The International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference is returning to its new permanent home in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, and the show will run through Thursday, giving attendees the opportunity to literally test-drive technology.
All three floors of the Tampa Convention Center were sold out months in advance.
There are two packed exhibit halls, thousands of new products and processes and more docks and outdoor exhibits this year, said Anne Dunbar, who directs the show.
It’s owned and produced by Professional BoatBuilder magazine and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“I think what’s really special about Tampa that is influencing all the attendees and exhibitors is the live dock demonstrations,” Dunbar said. “This is a significant game changer for exhibitors and the thousands of marine professionals who attend. In addition to seeing everything in two sold-out exhibit halls, you get to go on docks and actually test-drive technology. The decisions that are made at IBEX influence the future of boats. So that aspect of having on-water demonstrations is significant for exhibitors and attendees.”
The show had planned to alternate between Louisville, Ky., where it was held last year, and Tampa, until a big drop in attendance last year. Organizers moved swiftly to commit to the preferred Tampa location.
Registration and hotel reservations have been tracking ahead of 2014, the last time the show was in Tampa, said National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich.
“There’s always so much new product to see, so much innovation, great education opportunities and great networking opportunities,” Dammrich said. “It’s a major show.”
The outdoor dock area had 25 boats in 2014, when the show was last in Tampa. This year, more than 40 had been booked by late July.
There are Ted Talk-style Tech Talk workshops, during which an expert will address something timely and new every hour on the hour.
Super Sessions are conducted all day long and are sponsored by ABYC and the National Marine Electronics Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association. Then there is the traditional IBEX seminar program. All of it combines to offer 80 sessions.
This is the first year with new education director Sarah Devlin, who’s “done a great job of creating an amazing seminar series,” said Dunbar.
The Future Materials hands-on exhibit at the center of the Composites Pavilion should draw big crowds at IBEX, bringing together innovations from the marine, aerospace and automotive industries and some applied academic research.
The pavilion will consist of more than 75 companies in more than 12,600 square feet of exhibit space. The third floor of IBEX will feature the Composites Pavilion, which will include the Future Materials showcase and Composites Tech Talks, sponsored by Composites One and Magnum Venus Products on Tuesday from 5-6 pm. Click here for more about the future materials exhibit.