International WorkBoat Show Welcomed Thousands of Industry Experts to the City

NEW ORLEANS – Last week, four halls in the Morial Convention Center showcased the intricacies of the commercial marine industry and provided a wealth of information for the people who work within it.

The riverfront building was the site of the 2018 International WorkBoat Show – an annual trade-only conference and expo for commercial vessel owners, operators and builders, as well as the vendors and suppliers that serve them.

More than 950 exhibitors participated in the sprawling event.

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“If you're coming to this show, and you know who you want to see and what you need to be researching or buying, it can take all three days to learn about the different vendors,” said Denielle Christensen, the event director of Diversified Communications – the group that produces the show, and the editorial content associated with it.

“We serve what we call the commercial marine industry. Everything you see on this floor is intended to serve people who own and operate commercial vessels,” Christensen explained. 

Participants included commercial vessel owners and operators, shipyards, boat builders, engineers, marine architects, equipment manufacturers, distributors, port authorities, marine surveyors, and government officials, among others.

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Past conferences have attracted nearly 15,000 members of the commercial marine industry from around the world. They gather to network, learn, spot new industry trends, and uncover innovative products and solutions. 

“Our largest groups of attendees are the vessel owners,” said Christensen.

During the conference, guests were able to meet vendors in person and experience their products before buying them, network with professionals and share ideas, and attend half-day seminars geared towards a variety of topics.

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“The half-day seminars are very specific to the type of vessel, or what we call a sector – the sector of the market that you work in,” said Christensen.

The collection of seminars helped attendees understand the importance of everyday maintenance – both scheduled and emergency maintenance; learn about fleet design and market trends; address the strategic concepts in maintaining what is working, and reversing what is not, along the inland waterways; determine the key components to sustaining the offshore sector, now and into the future; and examine the significance of the shipyard industry.

This year’s conference also featured a couple of new components, including the Think Tank, where attendees could interact with guest speakers in an intimate space; and the Maritime Throwdown – an event that merged mariners’ skills and with the world of sports. 

Christensen said New Orleans is the site of the conference, because the city is “the hub” of their market.

“So many of the fleet owners live along the Gulf Coast,” she said. “New Orleans, being at the end of the Mississippi (River), is really the most natural home for this event. We've never considered moving it out of this city.”

Christensen also enjoys visiting New Orleans as a tourist, mostly because of the city’s famous hospitality.

“I find that everywhere I go, everyone is kind and courteous,” she said. “They just all are always putting their best foot forward.”


By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, Biz New Orleans associate news editor

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