From the Captain’s Chair: Looking Back at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show November 29, 2018
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed time with family and friends. The extra-long weekend is a perfect time to slow down and take a break after the hard work and excitement of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. With near-perfect weather and a strong economy this year’s show was already off to a great start, but Informa’s additional infrastructure investments, including new tents, flooring, and floating docks, in addition to the presence of NBC Sports Network, and two new popular events, took the show to the next level.
The newly-designed entranceway showcasing a 53-foot center console high above the crowd and a massive LED video wall welcomed visitors and streamlined the process for ticketing and credentials, and an elevated Windward VIP experience, presented by Delta Private Jets, offered air-conditioned comfort and gourmet food prepared by renowned caterers, Proof of the Pudding.
New technology at entry gates and ticket booths, new security screening systems, and an improved bus transportation route also enhanced the guest experience.
The first ever Wine Enthusiast Yacht Chef Competition, with guest judges including Alonzo Mourning, Mike Mayo, Nils Bernstein, and Kelly Blanco, and emceed by Ingrid Hoffman, activated Pier 66 Hotel & Marina with a large crowd to the evening event where Chef Eric Davis took the top prize. Additionally, NBC Sports Network, which was onsite filming for a one-hour special that will be aired on December 23rd at 5:00 p.m., created the “Best of Show” contest for debut vessels and commissioned a one-of-a-kind trophy from industrial designer Derek Jenkins that was awarded to the 42-meter Mangusta Oceano – Namastè. The five judges who picked the winner from seven finalists were Francois-Xavier Hotier/President of Ulysse Nardin, Jeff Mihalic/President and COO of Delta Private Jets, Charles Sieger and Jose Suarez of Sieger Suarez Architects, and Fabien Cousteau, ocean conservationist and documentary filmmaker.
Many exhibitors have provided very positive feedback from this year’s show and several expressed that they may have seen their best show results ever. Outdoor recreation now comprises 2.2 percent of the U.S. GDP and 50 percent of that is dedicated to boating and fishing, confirming the importance of FLIBS as an economic driver. Now that NBC Sports Network will be broadcasting a FLIBS special program, we have extraordinary opportunities to showcase the size and scope of the show: an $857 million statewide impact including more than $100 million a day in direct sales; 52 countries represented; 1,100 visitors with a net worth in excess of $20 million, seven locations, six miles of floating docks, 1,500 boats, and 1,200 exhibitors.
Once again, MIASF chartered the 138-foot Grand Floridian and hosted multiple special events and meetings throughout the show, including the 4th Annual Global Business Luncheon with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the South Florida Business Journal where a panel of regional business leaders spoke to an invite-only audience of local elected officials and community leaders about the positive business climate and opportunities for improvement, such as transportation infrastructure. Additionally, the 3rd Annual Marine Research Hub Summit was held, showcasing fascinating collaborative research projects presented by each of the four Hub universities: Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, Florida International University, and the University of Miami to local entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and investors.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection were also onboard leading important and timely discussions on issues like crew visa applications and the new process for 300-ton+ vessels flying the American flag. As always, MIASF welcomed members and their guests onboard for the daily luncheon buffet and the annual Exhibitor Appreciation Party.
I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy the show and I encourage you to take the time to also attend the Miami Yacht Show and the Palm Beach International Boat Show in the upcoming months.