Although specific numbers are not yet available, the 58th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show outperformed last year’s event in sales and attendance, show producer Informa Exhibitions said.
“It’s the strongest selling show with boat sales we’ve had in many a year,” said Andrew Doole, vice president and general manager of Informa Exhibitions.
He said he had heard from companies and from brokerages, such as HMY, that they had strong sales.
The activity among superyachts was also strong, with companies such as Feadship telling Doole that they had a good weekend. “On the brokerage side there were definitely some offers going on the superyachts,” said Doole.
Among the changes Informa made for this year’s event, the one that had the most immediate impact was moving up the opening day from Thursday to Wednesday and having the event wrap up on Sunday instead of Monday.
“The response to the Wednesday opening was very well received,” said Doole. “That’s something that’s going to stay for the future. Once people get used to the Wednesday instead of Thursday [opening], the [attendance] numbers will increase, as well. Next year it will transform completely.”
Other changes included upgrades to the docks and walkways and color-coded pedestals and aisles that made it easier to navigate the docks at the Bahia Mar yachting center. Overall, the show took place at seven locations, covering 3 million square feet in Fort Lauderdale.
Another noticeable change was stepped-up security for this year’s event. There were metal detectors at each entrance, all bags were checked and security personnel did individual checks on show visitors, as well.
“The exhibitors appreciated that we tried to keep them safe and keep the attendees safe,” said Doole.
The show had a security command center, and Informa representatives worked with agencies that included the Fort Lauderdale police, the federal Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
A balloon fixed with a camera provided a view of the entire show. If security people saw something they weren’t sure about, they dispatched a drone to identify the potential threat. Doole said a couple of private drones drew the attention of show security, but they did not represent a threat.
Doole said Informa will use its position as a producer of shows worldwide to bring clients from areas such as Dubai to Fort Lauderdale to introduce them to yachting.
“The potential to get the family on the boat, it’s a whole lifestyle we’re looking to promote,” said Doole.