Captain’s Chair: Shows adapt to location, branding changes February 24, 2016

Yachts Miami Beach and the Miami International Boat Show both underwent significant changes this year, ranging from new names to new locations. Yet the crowds that patronized each are a sign of their resilience and show how it’s possible to work through challenges. Despite many obstacles and objections by Key Biscayne, the National Marine Manufacturers Association found a solution and pulled of by what many accounts was a very successful show. They took a risk, and it paid off.

This shows the importance of the shows, as well as importance of tenable long-term agreements both in Miami and elsewhere. We want to see the revitalization of Bahia Mar’s 39 acres, but we need a long-term agreement that benefits and feeds the community’s $8.8 billion marine industry the other 360 days of the year as well.

Yachts Miami Beach took place Feb. 11-15 in the same location along Collins Avenue it has called home for 28 years. Yachts Miami Beach is managed, produced and co-owned by Show Management and co-owned and sponsored by the Florida Yacht Brokers Association. This year’s show attracted thousands of people from around the world to a spectacular display of yachts and marine products that included more than 500 new and brokerage yachts from 18-252 feet (5-77m) and an array of the latest marine technology and accessories, valued at more than $1 billion.

This year the show added a location at Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina on Watson Island that featured superyachts from companies including Burgess, Moran Yacht & Ship, Northrop & Johnson, Merle Wood and Ocean Independence. The new marina can accommodate 35 to 75 yachts from 80-550 feet (24-168m) and will be a valuable addition to the show. Other changes besides the new name included the addition of a VIP package.

“The VIP package was a huge success,” said Brett Keating, vice president of consumer marketing for Show Management. “People keep buying more passes.”

The Progressive® Insurance Miami International Boat Show® marked its 75th year by moving to a new home, the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin on Virginia Key. Thousands of visitors from around the world converged to shop thousands of new boats and accessories and experience life on the water. Boating enthusiasts were able to board and browse more than 1,200 new boats both on land and in-water, including everything from luxury yachts and sport fishers to high-speed performance boats and family cruisers. The show site featured large, state-of-the art, air-conditioned clear-span structures and temporary boat slips housing more than 400 boats in a marina setting. Boat demonstrations and sea trials from various boat manufacturers and dealers were also available for serious shoppers looking to take a test drive.

“People are coming and when they’re here they’re having a good time,” said Thom Dammrich, , president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which owns the show. While he said the show was a resounding success for exhibitors and attendees, he noted that a lot was learned during their first go-round at the new location.

“From transportation and signage to restrooms and food service—these are all very do-able and necessary improvements that we’re already looking forward to implementing in our 2017 plans to make next year’s show even better,” Dammrich said.

Paul Wohlrab, sales manager at Jerry’s Marine Service, was pleased with the new location. “I think it’s a great venue,” he said. “I like how open it is, and everybody is upbeat. We had a lot of people in here yesterday.”

Prior to the shows, I was in Tallahassee to attend Florida Oceans Day and the Florida Ocean Alliance board meeting, where we brainstormed how we can protect and enhance Florida’s coastal and ocean resources for continued social and economic benefits. While I was there I met with Will Seccombe, the head of Visit Florida, and various legislators and discussed importance of the marine industry, our wages being 28% higher than the state average, our oceanographic research hub, the entrepreneurs that we attract to FLIBS and its Super-Bowl-sized economic benefit to the community.

We are also moving forward in the process of creating a foreign trade zone in Broward County. Companies that operate in foreign trade zones can defer, reduce, or eliminate customs duties on foreign products. Approval will allow waterfront properties within the county the option to become foreign trade zones.

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733