Captain’s Chair: FLIBS shows possibilities are endless November 25, 2015

This year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was about much more than just big boats. The week also encompassed the kickoff of the dredging of the Intracoastal, the International Marine Hub business luncheon featuring two industry-leading CEOs, the announcement of the request for proposals for the Las Olas Marina, the presence of political figures including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and U.S. Representative Lois Frankel, and panels with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs & Border Protection and state Department of Revenue on issues including Cuba travel, immigration and a new sales tax cap on refits.

And by all accounts, the show was a huge success.

“It was the 56th show and one of the best,” said Show Management president Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III. “It was the best-selling show since pre-recession, since around 2005-6. One exhibitor of boats in the 20-80-foot range sold 100 boats over five days for a total of more than $40 million. Sales were way up, and the buyers were there. It was hot, but it didn’t deter people from buying.”

While abnormally high temperatures over the weekend may have deterred some casual attendees, attendance was up 10 percent over 2014 during the first two days of the show, Thursday, Nov. 5 and Friday, Nov. 6.

The inaugural VIP Boat Show Experience produced by QuintEvents saw strong demand, and plans are in the works already to expand the program for next year.

This year also saw more boats on display in all categories than in the past. There were more large yachts than ever before, with 137 yachts over 100 feet, and the number of new and brokerage boats on display in-water was up 5.4 percent over last year. The under 80-foot category was up by 4 percent, the 80-to-100-foot category was up 11 percent and the 126-foot-and-above category increased 14 percent.

Jason Dunbar, vice president of Luke Brown Yachts echoed Zimbalist’s pre-recession sentiment. “We’ve had several offers,” he said. “People want to upgrade, move up. We’ve seen a lot of baby boomers – they’re at that age where they are enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

Denison Yacht Sales represented 40 boats at FLIBS, including a mix of brokerage and new, according to president and founder Bob Denison, and in categories ranging from motoryachts to superyachts and back around to sailboats, sportfish, catamarans, trawlers, express yachts, and even an expedition yacht.

“Our hard-working brokers wrote seven new boat contracts and four brokerage contracts, as well as met countless new friends and prospects,” Denison said.

“The Fort Lauderdale boat show was one of the best we’ve ever had,” said Les Ares, vice president of sales at Lumishore USA. “Customers responded to our booth layout and new technology. We were very pleased with the quality of the customer and their appetite for quality products.”

Commenting on the activity at the Yacht Chandlers booth, company vice president James said, “We saw more owners, captains and project managers through our booth than ever before, and new products like the U-Boat Worx SYS3 Submarine were a hit with our clients. We were very pleased with the turnout and the quality customers who made their way to our booth.”

Nautical Ventures did approximately $5 million in sales on Saturday alone. And the impact wasn’t just felt in the marine industry. National Jets had more departures and arrivals than last year and sold 30,000 more gallons of fuel than during last year’s boat show. Many local businesses had been gearing up for weeks ahead of the show, and one local restaurant reported sales of $100,000 over two nights during the show.

Exhibitors and local businesses weren’t the only ones who were busy – the MIASF Aqualounge was a popular destination throughout the show as well. An average of more than 200 members and guest a day ate lunch on the boat, in addition to the International Marine Hub Luncheon that was held on Thursday and the Captain’s Luncheon on Monday.

We also hosted a meet and greet with U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio during the show, and would like to thank Lou Sola with Evermarine for his help arranging it.

To show appreciation to all of the exhibitors in the show, we hosted an exhibitor Red Party on Sunday night during the show. Thanks to the generous donations from attendees, we raised nearly $1,700 for the Marine Industry Cares Foundation, which means the foundation will be able to offer an additional seven scholarships to its marine summer camp.

Other events on the boat included U.S. Superyacht Association, Northwest Marine Trade Association and Young Professionals in Yachting, and throughout the show members could frequently be found meeting with clients, enjoying a cocktail at the end of the day or just stopping by to cool off.

All of this could not be possible without the help and support of our members, partners and volunteers.

Whether you’re looking for B2B or B2C, the show brings together vendors, manufacturers and clients from more than 34 countries, exposing and delivering them to the best boat show in the world. FLIBS highlights the collaborative nature of Broward County, the city of Fort Lauderdale, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the airports and Port Everglades.

From children to adults, everyone likes to dream, whether about things underwater, such as diving equipment or submarines, or over water, like fishing boats, paddleboards or yachts. This year’s show delivered on experience, expectations, imagery, new products and world debuts at all levels of the marketplace. It highlights the fact that by working hard and working smart, anything is possible.

© MIASF 2016 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: Scott Pearson Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733