yachting Rendez-Vous, the spring show launched last year by Nautica Italiana (NI) in conjunction with Fiera Milano, is to return to Viareggio from May 10-13 for a second edition with a number of key changes announced.

As well as a new entrance to the show through the main centre of Viareggio, the organisers are planning an extended conference programme, more networking opportunities and new opening times as the fledgling event looks to cement itself in the boat show calendar.

“Our three priority goals are to grow exhibitor and visitor numbers, to increase the number of foreign attendees and to have more sailing boats,” Fiera Milano’s Paolo Borgio told IBI at the Dusseldorf Boat Show yesterday. In its inaugural outing last year, the Rendez-Vous attracted 18,000 visitors with 63 boats and 107 stands. For 2018 there’s expected to be around 80-90 boats and 185 booths. A modest 5 sailboats were present last year, but NI is hoping that sailboats will ultimately make up around 20-30% of the product mix going forward.

NI were keen to point out last year that the first show, arranged over just a few months, was ‘edition zero’ but with the lion-share of major Italian yards in attendance, early evidence suggested the show could gain some traction. The major test will be its ability to attract foreign exhibitors and visitors – of last year’s 18,000 attendees, 12% were from outside Italy.

Other tweaks for 2018 include better parking and a VIP car shuttle service courtesy of a tie-in with Maserati. The opening hours have also been shifted to 10am-7.30pm (from 11am-9pm), with a number of evening networking events planned. The conference area is also being moved to a more spacious facility on site, as the organisers are keen to push the theme of Design, fusing the luxury lifestyle and nautical sectors.