From the Captain's Chair: Surpassing Records
I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing Thanksgiving with family, friends, and good food. In the spirit of the holiday season, MIASF and Informa Markets are extremely thankful for the exhibitors, government officials, attendees, and staff members who all played a tremendous role in making this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show the most successful show to date. Based on preliminary reports, FLIBS 2021 will be memorialized in the record books of the show’s long 62-year history.
Evidence of a record-breaking year started at the top with the best of the best. The Ocean Alexander 35R, which was crowned this year’s ‘Best of Show’ by an esteemed panel of judges, sold two of this particular model before the close of the show. We anticipate exceeding the previous record set in 2019 of $715 million total sales over the five days of the show ($143 million daily sales).
Once again, we have commissioned Thomas J. Murray & Associates to conduct an economic impact study of the show. He is already busy working to acquire numbers through his survey sent to all exhibitors. Please, take the time to complete this anonymous survey in an efficient manner. These numbers are important and help us with infrastructure and dredge projects as well.
Success at this year’s boat show goes beyond sales and reached every respect including new offerings, attendance, and media exposure. I want to highlight a few specifics that data points don’t always capture.
MIASF worked closely with our elected officials because our impact is present 365 days a year, not just those 5 days at the end of October. Whether we are advocating on behalf of the marine industry, spearheading events that benefit our community, or supporting other industries, we continuously work throughout the year to do what we can to be a positive and reliable partner for Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale. A rising tide lifts all boats, so building and maintaining these relationships is vital for us all.
The record boat sales were powered by the continuing influx of new boaters, many of which have also transitioned their residence to Florida. We’ve seen about thirty percent of boat sales going to first-time buyers, and that trend continued at FLIBS.
Attracting new boat buyers is attributed to the world-class media coverage our show receives. For the fourth year in a row, NBC Sports joined us to film, produce, and air a 1-hour special showcasing the best of FLIBS and South Florida’s boating scene to approximately 90 million households. If you missed the broadcast of this year’s special, which aired on the final day of the show, you can watch it on FLIBS’s official YouTube page here. Additional airings will be announced in the coming months as well.
New to this year’s show was Short Shoot TV’s Satellite Media Tour (SMT). MIASF and Informa helped to facilitate the logistics of the SMT so the hosts could broadcast live from the show atop the MIASF Hospitality Lounge. And the results of this live coverage were impressive. Over almost 60 minutes of airtime, FLIBS received national coverage from 12 broadcast outlets including Fox News, CNN, etc., and totaled more than 2 million total views. The coverage and exposure garnered from these live segments would not have been possible without the full support from Visit Lauderdale and Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.
Of course, this year’s show success was not achieved without overcoming some headwinds. Visa challenges made it difficult for our European participants to travel to the show, shipping supply chain slowdowns lead to an Italian dealer moving in after the show opened, and the cost of goods and inflation also impacts us. Across the board buyers are experiencing 18 to 36-month delivery windows. However, all these challenges combined did not deter buyers, exhibitors, or attendees, and it will go down as the most successful show in history.
In other MIASF news, we are proud to announce the first graduating class from our Yacht Service Technician Apprenticeship Program. Erena Fridman (Derecktor Shipyards), Tai Tran (Bradford Marine), and Andy Camblor (Marine Max, Inc.) are slated to finish the 2-year program at the end of the year. We are very proud of their hard work in the program and their commitment to growing their skill set. We look forward to the great success they will continue to have in our industry.
Enrollment is open for the third class that is slated to start in January 2022. We have more than a dozen companies already participating in the program which is the first of its kind registered in the state of Florida. It is not too late to join them, and we invite you to contact Lori Wheeler for more information and to enroll current employees or new hires in the next class. Programs like this are vital to the continued growth and development of the more than 149,000 jobs comprising our workforce.
Finally, we are participating in this year’s Winterfest Boat Parade. As a founding sponsor, MIASF has been involved with this globally reaching community event since its inception. New this year, in honor of the event’s 50th anniversary, we’re going to also have our own chartered boat in the parade!
Join us for an evening of fun afloat. We have a limited number of tickets available for this private and exclusive experience. Tickets are $150 per person and includes a buffet dinner of prime rib and turkey, an open bar, and an unforgettable night with colleagues and friends. Contact Megan Piggott to get your tickets today before we sell out. I look forward to seeing you there for a night full of fun and holiday cheer.